Subject: BA PORT FAIRY PELAGIC 20.03.05
From: "Mike Carter" <>
Date: Tue, 22 Mar 2005 12:48:07 -0800

SUMMARY: An enjoyable, comfortable trip with a good variety of interesting and photogenic birds but no great highlight.

OBSERVERS: Chris Lester (organiser), George Appleby, David Burren, Rohan Clarke, Euan Fothergill, Annette Hatton, Rosemary Lester, Frank Pierce, Adam Rigg, Charles Smith, Dave Torr, Geoff Walker & Mike Carter (leader).

WEATHER: An extensive high-pressure ridge extended from the Bight to well south of Tasmania, i.e. just to our west. This produced a SE breeze of 5 Kts inshore early a.m., which freshened offshore to around 10 Kts beyond the shelf then eased again to 5 Kts as we came in. The afternoon sea breeze boosted wind speeds inshore after we left LJPI. Light and visibility was fair to good. It was mild and a little humid. Generally overcast with thin patchy cloud but with some sunny periods. 

SEA: Generally slight (< 0.5 m) on a low (0.5-1.0 m) SW swell but when offshore and in pelagic waters, a little lumpy at times with seas to 1.0 m. So it was a pleasant ride with little spray and no one was sick.

ACTIVITY: Sailed from Port Fairy (38º23’18”S 142º14’30”E) at 07.05. The sun didn’t rise until 07.35 so it was dark or dull for the first hour. We went out on our usual course of 203º at 13.2 Kts. Our journey to the shelf slope was virtually uninterrupted. Just a few birds and Common Dolphins were seen with a small concentration of White-faced Storm-Petrels about 24 Nm from PF where the seabed drops fairly steeply, depth there increasing from 35-50 fathoms. We crossed the shelf break at 09.30 (29.5 Nm from PF) after passing over a plateau 3-4 Nm wide where the depth varies up and down between 90-104 fathoms. We reached our first berley location at 09.35 at a depth of 253 fathoms at 38º44.3’S 141º53.3’E. Almost immediately our shark-liver and small fish berley started to attract a variety of birds. After an hour we moved to deeper water, 600 fathoms at 38º52.4’S 141º48.8’E, and berleyed there from 11.05 to 12.00. From 12.15 to 12.55 we berleyed at 38º49.4’S 141º51.0’E where the depth is 146 fathoms. Enroute back to PF we cruised the western and northern shores of Lady Julia Percy Island (LJPI). Docked at 16.10.

MAMMALS: Common Dolphins: At least five encounters with pods numbering up to 30, two in inshore waters, one offshore and two pelagic. All before noon. Conditions for sighting cetaceans were good so the absence of whales was disappointing.

Australian Fur Seals: Only 3-4 singles away from LJPI where there were thousands.

BIRDS: 24 species (27 taxa) of seabird observed beyond the river mouth indicated above average diversity. Unless noted otherwise, those listed below were near or beyond the shelf break (i.e. pelagic). Highlights are in capitals.

Little Penguin: 5 ashore @ LJPI  & 1 dead offshore.

N. Giant Petrel: 1.

Great-winged Petrel: 9 (3). 7 were nominate race, 2 gouldi. 

Fairy Prion: 14 (4). 3 inshore, 9 offshore & 2 pelagic.

Flesh-footed Shearwater: 250 (200). 2 offshore, remainder pelagic.

Sooty Shearwater: 3 (2).

Short-tailed Shearwater: 80 (30). 5 inshore, 25 offshore & 50 pelagic.

[Fluttering Shearwater: 8 (5) inshore seen in poor light assumed to be this species.]

HUTTON’S SHEARWATER: 5+[9] (1). As we came in 5 single birds seen from and

crossing the bow heading west in the outer inshore zone were definitely this

species. I think it likely that 7 offshore & 2 pelagic were also this species.

N. ROYAL ALBATROSS: 1 juv. with little black on the tomia caused some confusion

even at 5 m!

Black-browed Albatross: 54. Melanophrys: 4 (2) 2 inshore. 1 juv. & 3 sub-adults.

            Impavida: 50 (30). 5 sub-adults & 45 adults.        

Shy Albatross cauta: 16 (8). 2 inshore, 2 off & 12 pelagic. 2 sub-adults & 14 adults.

SALVIN’S ALBATROSS (Salvini): 1 pristine adult.

Yellow-nosed Albatross: 5 (2) adults. 1 inshore, 1 off & 3 pelagic.

BULLER’S ALBATROSS: 3 (2) adults.

Wilson’s Storm-Petrel: 2.

White-faced Storm-Petrel: 65 (10). 1 inshore, 50 offshore & 14 pelagic.

Australasian Gannet: 120 (15). 80 inshore, 25 off & 15 pelagic, incl. 3 juvs.

Black-faced Cormorant: 4. 3 on LJPI & 1 inshore

GREAT (BROWN) SKUA: 1, an early date.


Arctic Jaeger: 5 (3). 1 inshore & 4 pelagic.

Kelp Gull: 21, all ages, on LJPI. 

Silver Gull: 80, 53 on LJPI & 27 inshore.

Crested Tern: 28, 11 inshore, 5 offshore & 3 pelagic.

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

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