Port Fairy Pelagic 7 April

Subject: Port Fairy Pelagic 7 April
From: "Mike Carter" <>
Date: Thu, 11 Apr 2002 12:58:11 +1000
 Port Fairy, VIC, Pelagic Trip Report, 7 April 2002

 Observers: Rohan Clarke, Chris & Rosemary Lester, Tania Ireton, Richard Loyn, Euan Fothergill, Rob & Gail Berry, David Stickney, Frank Pierce, Grant Penrhyn, Margaret Alcorn and Mike Carter (leader).

 Weather: A high-pressure ridge extended into western Bass Strait. Sky was overcast with thin cloud until 11.00, then clear and sunny. Cool. Wind SE, 5 Kts at first, freshening as we moved offshore; later in the day 15 Kts.

 Sea: Slight on a low swell inshore early, quickly rising to choppy on a medium swell. Thus it was a jerky ride out, more so coming in. The roll at the shelf-break while stationary (berleying) made photography a challenge. A curtain of spray obscured our view returning to port from Lady Julia Percy Island (LJPI). One person was mildly sick.

Activity: Sailed at 06.50 EST. Just beyond the river mouth, stopped to watch a feeding flock which included several jaegers. At 07.30 headed out SSW at 14 Kts, pausing occasionally. Berleyed with shark liver at four locations at and beyond the shelf-break from 09.45 to 12.55 within a 5km radius of 38º 49’S 141º 51’E and again for 15 minutes from 14.10 in offshore waters when coming in. Then cruised along the western and southern shores of LJPI. Docked at 16.20.

Mammals: Australian Fur Seals, 1,000’s at LJPI but only one at sea.

Fish: The sounder revealed an abundance of fish throughout the area.

Birds: 30 species of seabird beyond the river mouth indicated exceptional diversity. The several highlights are emphasized in bold type. Unless noted otherwise, most listed below were near or beyond the shelf break (i.e. pelagic).

Little Penguin: 2 at sea inshore & 1 on LJPI.

Great-winged Petrel: 25 (15) of the nominate race.

White-headed Petrel: 2 (1).

Antarctic/Salvin’s Prion: 2 (1) briefly offshore.

Fairy Prion: 10 (2), 4 offshore & 2 inshore.

Flesh-footed Shearwater: 150 (50), 30 offshore, 50 inshore which is unusual.

Great Shearwater: 1. An excellent but brief view. Flew directly towards the boat but when just 20 m off it turned and disappeared into the distance. When accepted by BARC this will be only the 4th Australian record. Our previous sighting was also in April.

Sooty Shearwater: 2 (1).

Short-tailed Shearwater: 60 (15), (10 offshore, 35 inshore).

Fluttering Shearwater: 3 inshore.

Wandering Albatross: 5. 1 exulans stage 7, 4 gibsoni stages 2, 3 & 4.

Black-browed Albatross: 140 (80). 20 melanophris mostly adults, all areas. 120 impavida mostly adults in the pelagic zone.

Shy Albatross: cauta 50 (30).  10 offshore, 2 inshore.

[Grey-headed Albatross: 1. A peculiar white-headed & white-necked bird with black bill, yellowish culminicorn & all dark underwing. Photos revealing bill structure will settle ID.]

Yellow-nosed Albatross: 25 (6). 4 offshore, 14 inshore (mostly adults).

Buller’s Albatross: 2 (1).

Sooty Albatross: 2.

Wilson’s Storm-Petrel: 8 (5). 1 offshore.

Grey-backed Storm-Petrel: 3 (1). 1 offshore.

White-faced Storm-Petrel: 4 (2). 1 offshore.

Australasian Gannet: 30, none pelagic.

Black-faced Cormorant: 2 on LJPI.

Great Skua: 1 inshore.

South Polar Skua: 1 offshore.

Pomarine Jaeger: 1 inshore.

Arctic Jaeger: 11 (10). 10 inshore.

Kelp Gull: 15 on LJPI.

Silver Gull: c. 60 on LJPI & 20 inshore near Port Fairy.

Crested Tern: c. 25 inshore & around LJPI.

White-fronted Tern: 1, an early bird.

 Grey Fantail: 3 single migrants heading in a generally northerly direction, flying at or within 2 m of sea level, 24, 32 & 40 km offshore between 08.00 & 09.00. The shortest course from Tasmania to the mainland, especially if King Island was used as a staging post, would be 180 km to the east.  This suggests that this apparently weak flyer can easily cross Bass Strait and more, without a second thought or rest enroute.

Mike Carter
30 Canadian Bay Road
Mt Eliza   Vic    3930
03 9787 7136

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