Port Fairy Pelagic Report for 2 Feb 03

To: "BIRDING-AUS" <>, "Ashley Bunce" <>
Subject: Port Fairy Pelagic Report for 2 Feb 03
From: "Mike Carter" <>
Date: Thu, 6 Feb 2003 12:03:07 -0000


The good times roll on but unfortunately, so do big seas!

OBSERVERS: Chris Lester (organiser), George Appleby, Rob Berry, Gail D’Alton, Gina Hopkins, Rosemary Lester, Peter Menkhorst, Frank Pierce, Jennifer Spry, David Stickney, Geoff Walker, David Webb & Mike Carter (leader).

WEATHER: An anticyclone was ridging to western Bass Strait. Thin, but continuous cloud cover till 13.00, and then clear. Bright, with excellent visibility. Cool to mild. S wind at 10 knots in a.m. turning E and rising in p.m. especially inshore where 20 to 25 knots by 15.00, (exceeding the forecasted wind speed of up to 15 knots).

SEA: Choppy  (to 1 m waves), on a low (1.5 m) SW swell in a.m. rising in p.m. to rough (1.5 to 2.0 m foaming waves) on a 2 m swell. So a bumpy ride out, some instability while stationary as we berleyed beyond the shelf and increasingly uncomfortable as we came in to Lady Julia Percy Island (LJPI). Then we took a real beating (I’ve got the bruises to prove it) on the last leg to Port Fairy with a complete curtain of spray around the boat. Two sick but both saw the birds that excited them.

ACTIVITY: Sailed at 07.05. Headed out on a COG of 202º at 13.0 Kts. Close inshore there were hundreds of Short-tailed Shearwaters, a few Gannets and Crested Terns and the odd Fluttering Shearwater, then little until 31 km out at 45 fathoms. Here we encountered the first feeding birds. Yellow-nosed Albatrosses tearing at a squid, then Gannets and shearwaters of two species accompanying hundreds of Common Dolphins and a few seals. As we approached the edge of the continental shelf White-faced Storm-Petrels became common.

We crossed the shelf break at 09.45 and remained in pelagic waters until 13.00. Here we made four berley stops within a 10 km circular area centred on 38º48.5’S 141º52.5’E over depths to 280 fathoms. This attracted birds to assemble around the boat. Coming in, we cruised off the western and northern shores of LJPI from 14.45 to 15.15 where we pursued one of two soaring NORTHERN GIANT PETRELS, normally seen only in winter and spring. Docked at 16.15.

MAMMALS: 1,000’s of Australian Fur Seals at LJPI and perhaps 10 well offshore, some with one of two pods of Common Dolphins totalling between 200 and 1,000.

BIRDS: 25 species of seabird beyond the river mouth indicated exceptional diversity and some, particularly Short-tailed Shearwaters, were abundant. Shy Albatross numbers were down presumably because no trawlers were active in our area. Again several rare species were seen. All gave good views. These are highlighted in capitals. One ‘that got away’ was a probable Little Shearwater in the pelagic zone. It was too distant and seen by only four observers. Unless noted otherwise, those listed below were near or beyond the shelf break (i.e. pelagic).

Little Penguin:  4 on LJPI.

Common Diving-Petrel: 2. 1 inshore.

N. GIANT PETREL: 1 + [1] off LJPI.

Great-winged Petrel: 100 (60). 10 nominate race, 90 gouldi.



Fairy Prion: 8 (1). 5 offshore.


Flesh-footed Shearwater: 60 (20), 10 offshore, 10 inshore.

Sooty Shearwater: 3 (1).

Short-tailed Shearwater: c. 2,070 (200). 10 pelagic, 60 offshore, 2,000 inshore.

Fluttering Shearwater: 5 (1). I offshore, 4 inshore.

Wandering Albatross: 3. 1 stage 3, 2 juvs. = stage 1, exulans.

Black-browed Albatross: 15 (7). All nom. race. 2 offshore. 3 ads, 12 sub-ads.

Shy Albatross cauta: 20 (8). 3 offshore. 8 adults, 12 sub-adults.

Yellow-nosed Albatross: 16 (8), 6 offshore. 8 adults, 8 sub-adults.


White-faced Storm-Petrel: 70 (25). 18 offshore, 2 inshore.

Australasian Gannet: c.100. 30 inshore, 70 offshore (none pelagic).

Black-faced Cormorant: 4 on LJPI.

Great Cormorant: 2 inshore off PF.


Kelp Gull: 10 on LJPI, full adults & juveniles only.

Silver Gull: 30 on LJPI & 1 inshore.

Crested Tern: 50 (10). 10 on LJPI, 30 inshore, 5 offshore & 5 pelagic).

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