BA Vic Group Pelagic off Portland, Victoria, Sunday 03 April 2011
Participants: Tim Bawden, Robert Cox, Paul Dodd, Ruth Woodrow, Robert Farnes,
Brian Johnston, Mark Stanley, Mark Bezuijen, Mark Bennett, Teisha Sloane, Brett
Macdonald & Peter Lansley (leader and report compiler).
Activity: Aboard the Southern Pride, skippered by Peter Geller, with Neville
the deckhand. Left Portland harbour at 07:00 eastern standard time, passing
around Lawrence Rocks, then tracking south-west to the shelf. At 08:50, stopped
for about 15 minutes at our first exciting encounter with the Great Shearwater.
Travelled at 9 knots reaching the shelf and first berley point at 10:25 at
position 38° 41' 41” S, 141° 22' 44” E.
Berleyed and accumulated birds here until 12:15, drifting 2 NMi NE, before
moving to our second and final berley session at 38° 45' 04” S, 141° 25' 41” E
from where we drifted from 12:50 – 13:45. Then turned for home. Brief run past
eastern side of Lawrence Rocks on way home observing the gannetry before
returning to the harbour, docking at 16:30.
Conditions: Light and variable breeze and drizzle on departure, then a moderate
SW wind (up to 15 knots) easing off after 11:00. Swell SW, 3 metres. Sea lumpy
on the outward leg but flattening in the afternoon.
Generally overcast in the morning, clearing to mostly sunny at the shelf break
and clouding over again approaching Portland in afternoon. Temperatures cool to
mild, around 15°C (ranged from 12.2 – 16.8°C on the day at Portland: Bureau of
Meteorology) on land.
Good diversity with 24 species of seabird recorded beyond the harbour
Highlights were the Great Shearwaters, Gould's Petrels, Southern (Brown) Skua,
Buller's and Wandering Albatrosses. An exceptional pelagic, coinciding with a
trip off Port Macdonnell, SA, where up to 50 Great Shearwaters were observed.
Common Dolphin Dephinus delphis: 1 offshore briefly.
Blue Whale Balaenoptera musculus: blows of whales seen about 10 times and some
brief views obtained of this species by some. All offshore between 5 and 10 NMi
SW of Lawrence Rocks.
Australian Fur Seal Arctocephalus pusillus doriferus. One or two inshore; a few
as usual around Lawrence Rocks.
Little Penguin Eudyptula minor: 4 inshore including one dead.
Black-browed Albatross Thalassarche melanophris melanophris: 7 inshore, 2
offshore, 10 (5) pelagic. Mostly adults; T.m.impavida: 3 adults pelagic.
Shy Albatross Thalassarche cauta cauta / T.c.steadi: 1 inshore, 6 offshore, 35
(20) pelagic. Mostly adults.
Yellow-nosed Albatross Thalassarche chlororhynchos: 1 offshore, 5 (4) pelagic.
Buller's Albatross Thalassarche bulleri: 1 pelagic, 1 inshore at 2.8 NMi SW of
Lawrence Rocks in late pm. Both adults.
Wandering Albatross Diomedea exulans: 2 juveniles stage 1/2, pelagic stop 2.
Giant-Petrel Macronectes sp: 1 immature offshore. Did not approach closely
enough for ID.
Great-winged Petrel Pterodroma macroptera macroptera: 10 (6). P.m.gouldii: 1 at
stop 2. All pelagic.
GOULD'S PETREL Pterodroma leucoptera: 2 at pelagic stop 2. One with primary
moult, other with no moult.
Wilson's Storm-Petrel Oceanites oceanicus: 1 offshore, 30 (10) pelagic.
Grey-backed Storm-Petrel Garrodia nereis: 15 (5) pelagic.
White-faced Storm-Petrel Pelagodroma marina: c. 100 offshore, 10 (3) pelagic.
Fairy Prion Pachyptila turtur: 2 offshore, 1 pelagic.
Short-tailed Shearwater Ardenna tenuirostris: 5 (2). Most offshore, 2(1)
Fluttering Shearwater Puffinus gavia: 12 (10) inshore in am. Most abundant
shearwater (just) on the day.
GREAT SHEARWATER Ardenna gravis: 8(6). 1 offshore (38° 32' 17” S, 141° 33' 15”
E or 9.5 NMi SW of Lawrence Rocks) in am, 3 together at pelagic stop 1; 5 in
transit between stop 1 and stop 2; 6 together at pelagic stop 2; 1 offshore (at
38° 29' 17” S, 141° 37' 21” E or 5 NMi SW of Lawrence Rocks) in pm. Six birds
seen in pelagic waters were assumed to be same individuals following the boat,
but there may have been more. Numerous photographs were obtained, some at very
close range. Unprecedented occurrence with only seven previous Australian
records. However, up to 50 seen on the same day off Port Macdonnell, SA.
Australasian Gannet Morus serrator: 5 inshore, 2000+ on and around Lawrence
Rocks, pm. Mostly adult but quite a few young birds on and around Lawrence Rocks
Black-faced Cormorant Phalacrocorax fuscesens: 4 inshore in the am, 25 ashore
at Lawrence Rocks in the pm.
Arctic Jaeger Stercorarius parasiticus: 2 offshore chasing Crested Terns.
Southern (Brown) Skua Stercorarius antarcticus: 1 in pm, 4 NMi SW of Lawrence
Crested Tern Thalasseus bergii: 5 inshore, am.
Silver Gull Chroicocephalus novaehollandiae: 2 inshore in am, and c. 15 on
Lawrence Rocks in pm.
Pacific Gull Larus pacificus: 2 adults Lawrence Rocks in pm.
Kelp Gull Larus dominicanus: 1 adult Lawrence Rocks in pm.
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