Birds Australia - Victoria Group Portland Pelagic Trip Report, 6 Novembe

Subject: Birds Australia - Victoria Group Portland Pelagic Trip Report, 6 November 2011
From: Chris Lester <>
Date: Thu, 17 Nov 2011 22:54:56 +1100

BA-Vic Group Pelagic off Portland, Victoria, Sunday 6 November 2011

Participants: , Scott Baker, Tim Bawden, Bob Dawson, Paul Dodd, Rebecca Lester, Rosemary Lester, John McRae, Ray Schultz, Patrick Scully, Brett Whitfield, Ruth Woodrow, Chris Lester (organiser).

Crew: Shannon and Peter.

Activity: Departed Portland harbour aboard the Southern Pride boat at 07.05 passing Lawrence Rocks and heading south to the shelf. Went straight out to the shelf, except for a longish stop trying to locate and identify a whale, with quite a few Short-tailed Shearwaters and Gannets. Our first stop was at 38°45.64’E, 141°26.86S in 210 fathoms of water. Berleyed here from 9.45 till 11.10, but there were few birds except for Shy Albatrosses and Great-winged Petrels and a smaller number of White-chinned Petrels. We moved out a fair bit to 38°49.60’E, 141°27.85S, 30 nm from Portland harbour, in more than 350 fathoms, looking for birds. We stayed there from 11.30 until 12.30 but again there we few birds other than the initial species. We moved in and from 1.00, we berleyed at 38°46.29E, 141°31.93S in 190 fathoms until 14.30. There weren't many more birds here but we did see quite a few new species, usually single birds. Headed back in passing Lawrence Rocks, where we had a quick look, before returning and docking at 17.00.

Conditions: Initially, there was no wind and no swell or sea despite the forecast of 15-20 knot winds and some reasonable swell. That was an illusion as the trip to Lawrence Rocks was very protected from the weather. It got rougher all the way out after that. So, there was an initial 15 knot W wind, which was quite cool. The swell was less than 1.0 m with a sea of 1 m. There was 100% cloud cover during the first part of the day. It gradually cleared up with 50% cloud cover and a few sunny breaks, then it clouded over again during the course of the afternoon, although it got warmer. Sea conditions deteriorated during the day, with a slight swell and a 2 m sea driven by a 20 knot wind, resulting in a fairly unpleasant trip in the middle. It moderated slightly on the way home.

Summary: Slightly below average diversity with 18 species of seabird recorded during the trip with the numbers of most regular species were very low. The highlight was the Cook's Petrel and then a few water birds that are not usually observed on our boat trips.


Australian Fur Seal: the normal numbers loafing at Lawrence Rocks with a few at the shelf.

Unidentified Whale (possibly/probably, a Southern Right).


Wilson's Storm-Petrel: 3 (1). Pelagic.

White-faced Storm-Petrel: 2 (1). Pelagic.

Black-browed Albatross: 3 (1). Very scarce; race melanophrys, pelagic.

Shy Albatross cauta: 120 (50). All race cauta. Mostly pelagic, but quite a few inshore.

Northern Giant-Petrel: 1. Travelling in.

Fairy Prion: 3 (1). Pelagic.

White-chinned Petrel: 20 (7): Pelagic.

Short-tailed Shearwater: 500 (200). Mostly on the way out; a few pelagic.

Fluttering Shearwater: 1.

Great-winged Petrel: 100 (40). Mostly race macroptera but a few gouldi. Pelagic.

Cook's Petrel: 1. A close fly-by at 100 m with good views but it passed straight through and did not return.

Australasian Gannet: 2000+. Most were on or near Lawrence Rocks and Point Danger but about 100 offshore and pelagic.

Black-faced Cormorant: 100+ inshore, mostly on Lawrence Rocks with 10 flying passed.

Arctic Jaeger: 1. Passed Lawrence Rocks on the way out.

White-fronted Tern: 1 roosting on Lawrence Rocks.

Crested Tern: 150 around Lawrence Rocks, 100 in Portland harbour and 5 off-shore.

Kelp Gull: 6 at Lawrence Rocks.

Silver Gull: 100 at Lawrence Rocks, 50 in Portland harbour and 10 off-shore.

Australian Shelduck: A group of 10 flying over inshore from Lawrence Rocks.

Hardhead: A group of 3 flying inshore from Lawrence Rocks.

Great Cormorant: 2 in Portland harbour.

Little Black Cormorant: 1 in Portland harbour.

Eastern Great Egret: 1 flew passed well out from shore nearing Lawrence Rocks.

White-faced Heron: 2 were seen on Lawrence Rocks on the way in.

Welcome Swallow: 3 at Lawrence Rocks.

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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