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, 10 January 2016

Sunshine Coast Pelagic Trip January 2016

Tahiti Petrel
White-tailed Tropicbird, White Tern, Sooty Tern, Tahiti Petrel and Pomarine and Arctic Jaegers were seen on the Sunshine Coast pelagic off Mooloolaba, Queensland, on Saturday January 9, 2016. The sea was as smooth as glass as we set off at 6.40am from the Mooloolaba Marina. Heading east we saw a few Common Terns and a few more Wedge-tailed Shearwaters before arriving beyond the shelf edge at 9am, 32 nautical miles offshore in 370 metres (26.36.054S; 153.43.621E).

Sooty Tern
The E-SE breeze struggled to reach 6 or 7 knots and stayed that way for the rest of this fine, hot day in a swell of up to 2 metres; the swell resulted from a long period of rough weather in the leadup to this trip. We had hoped for more wind but spirits lifted a little when the first Tahiti Petrel arrived almost as soon as we began laying a trail of shark liver burley. Tahiti Petrels were with us for the rest of the time we were off the shelf, as were small numbers of Wedge-tailed Shearwaters.

Wedge-tailed Shearwater
As we drifted north with the burley trail we saw a couple of Wilson's Storm-Petrels - a scarce visitor in summer. A Sooty Tern livened things up before one of the group spotted (and photoghraphed) a distant White-tailed Tropicbird. Top bird of the day turned up just before noon when a pair of White Terns passed by. Also of interest out on the shelf was a large Tiger Shark which hung around the boat.

Tiger Shark
We turned around at 12.30pm, having drifted just 1.5 nautical miles in the windless conditions, with the intention of spending time looking for birds further inshore. Half way back we found a second White-tailed  Tropicbird, this one obligingly closer but still fairly distant, high in the sky. We scored a light phase Pomarine Jaeger and later on a light phase Arctic Jaeger, along with a couple more Sooty Terns. We had pods of Pantropical Spotted Dolphins and Offshore Bottlenosed Dolphins almost side by side.

Offshore Bottle-nosed Dolphin
As we neared the shore our good run with terns continued with numbers of Little, White-winged and Common. A Brown Booby was seen distantly by one of the party. We arrived back at the marina at 3.20pm.

On the shelf
Lachlan Tuckwell (skipper), Greg Roberts (organiser), Chris Burwell, Paul Barden, Raja Stephenson, Nikolas Haass, Wayne Knott, Vena Beetson, Erin Donaldson, Luke Bennett (thanks Luke and Erin for going the extra mile to help out with the burley) , Elliot Leach, Chris Burwell, Jacob Drucker, Lila Fried, Richard Fried, Niven McCrie.

Species: (Total maximum at any one time):

Tahiti Petrel 15 (5)
Wilson's Storm-Petrel 3 (2)
Wedgetailed Shearwater 120 (10)
White-tailed Tropicbird 2 (1)
Brown Booby 1 (1)
White Tern 2 (2)
Crested Tern 60 (10)
White-winged Tern 25 (15)
Common Tern 15 (5)
Sooty Tern 3 (2)
Little Tern 10 (4)
Silver Gull 8 (2)
Pomarine Jaeger 1 (1)
Arctic Jaeger 1 (1)
Jaeger spp. 1 (1)

Offshore Bottle-nosed Dolphin 8 (3)
Pantropical Spotted Dolphin 3 (2)

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