Location: Southport, Queensland
Vessel: 37 ft Steber monohull MV Grinner
Crew: Craig Newton
Weather conditions: A high near east of the Tasman formed a ridge over the south Queensland coast, with another high moving into Queensland strengthening this ridge. Light E-SE winds throughout the day barely reaching over 10 knots. Light to moderate cloud cover for most of the day, with a few rain squalls passing through out wide. Maximum air temperature 29 C, barometer 1016 hPa.
Sea conditions: Calm seas on a light swell on leaving the Seaway, with barely a white-cap on show all day and maximum swell to about 1.6 metres. Sea-surface temperature 25.3 C at the Seaway, rising to 27.1 C at the Shelf-break and 27.5 C at the widest drift point. EAC running at 2.1 knots out wide.
Left the Seaway at 0605 hrs and headed for the Riviera grounds 28 nautical miles ENE of Southport. Crossed the Shelf-break at 0900 hrs, reaching the first drift point at 0935 hrs some 26 nm ENE of Southport. After a second and final drift headed for home at 1245 hrs, reaching the Seaway at 1510 hrs, total duration of trip, 9 hrs 5 minutes.
On leaving the Seaway, we were confronted by a succession of returning prawn trawlers, with varying numbers of accompanying birds of several species, along with a few foraging Common Terns. As usual, the most numerous species around the trawlers was Crested Tern followed by Wedge-tailed Shearwater. Every trawler though seemed to have at least 2 Caspian Terns, up to 2 Arctic Jaegers and up to 5 Pomarine Jaegers. After passing the 5th and final trawler we came across 4 Pomarine
Jaegers sitting on the water and approaching slowly allowed the photographers on board to get some early morning shots.
Headed for the Shelf-break with little sighted on the way out save for a lone Huttonís Shearwater and the first Flesh-footed Shearwater of the day attracted by the berley bag being towed behind the vessel. On reaching the first drift point at 0935 hrs a Great-winged Petrel (Grey-faced) turned up almost immediately, with plumage looking a lot less tatty than the ones seen in the previous couple of months. It was
half an hour before the first Tahiti Petrel arrived from the north, quickly followed by a group of three hurriedly heading for the slick. For the next hour or so it was mainly Tahiti Petrels, Wedge-tailed Shearwaters and just a couple of Flesh-footed Shearwaters joining in the slick. However at 1025 hours the first returning Wilsonís Storm-Petrel for the Autumn arrived at the stern and headed down the slick.
It was noted that there were a lot of birds feeding way down the slick to the south, so we motored slowly down the slick and at 1115 hrs started the second drift with the next new bird for the day in the form of the first March Providence Petrel recorded from Southport, not really surprising as they begin to turn up at their Lord Howe breeding sites in February. Much the same as before over the next hour and a half with more Tahiti Petrels, Wedge-tailed and Flesh-footed Shearwaters and a few
more Wilsonís Storm-Petrels arriving. Just before 1230 hrs two large birds arrived and circled around for several minutes, immature Red-footed Boobies and both with a degree of plumage wear. This species has begun to put in an appearance south of its normal range over the last few years. Shortly afterwards a couple of small tern like jaegers drifted in to feed on the floating berley, Long-tailed Jaegers, one with plumage almost there and the other a way to go for breeding plumage.
It was time to head back and just after setting off we came across the two Long-tailed Jaegers sitting on the water with a Wedge-tailed Shearwater, slowly cruising up to the birds the camera shutters ran hot, capturing images of these stunning Jaegers both on the water and in take off mode. Nothing much of note recorded on the way back to the Seaway with just a few Huttonís and Wedge-Tailed Shearwaters sighted and some
Common Terns exiting the Seaway as we arrived back.
Wilsonís Storm-Petrel - 4
Wedge-tailed Shearwater - 217 (100)
Flesh-footed Shearwater - 5 (2)
Hutton*s Shearwater - 4 (3)
Tahiti Petrel - 12 (4)
Great-winged Petrel - 1
Providence Petrel - 1
Red-footed Booby - 2
Little Black Cormorant - 1
Pied Cormorant - 1
Pomarine Jaeger - 17 (5)
Arctic Jaeger - 4 (2)
Long-tailed Jaeger - 2
Caspian Tern - 7 (2)
Common Tern - 22 (14)
Crested Tern - 522 (200)
Silver Gull - 14 (12)