SUMMARY: Whilst there was
enough of interest for the inexperienced, for the three regular sea-birders
aboard, an ordinary trip suddenly became extraordinary when shortly before we
had to head in, we saw the first STREAKED
SHEARWATER to occur off southern Australia west of Bass Strait. This
is only the fourth Victorian report. And soon after that having started in, a
SOFT-PLUMAGED PETREL circled our boat. Otherwise
abundance was low & diversity only fair.
OBSERVERS: Peter Bright
(organiser), Bretan Clifford, Rob Cowdell, Magda Dodd, Don & Rhonda
Jennings, Peter Lansley, Rod Long, Tim Mintern, Frank Pierce, Pamela Rae, Glen
White and Mike Carter (leader & reporter).
WEATHER: A weak, slow-moving
trough spanned Bass Strait whilst a weak cold front was approaching from the
west. It was a mild and humid day, overcast with low and misty cloud. No rain at
sea but constant light rain ashore. The light was fair to good but at times,
visibility was limited to ~5 km. The wind, SSW @ 5 Kts at first backed to SE and
rose to 10-12 knots as we went out and continued at that strength and direction
for the remainder of the day.
SEA: Initially flat on a low SW
swell inshore but both sea and swell rose to 1 m out-wide with the swell
continuing to build to 2 m. Both sea & swell decreased as we came in but it
was still choppy on a 1 m swell, therefore some spray, as we came in from Lady
Julia Percy Island (LJPI). So a very good start, a little rocky beyond the
shelf but not too unpleasant at any stage. One person sick
ACTIVITY: Sailed from Port Fairy (38º23?18?S
142º14?30?E) at 07.05 EDST. We went out on our usual course of 206º at
13.0 Kts, pausing only once for a Fluttering Shearwater on the sea. Arrived at
our first berley stop at 09.40 in 256 fathoms @ 38º49.0?S 141º53.3?E. Birds were
slow to gather over our shark-liver and fish berley slick so at 10.20 we moved
to deeper water. On reaching the 700 fathom canyon at 38º52.4?S 141º48.1?E, we
berleyed from 10.45 to 11.25. The scarcity of birds here prompted another move
so we headed out SW and investigated another deep ?hole? at 38º51.3?S
141º45.25?E between 11.40 and 12.25. Then we headed in but laid another slick at
38º48.3?S 141º45.2?E where the depth is 218 fathoms from 12.40 to 13.00. This
was the most productive drift. Enroute back to PF, we briefly cruised portions
of the western and northern shores of LJPI. Docked at 16.30.
SPERM WHALE: 1 briefly in deep water at
Common Dolphin: One pod of c.50
beyond the shelf at 38º49?S 141º53.3?E.
Australian Fur Seals: >15
singles away from LJPI where there were thousands.
BIRDS: 23 species (24 taxa) of
seabird observed beyond the river mouth indicated good diversity. Albatross
numbers were disappointing. Unless noted otherwise, all listed below were near
or beyond the shelf break (i.e. pelagic). Highlights are in
Little Penguin: 7 inshore where
flat conditions enabled detection & 2 ashore on
Great-winged Petrel: 20 (10),
all were race gouldi; 2 followed us in almost to LJPI.
PETREL: 1 circled the
Fairy Prion: 14 (3); 10
offshore & 4 pelagic.
WHITE-CHINNED PETREL: 2 (2)
SHEARWATER: 1. Came into
the boat but didn?t settle or feed. Photos.
Flesh-footed Shearwater: 90
(50); 2 inshore, 8 off- (others followed us in) & 80
Sooty Shearwater: 2
>1,000 (300), >250 inshore, 700 offshore & 50 pelagic.
Fluttering Shearwater: 11 (3),
3 inshore & 8 offshore.
HUTTON?S SHEARWATER: 2 (1), 1
inshore & 1 offshore.
White-faced Storm-Petrel: 9
(3), all pelagic.
Wandering Albatross: 3 (3), all
exulans, stages 1(2) & 5 (1, banded on right leg).
Black-browed Albatross: 4 (3).
Melanophrys: 2; 1 adult & 1 sub-ad. Impavida: 1
adult; all pelagic. 1 sub-ad of
unknown race offshore.
Shy Albatross cauta: 30
(15). 2 inshore, 2 off & 26 pel. 25 adults, 4 sub-ad. & 1
Yellow-nosed Albatross: 6 (3).
2 adults, 2 sub-ads. & 3 juvs. 3 offshore & 3
Australasian Gannet: 100 (15).
40 inshore, 45 offshore & 15 (ads.) pelagic.
Black-faced Cormorant: 1 on sea
near, & 18 on, LJPI.
KELP GULL: 14 on LJPI.
Silver Gull: 20 on
Crested Tern: 60. 50 on LJPI, 7
inshore & 3 pelagic.
COMMON TERN: 1