Here is the Port Fairy Pelagic Trip Report for Sunday 15th August 2004.
This was not the monthly BA Vic Group trip (which incidentally has been
cancelled due to rough weather on all 7 attempts in the past 3 months) rather
it was an extra trip organised by Andrew Wegener. Expectations were high given
the series of cold fronts that have swept across southern Australia recently.
In then end it was a fairly quite trip, at least for the regulars.
OBSERVERS: Andrew Wegener (organiser), Chris Lester, Adam Rigg, Simon Mustoe,
Lynn Roberts, Bryan Bending, Katrina and Kent Ridley, James McKenzie, John and
Sue O'Mally, Nick Day, and Rohan Clarke.
WEATHER: A high-pressure cell sat over western Victoria. Despite forecasts
suggesting the wind would swing around through the day, what wind there was
came from the south. 6/8 cloud cover in the early am, clearing to 2/8 by midday
but back to 6/8 in the pm as we approached land. Generally dull during transit
to and from the shelf, but bright whilst over the shelf. Two short drizzle
showers in the am, otherwise visibility was good. Southerly wind initially of
10-12 knots, decreasing around 1000 to < 5 knots and becoming almost calm by
SEA: Moderate; 1 to 1.5m waves on a low (1-1.5m, larger inshore) SW swell
moderating through the day as the wind dropped off so that in the late pm sea
surface was almost glassy on an irregular 1-2 m swell. A bit bumpy on the way
out with light spray, reasonably stable whilst berleying over the shelf slope
and a comfortable ride back to port. Sea surface temperature was 13 - 14 C
according to BOM web-page.
ACTIVITY: Departed at 0716. Headed out at 12 Kts. There were a few birds over
inshore waters (first 20 km). Offshore beyond the 40-fathom mark we travelled
through a zone that contained reasonable numbers of Albatross and Gannets and
several Prions and we stopped once to investigate some of these. We crossed the
shelf-break at 10.00 and continued out into pelagic waters. As usual in the
pelagic zone, we made three berley stops centred on 38º50'S 141º50'E. At each
stop, we attracted good numbers of Albatross and smaller numbers of other
species. We departed the deeper waters, at 12.55 & came in @ 14 Kts. When
inshore, we cruised the western and northern shores of Lady Julia Percy Island
(LJPI) from 1450 to 15.15. Docked at ~16.10.
MAMMALS: Australian Fur Seals: 1,000's at LJPI, ~10 seen elsewhere at sea. No
BIRDS: 21 species of seabird beyond the river mouth indicated average
diversity. Unless noted otherwise, those listed below were near or beyond the
shelf break (i.e. pelagic).
Little Penguin: 1 inshore in both the am and pm: 1 with moderately oiled
plumage on LJPI.
Common Diving-Petrel: 1 inshore (seen by a few)
Great-winged Petrel: 15 (5). all nominate race
Cape Petrel: 4 (2) all pelagic though 1 followed us in for some distance.
Northern Giant Petrel: 4 (1) all immature. 1-2 pelagic, remainder inshore.
(Southern Giant-Petrel: 1 immature (distant) when inshore appeared to be this
Fairy Prion: 20 (6). 5 offshore.
(Prion spp.:10 mostly distant)
Sooty shearwater: 1 offshore
(Short-tailed Shearwater: 1 probable inshore)
Hutton's Shearwater: 2 (also 50+ 'Fluttons Shearwaters a mile or two off the
breakwater in the am but the flock flew directly away from us so no ID to
Wandering Albatross: 4. 1 exulans, (stage 5), 2 gibsoni (stage 4), 1
interesting plumaged bird. At a distance dorsally similar to a N. Royal
Albatross. Essentially white tail (photos reveal grey tip to 1 feather), almost
uniformly black upper-wing, White body/back/head (inc. crown) with no
vermiculations and no colour on the neck. Head profile and bill colour typical
for wanderer though.
Black-browed Albatross: nom. race, 70 (30). 50 pelagic, 20 offshore, 3 inshore.
Ratio 15:1 Adult to immature. impavida, 4 (3) ad pelagic.
Shy Albatross cauta: 80 (35). 40 pelagic, 30 offshore, 10 inshore. Ratio 2:1
Adult to immature
Yellow-nosed Albatross: 12 (5). 6 pelagic & 4 offshore, 2 inshore. 4 Adults 1
sub-ad at second berley point.
Grey-Backed Storm-Petrel: 5 (3)
White-faced Storm-Petrel: 1
Australasian Gannet: c.100. 60 offshore, 40 inshore, 1 pelagic.
Black-faced Cormorant: 2 inshore. None at LJPI.
Kelp Gull: 9 adults on LJPI.
Silver Gull: 2 inshore in am, 4 on LJPI.
Crested Tern: ~50, 4 pelagic, 22 offshore, 25 inshore mostly between LJPI & PF.
White-fronted Tern: 1 pelagic
Southern Skua: 3 all inshore in the pm
Dr Rohan Clarke
Threatened Mallee Bird Project
La Trobe University
Ph: 03 9479 1672 Mobile 0408 947001
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