Birdlife Australia pelagic trip off Portland, Vic 3 Feb 2013

Subject: Birdlife Australia pelagic trip off Portland, Vic 3 Feb 2013
From: Rohan Clarke <>
Date: Sun, 03 Feb 2013 17:51:09 +1100
Sunday 3rd Feb 2013

OBSERVERS: Paul Dodd, Ruth Woodrow, Daphne Hards, Steve Clark, Iain Denham, Brian & Christine Boyd, Rob Drummond, John Ford, Gary Oliver, Anne-Marie Burgoine & Rohan Clarke (report compiler).

WEATHER: Generally overcast conditions in the AM with low misty cloud and occasional showers. It cleared a little before midday to high hazy cloud. Generally dull light, which made it difficult for the photographers. Surprisingly warm throughout the day. A 10 knot south westerly wind in the morning, increasing slightly around midday before dropping back again meant conditions were pleasant. We enjoyed a reasonable ride with only occasional fine spray when heading out.

SEA: A 1.5 m swell increasing to 2 m in the PM. The small chop (~0.8 m) in the AM also moderated to < 0.5 m and meant the ride was generally smooth whilst underway. None seasick.

ACTIVITY: Sailed at 0705. Headed directly to the shelf break and an area known as ?The Horseshoe?. Numbers of shearwaters inshore but then almost nothing. By the time we had arrived at the shelf we had logged just two individual albatross (almost unprecedented for a western Victorian pelagic). Crossed the shelf break (100 fathoms) at 0930 before making our first stop at 38º41.81?S 141º22.96?E over 130 fathoms of water were we berleyed with shark liver and pilchards. Although three Flesh-footed Shearwaters had been following at the time that we stopped to berley they departed and we did not manage to attract a single bird for at least 15 minutes. During the session we drifted in to finish over 100 fathoms of water. As birds were scarce we made just two stops and stayed longer at each to give the berley extra time to work. The second stop was made at 38º45.29?S 141º26.25?E (140-250 fathoms) before heading back in at 1440. We cruised the shores of Lawrence Rocks (LR) around 1540 before docking at 1615.

MAMMALS: Australian Fur Seals ~55 at LR. Also 1 in the harbour in the AM and 1 at sea in inshore waters in the AM .

BIRDS: 24 species (25 taxa) of seabird beyond the breakwater indicated average diversity, but numbers were exceptionally low. E.g. Although we recorded 5 species of albatross we logged just 21 individual albatross for the entire day. Highlights were Buller?s Albatross, White-headed Petrel and Long-tailed Jaeger.

Wilson?s Storm-Petrel: 1 pelagic.

Grey-backed Storm-Petrel: 2 (2). Both pelagic.

White-faced Storm-Petrel: 16 (8). All pelagic.

Wandering Albatross: 1 gibsoni at the first berley point briefly (pelagic).

Black-browed Albatross: 5 (4). All pelagic. 1 immature, remainder adult.

Campbell Island Albatross: 1 adult pelagic.

Shy Albatross: cauta 6 (3). 1 offshore, remainder pelagic, all adult.

Yellow-nosed Albatross: 6 (4). 1 adult offshore, 3 adults and 2 immatures pelagic.

Buller?s Albatross: 2 (2). Both pelagic. Both adult.

Short-tailed Shearwater: 1800 (1000). Mostly inshore, including a single raft of ~1000 in the PM, 5 offshore, 120 pelagic.

Sooty Shearwater: 6 (2). 1 inshore in the AM, remainder pelagic.

Fluttering Shearwater: 1 ofshore in the AM, another 2 inshore in the PM.

Flesh-footed Shearwater: 70 (40). 3 offshore, remainder pelagic.

White-chinned Petrel: 1 pelagic at the first berley point.

Great-winged Petrel: 20 (15). 15 gouldii, 5 nominate subspecies. All pelagic.

White-headed Petrel: 1 showed briefly as we moved between berley points (pelagic).

Australasian Gannet: 250 (80). 200 inshore, 5 offshore, 45 pelagic. Also 000?s at LR and lesser numbers on and over the mainland colony at Pt Danger. At sea all adult, but many near fledged juveniles on LR.

Black-faced Cormorant: 2 inshore in the PM, 25 ashore on LR and another 10 inside the harbour.

Arctic Jaeger: 2 dark birds at moderate distance in inshore waters in the AM, an intermediate bird in the same area in the PM.

Long-tailed Jaeger: 1 made several close approaches at the second berley point (pelagic).

Crested Tern: 60 (30). Mostly inshore, but 10 offshore and 12 pelagic. 200 ashore on LR in the PM.

Pacific Gull: 1 adult, 1 juv inshore in the AM, 1 three-year old on LR in the PM.

Kelp Gull: 2 on LR in the PM.

Silver Gull: 6 inshore and 50 at LR.

White-faced Heron: 1 in flight over inshore waters in the AM.

On LR Sooty Oystercatcher (1) and White-faced Heron (1) rounded out the list.


Rohan Clarke


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