Port Fairy Pelagic 22 July Revised

Subject: Port Fairy Pelagic 22 July Revised
From: "Mike Carter" <>
Date: Wed, 1 Aug 2001 20:44:41 +1000

Port Fairy (PF), VIC, Pelagic Trip Report, 22 July 2001

Revised 1 August 2001 after inspection of photographs

 This was a BELLBOCA outing organized by Peter Bright.

 Observers: Peter Bright, Glen White, Ian Montgomery, Rob Cowdell, Pam Rae, Robert Ganly, Kay Campbell, Denise Hanson, Brian Hart, Liz Ferguson, Brendan Hellard and Mike Carter (leader).

 Weather: A large, strong, high-pressure system stretched from Bass Strait to the Bight. A beautiful day; mostly sunny with clear, sharp visibility. Cold. Wind: 0-10 Kt NE.

Sea: Slight, becoming glassy in p.m., on a low swell inshore. Slight on a long pitched 2 m swell offshore. Thus it was a gentle trip. Some felt a little queasy and briefly sick but no one was seriously ill.

Activity: Sailed @ 07.35. Spent the first half-hour in the bay just off the beach watching a Southern Right Whale at close range and the next half-hour just a little further out studying 3 Giant Petrels which we attracted to the boat with berley. Then headed out SSW @ 13.6 Kts. Birds were thinly and widely scattered. About 22 Nm out, we encountered flocks of feeding Gannets and small numbers of other species (depth 56 fathoms). Also, 10 Common Dolphins. After crossing the shelf break @ 11.15, we stopped to berley with shark liver and sliced couta at three locations within a 5 km radius of 38*51’S 141*51’E (c. 60 km SSW of PF) over depths from 250 to 360 fathoms until 13.20. On way in, cruised W & S shores of Lady Julia Percy Island (LJPI) from 15.25 to 15.50. Docked @ 16.50.

 Mammals:  Three Southern Right Whales in shallow water, 2 just off the beach, in the Bay immediately east of the mouth of the River Moyne at PF. Five were seen here yesterday and up to 8 previously. A pod of 10 Common Dolphins were near to the feeding Gannets, 22 Nm off Port Fairy. These had a pale to white triangular mark on the dorsal fin, more prominent than usual, at least in my recollection. 1,000’s of Australian Fur Seals were at LJPI and a few elsewhere.

Birds:  A very pleasant, entertaining and interesting day with the highlight being a South Polar Skua identified after critical examination of several slides. Because I suspected it might be this species, I took many photos of it and luckily, they came out well and were not lost or damaged by Kodak!  22 species of seabird identified beyond the river mouth indicated above average diversity. Another highlight was the opportunity to compare juveniles of Southern and Northern Giant Petrel at close range. Unless noted otherwise, most listed below were in pelagic waters.

Little Penguin: 1 near LJPI & 2 twixt there and PF.

Common Diving-Petrel: 2-3 between LJPI & PF.

S. Giant Petrel: 2 inshore. Also one unidentified GP.

N. Giant Petrel: 2. 1 inshore with SGP in a.m. and another sound asleep sitting on sea with head tucked into mantle/scapulars near LJPI in p.m.

Cape Petrel: 1.

Great-winged Petrel: 8 (7), 6 macroptera, 2 gouldi. One was worn or aberrant.Its plumage was brown, not black; it had a large pale triangular shaped patch on the belly and a long pale streak along the base of the secondaries on the underwing.

Antarctic Prion: 1.

Fairy Prion: 10 (7), 3 in offshore waters.

Short-tailed Shearwater: 5 in offshore waters.

Fluttering Shearwater: 150 (150). 4 inshore and 3 offshore in a.m.; the remainder flying to the west in an almost continuous line between PF & LJPI in p.m.

Wandering Albatross: 3. exulans stage1, 2 gibsoni, stages 3/4  &  5/6.

Black-browed Albatross: melanophris 80 (30) (all areas), impavida 10 (pelagic).

Shy Albatross: cauta 110 (40) (all areas but mostly pelagic).

Yellow-nosed Albatross: 8 (4), 2 offshore, 4 pelagic.

Australasian Gannet: 310 (300). Feeding concentration 22 Nm out in 56 fathoms.

Black-faced Cormorant: 2 off PF.

Great Skua: 1. An all dark individual flew W across our wake soon after we started to come in.


South Polar Skua: 1 at our first berley stop beyond the shelf was around for at least 30 minutes, and at times, very close to the boat. Much paler than most  Great (= Brown = Southern = Subantarctic = Antarctic) Skuas, the plumage was similar to the bird on Tony Palliser’s web page except that the pale on the flank extended right through to the undertail. The lack of a pale blaze, (as in Tony’s bird), stopped me calling it on the day. A study of several photographs obtained show that it was a juvenile. The bill, which had a bluish tinge and a deep hook, was very slender for a Catharacta skua.  Some white scribbling remained on the upper legs. Rare in Australia at anytime, exceptionally so in winter, this will require a BARC submission, so if anyone else aboard has photos, please send me a copy.


Pacific Gull: 2 off PF. One twice seen to drop a mollusc on to the concrete breakwater from a height of c. 2 m in an attempt to open it. Is this tool use?

Kelp Gull: 6 on LJPI.

Silver Gull: 10 on LJPI.

Crested Tern: 18 (6). All areas.

    On LJPI, we could also see 2 Swamp Harriers, 1 Nankeen Kestrel, 4 Sooty Oystercatchers and 4 Welcome Swallows. Crossing the Bay at PF was a Little Raven.

Mike Carter
30 Canadian Bay Road
Mt Eliza   Vic    3930
03 9787 7136


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