Vessel: 37ft Monohull M.V.Grinner
Skipper: Craig Newton.
Pax: Paul Walbridge (Leader & organizer), Willem Renema, Wendy Wilesmith, Rob Morris, Brian Willey, Brian Russell, Jim Sneddon, Jan England, Steve Murray, Rod Gardner, Tom Wheller, Nigel Adlam, Alan Crawford, Greg Anderson.
A High over the Tasman with a ridge extending alone the east coast of Queensland brought 10-15 knot E-SE winds to south coast waters. Some coastal cloud early on brought a few light showers, clearing to a fine day out wide with little cloud cover and good visibility. Max. air temp. 27° C. Barometer 1020 hPa.
Early on, seas to about 1 metre on about a 1.5 metre swell, out wide seas abating somewhat on about a 1.8 metre swell. Current out wide running at about 2 knots. Sea surface temps. 24° C inshore, rising to 25.7° in Slope waters. The sea surface temps. out wide have averaged 2-3° C cooler this summer.
Left the Seaway at 0700 hrs and with a tide running and with an E-SE swell slowed down to about 7 knots to keep in the comfort zone but still managed to find the occasional ‘hole’. Due to the time taken to get out across the Shelf, decided to drift just after entering Slope waters at 1050 hrs. Proceeded to drift and release ‘chum’ until 1253 hrs, then proceeded for home, arriving back at the Seaway at 1515 hrs. This was a bit earlier than normal but some of us had to get back to Brisbane to vote in the local council elections. Total duration of trip 8 hrs 15 mins.
On leaving the Seaway, several trawlers were returning from a nights work so we looked out for any shearwater rafts, large numbers of Silver Gulls were working the trawlers still but it wasn’t until after about 15 minutes that we encountered the rafts of Wedge-tailed Shearwaters, disappointingly that is all there was, about 150 of them. Proceeding on, we hadn’t even reached the 50 fathom mark, when the first 2 White-necked Petrels of the day flew past heading SW. Just 5 minutes later they were followed by a dark phase Kermadec Petrel with another dark bird just 5 minutes later. We had a large tuna in a mesh bag towed behind the vessel and tubenoses were starting to show a real interest as a Great-winged Petrel had now appeared (race gouldi), a somewhat uncommon bird in these waters.
By 1000 hrs we were approaching the Shelf-break as a 3rd dark phase Kermadec Petrel approached the vessel followed by another Great-winged Petrel and shearwaters were now starting to appear. When a 3rd White-necked Petrel arrived we decided to stop and drift just into Slope waters. Over the next couple of hours or so the numbers of Great-winged Petrels peaked at nine with even more White-necked and Kermadec Petrels plus a very close Gould’s Petrel. One White-necked Petrel was very accommodating even landing on the water, with some great flight shots taken as it made several passes to within metres of the vessel. I’ll be putting a couple of snaps onto ABID. One or two Wilson’s Storm Petrels were also now patrolling the slick, we had no sharks liver for this trip but a few Tahiti Petrels were showing and approaching close but the numbers were down on last month.
With the turnaround at 1253 hrs we still encountered a few birds back on the Shelf with a solitary Pomarine Jaeger, Hutton’s Shearwater and yet another close flyby Gould’s Petrel. Didn’t quite match the March trip of a couple of years back but all in all a most satisfactory days birding, conducted in relative comfort with no sickness reported.
Wilson’s Storm Petrel – 6 (3)
Wedge-tailed Shearwater – 175 (150)
Flesh-footed Shearwater - 9 (4)
Hutton’s Shearwater – 1
Tahiti Petrel – 7 (3)
Kermadec Petrel – 4 (1)
Great-winged Petrel – 16 (9)
Gould’s Petrel – 2 (1)
White-necked Petrel – 6 (2)
Pomarine Jaeger – 1
Crested Tern – 35 (20)
Silver Gull – 123 (120)
Cetaceans – nil