Here?s the trip report for the Birds Australia Vic Group pelagic that
got off Portland, western Vic last Sunday.
BA Vic Group Pelagic off Portland, Victoria, Sun 14 March 2010
Participants: Carl Weber, Peter Lansley, Rob Farnes, Damian Kelly,
Gavin Jackson, Debby King, Paul Dodd, Ruth Woodrow, George Appleby,
Rosemary Lester, Chris Lester (organiser), Rohan Clarke (report
Activity: This was our first trip aboard the ?Southern Pride? ? a 48
foot cray vessel that is available for charter during the ?off
season?. It was ably skippered by Shannon, whilst Neville was our
accommodating deckhand. Left the ?new? Portland jetty at 0715, passing
to the east of Lawrence Rocks and Point Danger and heading south south
west to the shelf. Travelled at 11-12 knots reaching the shelf at 0945
and the first berley point at 0950 (38 47.77 E, 141 39.45 S ~200
fathoms). Berleyed here till 1040 before moving out into deeper water
(500+fathoms) for a second berley session. This second stop proved so
quite that we soon headed back to 200 fathom mark for a third berley
session before heading NW along the shelf and joining a trawler that
had just finished hauling its catch. Here we completed a fourth drift
and berley session over 350+ fathoms at 38 46.89 E, 141 32.56 S.
Headed back in at 1400. 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 1640.
Conditions: A light (<5 knot) NE wind was with us for much of the day
moderating slightly around midday and picking up as a sea breeze when
inshore in the pm. There was no spray to speak off. Swell was 0.5 to
1 m with <0.5 m sea but this too moderated around midday such that on
our return there was very little swell. Bright, well lit conditions,
with hazy cloud on the horizon all that marked an otherwise blue sky.
These conditions made for a very pleasant day at sea, though one
punter was seasick. Reasonable diversity with 23 species of seabird
recorded beyond the harbour breakwater (the same as last month) plus
one shorebird well out to sea. Rarity-wise the highlight was a
Soft-plumaged Petrel, but this bird was seen only at great distance.
Other highlights were the good numbers of albatross including Buller?s
and close approaches by Sooty Shearwater and White-chinned Petrel.
Blue Whale would have been a highlight except that it was
unfortunately only seen by a few.
Dolphin spp.: 1 in offshore waters in the am. Seen to leap clear of
the water by some but not identified to species.
Blue Whale: 1 adult seen briefly over 72 fathoms of water in the am.
Distant blows of this species were seen in inshore waters in the pm
off Cape Nelson and towards Lady Julia Percy Island.
Australian Fur Seal. 1 just outside the harbour entrance in the am,
another in offshore waters in the am and about 10 at Lawrence Rocks.
melanophrys 100 (80). Mostly adults, though some immatures present. 14
in inshore waters, 3 in offshore waters, remainder pelagic. Largest
aggregation was at the trawler haul point
impavida 60 (50). All pelagic. Largest aggregation was at the trawler
haul point with counts of 3 to 6 at other berley points.
Shy Albatross cauta: 300 (250). 13 in inshore waters in the am, 3 in
offshore waters in am, remainder pelagic. Largest aggregation was at
the trawler haul point. Mostly adult with small numbers of immature
birds and at least 3 juveniles through the day.
Yellow-nosed Albatross: 5 (2). All pelagic, all adult.
Buller?s Albatross: 10 (5). All pelagic, all adult.
SOFT-PLUMAGED PETREL: 1. A distant ?cookalaria? at the second berley
point was this species given the all dark underwings but sadly it came
no closer and views were poor.
White-chinned Petrel: 15 (5). All pelagic, except that three followed
us into offshore waters on the return leg.
Common Diving Petrel: 1 in offshore waters in the am.
Great-winged Petrel: 35 (20). All gouldii. All pelagic.
Wilson?s Storm-Petrel: 3 (2). All pelagic.
Grey-backed Storm-Petrel: 12 (5). All pelagic.
White-faced Storm-Petrel: 40 (5). 24 in offshore waters in the am (the
first for the day over 43 fathoms) remainder pelagic.
Short-tailed Shearwater: ~50 (10). Fairly evenly spread between
inshore, offshore and pelagic waters. Small numbers (3-4) fed at the
back of the boat.
Sooty Shearwater: 1 at the third berley point joined a couple of
Short-tailed Shearwaters on the water, providing some nice
opportunities for closer study.
Fluttering Shearwater: 20 (10). 1 pelagic, 4 offshore in am, remainder
over inshore waters.
Hutton?s Shearwater: 5 (2). Over both inshore and offshore waters.
Australian Gannet: 60 (20). Mostly inshore, small numbers offshore and
2 pelagic. Other than ~5 fresh juveniles all were adult. Also
thousands on and around Lawrence Rocks.
Black-faced Cormorant: 2 inshore in the am, 40 ashore at Lawrence
Rocks in the pm.
Artic Jaeger: 1 dark bird over inshore waters in the am, 2 dark birds
over inshore waters in pm.
Pomarine Jaeger: 3 pale bellied birds over inshore waters in the pm.
Crested Tern: 25 (20). 1 pelagic, remainder inshore. Another ~500
including many juveniles roosting on Lawrence Rocks in the pm.
Silver Gull: 40 inshore in the am. 100 on Lawrence Rocks in the pm
Kelp Gull: 2 on Lawrence Rocks in the pm (2 in Portland Harbour)
Pacific Gull: 2 in inshore waters in am.
Double-banded Plover: 1 non-breeding plumaged individual flying in our
wake as though it were a storm-petrel 17.8 nautical miles south of
Lawrence Rocks in the pm.
White-faced Herons (6) and [Little] Raven (2) on Lawrence Rocks
rounded out the list.
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