Port Fairy December Pelagic trip report

Subject: Port Fairy December Pelagic trip report
From: "Mike Carter" <>
Date: Tue, 11 Dec 2001 11:55:18 +1100
Port Fairy (PF), VIC, Pelagic Trip Report, 9 December 2001
Observers: Geoff Walker, Euan Fothergill, Peter Barrand, Rob & Gail Berry,
Simon Star, Frank Pierce, Ray Schulz, Kelvin Williams, Smarthi Chong, Julian
Sykes (UK) and Mike Carter (leader).

Weather: Cloudy periods with brief light showers but mostly fine and sunny.
Cold. Wind: Mostly calm with some zephyrs till 11.00 then light southerly
freshening to 12 Kt from W to NW.

Sea: Almost glassy rising to slight to moderate on a low swell. So we had a
gentle ride and no one was sick.

Activity: Sailed @ 06.30. Headed out SSW @ 13.5 Kts. Apart from close
inshore, few birds were encountered on the way out. We stopped to berley
with shark liver and sliced couta at four locations within a 5 km radius of
38*49'30"S 141*53'30"E (c. 65 km SSW of PF) over depths from 90 to 230
fathoms between 09.00 and 12.40. Many of the birds seen were, or had been,
following a trawler working in the eastern-most part of this area. We came
in at 14.5 Kts and cruised W & N shores of Lady Julia Percy Island (LJPI)
from 14.35 to 15.00. Docked @ 16.05.

Mammals:  Australian Fur Seals were encountered throughout except beyond the
shelf break and there were 1,000's at LJPI. Two small pods of Common
Dolphins were just inshore of the shelf break.

Birds:  A very strange and interesting day. Usually common species such as
Flesh-footed Shearwater and Yellow-nosed Albatross were notable by their
extreme scarcity while the number of White-chinned Petrels was
unprecedented, perhaps for anywhere off the Australian continent. At one
stage, we had 35 together and there must have been at least 50 in total.
Four is the previous maximum on any day off SW Victoria.

24 species of seabird identified beyond the river mouth indicated above
average diversity.

Unless noted otherwise, most listed below were in pelagic waters.

Little Penguin: 3, 2 offshore &1 inshore.

Common Diving-Petrel: 2 near shelf break.

N. Giant Petrel: 2.

Great-winged Petrel: 25 (20), 24 gouldi, 1 macroptera.

Fairy Prion: 40 (15).

White-chinned Petrel: 50 (35).

Flesh-footed Shearwater: 2.

Short-tailed Shearwater: 220 (50), 130 inshore; 30 offshore.

Fluttering Shearwater: 3 (2), inshore.

Hutton's Shearwater: 1.

Wandering Albatross: 2 exulans stage 3.

Black-browed Albatross: 3 impavida, 1juv. & 2 sub-adults. Why so few?

Shy Albatross: cauta 50 (35).

Yellow-nosed Albatross: 1 juv. only.

Wilson's Storm-Petrel: 2. Close to the boat so very photogenic.

Grey-backed Storm-Petrel: 1. Good but brief views.

Australasian Gannet: 50. 5 inshore, 25 offshore, 15 pelagic & 5 over LJPI

appeared to be prospecting for nesting sites!

Black-faced Cormorant: 9 on LJPI.

Little Black Cormorant: 1 on LJPI.

Great Cormorant: 1 off mouth of river at PF.

Pacific Gull: 1 off mouth of river at PF.

Kelp Gull: 6 adults on LJPI.

Silver Gull: 25 on LJPI.

Crested Tern: 24 (5). All areas.

     On LJPI, we could also see 1 Swamp Harrier, 2 Peregrines, 1 Nankeen
Kestrel, 2 Sooty Oystercatchers, and several Welcome Swallows & Starlings.

    On the river at PF was a Common Sandpiper.

                                     Mike Carter

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