Southport Pelagic Trip (Paul Walbridge)

Sightings anywhere within a 250 km radius of Toowoomba, but excluding the local survey area (see above), for the period 1 Sep - 30 Nov 2009.

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Mick Atzeni
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Southport Pelagic Trip (Paul Walbridge)

Post by Mick Atzeni » Wed Nov 25, 2009 9:19 am

Southport Pelagic 21st November 2009
from [Paul Walbridge] [Permanent Link][Original]
To: <>
Subject: Southport Pelagic 21st November 2009
From: "Paul Walbridge" <>
Date: Wed, 25 Nov 2009 07:16:06 +1000

Southport Pelagic 21st November 2009

Vessell: 37ft *Grinner* Steber,Monohull.
Skipper: Craig Newton
Pax: Paul Walbridge (leader & organizer) plus 14 (capacity).

Weather conditions: A high in the Tasman Sea maintained a ridge over
the Queensland coast bringing light to moderate NE-N winds to south east
Queensland. Light northerly winds on leaving the Seaway gradually
building as the day wore on with gusts to 20 knots in the afternoon.
Slightly hazy conditions with only slight cover at times and visibility
generally good. Maximum air temperature approx 30* C, barometer 1016

Sea conditions: Light seas on a light swell on the way out slowly
building to moderate sea on a swell 1.5-1.7 metre swell as the day
progressed. A northerly current of 1.5 knots with a northerly swell and
wind from the north made for fairly pleasant conditions overall. Sea
surface temps. 23.7* C at the Seaway, dropping for a while to 22.4* C
then gradually rising again to a maximum 25.7* C at the widest point in
Continental Slope waters.

Left the Southport Seaway at 0600 hours and travelled out over the
Continental Shelf, heading for an area called *Jim*s Mountain* a
noted Marlin area 34 nautical miles ENE of Southport. On reaching there
at 1025 hrs drifted slowly south at 1.5 knots until 1315 hrs before
heading for home. Arrived back at the Seaway at 1700 hours. Total
duration of trip, 11 hrs.

On leaving the Seaway, encountered a few returning trawlers for little
return, just a few Crested Terns and Wedge-tailed Shearwaters. One
solitary Wedge-tail sitting on the water however didn*t appear quite
right and made no attempt to fly when we approached close. I netted this
bird and on close inspection it appeared to be fairly robust but
weakened, so judged to be in exhaustive state. If left to its own
devices could well have been picked off by a Sea-eagle, Kite or Jaeger
so a box was quickly found and it spent the rest of the day quietly,
with us.

The trip out over the Shelf was very quiet, particularly with these
infernally persistent northerly winds which blow us no good, just the
occasional Wedge-tailed Shearwater heading out and a few Short-tailed
Shearwaters cruising quickly south. Just after crossing the Shelf-break
we saw a few shearwaters milling around and tried a short chumming drift
but to no avail, so on to Jim*s Mountain*. Reached the final drift
point and started chumming & almost immediately the first Tahiti Petrel
appeared along with a few Wedge-tailed Shearwaters.

Over the next three hours, although species diversity was down numbers
weren*t and a steady procession of Tahiti Petrels, Wedge-tailed
Shearwaters and even Short-tailed Shearwaters arrived to feed close to
the rear of the vessel, along with a few late Wilson*s Storm Petrels
and a couple of Sooty Terns. Probably the surprise bird of the cruise
was a Sooty Shearwater which loafed in to briefly visit the slick before
heading south, a bird rarely seen in these waters. On heading back home
several birds continued to follow in the wake, including at least two
Tahiti Petrels which followed us closely for over an hour. Approaching
the coast we encountered our first Pomarine Jaegers and just before the
Seaway a few Little & Common Terns feeding in the tidal surf. About 20
minutes before the Seaway, the skipper phoned ahead to an old friend of
ours, Trevor Long, of Sea World, would he please come and pick up a
seabird from us? Not a problem, Trevor directed us to one of the many
Sea World jetties and I handed over the by now, rejuvenating
Wedge-tailed Shearwater, a couple of days should see it right.

Highlight of the day, in particular for many, was the quality, close-up
vision of Tahiti Petrels down to about three metres, in flight and on
the water. One of the reasons we remained out beyond the Shelf for so
long was for the photographers onboard to get the best possible shots of
this hard to photograph species. The photographs I have seen thus far of
this species, from this trip are EASILY the best I have ever seen & I
have actually seen a few. Anyone wishing to view a couple of images just
throw me an e-mail and I*ll send you some,

Species List:

Wilson*s Storm Petrel * 8 (3)
Wedge-tailed Shearwater * 170 (60)
Sooty Shearwater * 1
Short-tailed Shearwater * 87 (41)
TahitiPetrel * 42 (20)
Pied Cormorant * 3
Pomarine Jaeger * 3
Sooty Tern * 2
Little Tern * 6
Common Tern * 2
Crested Tern * 45 (30)
Silver Gull * 6


Offshore Bottlenosed Dolphin - 1


Loggerhead Turtle * 1

This was our last Pelagic for the year 2009. Thankyou all of you on
Birding-aus who came out with us & the numbers were considerable. Wish
you all a very Merry (and safe) Xmas 2009 and Happy 2010. Once again,
hope to see you out again in the Blue Paddock in 2010. I will be posting
next years pelagic dates onto Birding-aus in due course. Cheers *

Of these Sooty Shearwater and Sooty Tern were new for the Spring list. In fact I didn't even have Sooty Shearwater on the master list.

Michael Atzeni
7 Woden St, Murphys Creek 4352
Mob: 0499 395 485

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