BirdLife Australia - Portland Pelagic Trip Report, 5 May 2013

Subject: BirdLife Australia - Portland Pelagic Trip Report, 5 May 2013
From: Chris Lester <>
Date: Sun, 12 May 2013 12:26:25 +1000

BirdLife Australia Pelagic off Portland, Victoria, Sunday 5 May 2013

Participants: Scott Baker, Iian Denham, Paul Dodd, Michael Honeyman, Gil Langfield, Rosemary Lester, Rafael Sanchez, Jenny Spry, David Torr, Glen White, Ruth Woodrow, Chris Lester (organiser).

Crew: Shannon and Neville.

Activity: Departed Portland harbour aboard the Southern Pride boat at 07.00 heading south to the shelf past Lawrence Rocks. Went straight out to the shelf. Our first stop was 2.5 nm over the continental shelf break at 38°47.861'S, 141°31.428'E, 28 nm from Portland Harbour in 250 fathoms of water. Berleyed here from 10.00 till 11.30 and saw the first Northern Royal. We moved out to the south-west a fair bit to 6 nm over the shelf and 30 nm from Portland at 38°50.038'S, 141°25.758'E in 450 fathoms. We stayed there from 12.00 until 13.00. This is where the Sooty Albatrosses turned up along with the Wanderers and the second Northern Royal. We moved north to 2.5 nm past the shelf and 27 nm from Portland and berleyed at 38°45.818'S, 141°24.695'E in 250 fathoms from 13.30 until 14.15. this is where we saw the Antarctic Prion and the Brown Skuas. Headed north and back in passing Lawrence Rocks, where we had a good look, before returning and docking at 17.10.

Conditions: Initially, there was a light wind of fewer than 5 knots from the SSE. There was no sea to speak of but a swell of 3 m. It was 100%. It stayed that way for pretty much the whole day. The swell was about the same at the end of the day with no sea. The wind freshened up a bit to about 10 knots from ENE.

Summary: About normal diversity with 24 identified species of seabird recorded during the trip but with the numbers of most regular species still quite low. The highlights were Sooty Albatross and Antarctic Prion, neither of which we have seen on a Portland boat trip for a few years.


Australian Fur Seal: the normal numbers loafing at Lawrence Rocks with a few on the way to and from the shelf.

Common Dolphins: a few on the way in.


Wilson's Storm-Petrel: 20 (5). Pelagic.

Grey-backed Storm-Petrel: 3 (1). Pelagic.

White-faced Storm-Petrel: 10 (1). Mostly pelagic with a few inshore.

Black-browed Albatross: 50 (20). Mostly race melanophrys, but also several impavada. Mostly pelagic with a few inshore.

Shy Albatross: 20 (5). All race cauta. Mostly pelagic with a few inshore.

Yellow-nosed Albatross: 3 (1).  Pelagic.

Wandering Albatross: 2 (2). Pelagic. Race gibsoni.

(Northern) Royal Albatross: 2 (1). Pelagic. Race sanfordi.

SOOTY ALBATROSS: 3 (3). Pelagic.

Southern Giant-Petrel: 1. Pelagic.

ANTARCTIC PRION: 1. Pelagic. We took lots of photos and subsequently identified this bird as Antarctic. We had thought that it could be Salvin's initially but after research at home and with advice from others ruled that out.

Fairy Prion: 100 (20). Pelagic and travelling in and out.

Sooty Shearwater: 1. Pelagic.

Short-tailed Shearwater: 30 (5). All on the way out and in.

Fluttering Shearwater: 5 (2). On the way out and in.

Shearwater spp: We saw a couple of "Flutton's" type but couldn't confirm the ID.

Great-winged Petrel: 20 (8). Race macroptera only. Pelagic.

Australasian Gannet: 2000+. Most were on or near Lawrence Rocks but about 20 offshore and pelagic.

Little Pied Cormorant: 2. In Portland Harbour.

Black-faced Cormorant: 20+, mostly on or near Lawrence Rocks with 6 flying passed inshore.

Brown Skua: 2. On the way out.

White-fronted Tern: 1. On the way out.

Crested Tern: 50 around Lawrence Rocks, a couple off-shore.

Pacific Gull: 2. In Portland Harbour.

Silver Gull: 10 at Lawrence Rocks, 20 off-shore.

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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