With fresh memories of a rocky ride on our May 2018 pelagic a week ago, fingers were crossed for a smoother run as we departed Mooloolaba Marina at 6.55am on Sunday June 3 with a brisk 10-knot SW breeze blowing. The wind picked up as we headed out but it was behind us so the trip was relatively comfortable. We encountered a smattering of Crested Terns and Australasian Gannets and two fly-by Hutton's Shearwaters before spotting two Humpback Whales – the first of the season.
We were 19 nautical miles offshore in 60 metres when we spotted the first Providence Petrel of the day. Then we picked up a Shy Albatross in 115m 25 nautical miles offshore sitting on the water behind a trawler whose crew were cleaning its catch from the night before. This was the first record of the species for a Sunshine Coast pelagic and the bird was of the race cauta, a scarce visitor to south-east Queensland.
We began laying a berley trail on the edge of the continental shelf 32 nautical miles offshore in 350 metres (S26.3.1; E 153.43.4) at 9.55am. By this time we had a steady S-SW wind of 15-20 knots and a hefty swell of 2-3 metres which remained the order of the day. We soon had Providence Petrels and Wilson's Storm-Petrels coming to the slick and quite a few of both were about the boat while we out wide.
It wasn't long before an Antarctic Prion made an appearance and we had this species come and go several times while we were on the shelf.
A Grey-faced Petrel was looking good as it approached the boat – the second sighting of this species for a Sunshine Coast pelagic following last week's first. Satellite tracking of Grey-faced Petrel suggests it does not stray north of Brisbane (it is seen regularly on the Southport pelagics) and today is likely the most northerly Australian record of the species.
We'd been floating for a couple of hours before a Black-bellied Storm-Petrel showed up, with one or two birds about for the next hour before we turned around to head back at 1.15pm. We had drifted 4.7 nautical miles in a north-westerly direction to 150 metres.
On the way back we had a flock of Hutton's Shearwaters with 2 Fluttering Shearwaters among them; the image here was the best I could manage of the latter. We arrived back at the marina at 4.05pm. Elist.
Greg Roberts (organiser), Toby Imhoff (skipper), Zoe Williams (deckhand),
Eric Anderson, Margie Baker, Tony Baker, Warren Bennett, Jane Cooksley, Ken Cross, Phil Cross, Rick Franks, Richard Fuller, Malcolm Graham, Geoff Glare, John Gunning, Nikolas Haass, Bob James, James Martin, Paul Marty, Steven Pratt, Allan Pratt, Liam Pratt, Trevor Ross, Esme Ross, Raja Stephenson.
SPECIES: Total (Maximum at one time)
Shy Albatross 1
Grey-faced Petrel 1
Providence Petrel 60 (8)
Antarctic Prion 6 (2)
Hutton's Shearwater 15 (12)Fluttering Shearwater 2 (2)
Black-bellied Storm-Petrel 2 (1)
Wilson's Storm-Petrel 30 (5)
Australasian Gannet 30 (6)
Silver Gull 4 (4)
Crested Tern 80 (30)
Humpback Whale 2 (2)