Birds Australia, Victoria Portland Pelagic Trip - 13 December 2009 - Ame

Subject: Birds Australia, Victoria Portland Pelagic Trip - 13 December 2009 - Amended Report
From: Chris Lester <>
Date: Wed, 30 Dec 2009 22:48:35 +1100
Dear Birding-Ausers,

After review of some of our photos of the "White-fronted Tern" reported for this trip, it has been determined that it was actually a juvenile Arctic Tern in worn plumage, which is a good bird on any trip. So, the updated report reads ....

*Birds Australia, Victoria Portland Pelagic Trip - 13 December 2009*

*Participants: *George Appleby, John Barkla, Stuart Dashper, Brian Johnston, Rosemary Lester, Gary Oliver, Glen White, Chris Lester (organiser)

Activity*:* Departed Portland harbour jetty at 07.05, passing between Lawrence Rocks and Point Danger before heading south west to the shelf. Travelling at 15 knots was quite rough heading into the swell and after an hour and a half we slowed to 10 knots. At 09.45, we reached the first berley point on the west of the Horseshoe (38 42.46 E, 141 19.02 S at a depth of about 500 m). The wind was S/SW at about 15 knots with a swell of 2-3 metres and seas of 1 metre. Berleyed here till 11.40 before moving out into deeper water (1000m) for a second drift and berley session (38 45.76 E, 141 18.87 S) between 12.10 and 13.30. Moving north back into shallow water (about 400 m), we berleyed at one final location (38 45.09 E, 141 23.44 S) between 14.00 and 15.10 before heading back in at 1505. The conditions had improved significantly with the S wind now at knots with a swell of 1-2 metres and very small seas. Cruised down the eastern side of Lawrence Rocks observing the thousands of gannets and other wildlife ashore here before running back to the harbour, arriving at 17.00.

Conditions/Activity*:* Initially quite overcast but later quite bright and sunny. The conditions made for an initial tough time, especially travelling out to the shelf break. It was quite pleasant returning to Lawrence Rocks. There was surprisingly little bird activity all day with a rather low count of 18 species of bird recorded beyond the harbour breakwater (excluding Lawrence Rocks) despite a significant blow just before our outing. Highlights for the day were the WHITE-HEADED PETRELS, that presented regularly at the first two stops, and a juvenile ARCTIC TERN in worn plumage. Otherwise, quiet with few birds showing interest in the berley.

*Mammals: *

Australian Fur Seal. About 20 at Lawrence Rocks and one in Portland Harbour.


Wilson's Storm-Petrel: 10 (3). All pelagic.
White-faced Storm-Petrel: 5 (2). All pelagic.
Wandering Albatross: 2 (1). One each at the first two of the stops. One distant adult and one close juvenile.
Black-browed Albatross: 1. One distant one at the first berley point.
Shy Albatross : 20 (3 ). All pelagic. All cauta adults.
Yellow-nosed Albatross: 3 (1). All pelagic. All sub-adults.
Fairy Prion: 6 (2). At second and third stops.
White-chinned Petrel: 15 (4) At each stop.
Flesh-footed Shearwater: 100 (20).  Small numbers at each stop.
Sooty Shearwater: 2 (1). Singles flew by at the first two berley stops.
Short-tailed Shearwaters: 100 (30). All inshore on the way to the shelf break. (Possible Streaked Shearwater: 1. Seen briefly by two observers in among the Short-tailed Shearwaters on the way in but a definitive viewing was not forthcoming.)
Fluttering Shearwater: 1. Inshore waters in the am.
WHITE-HEADED PETREL: 6 (2). At least one at the first stop and three separate birds (identified by photos later) at the second stop. Came and went throughout each of these stops, often approaching quite close to the boat. Great-winged Petrel: 30 (10). Mostly gouldi (many in heavy primary moult) with 1 or 2 macroptera. All pelagic. Australasian Gannet: 60 (20). Inshore and pelagic plus 1,000's at Lawrence Rocks. Black-faced Cormorant: 40 ashore at Lawrence Rocks with a few flying between there and Point Danger on the way in and 30 in Portland Harbour roosting on a very lucky boat in the am and pm.
Arctic Jaeger: 1. One flew by in pelagic waters.
ARCTIC TERN 1. Fairly tatty looking individual. Pelagic.
Crested Tern: 5 (1). Inshore and pelagic plus 10 at Lawrence Rocks in the pm.
Kelp Gull: 2 on Lawrence Rocks in the pm.
Silver Gull: 10 on Lawrence Rocks in the pm.

*2010 Bookings: * Booking are now being accepted for 2010 - see my Birding-Aus "ad" on 4 December. Please note that, as we are still trialling our two new Portland boats, trips will only be arranged two or three months in advance (and not for the whole year, as we did previously). E-mails nominating your desired trips and availability to me at this address (<>) are welcome.

Chris Lester


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