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, 2 June 2012

Sunshine Coast Pelagic Trip June 2012

It's not often that Lesser Frigatebird (female above) and Light-mantled Sooty Albatross are seen on the same seabirding trip, but that's what we scored today on the fourth pelagic trip off Mooloolaba on the Sunshine Coast, Saturday June 2.
Conditions were looking ominous as we headed out from Mooloolaba Marina at 7.15am, notwithstanding promising forecasts. On board our catamaran, Cat-A-Pult, were skipper Paddy Diamond (centre above) and participants Carl Billingham,, Jan England, June Harris, Wayne Kroll, Colin Reid, Greg Roberts (organiser), Andrew Stafford, Esther Townsend and Brian Willey.
The sea was choppy all day, with easterly winds averaging 15-20 knots and gusting up to 25 knots in a 2.5-metre swell.
Things looked up when we found our first Wilson's Storm-Petrel 17nautical miles offshore at a depth of 50  metres, relatively close to land for this species.
 Four nautical miles further out at 70 metres, spirits rose further when a White-faced Storm-Petrel, a rare bird in Queensland, put in an appearance.
It was hard slogging through the big waves and after crossing the Barwon Bank, we were wondering how much further we would get when at 130 metres (26.38460S, 153.35451E), we found the bird of the day not far from an anchored fishing trawler, although it was not following the trawler.
 A Light-mantled Sooty Albatross showed well albeit a little distantly for all. The bird was in and out of view for about 10 minutes before disappearing. A second large seabird seen with it at one point appeared similar in shape and was probably another Light-mantled Sooty, but we couldn't clinch it. This is the first record of a  bird of this species at sea in Queensland. We had no super-snappers on board so thanks to Geoff Jones from Barra Imaging for this image, and that of the White-faced Storm-Petrel.
We sent word out about the albtross record to friends and it was disappointing to see that Simon Mustoe published it  (with his facts wrong) on Bird-O before we had even returned to shore. The birding and publishing ethics of some folk could do with a little tweaking.
The first Providence Petrel appeared soon after. At 10.30am we stopped on the edge of the shelf at 160 metres to lay a burley trail of shark liver. Plenty of Providence Petrels and Wilson's Storm-Petrels showed, along with a couple of unidentified Fregatta storm-petrels, a second White-faced Storm-Petrel, and the Lesser Frigatebird mentioned earlier. Both Fluttering and Hutton's Shearwaters were about in small numbers, as well as an out-of-season Wedge-tailed Shearwater.
After a couple of drenchings from waves crashing over the boat in relentlessly foul and worsening conditions, we were forced to call it quits early, heading back and returning to Mooloolaba about 2pm, the only other bird of interest being an unidentified Thalassarche albatross.

Species seen: (maximum number at one time) - total

Light-mantled Sooty Albatross (1) 1
Albatross Thalassarche spp. (1) 1
Providence Petrel (5) 20
Hutton's Shearwater (1) 2
Fluttering Shearwater (2) 4
Wedge-tailed Shearwater (1) 1
White-faced Storm-Petrel (1) 2
Wilson's Storm-Petrel (6) 40
Storm Petrel Fregatta spp. (1) 2
Australasian Gannet (2) 20
Lesser Frigatebird (1) 1
Crested Tern (6) 30


  1. Excellent stuff birds we only dream of in the Northern hemisphere :-)

  2. Great birds! There was a live beach washed Light-mantled Sooty Albatross on South Stradbroke Island on October 12th 2002.

  3. What a fantastic Trip & Photos!

  4. Thanks Judi, and thanks to Geoff Jones for a couple of those images