Location: Southport, Queensland
Vessel: 37 ft Steber monohull MV Grinner.
Crew: Craig Newton (skipper)
A high over SE Australia maintained a firm ridge over the Queensland coast bringing light SE winds, 5-15 knots. Fine conditions with light to moderate, mostly high cloud. Visibility excellent, max. air temp. 27 C, barometric pressure 1024 hPa.
Calm seas on a light swell of less than 1 metre for the whole day. Sea surface temps. 23.5 C at the Seaway, rising to 25 C at the Shelf-break and 26.4 C at the widest point. EAC running at 1.5 knots out wide.
Left the Southport Seaway at 0630 hrs and headed ENE for Jims Mountain, some 28 nm offshore. Crossed the Shelf-break at approx. 0900 hrs and arrived at the final drift point at 0925 hrs. Drifted southeast, with two runs back up the slick until 1250 hrs, then headed for home. Arrived back at the seaway at 1540 hrs, total duration of trip 9 hrs 10 mins.
Very little around on leaving the Seaway, with just a few Crested Terns and Silver Gulls, returning from further out and just two trawlers encountered. The first trawler had very little around it with mainly Crested Terns and Silver Gulls and a few Pied Cormorants, with singles of Wedge-tailed Shearwater and Caspian Tern. The second trawler encountered shortly afterward was a bit more productive, with much larger numbers of Crested Terns and Silver Gulls but still only 2 Wedge-tailed Shearwaters, in addition though, more Pied Cormorants the first Pomarine Jaegers & Short-tailed Shearwater for the day. Over the next couple of hours journeying out over the shelf produced just a couple more of Pomarine Jaegers, Short-tailed and Wedge-tailed Shearwaters.
With the light winds, we encountered birds loafing on the sea-surface and on reaching the drift point and churning out berley, we were joined immediately by the first Wilson's Storm-Petrels of the day. Not long after, at 0940 hrs, the first pterodroma, a Providence Petrel arrived along with a Short-tailed Shearwater and three Wilson's Storm-Petrels, with all landing in the slick. In just a few minutes the numbers of Providence Petrels had risen to four. Not much changed species wise until 1020 hrs when the first of two Flesh-footed Shearwaters turned up and 25 minutes later a White-faced Storm-Petrel arrived with some Wilson's Storm-Petrels, with White-faced Storm-Petrel a species fast becoming an April regular off Southport.
At 1110 hrs the sole Kermadec Petrel for the day arrived but kept its distance down the slick (which most birds did on the day) and hung around for a few minutes but never close enough for photographs. Just 20 minutes later a full plumaged dark phase Arctic Jaeger arrived, seemingly an adult, or near adult but hard to call and this bird made several close passes to the vessel much to the delight of the punters on board. Arctic Jaeger is far more rarely encountered off shore than Pomarine Jaeger in SEQ waters, with most birds preferring to loaf around inshore and in Moreton Bay. At the same time another unusual bird for Southport turned up, a Sooty Shearwater, followed shortly after by another. At 1140 hrs the first Tahiti Petrel arrived belatedly on the scene, a fresh plumaged bird, followed at 1150 hrs by another and also a second White-faced Storm-Petrel. Both of the White-faced Storm-Petrels appeared to be in fresh plumage and were both, off-white/greyish rumped
birds. Little sighted on the way back to the seaway save for a few Wedge-tailed and Short-tailed Shearwaters.
Wilson's Storm- Petrel - 31 (6)
White-faced Storm-Petrel - 2 (1)
Wedge-tailed Shearwater - 15 (5)
Flesh-footed Shearwater - 2
Sooty Shearwater - 2
Short-tailed Shearwater - 11 (3)
Tahiti Petrel - 2 (1)
Kermadec Petrel - 1
Providence Petrel - 12 (4)
Pied Cormorant - 10 (4)
Pomarine Jaeger - 5 (3)
Arctic Jaeger - 1
Caspian Tern - 1
Crested Tern - 182 (150)
Silver Gull - 436 (300)
Welcome aboard Nikolas and Raja, now Brisbane residents and Southport homies, sorry about that down south but we finally lured them to the tropics, Raja has already commented on how warm and comfortable the pelagic was. Next trip is on May 18th with a couple of positions available. Contact Paul Walbridge on (PH) (H) 07 3256 4124 (W) 07 3139 4584
Cheers - Paul W.