Pelagic trip report for Port Fairy Saturday 16 April 2005

To: "Birding-aus" <>
Subject: Pelagic trip report for Port Fairy Saturday 16 April 2005
From: "Rohan Clarke" <>
Date: Tue, 19 Apr 2005 09:37:18 +1000
Hi all,
Here's a trip report for a pelagic that got off Port Fairy on Saturday 16th 
April. The planned Sunday whale watching trip from the same port was cancelled 
due to strong winds.

Dr Rohan Clarke
Threatened Mallee Bird Project
Zoology Department
La Trobe University
Bundoora 3086
Ph: 03 9479 1672 Mobile 0408 947001

Field Naturalists Club of Victoria/Fauna Survey Group pelagic trip off PORT 
FAIRY, VIC, 16 April 2005
OBSERVERS: John Harris, Doug Robinson, Sally Robinson, Ian Kitchen, Julie 
Kitchen, Prue Simmons, Alistair Stewart, Mimi Pohl, Adrian, Barbara Burns, Adam 
Rigg, Anne-Maree Burgoine & Rohan Clarke

WEATHER: Conditions bright and sunny with 10-20% cloud cover (mostly low to the 
horizon) through the day. Generally very good visibility. Cool to mild. SE wind 
throughout the day, despite a forecast predicting a swing to the north around 
midday. 5-10 knots inshore at first, increasing to 15 knots offshore before 
moderating slightly as we headed back in.

SEA: 1-1.5 m well spaced swell with 0.5-1 m chop in am. Seas increased slightly 
through the day with the occasional white cap in the late pm. Swell also 
increased peaking at 2-2.5 m on the return trip.

ACTIVITY: Sailed at 0715 EST. Headed directly to the shelf break with one short 
stop on the way. Very few birds in inshore waters but large numbers of birds 
(particularly prions) in offshore waters concentrated around large krill swarms 
visible at the sea surface. The upwelling seemed to be exceptionally strong 
with krill swarms from just 2 miles beyond Lady Julia Percy Island out almost 
to the shelf break. We crossed the shelf break (100 fathoms) at around 0950.  
We stopped and berleyed with shark liver at three locations, first at 
38º49.30'S 141º53.55'E, then at 38º52.47'S 141º49.06'E and finally at 
38º49.50'S 141º50.79'E before heading back in at 1250. We tried berleying at 
38º39.29'S 141º54.31'E in 43 fathoms on the return leg but birds in the 
vicinity of krill swarms showed little interest in what we had to offer. We 
cruised the shores of Lady Julia Percy Island before docking at around 1630.

MAMMALS: Common Dolphins: a pod of 4 and a second pod of 6 on the way out and a 
pod of 20 on the way back in.

Bottle-nosed Dolphins: a pod of 3 a couple of miles off Lady Julia Percy Island.

1,000's of Australian Fur Seals at LJPI. Also ~10 at sea as ones and twos in 
offshore waters.

SOUTHERN ELEPHANT SEAL: 1 subadult male in the 'usual spot' at LJPI.

BIRDS: 25 species beyond the river mouth indicated good diversity. Highlights 
were the large numbers of prions attracted to the krill offshore and repeated 
close approaches by 2 adult Sooty Albatross beyond the shelf at the second 
berley point. Large numbers of Wandering Albatross (for Port Fairy) 
representing at least 3 taxa together on the water at once was also nice. All 
birds pelagic unless otherwise noted. In the list below the first number is my 
estimate of the total number seen for the day, number in brackets is the total 
number of birds seen at one time.

Little Penguin:  1 inshore on the return leg, 4 on LJPI.

Great-winged Petrel: 75 (30). all nominate race. First sighting in 96 fathoms, 
remainder beyond the shelf, though one did follow us back to within 4 miles of 
Lady Julia Percy Island ~40 fathoms.

White-chinned Petrel: 1 in worn plumage and primary moult at the 2nd and 3rd 
berley point.

Fairy Prion: 2000 (1000) most prions over krill patches in offshore waters 
appeared to be this species. Beyond the shelf we attracted a maximum of 30.

SLENDER-BILLED PRION: 10 (4). 6 pelagic, 4 offshore.

ANTARCTIC PRION: 15 (3) 1 pelagic, remainder offshore over krill.

Northern Giant-Petrel: 1 imm pelagic.

Common Diving Petrel: 1 inshore in am.

Short-tailed Shearwater: 600 (200) 130 inshore, 450 offshore pelagic, 20 

Fluttering Shearwater: 6 (4) 4 inshore, 2 offshore.

Flesh-footed Shearwater: 10 (5) all pelagic.

Wandering Albatross: at least 10 individuals on plumage (of which at least 2 
exulens, 4 gibsoni and 1 antipodensis amongst them) all pelagic. Up to eight 
together at times.

Black-browed Albatross:
melanophrys 28 (10) 10 pelagic, 18 offshore
impavida 100 (40) mostly adults but 4 imm and 1 near juv; 5 offshore, remainder 

Shy Albatross all cauta: 25 (10) 8 offshore remainder pelagic.

Yellow-nosed Albatross: 5 (2) 2 offshore, 3 pelagic.

SOOTY ALBATROSS: 2 adults together pelagic.

Wilson's Storm-Petrel: 35 (10) 4 offshore remainder pelagic.

White-faced Storm-Petrel: 20 (4) 10 offshore, remainder pelagic.


Australasian Gannet: 600 (100) 50 inshore, remainder pelagic.

Black-faced Cormorant: 5 on LJPI. A pair appears to be nesting there, as a bird 
sitting on a seaweed mound on the side of large rock was in the exact same spot 
as one the March BA-Vic group trip. On that trip we debated whether the bird 
was sitting on a nest, but decided the bird may have just been resting on a 
convenient clump of weed. It will be interesting to see if it is seen there in 
the coming weeks.

Arctic Jaeger: 1 inshore in am.

Kelp Gull: 18+ on LJPI.

Silver Gull: 60 on LJPI and 10 inshore, 1 offshore.

Crested Tern: 25 (5) mostly inshore but three pelagic.

A small wader, probably a Red-necked Stint, flew past the boat when we were in 
offshore waters in the am, while two passerines, probably skylarks, flew 
towards to boat when we were about a mile off the coast in the pm. On LJPI 
Sooty Oystercatcher, Welcome swallow and Starling rounded out the list.
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