BirdLife Victoria - Portland Pelagic Trip Report, 11 December 2014

Subject: BirdLife Victoria - Portland Pelagic Trip Report, 11 December 2014
From: Chris Lester <>
Date: Sun, 21 Dec 2014 17:27:24 +1100
BirdLife Victoria Pelagic off Portland, Victoria, Sunday 11 December 2014

Participants: Scott Baker, Tim Bawden, David Burren, Paul Dodd, Mark Hall, Rosemary Lester, Rohan Mott, Mark Newman, Paul Newman, David Pendavingh, Ruth Woodrow, Chris Lester (organiser).

Crew: Shannon and Neville.

Activity: Departed Portland Harbour aboard the Southern Pride boat at 07.00 heading south-west to the shelf. Went straight past the shelf to our first stop at 38°42.402'S, 141°22.235'E in 204 fathoms of water, where we berleyed from 09.40 till 11.00. We moved to the south-west to 38°45.291'S, 141°22.959'E in 234 fathoms and stayed there from 11.20 until 12.20. We moved back north-west and berleyed at 38°44.019'S, 141°19.462'E in 400 fathoms from 12.40 until 13.20. Headed back in to the north-east, stopping at 38°40.410'S, 141°21.596'E in 103 fathoms from 13.40 until 14.10. We then headed into Portland passing Lawrence Rocks, where we had a good look, before returning and docking at 17.00.

Conditions: Initially, it was very overcast with some sunny breaks and the occasional light mist. There was a light wind of about 5 knots from the SW. The sea was less than 0.5 m with a swell of about 1 m. In the middle of the day, the wind rose to about 10 knots but the swell and sea stayed about the same. 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 progressively got finer and warmer with little cloud. Nice for comfort but not for the birds.

Summary: Below average diversity with only 16 identified species of seabird recorded during the trip and with the numbers of most regular species well down. The highlights were the distant Blue Whales and the Southern Royal Albatrosses. 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 and a nearly immediate distant Cookalaria Petrel at the first stop, which promised good things. It might be explained by the day getting progressively finer with the wind dying down.


Common Dolphin: about 4 small groups on the way out and in.

Blue Whale: a pod of 2 or 3 spouting in the distance on the way out.

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


Southern Royal Albatross: 2 (1). Pelagic.

Shy Albatross: 50 (30). All race cauta. Pelagic with quite a few inshore.

Yellow-nosed Albatross: 2 (1). Pelagic.

Fairy Prion: 20 (3). Inshore and pelagic.

White-chinned Petrel: 12 (5). Pelagic.

Flesh-footed Shearwater: 20 (6). Pelagic.

Sooty Shearwater: 2 (1). Pelagic.

Short-tailed Shearwater: 100 (40). Inshore and pelagic.

Unidentified Flutton's Shearwater: 3 (1). Distant views on the way out and in.

Great-winged Petrel: 20 (5). Both races, nominate and gouldi. Pelagic.

Unidentified Cookalaria Petrel: 1. At the first stop. Impression was Cook's but views weren't good enough to be definite.

Little Penguin: 1. On the way out.

Australasian Gannet: 50 (6) + several 1000 (LR). On the way out and in with lots on Lawrence Rocks.

Great Cormorant: 1. In Portland Harbour.

Black-faced Cormorant: 30 (LR). All on Lawrence Rocks.

Crested Tern: 1 + 50 (LR). 1 Pelagic with the rest on Lawrence Rocks.

Kelp Gull: 2 (1). 1 at Lawrence Rocks and 1 juvenile in Portland Harbour.

Silver Gull: 10 inshore and pelagic with 50 at Lawrence Rocks and 100 in Portland Harbour.

There were also 2 Welcome Swallows at Lawrence Rocks.

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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