BIRDS AUSTRALIA VICGROUP PELAGIC TRIP OFF PORT FAIRY, VIC
Sunday 1st June 2008
OBSERVERS: Chris Lester (organiser), Rosemary Lester, Xenia Dennett, John
Barkla, Giles Daubeney, Grant Penrhyn, Rod Bird, Kate Campbell, Barbara, Polly
Cutcliffe, Jenny Norton & Rohan Clarke (leader and report compiler).
WEATHER: 90% cloud through much of the day clearing somewhat by the time we
reached Lady Julia Percy Island. Dull conditions and thus not ideal for
photography though visibility remained very good. Cool. A light variable wind
(5-10 knots) increasing to 10-15 knots from the north north-east for a short
period at the third berley point then moderating again to <5 knots on the
return leg. With the exception of some slop at the third berley point, and a
little bit of spray when underway soon after, conditions were very pleasant.
SEA: A 0.5-1.5 m swell with < 0.5 m sea that got a bit sloppy at the third
berley point. Two seasick.
ACTIVITY: Sailed at 0700 EST in the half-light of dawn. Headed directly to the
shelf break with a single diversion for a feeding aggregation of birds that
included many terns. Good numbers of birds on the way out with concentrations
of albatross and prions in the 30 to 35 fathom mark and then reasonable numbers
all the way to the shelf. Crossed the shelf break (100 fathoms) at 0930, before
making our first stop at 38º48.2546.8’S 141º52.69’E over 240 fathoms of water
were we berleyed with shark liver. Two further stops were made at 38º52.409’S
141º49.42’E (450 fathoms) and then at 38º50.25’S 141º46.11’E (310 fathoms)
before heading back in at 1300. Despite all the activity in offshore waters no
krill was visible on the surface. We cruised the shores of Lady Julia Percy
Island (LJPI) between 1500 and 1530 before docking at 1610.
MAMMALS: Australian Fur Seals 1,000s at LJPI. Also 10 at sea in inshore and
offshore waters and a single adult male at the first berley point.
Common Dolphin: 5 pods of animals (20+, 2, 10+, 10+ and 20+) in 20 to 50
fathoms of water in the AM and PM.
BIRDS: 21 species beyond the breakwater. Highlights were an unusual juvenile
Black-browed Albatross that generated much discussion (because it resembled a
Grey-headed Albatross) and an adult Buller’s Albatross. The number of
White-fronted Terns may be unprecedented for a Port Fairy pelagic.
Wilson’s Storm-Petrel: 2 (1) pelagic.
GREY-BACKED STORM-PETREL: 4 (2). All pelagic.
Black-browed Albatross: nominate race 50 (10). 25 pelagic, 2 inshore, remainder
offshore. Mostly adult though at least 4 immature. impavida 15 (6). 3
offshore, remainder pelagic. All adults.
Shy Albatross: 150 (70). All cauta. 10 inshore, 34 offshore, remainder pelagic.
1 juv pelagic, 3 imms offshore, 30 pelagic, remainder adult.
Yellow-nosed Albatross: 10 (4). 3 inshore, remainder pelagic. Mostly adult, at
least 2 immature.
BULLER’S ALBATROSS: 1 adult at the first berley point.
Southern Giant-Petrel: 1 juv. A brief flyby in pelagic waters.
Northern Giant-Petrel: 3 (1). 1 juv at the first berley point, an immature in
offshore waters in the PM and another juv on the final inshore run up to Port
Fairy Prion: 800 (300). Approximately 600 in offshore waters in the am, with
more in the pm, smaller numbers pelagic with a maximum of 20 at the first
Short-tailed Shearwater: 1 inshore in the PM
Hutton’s Shearwater: 10 (10). A single flock inshore in the PM.
Fluttering Shearwater: 1 inshore in the PM.
Great-winged Petrel: 20 (10). One gouldi, remainder nominate race. All pelagic.
Little Penguin: 6. Two together inshore in the PM and 4 ashore on LJPI.
Australasian Gannet: 225 (75), 70 inshore, 20 offshore, 2 pelagic, remainder
inshore near Lady Julia Percy Island in the PM. At least 4 juvs, remainder
Black-faced Cormorant: 2 inshore in the PM, none on LJPI.
Southern Skua: 2 (1). 1 near Lady Julia Percy Island and the other just off
Port Fairy, both in the PM.
WHITE-FRONTED TERN: 30 (18). An exceptional count for Port Fairy with a group
of 10 and another group of 8 over Common Dolphins in the AM, several more birds
in offshore waters, followed by another group of 8 birds just off Lady Julia
Percy Island in the PM.
Crested Tern: 60 (20). Mostly inshore, but 4 offshore and 6 pelagic.
Kelp Gull: 10 on LJPI. Mostly adult. Also a second year bird and an adult on
Griffith Island, Port Fairy.
Silver Gull: 100 (20) just before LJPI in the PM.
On LJPI Starling (1), Swamp Harrier (1) and Sooty Oystercatcher (7) rounded out
the list. Chris also claims to have seen a rabbit here :) ….a first for a Port
Photographs of the unusual Black-browed Albatross can be found at
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