BirdLife Australia - Portland Pelagic Trip Report, 6 May 2012 - New Zeal

Subject: BirdLife Australia - Portland Pelagic Trip Report, 6 May 2012 - New Zealand Storm-Petrel
From: Chris Lester <>
Date: Sat, 12 May 2012 17:35:38 +1000

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 at 17.30.

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 further away.


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 pelagic.

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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