Location: Southport, Queensland
Vessel: 37 ft Steber monohull MV Grinner
Crew: Craig Newton (skipper)
Weather conditions: With a monsoon trough over the northern tip of Queensland and a high towards New Zealand, there was a firm ridge up the Queensland coast. Winds were easterly for much of the day and barely reached 10 knots. Generally sunny, fine conditions for much of the day with some cloud on reaching the coast late afternoon. Visibility, generally quite good, maximum temperature 29° C, barometer 1012 hPa.
Sea conditions: Calm seas on up to 1.5 metre swell for most of the day, coming from the east and quite glassy conditions out wide. Sea surface temps. ranging from 26.1° C at the Seaway, 26.8° C at the shelf-break and a max. of 27.4° C out wide.
Left the Southport seaway at 0600 hrs and headed ENE over the Shelf, originally heading for Jim’s Mountain but with the calm seas and paucity of birds decided to drift just after the shelf-break, some 24 nautical miles from shore, where small numbers of birds were encountered foraging, at 0930 hrs. Drifted here until 1145 hrs and it was so quiet headed in toward shore to just inside the shelf-break until 1230 hrs before heading for home. Arrived back at the seaway at 1430 hrs, total duration of trip 8hrs 30 mins.
On heading out of the seaway, there was very little around, just a solitary Silver Gull, a few Crested Terns and half a dozen Wedge-tailed Shearwaters. At 0612 hrs the first trawler was encountered, with up to 30 Wedge-tailed Shearwaters, 70 Crested Terns, 4 Little Black Cormorants and a single Great Cormorant on, or around it. A second trawler encountered straight after at 0615 hrs had only 2 Little Black Cormorants, 30 Crested Terns and 6 Wedge-tailed Shearwaters present. Finally at 0640 hrs, a third trawler had merely 30 Wedge-tailed Shearwaters and 20 Crested Terns – slim pickings!
From there until the first drift point was reached at 0930 hrs nothing much of note, save for a few more Wedge-tailed Shearwaters and Crested Terns. By 0940 hrs numbers of Wedge-tailed Shearwaters present around the vessel had risen to 12, with 3 Crested Terns and the first 4 Sooty Terns for the day. Nothing much was happening at all until 1040 hrs when the first Tahiti Petrel turned up, followed at 1100 hrs by another 2 Sooty Terns plus another Tahiti Petrel, quickly followed by another at 1115 hrs. With just another Sooty Tern and Wedge-tailed Shearwater arriving it was time to move and try another quick drift just inside the Shelf-break. With just a few Wedge-tailed Shearwaters and Crested Terns arriving it was time to head for home slowly at 1230 hrs. Nothing much of note on the way back, just singles of Pomarine Jaeger at 1345 hrs and 1405 hrs The last new birds for the day were encountered in the Deadman’s sandbank area with 51 foraging Common Terns.
Wedge-tailed Shearwater – 107 (30)
Tahiti Petrel – 3 (1)
Great Cormorant – 1
Little Black Cormorant – 7 (4)
Pomarine Jaeger – 2 (1)
Sooty Tern – 7 (4)
Common Tern – 51 (50)
Crested Tern – 136 (70)
Silver Gull – 1