Report - Port Fairy pelagic 4 March 2007
Twelve observers boarded the Michael J IV for a Birds Australia VicGroup
pelagic seabird daytrip out of Port Fairy, Victoria, on 4 March 2007.
Passengers comprised: Chris Lester (leader & organiser), Rob Berry, Alan Cowan,
Peter Crabtree, Giles Daubeney, Ian Davies, Peter Lansley (reporter), Rosemary
Lester, Frank Pierce, Ray Schultz, Jen Spry and Inka Veltheim.
We experienced mild weather conditions with mostly light to moderate SW to W
winds and two or three brief rain squalls with locally stronger winds offshore
and at the shelf break. Temperature at Port Fairy on the day ranged from 13 to
21 °C. Cloudy initially, clearing to mostly sunny by midday. A cold front had
passed through Port Fairy on Saturday morning. Sea moderate, somewhat choppy
with 3 ? 4 metre SW swell offshore down to 1 - 2 metres inshore. We did not
closely approach any other fishing boats at sea, although one was seen. Only
one person was sick.
ACTIVITY: Sailed from Port Fairy (608326mE, 5750132mN) (all co-ordinates quoted
as AMG?s, zone 54H, AGD66 datum) at 07.15 EDST. Headed roughly SW, directly to
the shelf break with a short stop at 09:00 for Blue Whale spouting. Made our
first stop at the shelf break at 576271mE, 5703369mN (stop 1) at about 09:50.
At all shelf break stops we berleyed with shark liver. Two further stops were
made at 570984mE, 5696840mN (stop 2, ?the hole?, over 1400 metres of water,
11:25) and then at 568602mE, 5704064mN (stop 3, 12:30) before heading back in
at 13:00. We cruised close to the shoreline of Lady Julia Percy Island (LJPI),
stopping at 587951mE, 5747829mN for about 10 minutes from 15:25 before
eventually docking at 16:40.
In summary, an average pelagic with perhaps only one mildly unusual species for
this time of year ? Northern Royal Albatross. Rather low numbers especially of
albatrosses and Pterodromas. Most enjoyed the day?s birding.
Sightings are divided into three zones: ?inshore? (<3 Nmi from land),
?offshore? 3 NMi from land out the continental shelf break, and ?pelagic? at or
beyond the edge of the continental shelf. Lady Julia Percy Island (LPJI)
sightings are also separated. Maximum counts of birds seen together are in
Little Penguin Eudyptula minor 6 at LPJI just above beach level.
Northern Royal Albatross Diomedea epomophora sanfordi 1 pelagic.
Shy Albatross Thalassarche cauta 1 inshore, 2 offshore, 15 (10) pelagic. Only
T. cauta cauta noticed, including some young birds.
Black-browed Albatross Thalassarche melanophris Mostly adult melanophris. 1
inshore, 6 offshore, 50 (35) pelagic including one adult and one sub-adult
Yellow-nosed Albatross Thalassarche chlororhynchos bassi 1 inshore, 4 (4)
pelagic including 1 sub-adult and three adults.
Great-winged Petrel Pterodroma macroptera 3 (2) pelagic - one gouldii and two
Fairy Prion Pachyptila turtur 2(1) pelagic.
Fluttering Shearwater Puffinus gavia 3 (3) inshore (AM), 8 (5) offshore (PM).
Hutton?s Shearwater Puffinus huttoni 1 inshore (PM).
Flesh-footed Shearwater Puffinus carneipes 1 offshore, 50 (40) pelagic.
Short-tailed Shearwater Puffinus tenuirostris 10 inshore, 2000 (1500) offshore,
Wilson?s Storm-Petrel Oceanites oceanicus 3 (1) pelagic.
Grey-backed Storm-Petrel Garrodia nereis 15 (6) pelagic.
White-faced Storm-Petrel Pelagodroma marina 1 offshore, 5 (3) pelagic.
Australasian Gannet Morus serrator 10 inshore, 3 offshore, 10 (4) pelagic.
Black-faced Cormorant Phalacrocorax fuscescens 18 LJPI.
Pomarine Jaeger Stercorarius pomarinus 1 pale morph offshore, 1 dark morph
pelagic. Also one unidentified pale morph jaeger inshore.
Kelp Gull Larus dominicanus 20 (15 adults and 5 first year birds) LJPI.
Silver Gull Larus novaehollandiae 15 inshore, 40 LJPI.
Crested Tern Sterna bergii 1 inshore, 3 (3) pelagic.
Australian Fur Seal Arctocephalus pusillus 1000+ LJPI. One offshore and one
Common Dolphin Delphinus delphis one seen offshore by Inka Veltheim.
Humpback Whale Megaptera novaeangliae 1 loafing at the surface, well
photographed by several people, at around 15:30 - 15:45 h. Position 583429mE,
5741780mN, c. 7km south-west of Lady Julia Percy Island. This is an unseasonal
record for the species, normally peak numbers off Victoria occur June ? July
(S. Mustoe pers. comm.).
Blue Whale Balaenoptera musculus Two spouts of this species observed c. 27 km
south of Lady Julia Percy Island, i.e. c. 2 km NE of position: 586639mE,
Other species seen at Lady Julia Percy Island
White-faced Heron Egretta novaehollandiae
Sooty Oystercatcher Haematopus fuliginosus
White-fronted Chat Epthianura albifrons
Common Starling Sturnus vulgaris
Other seabird species at Port Fairy ? Moyne River area
Pacific Gull Larus pacificus 1, first year bird
Caspian Tern Sterna caspia 1
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