BirdLife Australia Pelagic off Portland, Victoria, Sunday 6 May 2012
Participants: Brian Boyd, Steve Clark, Paul Dodd (organiser), Christian
Doerig, Guillaume Doerig, Brian Johnstone, Rosemary Lester, Grace Lewis,
Johnny Loy, Mike Paynter, Ruth Woodrow, Chris Lester (recorder).
Crew: Shannon and Peter.
Activity: Departed Portland harbour aboard the Southern Pride boat at
07.10 heading south-west to the shelf. Went straight out to the shelf.
Our first stop was at 38°42.17’E, 141°22.0 about 1.5 nm over the shelf
break and 23 nm from Portland in 200 fathoms of water. Berleyed here
from 9.30 till 9.50, but there were very few birds at all. There were
about 30 tuna boats around us, so we moved on quickly. We moved out a
fair bit to 38°45.32’E, 141°20.83 about 3,5 nm over the shelf break in
300 fathoms, looking for birds. We stayed there from 10.15 until 11.10
but again there were few birds. We saw the Pilot Whales and Flesh-footed
Shearwater here. We moved east along the shelf and berleyed at
38°47.69E, 141°27.24S, 1.5 nm over the shelf break, in 250 fathoms from
11.40 until 13.15. There were many more birds here and we did see quite
a few new species, usually single birds. This is where we saw the New
Zealand Storm-Petrel among a good number of Wilson's. We moved east
again and berleyed at 38°47.57E, 141°33.51.24S, 1.2 nm over the shelf
break, in 250 fathoms from 13.40 until 14.30. Headed back in passing
Lawrence Rocks, where we had a good look, before returning and docking
Conditions: Initially, there was a very light wind of 2-3 knots from the
SW. There was no sea and a swell of only about 0.5 m despite the
forecast of a 3.5m It was 80% overcast with some sunny breaks. It
stayed that way for pretty much the whole day with longer sunny breaks
in the middle of the day and a reasonably warm temperature. The swell
was about 2m at the end of the day but not consistently - only in sets.
The wind stayed very light and was from the N.
Summary: Very surprisingly about average diversity with 22 species of
seabird recorded during the trip but the numbers of most regular species
were very low. There were almost no birds at our first stop and very few
at the second. There were many more birds around in the afternoon than
the morning. Obviously, the highlight was the New Zealand Storm-Petrel
along with close encounter with the Long-finned Pilot Whales.
Australian Fur Seal: the normal numbers loafing at Lawrence Rocks with a
few on the way to and from the shelf.
Long-finned Pilot Whale: a pod of 20 that approached the boat from a
long way away and eventually dove straight under us; another smaller pod
Wilson's Storm-Petrel: 20 (7). Pelagic.
Grey-backed Storm-Petrel: 5 (1). Pelagic.
NEW ZEALAND STORM-PETREL: 1. Pelagic. At our 3rd stop, a Storm-Petrel
flew in that we initially thought was Black-bellied. It stayed with us
for an hour and gave us 6 or 7 views with 2 or 3 reasonably close
fly-bys, enabling us to get some reasonable photos. This was very
fortuitous as it was later identified as New Zealand from the photos.
(We posted one of Paul's photos on Birdline Victoria.)
Black-browed Albatross: 30 (20). Mostly race melanophrys, but also
impavada. Mostly pelagic.
Shy Albatross: 30 (20). All race cauta. Mostly pelagic, but a few inshore.
Buller's Albatross: 15 (5). Mostly pelagic, but a few inshore.
Yellow-nosed Albatross: 3 (2). Pelagic.
Wandering Albatross: 1. Pelagic.
Northern Giant-Petrel: 3 (2). 1 pelagic; 2 travelling in.
Southern Giant-Petrel: 2 (2). Travelling in.
Giant-Petrel sp.: 1. Unidentified at the shelf.
Fairy Prion: 50 (10). Pelagic and travelling in and out.
Short-tailed Shearwater: 35 (5). Mostly on the way in and out; a few
Sooty Shearwater: 1. Pelagic.
Flesh-footed Shearwater: 1. Pelagic.
Great-winged Petrel: 10 (6). All race macroptera. Pelagic.
Australasian Gannet: 200+. Most were on or near Lawrence Rocks and Point
Danger but about 10 offshore and pelagic.
Black-faced Cormorant: 50+ inshore, mostly on or near Lawrence Rocks
with 5 flying passed.
Brown Skua: 1. Passed us on the way out.
White-fronted Tern: 1. Passed us on the way in.
Crested Tern: 50 around Lawrence Rocks, 6 off-shore.
Kelp Gull: 2 at Lawrence Rocks.
Silver Gull: 60 at Lawrence Rocks, 10 off-shore.
Skylark: 1. Flew passed a long way out travelling out.
For details of future Portland trips, go to the BirdLife Australia web
site at the bottom of the page on
For reports of past BA-Vic and BirdLife Australia trips from Portland
and Port Fairy, search the Birding-Aus archives for the trip reports at
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