Location: Southport, Queensland
Vessel: 37 ft Steber monohull MV Grinner
Crew: Craig Newton (skipper)
Weather conditions: There was a weak ridge of high pressure along the east coast of Queensland, bringing light E-NE winds, mostly less than 10 knots onto the coast, with frequent squally showers. Some heavy cloud first thing in the morning, thinning out to light high cloud offshore mid morning onwards. Visibility generally good, maximum air temperature 30° C, barometer 1016 hPa.
Sea conditions: Calm seas on a low swell on leaving the seaway with the swell rising to about 1.5 metres out wide, Sea surface temperatures; 25.6° C at the seaway, rising to 27.5° C out wide in slope waters.
Left the Southport seaway at 0600 hrs and headed ENE out to Jim’s Mountain. Crossed the Shelf-break at approx. 0845 hrs and reached the final drift point at 0930 hrs. Drifted at approx. 2 nautical miles per hour until 1155 hours, where we headed back up the slick before heading for home. Reached the seaway at 1500 hrs, total time of trip 9 hrs.
On leaving the seaway, five species present, most notably a foraging party of twenty Common Terns but shortly after in fairly quick succession, five trawlers. Around the first trawler there were a few Crested Terns and Silver Gulls plus arounf sixty Wedge-tailed Shearwaters and a couple of Pomarine Jaegers. At the second trawler there were three Pomarine Jaegers and up to seventy Wedge-tailed Shearwaters plus a lone Pied Cormorant. The third and fourth trawlers produced and extra one hundred Wedge-tailed Shearwaters, whilst the fifth trawler produced the best counts of all with, four Pomarine Jaegers, a couple hundred Crested Terns, 250+ Wedge-tailed Shearwaters and singles of Caspian Tern, Pied Cormorant and Hutton’s Shearwater.
Shortly after leaving the trawlers behind at 0700 hrs, a large raft of 160 Wedge-tailed Shearwaters was encountered accompanied by three Pomarine Jaegers and a single Streaked Shearwater, the first for the year. Nothing more of note going across the shelf, except for a few Wedge-tailed Shearwaters, until we stopped at Jim’s Mountain where after just a few minutes we were joined by a Wedge-tailed Shearwater, a Great-winged Petrel and a Tahiti Petrel. This was followed shortly after at 0945 hrs by the first Wilson’s Storm-Petrel and Flesh-footed Shearwater. At 0950 hrs after a flypast by a Sooty Tern up to a dozen Wedge-tailed and a couple of Flesh-footed Shearwaters arrived astern just as a small jaeger arrived and stayed for several minutes, a lovely plumaged but sub-adult Long-tailed Jaeger.
Over the next hour or so a few more Tahiti Petrels, Wilson’s Storm-Petrels, Wedge-tailed and Flesh-footed Shearwaters were arriving in the slick until at 1020 hrs when the first Kermadec Petrel of the day zoomed in low to the water and was followed shortly after by another at 1035 hrs and yet another at 1040 hrs. At 1105 hrs a pair of Common Noddies arrived and joined in a group of foraging shearwaters milling around baitfish and at 1120 hrs a fourth Kermadec Petrel in heavy primary moult arrived at the stern. From then until 1150 hrs just one or two extras of Tahiti and Great-winged Petrels and a lone Pomarine Jaeger, and it was time to head back up the slick to see what we could find before heading home.
As often happen when we perform this, something new turns up and at 1155 hrs among some Wedge-tailed and Flesh-footed Shearwaters, a Black Petrel loomed in very close to the vessel, along with another Great-winged Petrel. Over the next three hours moving back across the shelf, just singles of Tahiti Petrel, Hutton’s Shearwater, Pomarine Jaeger, with a few Wedge-tailed Shearwaters until just outside the seaway when two foraging parties of Common Terns, twenty and twenty five respectively were encountered.
Wilson’s Storm-Petrel – 5 (1)
Black Petrel – 1
Streaked Shearwater – 1
Wedge-tailed Shearwater – 600 (250)
Flesh-footed Shearwater – 10 (2)
Hutton’s Shearwater – 3 (1)
Tahiti Petrel – 11 (2)
Kermadec Petrel – 4 (1)
Great-winged Petrel – 4 (1) all P. m. gouldae
Little Black Cormorant – 1
Pied Cormorant – 3 (1)
Pomarine Jaeger – 17 (4)
Long-tailed Jaeger – 1
Common Noddy – 2
Sooty Tern – 1
Common Tern – 65 (25)
Caspian Tern – 2 (1)
Crested Tern – 309 (200)
Silver Gull – 16