Port Fairy Pelagic 1 December report

To: "BIRDING-AUS" <>, "Stuart Cooney" <>, "Bill Ramsay" <>, "Ashley Bunce" <>
Subject: Port Fairy Pelagic 1 December report
From: "Mike Carter" <>
Date: Tue, 3 Dec 2002 18:06:32 -0000


OBSERVERS: Rob Berry, David Burren, Pat Commerford, Gail D’Alton, Greg Hunt, Philip Jackson, Frank Mitchell, Frank Pierce, Jennifer Spry, Paul Sutherland, John Vaitkunof, Geoff Walker & Mike Carter (leader).

WEATHER: High-pressure system ridging in from the west. Partially cloudy, then overcast in a.m., cloudless in p.m. Always bright with excellent, sharp, visibility. Cold. Easterly wind from 5 to 15 knots, strongest inshore in p.m.

SEA: Sloppy (1 m waves), on a low to medium (1.5-2.0 m) SW swell. So the ride was a bit joggily going out, and a little bumpy, with plenty of spray, returning to the east from Lady Julia Percy Island (LJPI). Going out, one person got sick, but recovered. One got soaked enjoying the spray on the easterly leg home.

ACTIVITY: Sailed at 06.15. Headed out on a COG of 206º at 14.0 Kts. Very few birds seen until we were well offshore when feeding flocks of Short-tailed Shearwaters and Fairy Prions were encountered between 50 and 90 fathoms. Here, patches of krill turned the sea brown and the sounder revealed shoals of fish deep below. Then we had the first of at least 8 WHITE-HEADED PETRELS. At the urging of our skipper we moved quickly into deep water beyond the shelf break to avoid having to wait while an oil exploration vessel towed its 4 Nm of seismic lines across our course. We made three berley stops within a 3 Nm (5 km) radius of 38º49’S 141º50’E between 09.15 and 12.30 at depths of between 300 & 106 fathoms. Here we had an unprecedented variety of Petrels. Great-winged and GOULD’S PETRELS (only two previous records in the 24 year history of these trips), were constantly in view and we had Victoria’s first ever COOK’S PETREL. Two WHITE-CHINNED PETRELS attracted by our shark-liver and chopped fish berley came within metres. One of two LONG-TAILED JAEGERS (an adult in winter plumage) added to the entertainment. As we started in, some lucky observers had a very close view of a COMMON DIVING-PETREL. We were speeding in from the shelf break, when a larger ‘cookilaria’ type petrel flew past heading the other way. I FANCY that it was a BARAU’S PETREL. Although all agreed that it was about the size of a White-necked Petrel, the underparts were poorly seen and there was some disagreement regarding the head pattern so it will remain just a fancy. On our more westerly return course, there were even larger numbers of Fairy Prions feeding on the krill around the 80-fathom line. We cruised the western and northern shores of LJPI from 14.35 to 15.05. Docked at 16.00.

FISH: The sounder detected large shoals of fish well below the surface out wide.

MAMMALS: 1,000’s of Australian Fur Seals at LJPI and one associating with a pod of at least 30 Common Dolphins 26 Nm SSW of PF.

BIRDS: 23 species of seabird beyond the river mouth indicated good diversity and some were abundant. Others, for instance all albatrosses, Flesh-footed and Fluttering Shearwaters, Storm-Petrels (especially White-faced), Gannets and Crested Terns, were notable for their scarcity or absence. The highlights are in capitals. Unless noted otherwise, those listed below were near or beyond the shelf break (i.e. pelagic).

Little Penguin:  1 on LJPI.


Great-winged Petrel: 130 (50). Only 2 nominate race.

WHITE-HEADED PETREL: 8 (2), 3 offshore.

[BARAU’S PETREL: possibly 1]. Whatever, an unusual petrel.

COOK’S PETREL: 1. BARC submission required.


Fairy Prion: >1,000.


Flesh-footed Shearwater: 3 (1), (1 offshore).

Sooty Shearwater: 2 (1).

Short-tailed Shearwater: >1,000; mostly offshore, c. 80 inshore in a.m.

Wandering Albatross: 2 stage 4, (1 gibsoni, sub-species of other unknown).

Black-browed Albatross: 15 (7), all sub-adult or juv melanophris. 

Shy Albatross: cauta 20 (6), (11 offshore).


Yellow-nosed Albatross: 11 (4), (3 offshore). Only 1 adult.

Wilson’s Storm-Petrel: 1.

Australasian Gannet: c. 60, (20 inshore & 40 offshore).

Black-faced Cormorant: 6 on LJPI.

LONG-TAILED JAEGER: 2; 1 moulting adult mostly in winter plumage.

Kelp Gull: 1 imm. on LJPI.

Silver Gull: 70 on LJPI.

Crested Tern: 3, (1 inshore, 1 offshore & 1 pelagic).

Mike Carter
30 Canadian Bay Road
Mt Eliza    VIC     3930
Ph:  (03) 9787 7136
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