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, 5 March 2017

Sunshine Coast Pelagic March 2017

Red-footed Booby
White Tern, Red-footed Booby, Streaked Shearwater and good numbers of Lesser Frigatebird, Pomarine Jaeger and Brown Booby were the highlights of the pelagic trip off Mooloolaba, Sunshine Coast, on Saturday March 4, 2017.

Pomarine Jaeger
We departed Mooloolaba Marina at 6.45am on an unseasonally warm autumn day with hopeful expectations following a prolonged period of fresh south-easterlies offshore over the preceding week. We were not to be disappointed. A gentle 5 knot easterly and a swell of .5-1m made for a relatively smooth ride as we headed east, seeing the first of many Pomarine Jaegers for the day and a dark phase Arctic Jaeger on the way out.

Wedge-tailed Shearwaters with (1) Flesh-footed Shearwater
Things started to get interesting in 120m, before reaching the shelf, when we saw a fairly distant pair of Lesser Frigatebirds. A little further on we spotted a collection of Flesh-footed and Wedge-tailed Shearwaters feeding while above them, no fewer than 10 Lesser Frigatebirds graced the sky.

Lesser Frigatebird female

Lesser Frigatebird male

Near here we saw a couple of Brown Boobies perched on a trawler before finding 2 more Brown Boobies accompanied by an intermediate phase Red-footed Booby perched on another trawler further out. A second intermediate phase Red-footed Booby flew by while we watched its perched brethren.

Brown Booby

Red-footed Booby
Red-footed Booby
After these welcome interruptions, we passed a couple of Tahiti Petrels before reaching the shelf at 10am, a little later than usual - 34 nautical miles offshore in 210m at 26.31.436S; 153.44.850E. The swell had picked up to 1.5m and the breeze to a comfortable 5-10 knots.

Tahiti Petrel
More Tahiti Petrels arrived as we began laying a berley trail and good numbers of both Flesh-footed and Wedge-tailed Sheawaters joined us for the whole time we were on the shelf. Unlike recent pelagic trips off both the Sunshine Coast and Gold Coast, birds appeared to be very hungry, attacking the berley voraciously.

Pomarine Jaeger
Pomarine Jaeger dark phase

We were soon joined by a smattering of Pomarine Jaegers in various plumage phases; we were to have as many as 11 at one time about the boat.

Streaked Shearwater
A single Streaked Shearwater joined the fray, coming and going as the morning progressed.

Brown Booby
A couple more Brown Boobies brought the total to 6, along with the 13th Lesser Frigatebird for the day; the highest number I have encountered for either species on a pelagic. Numbers of Pomarine Jaeger and Flesh-footed Shearwater were also unusually high.

White Tern
White Tern
Shortly after midday a single White Tern was a welcome addition to the list as it flew overhead. Other non-bird "sea monsters" included Glaucus, bluebottles, Porpita, Violet Snail, a comb jelly and a pelagic crab holding a spirula shell.
Common Terns
After drifting southwards 5.5 nautical miles we turned around to head back at 1pm, stopping for a feeding flock of Common Terns and Little Terns inshore before arriving back at the marina at 3.15pm.

PARTICIPANTS: Paddy Dimond (skipper), Greg Roberts (organiser),  Ralph Brown,  Devon Bull, Ian Cleary,  Kaya Cleary,  Malcolm Graham,  Matteo Grilli,  Nicholas Haass,  Elliot Leach,  James Martin,  Davydd McDonald,  Steve Pratt,  Raja Stephenson.

BIRDS: Total number seen. (Maximum number seen at any one time).

Wedge-tailed Shearwater 90 (30)
Flesh-footed Shearwater 40 (15)
Streaked Shearwater 1 (1)
Tahiti Petrel 12 (5)
Brown Booby 6 (2)
Red-footed Booby 2 (2)
Lesser Frigatebird 13 (10)
Arctic Jaeger 1 (1)
Pomarine Jaeger 26 (11)
White Tern 1 (1)
Crested Tern 30 (6)
Common Tern 80 (40)
Little Tern 8 (4)
Silver Gull 1 (1)

1 comment:

  1. Wow! So many wonderful sea birds! I have only captured Terns & Gulls from your list!