Vessel: 37 ft Steber monohull.
Crew: Craig Newton (skipper)
Weather conditions: A high in the southern Tasman with a weakening ridge over the east coast of Queensland brought light SE-NE winds to SEQ waters. Generally fine, clear conditions with increasing cloud cover with overall good visibility. Winds SE-NE to 10 knots, maximum air temp.
24* C, barometric pressure 1016 hPa.
Sea conditions: Light seas on 1-1.5 metre swell. Sea surface temps.
22.2* C at the Seaway, 23.4* C at the Shelf-break to 24* C at widest drift point.
Left the Seaway at 0615 hrs and with no trawler activity headed directly out to Jim*s Mountain, 32 nm ENE of the Seaway. Crossed the shelf-break at 0830 and reached the drift point at 0920 hrs. Proceeded to drift until 1230 hrs, then headed for home arriving back at the Seaway at 1510 hrs. Duration of trip 8 hrs 55 mins.
On leaving the Seaway, with no returning trawlers there were hardly any birds and on the way out over the shelf just the occasional Wedge-tailed Shearwater noted but mainly small groups of Short-tailed Shearwaters heading south slowly and very low to the water in the almost windless conditions. At the 50 fathom mark a berley bag containing shark liver was lowered astern to create a slick and shortly afterward a couple of Short-tailed Shearwaters and a Wedge-tailed Shearwater started to follow closely and remained with us right up to stopping at Jim*s Mountain.
On arriving at the drift and tossing berley over, the first Wilson*s Storm-Petrels started to arrive almost immediately, followed by more Wedge-tailed and Short-tailed Shearwaters, with a couple of Sooty Terns also putting in an appearance along with a lone Flesh-footed Shearwater. Then, at 1000 hrs a hulking dark shape appeared astern in the form of a South Polar Skua, not exactly unexpected with all the Short-tailed Shearwaters that had been passing through in the preceding weeks, I have now seen more South Polar Skuas from Southport than Brown Skuas, 6/5. This bird hung around for the next 30 minutes and just as it appeared 3 Long-tailed Jaegers flew in from the same direction and these birds stayed around the vessel and slick for even longer, memory cards were on overload.
At 1017 hrs a largish all dark petrel arrived almost over my shoulder and landed amongst the berley right astern of the boat, Southports* 3rd Black Petrel! A very hungry Black Petrel which stayed around the vessel for at least the next hour or so. Wedge-tailed Shearwater numbers had built up, with Wilson*s Storm-Petrels arriving all the time, with the occasional Short-tailed Shearwater stopping for a feed. Just before midday the only Pterodroma for the day zoomed past, heading SE, a Mottled Petrel and sadly a few punters didn*t lock on to it quickly enough, another one of those frustrating Springtime flybys!! Just before we had to head back for home a solitary Common Noddy showed up and on the way back the only new birds were a fly past Arctic Jaeger and a couple of Common Terns in a mixed feeding flock just north of the Seaway.
Wilson*s Storm-Petrel * 30 (6)
Black Petrel * 1
Wedge-tailed Shearwater * 110 * (35)
Flesh-footed Shearwater * 2
Short-Tailed Shearwater * 41 (14)
Mottled Petrel * 1
South Polar Skua * 1
Arctic Jaeger * 1
Long-tailed Jaeger * 3
Common Noddy * 1
Sooty Tern * 2
Common Tern * 2
Crested Tern * 24 (11)
Silver Gull * 3
The South Polar Skua and Black Petrel sightings will be submitted to BARC and the Long-tailed Jaeger sighting to BQRAC.