BirdLife Victoria Pelagic off Portland, Victoria, Sunday 3 May 2015
Participants: Scott Baker, Kevin Bartram, Tim Bawden, Anne-Maree Burgoine,
Brian Johnston, Peter Lansley, Rosemary Lester, John McRae, Jan Smith, Jen
Spry, Glen White, Chris Lester (organiser).
Crew: Peter 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°41.538'S, 141°22.429'E (24 nm SW of
Portland Harbour) in 187 fathoms of water, where we berleyed from 09.40
till 10.45. We moved to the south-east to 38°46.902'S, 141°23.842'E in 650
fathoms and stayed there from 11.15 until 12.45. We moved further
south-east and berleyed at 38°48.364'S, 141°33.548'E (28 nm S of Portland
Harbour) in 300 fathoms from 13.10 until 13.55. A trawler went past at this
stop and we had hundreds of extra seabirds, mainly the two common
albatrosses, following it. We then headed back to the north passing
Lawrence Rocks, where we had a good look, before returning to Portland
Harbour and docking at 16.40.
Conditions: Initially, it was very overcast (80% cloud cover) and cool with
some sunny breaks. There was a light wind of less than 10 knots from the W.
The sea was less than 0.5 m with a swell of about 2.5 m. In the middle of
the day, the wind decreased to 3-5 knots and the swell decreased to 1-1.5 m
with minimal sea. It stayed overcast (90% cloud cover) but got a bit
warmer. So, quite a nice day on the water.
Summary: Very good diversity with 27 identified species of seabird recorded
during the trip. The highlights were the four species of prion. The
majority of the pelagic birds were at the third stop with the trawler but
we did get reasonable diversity at the first two stops even though the
numbers of birds was reasonably low.
Mammals: Common Dolphin: small groups on the way out, at the first stop and
on the way in. Australian Fur Seal: the normal numbers (about 50) loafing
at Lawrence Rocks. Birds: Wilson's Storm-Petrel 20 (10). Pelagic.
Grey-backed Storm-Petrel 5 (2). Pelagic.
Wandering Albatross: 5 (2). Pelagic. Southern Royal Albatross: 1. Pelagic.
Black-browed Albatross: 200 (180). Both cauta and impavida. Pelagic with a
few cauta inshore. Most were with the trawler at stop 3.
Shy Albatross: 300 (250). All nominate. Pelagic with quite a few inshore.
Most were with the trawler at stop 3. Yellow-nosed Albatross: 2 (1).
Pelagic. Buller's Albatross: 1. On the way out.
Northern Giant-Petrel: 5 (4). The 4 were with the trawler at stop 3.
Cape Petrel: 1. Pelagic.
SALVIN'S PRION: 1. Pelagic. As usual, this bird has been hard to identify
even with the excellent photos that we taken. But, it exhibits the features
of the Salvin's Prion identified on the May 2013 boat trip from Portland -
longer bill that is thicker at the base and an undertail pattern that has
grey barring on the lateral undertail coverts and a central black terminal
band that doesn't go across the whole width of the tail. The photos of
Antarctic that we can compare it to, including the two on this trip, do not
exhibit the same features as they have shorter, narrower bills and
undertails that don't have the grey barring but do have a black terminal
band across the whole width of the tail. The birders on the boat are
confident of this identification after looking at the various photos.
(However, several of the other commentators subsequently reviewing the
photos are predisposed to this bird being Antarctic.)
ANTARCTIC PRION: 2 (1). Pelagic. See above.
SLENDER-BILLED PRION: 1. Pelagic. This birds was pretty easy to identify.
Fairy Prion: 100 (25). Inshore and pelagic. White-chinned Petrel: 1. On the
way out. Flesh-footed Shearwater: 2 (1). Pelagic. Sooty Shearwater: 2 (1).
Pelagic. Short-tailed Shearwater: 20 (3). Inshore and pelagic. Fluttering
Shearwater: 2 (2). On the way out. Great-winged Petrel: 2 (1). Pelagic.
Common Diving-Petrel: 1. On the way out. Australasian Gannet: 500. A few on
the way out and in with most on Lawrence Rocks. Black-faced Cormorant: 10.
All on or near Lawrence Rocks. Crested Tern: 50. I pelagic with nearly all
the rest in Portland Harbour.
Pacific Gull: 3 (2). 2 in Portland Harbour and 1 at Lawrence Rocks. Kelp
Gull: 5 (3). 2 at Lawrence Rocks and 3 in Portland Harbour. Silver Gull: 20
inshore and pelagic with 50 in Portland Harbour. There were also 1 Little
Pied Cormorant, 2 Australian Pied Oystercatchers and 2 Masked Lapwings in
Portland Harbour and 1 White-faced Heron at Lawrence Rocks.
For details of future Portland trips, go to the BirdLife Australia web
site at the bottom of the relevant Birdlife Victoria page at
For reports of past BA-Vic and BirdLife Victoria trips from Portland
and Port Fairy, search the Birding-Aus archives for the trip reports
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