Port Fairy pelagic report for 9 May 2004

Subject: Port Fairy pelagic report for 9 May 2004
From: "Mike Carter" <>
Date: Tue, 11 May 2004 14:09:43 -0000
OBSERVERS: Chris Lester (organiser), Joan Broadberry, Rob Berry, Barbara
Burns, Jim Caine, Rohan Clarke, Peter Crabtree, Gail D'Alton, Annette
Hatton, Rosemary Lester, Andrew Wells, Glenn White & Mike Carter (leader).
Report prepared with the assistance of Rohan Clarke.

WEATHER: A large, intense anticyclone, centred to the SW of Tasmania,
produced SE to E winds of 8 to 12 Kts. Patchy, 3/8 cloud cover cleared
around 10.30 so it was mostly sunny with good light and excellent
visibility. Cold to cool.

SEA: Lumpy; 0.5 to 1.0 m waves on a low, (1 m), SW swell. So it was a bit
jiggly with a little spray but quite a comfortable ride. No one was sick.

ACTIVITY: Sailed at 07.05 but as we headed down the river an unusually
plumaged Pacific Gull glimpsed in the twilight of dawn caused us to suspect
it was something rare. In poor light it appeared neatly dark hooded, but
otherwise in adult plumage with a steely grey back. So before heading out to
sea, we patrolled the river and adjacent shores for 50 minutes, getting
another fleeting view, which failed to resolve the ID. As we sailed up the
river on our return to port we relocated the bird and obtained better views,
immediately determining its true identity as a third year Pacific Gull.
We went out on a COG of 203* at 12.5 Kts. Enroute to the shelf there was
much bird activity, particularly inshore, causing us to pause frequently. We
crossed the shelf-break at 10.05 and continued out to the 275-fathom
contour. Between then and 13.05 we berleyed with shark-liver and fish scraps
whilst drifting for 45 minutes at each of three locations within a 5 km
radius of 38*50'S 141*53'E. The third of these was where a fishing trawler
had attracted about 1,000 albatrosses! A good selection of birds attended
each stop; details below. Then we headed in @ 13.5 Kts. To allow time to
investigate the gull, we returned directly (COG 30*) from the trawler to PF,
without visiting Lady Julia Percy Island (LJPI). Docked at 16.00.

MAMMALS: No cetaceans.
Australian Fur Seals: c.15; pairs and singles on several occasions and one
group of >6. None pelagic.

BIRDS: Allowing for the fact that by not visiting LJPI we missed out on at
least another 2 species (Little Penguin and Kelp Gull), the 24 seabirds
observed beyond the river mouth indicated above average diversity.
Highlights are in capitals. Unless noted otherwise, those listed below were
near or beyond the shelf break (i.e. pelagic).

COMMON DIVING PETREL: At least 12, mostly singles inshore. Sustained views
of several in flight.
Giant Petrel spp.:  1 distant bird on the water as we came in.
Cape Petrel: 1. First for the season.
Great-winged Petrel: c.50 (10), all nominate race.
Fairy Prion: 200 (50). 90 inshore, 50 offshore & 60 pelagic.
Short-tailed Shearwater: c.10 (2). 5 inshore, 4 offshore, & 1 pelagic.
Fluttering Shearwater: 2 inshore.
Wandering Albatross: >10 (6). Some definitely exulans, 1+ gibsoni, 1
possibly antipodensis. 1 (stage 1),             1 (3), 4 (4), 2 (5). 2 (6).
ROYAL ALBATROSS: NORTHERN, 1 adult, rather distant.
Black-browed Albatross: nom. race, 120 (50). 100 pelagic, 5 off, &15
             90 ads, 25 sub-ads, 5 juv.
            impavida, 710 (500) 700 pel., 10 offshore ; 660 ads, 40 sub-ads,
10 juvs.
Shy Albatross cauta: 185 (100). 160 pelagic, 20 offshore, 5 inshore.
            150 adults, 35 sub-adults, 0 juvs.
            SALVINI: 1 sub-ad.
Yellow-nosed Albatross: 35 (15). 30 pel., 3 off & 2 inshore. 20 ads, 15
BULLER'S ALBATROSS: 1. Poor views of a passing bird.
SOOTY ALBATROSS: 2. Excellent sustained views down to 2 m had the cameras
working overtime.
Wilson's Storm-Petrel: 15 (3). 10 pelagic, 5 offshore.
White-faced Storm-Petrel: 12 (2). 6 pelagic, 3 offshore, 3 inshore.
Australasian Gannet: c.90 (30). 50 inshore, 40 offshore, 1 juv pelagic.
Black-faced Cormorant: 1 inshore.
LONG-TAILED JAEGER: 1 offshore seen briefly.
Pacific Gull: 1 crossed the river mouth as we went out. (Several other
adults and
first year birds on the breakwater).
Silver Gull: 15 inshore.
Crested Tern: 20 (6), 3 pelagic, 7 offshore, 10 inshore.
WHITE-FRONTED TERN: 1 adult inshore, first for this season.

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

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