Birds Australia - Victoria Group Portland Pelagic Trip Report, 1 May 201

Subject: Birds Australia - Victoria Group Portland Pelagic Trip Report, 1 May 2011
From: Chris Lester <>
Date: Thu, 26 May 2011 21:20:02 +1000

BA-Vic Group Pelagic off Portland, Victoria, Sunday 1 May 2011

Participants: Iian Denham, Rob Farnes, Peter Gibbons, Ruth Graney, Peter Jenkins, Brian Johnston, Alan Jordan, Rosemary Lester, Steve Murray, Ray Shultz, Glen White, Chris Lester (organiser).

Crew: Shannon and Neville.

Activity: Departed Portland harbour aboard the Southern Pride boat at 07.10, passing Lawrence Rocks and heading south west to the shelf. Went straight out over the shelf to our first stop at about 200 fathoms of water (38°41.86’E, 141°22.86S), about 24 nm from Portland Harbour, where there were few birds. Berleyed here from 09.30 till 11 before moving out a fair bit to 38°44.50’E, 141°17.44S in 350-400 fathoms, looking for birds. We stayed there from 11.30 until 12.15. From 12.40, we berleyed at 38°46.89E, 141°20.52S in 350+ fathoms until 13.40. We stayed here a bit longer when the Great Shearwater joined us. From 14.05, we then had our final drift and berley session on the 110 fathom line at 38°43.40E, 141°25.90S, but again saw few birds. Headed back in at about 14.20. As we were approaching Lawrence Rocks, we saw some whales spouting and spent some time looking for the whales, eventually seeing one of each of the two species listed. Had a quick look at Lawrence Rocks before returning and docking at 16.50.

Conditions: Despite weather predictions on Friday that were not looking suitable, it turned out a very acceptable day with respect to conditions. There was an initial 5 knot SW wind, which stayed pretty constant all day and was initially cold. The swell was about 2 m with a very small sea. It was very overcast (90% cloud cover with a few spots of rain) during the first part of the day. We then had a few sunny breaks, then the weather cleared over the course of the day with 40% cover in the afternoon and a quite warm temperature. Sea conditions stayed pretty much the same all day resulting in a very pleasant trip.

Summary: Good diversity with 25 species of seabird recorded during the trip but the numbers of most regular species were very low. Rarity-wise, the highlight was a single Great Shearwater, which turned up at the end of the third stop out in deep water and gave us excellent views. The other bird highlights were the Sooty Albatross and Brown Skua. The possible Antarctic Prion, which was photographed by Brian, caused some considerable discussion after the trip about the identification of prions, which is one of the major sea-birding challenges. The Blue Whale and the Southern Right Whale were major bonuses.


BLUE WHALE: one west of Lawrence Rocks on the way in.

SOUTHERN RIGHT WHALE: one west of Lawrence Rocks on the way in.

Common Dolphin: a few inshore on the way out.

Australian Fur Seal: a few seen on the way out and the normal numbers loafing at Lawrence Rocks.


Wilson's Storm-Petrel: 6 (2). All pelagic.

Grey-backed Storm-Petrel: 1. Pelagic.

White-faced Storm-Petrel: 4. Several travelling in and out with one pelagic.

Wandering Albatross: 4 (3). Pelagic.

Black-browed Albatross: 20 (6). Mostly race melanophrys, but a few impavida. Mostly pelagic, but a few inshore.

Shy Albatross cauta: 50 (15). All race cauta. Mostly pelagic, but a few inshore.

Yellow-nosed Albatross: 10 (3). Pelagic.

SOOTY ALBATROSS: 1. At stop 2.

Cape Petrel: 1. Inshore on the way in.

[Possible ANTARCTIC PRION: 1. Probably only one at stop 3.]

Fairy Prion: 20 (5). Mostly pelagic.

GREAT SHEARWATER: 1. Excellent views from just behind the boat for 1/2 hour at Stop 3.

Sooty Shearwater: 3 (1). Pelagic.

Short-tailed Shearwater: 100. Mostly travelling in and out.

Fluttering Shearwater: 5. All over inshore waters.

Hutton's Shearwater: 1. On the way out.

Great-winged Petrel: 20 (7). Mostly race gouldi, but a few macroptera. All pelagic.

[Common Diving-Petrel: a single observer saw a bird that he thought was this species on the way in.]

Little Penguin: 3 (1) Inshore.

Australasian Gannet: 1500+. Most were on or near Lawrence Rocks and Point Danger but a few offshore.

Black-faced Cormorant: 30 inshore, mostly on Lawrence Rocks. A few inshore.

BROWN SKUA: 1 at the first stop.

Crested Tern: 6 inshore and a small flock at Lawrence Rocks.

Pacific Gull: In the harbour.

Kelp Gull: 1 at Lawrence Rocks.

Silver Gull: 20 inshore.

White-faced Herons and a Sooty Oystercatcher were seen on Lawrence Rocks on the way in.

For details of future Portland trips, go to the BA-Vic web site at the bottom of the page on

For reports of past BA-Vic trips from Portland and Port Fairy, search the Birding-Aus archives for the trip reports at


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