Port Fairy Pelagic report for 16 Mar 2003

To: "BIRDING-AUS" <>, "Ashley Bunce" <>
Subject: Port Fairy Pelagic report for 16 Mar 2003
From: "Mike Carter" <>
Date: Tue, 18 Mar 2003 17:59:08 -0000


 The good times had to end.

OBSERVERS: Rob Berry, Harry Clarke, Gail D’Alton, Sean Dooley, Alistair & Heather Hunter, Tania Ireton, Richard Loyn, Stuart Pell, Frank Pierce, Geoff Walker, Andrew Wells & Mike Carter (leader).

WEATHER: An anticyclone was ridging to western Bass Strait. Thin cloud cover at times but a mostly clear sky. Bright, with excellent visibility. Mild. SE wind 5 to 10 knots, (less than forecast). 

SEA: Slight on a SW swell, low inshore, moderate (1.5 to 2.0 m) offshore. So a little sloppy at times but mostly a comfortable ride. No-one sick.

ACTIVITY: Sailed at 07.15 (sunrise 07.30). Headed out on a COG of 204º at 13.5 Kts. Apart from Crested Terns dispersing from their overnight roost to feed there wasn’t much activity close inshore. About 28 km out, on the 32-fathom mark, this changed. Here there were hundreds of Dolphins, a few seals, thousands of Short-tailed Shearwaters, a few Gannets, Crested Terns, an occasional albatross and a smattering of other birds. As we neared the shelf break an hour-and-ten minutes later we started to encounter more White-faced Storm-Petrels. Pushing out into pelagic waters to 250 fathoms there was scarcely a bird to see until our berley slick, rich with shark liver, attracted birds from beyond our visibility. We had crossed the shelf break at 09.55 and remained in pelagic waters until 13.15. Here we made four berley stops within a 10 km circular area centred on 38º48.8’S 141º53.4’E. Coming in, we cruised off the western and northern shores of Lady Julia Percy Island (LJPI) from 15.00 to 15.35, longer than usual searching without luck for a vagrant moulting penguin. Docked at 16.40.

MAMMALS: 1,000’s of Australian Fur Seals at LJPI and perhaps 15 at sea, some with the 500 to 1,000 Dolphins, apparently mostly Common but some Bottle-nosed.

BIRDS: 24 species of seabird beyond the river mouth indicated exceptional diversity and some, particularly Short-tailed Shearwaters, were abundant. Shy Albatross numbers were down presumably because no trawlers were active in our area. The best bird got away. It was a Pterodroma but in the light wind it was flying low to the sea restricting our view of the underwing, possibly a Soft-plumaged Petrel. The JAEGER’s were heading east apparently on passage. Highlights are in capitals. Unless noted otherwise, those listed below were near or beyond the shelf break (i.e. pelagic).

Little Penguin:  5. 2 inshore in a.m., 2 on LJPI and 1 on sea adjacent.

Common Diving-Petrel: 2 singles inshore in a.m.

Great-winged Petrel: 12 (6). 11 nominate race, 1 gouldi.


Fairy Prion: 4 (2). 1 offshore.

Flesh-footed Shearwater: 20 (10). 5 offshore.

Sooty Shearwater: 3 (1).

Short-tailed Shearwater: c. 10,000. <10 pelagic, 100’s offshore, mostly inshore.

Fluttering Shearwater: 5 (4). I offshore, 4 inshore.

WANDERING ALBATROSS: 7(4). 1 stage 5, 1 stage 4, 5 juvs. (= stage 1),

exulans. Two juvs. took shark liver from the hand.

Black-browed Albatross: nom. race, 30 (20). 5 off, 3 inshore. 5 ads, 25 sub-ads.

                                            impavida, 15 (10). 12 adults, 3 sub-ads.


Shy Albatross cauta: 20 (10). 2 offshore, 6 inshore. 10 adults, 10 sub-adults.

Yellow-nosed Albatross: 30 (15). 4 offshore, 6 inshore. 15 adults, 15 sub-adults.

Wilson’s Storm-Petrel: 1.

White-faced Storm-Petrel: 20 (7). 5 offshore, 2 inshore.

Australasian Gannet: c.140. 110 inshore, 26 offshore, 4 pelagic incl. 1 juv.

Black-faced Cormorant: 4 ads. on LJPI.

GREAT SKUA: 1, an unusually early date.

ARCTIC JAEGER: 10 (2). 4 inshore. 

POMARINE JAEGER: 3 (2). 2 offshore.

Kelp Gull: 30 on LJPI, 15 adults & 15 juveniles.

Silver Gull: 60 on LJPI.

Crested Tern: 150 (120). 13 on LJPI, 130 inshore, 4 offshore & 3 pelagic).

Mike Carter
30 Canadian Bay Road
Mt Eliza    VIC     3930
Ph:  (03) 9787 7136
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