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.

Sunday, 28 July 2013

Masked Booby, Fairy Prion, Black-browed Albatross - July 2013 Sunshine Coast Pelagic

Masked Booby 
Masked Booby, Fairy Prion, White-faced Storm-Petrel and Black-browed Albatross were the highlights of another successful pelagic trip off Mooloolaba on the Sunshine Coast on Saturday July 27, 2013.

We headed off in our catamaran, Cat-A-Pult, at 7am in conditions which remained relatively stable throughout the morning, with a 15 knot south-easterly wind - increasing to 18 knots in the early afternoon - and a swell of about 1.2m. The sky was clear, with the temperature ranging from 14 to 21 degrees. Wind conditions had been similar throughout the week so we were hopeful of something decent turning up.

Providence Petrel

Our first Providence Petrel showed at 24 nautical miles offshore, and it proved to be the most common species seen during the day. A Fairy Prion and a few Common Noddies made their appearance as we approached the shelf. A small pod of Pantropical Spotted Dolphins was also seen. We cut the engine 31 nm offshore at 200m on the edge of the shelf, arriving there at 9.15am. We began drifting north, leaving a berley trail of shark liver.

Fairy Prion

Fairy Prion
We had several Fairy Prions feeding in the wake of the boat, and Providence Petrels were continually present.

Wedge-tailed Shearwater
A Wedge-tailed Shearwater was an unexpected show at this time of year. A single White-faced  Storm-Petrel put in a brief appearance soon after and a couple more Common Noddies were seen distantly.

Australasian Gannet
Australasian Gannets in various plumages were seen regularly, including this juvenile. Less expected was an immature Masked Booby which flew over the boat (see first image and below) and landed briefly on the water.

Masked Booby - Picture by Matthew Binns
Among the features noted were a small area of blue facial skin, a yellowish bill, a brown hood and the patterning of its upperparts. Masked Booby is a scarce species in south-east Queensland.

Black-browed Albatross
Black-browed Albatross
We were joined for 30 minutes or so by a juvenile Black-browed Albatross. Our only albatross on Sunshine Coast pelagics to date had been Light-mantled Sooty and Buller's (!) so it was nice to finally catch up with this one.

Humpback Whale
As conditions deteriorated and the wind picked up, we headed home at 12.30pm. We had some nice sightings of Humpback Whale on the way back, arriving at the harbour at 3pm.

PARTICIPANTS: Lachlan Tuckwell (skipper), Greg Roberts (organiser), Ian Barnett, Matthew Binns, Sarah Bevis, Chris Craig, Helena Craig, Mya-Rose Craig, Taryn Crispin, Alex Ferguson, Rod Gardner, Jim Macready, Kathy Wilk, Russell Yong.

SPECIES  Total (maximum number at one time)

Black-browed Albatross 1 (1)
Providence Petrel 60 (20)
White-faced Storm-Petrel 1 (1)
Wedge-tailed Shearwater 1 (1)
Fairy Prion 12 (3)
Australasian Gannet 30 (5)
Masked Booby 1 (1)
Common Noddy 4 (2)
Crested Tern 20 (4)

Humpback Whale 6 (2)
Pantropical Spotted Dolphin 4 (2)

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