Skipper: Craig Newton.
Leader& Organiser: Paul Walbridge.
Pax: Richard Baxter, Inger Van Dyke, Trevor Skipper, Carol Skipper, Heyn De Kock, Brian Russell, Rob Morris, Julie Sarna, Cheryl Arnott, Stuart Warren.
Weather Conditions: A near stationary high over the Tasman caused a ridge to form up the Queensland coast. Light SW winds inshore early, soon swinging around to SSE-SE and gradually increasing during the day to maximum velocity of about 20+ knots late afternoon. Generally fine but with light to moderate cloud cover for most of the day with some slow moving rain squalls out wide. Visibility very good, max. air temp. 25*C, barometric pressure, 1020 hPa.
Sea Conditions: Varying conditions, seas to 1.5 metres on up to 2+ metre swell early on moderating slightly out wide in the drift but chopping up again with increasing winds on the way back. Sea surface temps. 24.1*C at the Seaway, 25.7*C at the Shelf-break& 26.4*C at widest drift point. EAC running at just over a knot out wide.
Summary:Left the Seaway at 0650 hrs and proceeded as quickly as conditions would allow out toward Jim*s Mountain (which we didn*t
reach) arriving at the drift point just after the Shelf-break at 1035 hrs approx. 24 nm ENE of Southport Seaway. Maintained this drift until 1300 hrs, we then headed for home, arriving back at the Seaway at 1600 hrs. Total duration of trip, 9 hrs 10 mins.
On leaving the Seaway, not much activity but a lone trawler was noted just to the NE making its way back, so headed toward it. Nothing of real note behind this vessel, just the usual Crested Terns, Silver Gulls and a few late Wedge-tailed Shearwaters but also three species of Cormorant. Continued on our way across the Shelf with the first Wilson*s Storm Petrels appearing well before the Shelf-break plus a lone Short-tailed Shearwater and the first *good* bird of the day in the shape of a very pale intermediate Kermadec Petrel appearing briefly around the vessel on just reaching *Slope* waters. A fair bit of baitfish was detected on the sounder and there was a game-fishing tournament being conducted in the general area so it was decided to drift.
The first Tahiti Petrel soon appeared followed quickly by a Providence Petrel and several Wilson*s Storm Petrels and these species plus one or two Wedge-tailed Shearwaters were basically it for the next hour
until a second different, darker plumaged, intermediate Kermadec
Petrel appeared which approached very closely, for the cameras. Flesh-footed Shearwaters had now started to appear when the surprise bird of the day appeared heading upwind toward the slick, a lone White-faced Storm Petrel. In more than three decades of pelagic trips off of Brisbane& Southport this species hadn*t been sighted, now there are records for the last two April trips. A few more Tahiti Petrels, Wilson*s Storm Petrels and Providence Petrels continued to appear from downwind and then a 3rd Kermadec appeared, this time an all dark bird.
About half an hour into the trip back home and back on the Shelf an adult White-tailed Tropicbird was flushed up from the sea-surface, providing good views for most but it quickly headed off eastward. Not much then of note, save for a few Wilson*s Storm Petrels and both Wedge-tailed& Flesh-footed Shearwaters, until just a few miles east of the Seaway a full adult Masked Booby circled the vessel briefly. It should be noted that sizeable flying fish were sighted quite close in to the coast; boobies of all species love to chase them down. The only new species then added was a lone Fluttering Shearwater, shortly before entering the Seaway.
White-Tailed Tropicbird * 1
Wilson*s Storm-Petrel * 45 (10)
White-faced Storm-Petrel - 1
Wedge-tailed Shearwater * 53 (20)
Flesh-footed Shearwater * 7
Short-tailed Shearwater * 1
Fluttering Shearwater * 1
Tahiti Petrel * 9 (2)
Kermadec Petrel * 3 (1)
Providence Petrel * 12 (3)
Masked Booby * 1
Great Cormorant * 1
Little Black Cormorant * 1
Pied Cormorant * 4
Pomarine Jaeger * 1
Crested Tern * 26 (20)
Silver Gull * 43 (40)
Offshore Bottle-nose Dolphin * 1+
Common Dolphin * 10