Port Fairy, VIC, Pelagic Trip Report, 7 April
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
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
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
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.
30 Canadian Bay
Mt Eliza Vic 3930
03 9787 7136