Here's the trip report for the pelagic that got out off Port Fairy today.
Birds Australia Victoria pelagic trip off PORT FAIRY, VIC, 5 June 2005
< FAIRY, VIC, 5 June 2005>
OBSERVERS: Chris Lester (organiser), Rosemary Lester, George Appleby, Frank
Pierce, Simon Starr, Jen Spry, Rob Berry, Gail D'Alton, Peter Crabtree, John
Loy, Rohan Clarke, Michael Tesche & Mike Carter (leader).
WEATHER: Conditions were overcast with 80% cloud cover in the am becoming
completely overcast by midday. After this the light improved so that by the
time we reached Lady Julia Percy Island (LJPI) cloud cover was around 30%.
Generally good visibility, though a bit dull at times. Cool to mild. Calm in
the am increasing to 10-15 knot north-easterly wind whilst beyond the shelf. On
the return leg this moderated slightly.
SEA: Almost flat as we left Port Fairy but picking up with the wind to a 0.5-1
m confused swell with a moderate 0.5-1 m in offshore and pelagic waters. Seas
moderated slightly on the way back in, though a reasonable swell was still
producing big waves on the coast near Port Fairy. Spray on the way in
necessitated the lowering of one side screen but otherwise it was a reasonably
good ride. One seasick.
ACTIVITY: Sailed at ~0715 EST. Headed directly to the shelf break without any
stops. Reasonable numbers of birds (mostly prions and small albatross) in
offshore waters concentrated around at least two patches of krill visible at
the sea surface (centred around 35 fathoms). This seems exceptionally late for
visible krill swarms presumably driven by the local upwelling. We crossed the
shelf break (100 fathoms) at around 0940. We stopped and berleyed with shark
liver at four locations, first near the shelf break at 38º49.42'S 141º52.67'E,
then in 600-700 fathom water at 38º52.48'S 141º49.14'E and 38º51.3'S 141º43.2'E
then back on the shelf break north west of our first berley point. Headed back
in at ~1325. A brief stop for a number of prions (inc 2 Slender-billed Prions)
was the main attraction on the return leg. We cruised the shores of Lady Julia
Percy Island before docking at around 1630.
Dolphin species: a pod of 4+ very distant (500+ m) porpoising dolphins on the
way out were the only cetaceans for the day. Given behaviour they were probably
Common Dolphins but were not seen well enough to be positively identified.
1,000's of Australian Fur Seals at LJPI. Also ~8 at sea in inshore and offshore
BIRDS: 22 species beyond the river mouth indicated average diversity.
Highlights were the repeated close views of Slender-billed Prions, both species
of Giant-Petrel together for a side by side comparison at the back of the boat
and an immature Northern Royal Albatross that remained with us for the entire
time we were beyond the shelf.
Little Penguin: 1 on LJPI.
Great-winged Petrel: 50 (30) all nominate race. A couple followed us back in
over the shelf the remainder were pelagic.
Cape Petrel 5 (2). 1 offshore on the way out, another on the way in, remainder
Fairy Prion: 200 (80) most over ~35 fathoms in offshore waters. Beyond the
shelf we attracted a maximum of 20.
SLENDER-BILLED PRION: 8 (2). 3 in offshore waters remainder pelagic.
ANTARCTIC PRION: 3 (1). 2 in offshore waters, 1 pelagic.
Northern Giant-Petrel: 2 different immatures (on bill colour) both pelagic.
Southern Giant-Petrel: 2 different immatures (on plumage) both pelagic, though
one followed us in inshore.
Three other immature Giant-Petrels were seen distantly and not identified to
species: 1 inshore and 2 offshore.
Wandering Albatross: 3 individuals on plumage.
NORTHERN ROYAL ALBATROSS: 1 immature pelagic which followed us around to all
four berley points.
Black-browed Albatross: nom. race 16 (3) 8 pelagic, 7 offshore, 1 inshore:
impavida, 55 (20) mostly adults 4 offshore, remainder pelagic.
Shy Albatross all cauta: 60 (15). 13 inshore, 13 offshore remainder pelagic.
Yellow-nosed Albatross: 11 (3). 5 offshore remainder pelagic.
GREY-BACKED STORM-PETREL: 3 (1) at each of three berley points.
Wilson's Storm-petrel: 2 (1) 1 off shore and 1 pelagic.
Australasian Gannet: 80 (20), 14 inshore, 50 offshore (mostly in pm), 3 pelagic.
Southern Skua 1 pelagic.
Kelp Gull: 25 on LJPI.
Silver Gull: 16 inshore, 2 offshore, 16 on LJPI.
Crested Tern: 50 (25) mostly inshore but 3 pelagic.
White-fronted Tern: 1 offshore in the am.
Black-faced Cormorant: 1 on LJPI and 1 inshore in the pm.
On LJPI Sooty Oystercatcher (1), White-faced Heron (2), Nankeen Kestrel (1),
Swamp Harrier (1), Welcome Swallow (16) and Starling (3) rounded out the list.
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