My Portland pelagic, May 2013

To: birding-aus <>
Subject: My Portland pelagic, May 2013
From: jenny spry <>
Date: Sun, 12 May 2013 22:11:01 +1000
Hi all,

This is my version, as a passenger, of last weekends Portland pelagic
complete with my normal digressions and impressions. It includes important
trivia such as the excellent food we were served and the fact that I was
wowed by a particularly beautiful Portugese Man-of-War jellyfish. If anyone
is interested in photos etc please go to my blog at the link below.

When I looked at my birding records I saw that the last Birds Australia
Port Fairy pelagic that I had been on was in March 2007. That was more than
6 years ago. Quelle horreur!! The situation had to be remedied. Of course
here was that one spectacular trip out of Port Fairy, organised by Neil
Macumber, to see the Great Shearwater when it was in town, in 2011, but
apart from that I had not been on a Victorian trip for far too long. The
situation rectified itself when the weather was pronounced as "good" for
the 5th May Portland trip.

Sunday morning was overcast when we arrived at the boat but the strong
winds of the past week had dropped off and we had about 5 knots out of the
south east. This meant that, while the swells were still enormous, there
were no serious waves. So, the boat went up and down a lot but wasn't at
all uncomfortable. The ride out to the shelf takes a couple of hours and on
this trip the birds were few and far between. A White-fronted Tern went
past as did a few Fluttering Shearwater and the occasional distant
Australasian Gannet.

Even when we got to the shelf it remained quiet for some time. We bobbed
around on the swell for about ten minutes, maybe more, as we waited but
come they did. First on the scene were some of the smaller albatross,
mollymawks, and we soon had a nice following of Black-browed and Shy
Albatross. Fairy Prions joined them and then the storm petrels arrived;
Wilson’s, Grey-backed and White-faced. It was turning into an excellent

A surprise for me happened when the lid on one of the big iceboxes was
opened and a huge tray of very yummy sandwiches appeared. This was a
pelagic first for me and the instant swarm of hands over the platter was as
thick as a swarm of gannets diving on prey. What I really liked was they
were cut into quarters, garden party fashion, so they could be eaten in two
bites so letting you get back to the birds without worrying about what to
do with a half eaten sandwich. I was going to take a photo of this event
but as I had one hand on my binos and the other around an egg and lettuce
sandwich the photo never happened.

The first large albatross, a Northern Royal, arrived at this stop and when
they appear I know I am on a pelagic. They are just so beautiful as they
glide in on their 2 metre wingspan. By the time the trip was over we had
seen four large albatross, two Royal and two Wandering, one of which was
still in its all-brown juvenile plumage.

The second stop was the spectacular stop of the trip. As we threw the berly
over a Sooty Albatross approached the boat and landed. Spectacular. The
Sooty is an uncommon sight off Victoria so everyone was thrilled and many
people onboard ticked off a new species. It was then that things started to
get ridiculous. This uncommon bird was joined by a second, and we had 2
Sooty Albatross sitting beside us, unheard of!; and then a third bird
arrived. Never before have I seen three Sooty Albatross together. What a
trip. Magic.

To maintain the quality of the day the call went out that there was a
“different looking” prion behind the boat. We all then got good looks as
the bird joined the feeding birds. Antarctic Prion? Salvin’s Prion? No one
was sure but as it turned out after consulting various people and sending
photos around it was agreed that it was an Antarctic Prion. Another tick
for many on board. More Magic.

Researching the very pretty blue and iridescent-spotted Man-of-war
jellyfish we saw provide me with some fascinating trivia. It had a body
maybe 7 or 8 cm long but evidently the multiple tendrils that hang from
below it can be over 10 metres long and can give a sting bad enough to
hospitalise, sometimes kill, an adult. I am glad I was not in the water
with it.

When I finally got my list worked out and photos checked I had seen 24
species for the day, including the inshore species such as Black-faced
Cormorant, Pacific Gull, Silver Gull and Australasian Gannet. Bird-wise,
the surprise for me was that we had not seen many petrels other than a
Southern Giant Petrel and a few Great-winged, but hey, with Antarctic Prion
and Sooty Albatross on the list, who could complain?



To unsubscribe from this mailing list,
send the message:
(in the body of the message, with no Subject line)

<Prev in Thread] Current Thread [Next in Thread>
  • My Portland pelagic, May 2013, jenny spry <=

The University of NSW School of Computer and Engineering takes no responsibility for the contents of this archive. It is purely a compilation of material sent by many people to the birding-aus mailing list. It has not been checked for accuracy nor its content verified in any way. If you wish to get material removed from the archive or have other queries about the archive e-mail Andrew Taylor at this address: andrewt@cse.unsw.EDU.AU