Sunshine Coast Birds

Birding and other wildlife experiences from the Sunshine Coast and elsewhere in Australia - and from overseas - with scribblings about travel, environmental issues, kayaking, hiking and camping.

Saturday, 14 January 2012

Sunshine Coast January 2012 Pelagic

Red-tailed Tropicbird (above), Buller's Shearwater, Hutton's Shearwater, Tahiti Petrel, Bridled Tern and Sooty Tern were among the birds seen today on our third pelagic trip off the Sunshine Coast.

Our excursion kicked off with our departure from Mooloolaba Marina at 06.35 in our 10m catamaran, Cat-A-Pult, under cloudy skies with a light easterly blowing.

We had large numbers of Common Terns and smaller numbers of Wedge-tailed Shearwaters (above) over an extensive area inshore, and at 120m (21 3702S, 153 3505E), 25 naut miles out, the action started with 2 Common Noddies, 2 Bridled Terns and 6 Sooty Terns seen in quick succession.
When we reached the shelf proper at 230m (26 3655S, 153 41.64E), we were joined by our first Tahiti Petrel (above). Wedge-tailed Shearwaters continued to be present in large numbers – always a sign at this distance offshore that conditions are exceptionally calm. The breeze struggled to hit five knots and we headed out further to 300+m, to the area where we had the Stejneger’s Petrel in November, but the hoped for parade of Pterodromas failed to materialise.
All was not lost, however. We had frequent sightings of Sooty Terns - adults and juveniles - while on the shelf, and Tahiti Petrels and Flesh-footed Shearwaters (above) were regular about the boat.
Turning westward at about 1300, we were half-way back when Paddy spotted a Red-tailed Tropicbird (above) sitting on the water, offering excellent views.
The action picked up again 6 naut miles offshore in 37m of water with a huge flock of terns and shearwaters feeding on small fish spooked by marauding yellowfin tuna. Common Terns were in abundance and with them were good numbers of White-winged Terns and a smattering of Crested and Little Terns. At least three White-winged Terns can be seen with Common Terns in the photograph above.
Two Hutton’s Shearwaters – very unusual for this time of year - were in the mix, one of them showing poorly in the photograph above with Wedge-tailed Shearwaters.
The seabird numbers continued to grow,

the spectacle enhanced by yellowfin tuna frequently breaking the surface. George Chapman snapped this one.
A Bridled Tern, much more co-operative than the birds seen in the morning, joined the fray.

To cap it off, we were about to head home when a Buller’s Shearwater joined the action, giving everyone a good if all too brief view. Jim Sneddon did well to snap this one showing the upperparts.

PARTICIPANTS: Paddy Diamond (skipper - pictured above with his boat), Greg Roberts (organiser).
George Chapman,  Mark Clarke,  Robyn Duff,  Jan England,  Judith Hoyle,  Nick Leseberg,  Brendon Levot,  Gavin O’Meara,  Jim Sneddon,  Kathy Wilk,  Brian Willey.

SPECIES - Total number (maximum at once):
Wedge-tailed Shearwater 1200 (200)
Flesh-footed Shearwater 12 (2)
Buller’s Shearwater 1 (1)
Hutton’s Shearwater 2 (2)
Tahiti Petrel 16 (4)
Arctic Jaeger 2 (1)
Pomarine Jaeger 1 (1)
Red-tailed Tropicbird 1 (1)
Silver Gull 6 (3)
Common Noddy 2 (2)
Crested Tern 20 (4)
Common Tern 2500 (1200)
White-winged Tern 100 (10)
Little Tern 6 (2)
Sooty Tern 30 (6)
Bridled Tern 3 (1)
Little Black Cormorant 2 (1)
Great Cormorant 1 (1)

You can look at our pelagic trips from last July and  November.


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