Here's the Port Fairy pelagic trip report from last Sunday. Note Mike Carter is
trying to organise a follow-up trip for Thursday or Friday in the hope of
re-locating the Atlantic Petrel (if interested contact him directly on 03 9787
7136) Contrary to earlier reports I'm still in the country :)
BA-VIC Victorian Pelagic off PORT FAIRY (PF), VIC, 6 February 2005
OBSERVERS: Gail Berry, Rob Berry, Peter Bright, Joan Broadberry, Rohan Clarke
(organiser), Steve Clark, Clive Garland, Tania Ireton, Brian Johnston, Grant
Penrhyn, Frank Pierce, Ray Schultz and Dave Webb.
WEATHER: Mostly overcast in the am, clearing somewhat to high hazy cloud around
midday then sunny in the pm. Generally good visibility although a little dull
in the am. Cool to mild. SE wind of 10-15 knots inshore at first decreasing to
10 knots offshore before further decreasing as we headed back in.
SEA: 2-2.5 m irregular swell in am with 1 m chop meant the ride out was a
little bumpy at times but not particularly uncomfortable. Seas dropped off as
the wind died down such that at times on the return trip the sea was almost
glassy on a 2 m irregular swell.
ACTIVITY: Sailed at 0700 EST. Headed directly to the shelf break with one short
stop on the way. The trip out to the shelf was surprisingly quite and provided
no indication of just how good this trip was to be! We crossed the shelf break
(100 fathoms) at around 0930. We stopped and berleyed with shark liver at
three main locations, first at 38º49.08'S 141º53.24'E, then at 38º51.62'S
141º49.45'E and finally at 38º50.99'S 141º45.33'E before heading back in at
1300. We cruised the shores of Lady Julia Percy Island before docking at around
MAMMALS: Common Dolphins: a pod of 1+5 (6) on the way out and a dispersed pod
of ~10 on the way back in.
1,000's of Australian Fur Seals at LJPI mostly females with large pups. Also
~25 at sea mostly as ones and twos.
BIRDS: An ATLANTIC PETREL was the highlight of the day (and is an early
contender for bird of the year!). When accepted by the Birds Australia Rarities
Committee this will be the first Australian record. A bird in worn plumage, it
dropped into the feeding frenzy just metres behind the boat at the second
berley stop. It remained for over 20 minutes, variously feeding right behind
the boat and looping around the vessel in flight. It eventually disappeared
only to reappear 10 or so minutes later for an encore! Incredibly, after it had
moved off we moved to a third berley spot and nearly an hour later the bird
reappeared again for a few more minutes! Several hundred digital photographs
were obtained and some of these have been posted on ABID. Initial confusion as
to the birds identity stemmed largely from the fact that this bird was in such
worn plumage the normally dark brown feathers on the breast, neck and head were
variously white or tipped white, while the remaining areas were rather bleached
pale brown. Once on land, a check of a few more texts leaves the identification
beyond doubt. This worn state is apparently common in the species.
The other highlight was the second LITTLE SHEARWATER ever for a Port Fairy trip
which came in briefly behind the boat at the second berley point. Persistent
White-headed Petrels and White-chinned Petrels that remained with the vessel at
every berley stop also added to what was a great day. 28 species of seabird
beyond the river mouth indicated excellent diversity. Two additional species
(both jaegers) remained unconfirmed
Little Penguin: 8 offshore on the return leg, 2 on LJPI and 1 beside LJPI
Great-winged Petrel: 80 (35). mostly nominate race, a couple appeared pale
enough for gouldi.
ATLANTIC PETREL 1. A first for Australia. Photos should appear at the following
web site some time today http://www.aviceda.org/abid/newimages.php
White-headed Petrel: 7 (3) but one to two birds with us for most of the time we
were beyond the shelf.
White-chinned Petrel: 4 (2 at every berley stop).
Fairy Prion: 3 (2).
Giant Petrel spp: 1 inshore in am.
Northern Giant Petrel: 1 imm at second berley stop.
LITTLE SHEARWATER: 1 pelagic at second berley stop. It was dark faced and thus
probably of the Sub-Antarctic race elegans. Second record for a Port Fairy trip.
Short-tailed Shearwater: 4500 (10). 4000 inshore, 300 offshore pelagic, 200
Sooty Shearwater: 12 (2) all pelagic.
Fluttering Shearwater: 5 (2) all inshore.
Hutton's Shearwater: 2 inshore in pm.
Flesh-footed Shearwater: 20 (10) mostly pelagic though 10 followed us in over
Wandering Albatross: at least 9 individuals on plumage (at least 2 exulens and
4 gibsoni amongst them) all pelagic. Up to three on the water together at times.
Black-browed Albatross: nom. race 13 (5) all imms or sub-adults: impavida, 7
(4) 3 adults 4, sub-adults.
Shy Albatross cauta: 40 (12). 4 offshore remainder pelagic.
Yellow-nosed Albatross: 35 (12). 1 imm 2 adult offshore, remainder all adults
Buller's Albatross: 2 adults pelagic.
Wilson's Storm-Petrel: 1 at shelf break.
White-faced Storm-Petrel: 80 (25) 10 offshore, remainder pelagic.
Grey-backed Storm-petrel: 3 (2) pelagic.
Australasian Gannet: 160 (25) mostly offshore but 2 (inc one juv) pelagic.
Black-faced Cormorant: 7 on LJPI.
Pomarine Jaeger: 2 inshore in pm.
[Arctic Jaeger: 1 probable at a distance inshore]
[Long-tailed Jaeger: 1 probable pelagic which flew over just after the Atlantic
petrel arrived. Many including myself couldn't look away from the petrel!]
Jaeger spp: 3 inshore but very distant in pm.
Kelp Gull: 28+ on LJPI.
Silver Gull: 44 on LJPI and 30 inshore.
Pacific Gull; 1 imm inshore.
Crested Tern: 80 (25) mostly inshore.
Dr Rohan Clarke
Threatened Mallee Bird Project
La Trobe University
Ph: 03 9479 1672 Mobile 0408 947001
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