• lab1
Aug 5: Northerlies – ugh!

Today was my third Sunshine Coast pelagic of the year, but since the weather forecast was for light northerly winds, I didn’t have my usual sense of excitement as I drove up the Bruce Highway to Mooloolaba before dawn. Arriving at the jetty at 0630, the group of folks was assembling, and it was nice chatting with folks. Presently, we climbed aboard and motored through the seaway and past Beacon Point. It quickly became apparent that there were very few birds around. I started a new eBird checklist every 5km on the journey out to the shelf, and most of the lists were completely blank. No birds in a 5 km transect of the Coral Sea!

We eventually had a lone Wedge-tailed Shearwater, and after we had crossed into Brisbane waters, came upon a couple of fishing boats, complete with 60+ Crested Terns and a couple of Brown Boobies. As we commenced the main drift over the continental shelf, a few Providence Petrels showed up, but nothing was interested in the berley, and the few birds that were around just whizzed past instead of hanging around. Quite a few Providence Petrels came and went, a couple of Gannets, and a handful of Hutton’s Shearwaters, but that was going to be it for the day. Really a very disappointing result, and no year ticks for me. It really does show how sensitive shelf sea-birding is to wind direction, and even though I know the theory, I was surprised by how dramatic the effect is.

I’m ashamed to say I grabbed some sleep on the way back, uncharacteristically. I was exhausted after a week of early starts and late nights, and thrashing up and down the motorway between the Sunshine Coast and Brisbane. Hoping for some kind of interlude bird-wise in the next week so I can rest! I’m off to Vancouver on 17th – 28th August, so that’ll be a decent break from obsessive year-listing, in a location from which I can’t just dash back to twitch the latest rarity!

Also, we’ve booked a trip to the UK, leaving on Christmas Day. So my last day of birding for my Brisbane Big Year will be Christmas Eve.

With no year ticks today, my year list remained on 293 species. I spent 5 hours 38 minutes birding, walked 0 km and drove or boated 277.1 km. My chronological year list is here.