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, 1 June 2014

Sunshine Coast Pelagic Trip May 2014

Brown Booby & Crested Tern
Highlights of our May 31 pelagic trip off the Sunshine Coast included an unusually large number of Black-bellied Storm-Petrels, White-faced Storm-Petrel, a late Long-tailed Jaeger and Arctic Jaeger, Lesser Frigatebird and Brown Booby.
We departed Mooloolaba Marina at 7.15am aboard our catamaran, Cat-A-Pult, and it soon became apparent as we left the river mouth that conditions were not going to be as smooth as we had hoped, with a 1.5-2m swell and 18-20-knot easterly that did not ease off until the afternoon.

Fedor Konyukhov
A few kilometres offshore our bumpy excursion eastward was interrupted by a sighting of the Bird of the Day - Russian explorer Fedor Konyukhov. Konyukhov, 62, was heading into Mooloolaba to make his first landing in almost six months since leaving Chile last December to row solo across the Pacific Ocean. Quite an achievement and here he was, just about to reach his final destination. He looked somewhat bemused by our presence. We called out to him; although he evidently didn't speak English, we assume he got the drift - so to speak - of our greetings.

White-faced Storm-Petrel - Pic by Matthew Binns
We saw very little on the way out until the first Wilson's Storm-Petrel appeared at a depth of 52 metres along with a White-faced Storm-Petrel, the only one of the day.

Brown Booby
The skipper made the call that the lousy conditions meant we could not get out as far as we would have liked, so we stopped at 26 nautical miles offshore at 9.50am in 110 metres (25.32.586S; 153.34.622E) - the beginning of the sharp drop to the shelf edge; the air temperature was 25 C. There was an anchored trawler near us with a Brown Booby and a few Crested Terns perched on it.

Lesser Frigatebird
At this point we began laying a trail of shark liver berley and drifted in the vicinity for the next three hours or so. A male Lesser Frigatebird appearing out of nowhere was a pleasant surprise.

Lesser Frigatebird

Long-tailed Jaeger chasing Crested Tern - Pic by Matthew Binns
Our attention was drawn by a tern-like bird in the distance flying low to the water, which we believed initially to be a Common Noddy. Then it started to chase a Crested Tern and quickly morphed into a jaeger. There is general consensus that the small size and slender, overall shape - particularly the wings; the pigeon-headed, small-billed look; and the body proportions - indicate that this was a Long-tailed Jaeger. A couple of distant images by Matthew were the best we could manage.

Arctic Jaeger - Pic by Matthew Binns
Another surprise was an Arctic Jaeger coming into the boat. It is very late in the season for both Long-tailed and Arctic Jaegers.

Black-bellied Storm-Petrel
Wilson's Storm Petrels were constantly about the boat and it was the common species of the day. Less expected were the relatively high numbers of Black-bellied Storm-Petrels seen - a further indication that this species is not uncommon as an autumn-early winter visitor to south-east Queensland waters. We failed to see any Pterodroma petrels, probably because we were not far enough out to sea.

Wilson's Storm-Petrel
We saw a fly-by Hutton's Shearwater before turning around at 1pm and heading back, arriving at the harbour at 2.45pm.

SPECIES SEEN: Total (Highest number at one time)

Black-bellied Storm-Petrel 10 (3)
Wilson's Storm-Petrel 40 (6)
White-faced Storm-Petrel 1 (1)
Hutton's Shearwater 1 (1)
Lesser Frigatebird 1 (1)
Brown Booby 1 (1)
Crested Tern 40 (15)
Silver Gull (6 inshore)
Arctic Jaeger 1 (1)
Long-tailed Jaeger 1 (1)
Pied Cormorant (5 inshore)
Little Black Cormorant (10 inshore)
Eastern Reef-Egret (1 inshore)

PARTICIPANTS: Paddy Dimond (skipper), Greg Roberts (organiser), Ken Baker, Matthew Binns, Jean Chell, Robyn Duff, Alex Ferguson, Nikolas Haass, Brian Johnston, Steve Kerr, Ross Sinclair, Helmut Schaider, Annette Scott, Murray Weir.

No comments:

Post a Comment