Port Fairy Pelagic Report for 19.01.03 corrected

To: "BIRDING-AUS" <>, "Bill Ramsay" <>, "Stuart Cooney" <>, "Ashley Bunce" <>
Subject: Port Fairy Pelagic Report for 19.01.03 corrected
From: "Mike Carter" <>
Date: Tue, 21 Jan 2003 18:24:53 -0000


OBSERVERS: Chris Lester (organiser) Rob Berry, Harry Clarke, Gail D’Alton, Gina Hopkins, Alex Lara, Steve Mulholland, Frank Pierce, Jennifer Spry, Joy Tansey, Geoff Walker, Glenn White & Mike Carter (leader).

WEATHER: An anticyclone was centred over the area, (western Bass Strait). Cloudless with excellent visibility. Mild. SE wind to 5 knots in a.m. rising in p.m. to 12 knots by 14.15. Once again, forecast wind speeds (to 20 knots) did not eventuate.

SEA: Slight (0.5 to 1 m waves), on a low (1.5 m) SW swell, rising as we came in to choppy (1.0 to 1.5 m white-crested waves) on a 2 m swell. So a smoothish ride going out, some instability while stationary, and plenty of spray on the return, especially from Lady Julia Percy Island (LJPI). Three, sick briefly, quickly recovered.

ACTIVITY: Sailed at 06.40. Headed out on a COG of 202º at 13.5 Kts. Apart from one Fluttering and a few Short-tailed Shearwaters, few birds were seen until we were well offshore when feeding flocks of Gannets, Short-tailed Shearwaters and then Fairy Prions were encountered, mainly between 40 and 60 fathoms. Among the Prions was a LITTLE SHEARWATER, the bird of the day being the first confidently identified on these excursions. It gave superb views flying parallel to the boat, 20 m off the beam well illuminated by the sun. The unmarked, unsullied, brilliant white undersurface of wings, except for the trailing edge, and body to just below eye-level, and even bill shape, were clearly visible.

On the shelf break (90 to 105 fathoms, large numbers of Storm-Petrels were feeding. Here we made the first of five berley stops, ultimately spending almost 4 hours in the pelagic zone within a 10 km circular area centred on 38º49’S 141º52.5’E over depths to 360 fathoms. Our second berley station was after we had approached a trawler working the 260-fathom line. The highlight here was a BULLER’S SHEARWATER flying low among the assembled sitting albatrosses, only the second record in these waters. Moving on we had excellent sustained views of an adult NORTHERN ROYAL ALBATROSS and repeated sightings of WHITE-CHINNED PETRELS. The final highlight was a very photogenic SOFT-PLUMAGED PETREL. It hung around at the back of boat, at times coming to within 6 m.

We cruised the western and northern shores of LJPI from 14.25 to 14.50. Docked at 15.55.

MAMMALS: 1,000’s of Australian Fur Seals at LJPI and 2 or 3 well offshore. A pod of about 20 Bottle-nosed Dolphins near PF as we came in.

BIRDS: 24 species of seabird beyond the river mouth indicated good diversity and some, particularly Storm-Petrels, were abundant. Others, for instance Fluttering Shearwaters and Jaegers, 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:  7 on LJPI.

Great-winged Petrel: 80 (40). Only 1 nominate race.


Fairy Prion: 130 (30). 80 offshore.



Flesh-footed Shearwater: 45 (10), (15 offshore, 5 inshore).

Sooty Shearwater: 3 (1).

Short-tailed Shearwater: 500 (70). 340 offshore, 150 inshore (mainly in a.m.).

Fluttering Shearwater: 1 inshore.

LITTLE SHEARWATER: 1 race elegans or similar (not assimilis), offshore.

Wandering Albatross: 3. 1 stage 2, 2 stage 4, exulans.

N. ROYAL ALBATROSS: 1 adult (photographed).

Black-browed Albatross: 8 (3). 1 adult & 6 sub-adult melanophris, 1 offshore.

1 sub-adult impavida. 

Shy Albatross: cauta 120 (70), (15 offshore). 50 adults, 70 sub-adults.

Yellow-nosed Albatross: 5 (2), (1 offshore). All juvs.

Wilson’s Storm-Petrel: 5 (2).


White-faced Storm-Petrel: 170 (50).

Australasian Gannet: c.100, (25 inshore, 75 offshore).  No colour-marked birds 

from Port Phillip Bay detected but most were distant so possibly


Black-faced Cormorant: 5 on LJPI.

Kelp Gull: 16 on LJPI, full adults & juveniles only.

Silver Gull: 80 on LJPI & 1 inshore.

Crested Tern: 15 (7), (11 inshore, 2 offshore & 2 pelagic).

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