BIRDS AUSTRALIA VIC-GROUP PELAGIC TRIP OFF PORT FAIRY, VIC
This was the monthly Birds
Australia VicGroup trip.
OBSERVERS: Mike Carter
(organiser and leader), Alison Watson, Phil Watson, Phillip Hughes, Jeff
Davies, Frank Pierce, David Stickney, Gil Langfield, George Appleby, Peter
Barrand, Andrew McCutcheon & Rohan Clarke (co-leader and report compiler).
WEATHER: Clear skies in
the morning increasing to 10 % cloud by midday. Bright conditions with
excellent visibility. Cool in the early am
but surprisingly warm over the shelf (at least for a Victorian pelagic!). A 5
knot variable wind as we headed out meant conditions were nearly smooth on the
large swell that had persisted since the big blow earlier in the week. A 5-10
knot SE wind developed in the late afternoon so there was a little spray on the
run up the coast from Lady Julia Percy Island (LJPI).
SEA: 2-3 m swell with
occasional larger sets to 4+m. A 0.5 m chop on this made for a smooth ride on
the way out. Conditions moderated further in pelagic waters with the sea
calm. The swell remained much the same through the day so we surfed back into
LJPI on some large sets. With the development of a weak south-easterly around
1500 there were a few small bumps and some spray on the run from LJPI up to
Port Fairy but in all this was a nice day at sea. One punter seasick.
ACTIVITY: Sailed at
0705 EST. Headed directly to the shelf break with no diversions. Numbers of
were again generally low on the way out. Crossed the shelf break (100 fathoms)
at 0930 to make our first stop at 38º49.02’S 141º53.48’E over 260 fathoms of
water were we berleyed with shark liver. Two further stops were made at
38º52.28’S 141º49.60’E, and then at 38º48.14’S 141º47.54’E before heading back
in at 1255. Several small patches of krill were again visible at the sea
surface at around the 50 fathom mark. We cruised the shores of Lady Julia Percy
Island (LJPI) between 1440 and 1505 before docking at around 1600.
MAMMALS: 1,000s of
Australian Fur Seals at LJPI. Also 6 at sea including 2 adult males beyond the
shelf at the second berley stop.
No cetaceans despite
relatively smooth seas resulting in excellent viewing conditions.
BIRDS: 24 or 25 species,
plus a Peregrine Falcon, beyond the river mouth indicated good diversity.
were an interesting albatross with features of both Grey-headed and Buller’s
Albatross, good numbers of other albatross on the water together and to a
lesser extent the abundance of storm-petrels.
Little Penguin: 8 (2). 3
inshore in the am and 1 in the pm, 1 offshore in the am and 3 in the pm.
Great-winged Petrel: 30
(15). Approximately 2/3 were nominate race the remainder were gouldii. Most
pelagic but 1 bird in the
am over just 37 fathoms.
White-chinned Petrel: 9
(3). All pelagic.
Common Diving Petrel: 3
(1). 1 offshore in the am and 2 in the pm.
Fairy Prion: 5 (3). 4
in offshore waters, 1 pelagic just as we departed the last berley stop.
Wandering Albatross: 5
individuals on plumage; at least one exulens
type on size. All pelagic. Not one alighted close to the boat.
nom. race 50 (20). 40 pelagic, remainder offshore,
mostly adults but 4 imms pelagic.
impavida 30 (15) mostly adults though
at least 1 immature. All pelagic.
Shy Albatross cauta:
80 (20). 22 inshore, 9 offshore, remainder pelagic. Mostly adult, 3 imms
5 (2). All pelagic. 1 imm, remainder adults.
Buller’s Albatross: 5 (4).
All pelagic. All adult.
MYSTERY ALBATROSS: 1
pelagic at the first berley stop. On bill colour this was an adult or near
adult with variable features, some suggestive of Buller’s Albatross and some
suggestive of Grey-headed Albatross. Excellent photographic record and lively
while the bird remained in very close proximity. More research required.
Photographs have been posted at
3 (3). All pelagic at the first berley point.
Wilson’s Storm-Petrel: 60 (30). All pelagic.
Storm-Petrel: 60 (15). Mostly offshore in the vicinity around the 60-70 fathom
mark, with just 3 pelagic. Some very tatty individuals in very heavy primary
Shearwater: 15 (4). Mostly inshore, 4 pelagic.
Sooty Shearwater: 4
(2). All pelagic.
Hutton’s Shearwater: 1
inshore in the am.
Fluttering Shearwater: 6
(3). All inshore.
Black-faced Cormorant: 7
Australasian Gannet: 75
(15), 44 offshore, 2 pelagic, remainder inshore. All adult bar two imms.
Arctic Jaeger: 1 adult
inshore in the pm.
Kelp Gull: 24 on LJPI.
Several ages classes (juv through to adult) represented.
Silver Gull: 20 inshore, 1 offshore and 15 on LJPI.
Crested Tern: 15 (5). Mostly inshore but 5 pelagic.
White-fronted Tern: 1 adult at the second berley point (pelagic).
Peregrine Falcon: 1. A presumed male (on size), 5 nautical miles
off the coast in the am, heading out to sea high and fast in a south-west
On LJPI Sooty Oystercatcher (2), Brown Falcon (1), White-faced
Heron (2), Welcome Swallow (10+) and Starling (2) rounded out the list.
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