BirdLife Victoria - Portland Pelagic Trip Report, 7 September 2014

Subject: BirdLife Victoria - Portland Pelagic Trip Report, 7 September 2014
From: Chris Lester <>
Date: Sat, 20 Sep 2014 14:44:07 +1000
BirdLife Victoria Pelagic off Portland, Victoria, Sunday 7 September 2014

Participants: Tim Bawden, John Boyce, David Burren, Paul Dodd, Christian Doerig and his second son, Guillaume Doerig, Brian Johnston, Rosemary Lester, James Mustafa, Ruth Woodrow, Chris Lester (organiser).

Crew: Peter and Darren.

Activity: Departed Portland arbour aboard the Southern Pride boat at 06.55 heading just south-west to the shelf. Went straight past the shelf except for a brief stop for the Gould's Petrels. Our first stop was at 38°42.000'S, 141°22.228'E in 200 fathoms of water, where we berleyed from 9.30 till 10.30. We moved to the south-west to 38°46.547'S, 141°21.103'E in 275 fathoms and stayed there from 11.00 until 11.40. We moved further south and berleyed at 38°51.017'S, 141°21.872'E in 500 fathoms from 12.10 until 12.45. Headed back in, stopping at 38°43.367'S, 141°26.648'E in 105 fathoms from 13.55 until 15.00. We then headed into Portland passing Lawrence Rocks, where we had a good look, before returning and docking at 17.40.

Conditions: Initially, there was a light wind of about 10 knots from the NE. The sea was less than 0.5 m with a swell of 1 m. There was no cloud cover at all and it was quite pleasant. In the middle of the day, the wind rose to about 15 knots and the swell increased to 1.5 m with a sea of about 1 m. Then, the wind progressively went down to a slight breeze of less than 5 knots. The swell went down below 1 m with no sea. It stayed cloudless. This was against the prediction of winds of 15 - 20 knots with rising seas. Nice for comfort but not for the birds.

Summary: Below average diversity with only 17 identified species of seabird recorded during the trip and with the numbers of most regular species well down. The highlights were the Killer Whales and the Gould's Petrels. Most of the pelagic birds were at the first stop with very few at each of the three subsequent stops. This was disappointing as there were quite a few birds on the way out, which promised good things.


Common Dolphin: about 10 on the way out.

Killer Whale: a pod of 4 or 5 in the distance at the last stop.

Australian Fur Seal: the normal numbers (about 50) loafing at Lawrence Rocks.


Grey-backed Storm-Petrel: 2 (1). Pelagic.

Black-browed Albatross: 20 (10). All that were identified were race melanophrys with 2 or 3 juveniles. Inshore and pelagic.

Albatross sp: On the way out, we saw an albatross which looked good for a juvenile Grey-headed. While we had a good view of it, it still could have been a juvenile Black-browed. As they can be impossible to separate at this age, we remained uncertain. Unfortunately, we didn't get any pictures.

Shy Albatross: 30 (15). All race cauta. Pelagic with quite a few inshore.

Yellow-nosed Albatross: 4 (2). Pelagic.

Northern Giant-Petrel: 2 (2). Pelagic.

Cape Petrel: 1. Pelagic.

Fairy Prion: 100 (30). Inshore and pelagic.

Sooty Shearwater: 2 (1). Pelagic.

Fluttering Shearwater: 2 (2). On the way out.

Hutton's Shearwater: 2 (2). On the way out.

Flutton's Shearwater: Small numbers on the way out.

Great-winged Petrel: 2 (1). Both race gouldi. Pelagic.

Gould's Petrel: 2 (2). Inshore on the way out.

Australasian Gannet: 20 (10) + several 1000 (LR). On the way out and in with lots on Lawrence Rocks.

Black-faced Cormorant: 10 (5) + 100 (LR). All on or near Lawrence Rocks.

White-fronted Tern: 1. Pelagic.

Kelp Gull: 5. At Lawrence Rocks.

Silver Gull: 100 at Lawrence Rocks and a few more in Portland Harbour.

There was also a Pied Oystercatcher and 10 Crested Terns in Portland Harbour with a Blue-winged Parrot flying over.

For details of future Portland trips, go to the BirdLife Australia web site at the bottom of the page on

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

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