Here is the report for how the BA-Vic Portland Pelagics went for 2009 and
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
THE BA – VIC VICTORIAN PELAGIC FROM PORTLAND IN 2009 AND 2010
By Chris Lester
VICTORIAN PELAGIC BIRDING IN 2009 and 2010
Trips in 2009 – a new start with our return to Portland. After a poor year
for pelagics in 2008, 2009 got worse. Initially, we didn’t get out because
the weather remained horrible and then our boat owner got very ill and we
were forced to cancel all the remaining trips from Port Fairy. We searched
for a replacement boat and eventually found two suitable vessels in
Portland. (We needed two as the larger boat was only available from March
until November because the owner used it for commercial fishing in the
summer season. The second boat was a fair bit smaller.) We tried to get
out on the larger vessel for several months but the weather stayed
consistently bad. Eventually, we did get out in the smaller vessel in
November and December.
Trips in 2010 – off and running. In 2010, six boat trips were held, which
was close to our longer-term average. We were very encouraged to be able
to run five trips between February and July. But then the weather took
over again and we got out only one more time for the year in October.
2009 and 2010 rarities
The 2009 highlights were:
November – a single Southern Fulmar and four rather late White-fronted
December – six White-headed Petrels and a very tatty Arctic Tern.
The 2010 highlights were:
February – four Gould’s Petrels.
March – a distant Soft-plumaged Petrel and a pelagic (possibly migrating)
May – a pair of Australasian Shelduck a long way out to sea.
June – a fleeting Blue Petrel, Southern Royal Albatross, the salvini race
of Shy Albatross and three species of prion, including Slender-billed and
July – a winter Buller’s Albatross, which is quite unusual.
October – both Northern and Southern Royal Albatrosses.
The common pelagic bird species
>From Portland, the common birds seen on nearly all trips are Little
Penguin, Fairy Prion, Great-winged Petrel, Wilson’s Storm-Petrel,
Short-tailed and Fluttering Shearwaters, Shy, Black-browed, Yellow-nosed
and Wandering Albatrosses, Australasian Gannet, Black-faced Cormorant,
Silver, Pacific and Kelp Gulls and Crested Tern.
2009 and 2010 seasonal variation
The regular species on summer trips in 2009/10 were White-chinned Petrel,
Flesh-footed and Sooty Shearwaters, White-faced and Grey-backed
Storm-Petrels and Arctic and Pomarine Jaegers. Autumn regulars were Common
Diving-Petrel, White-chinned Petrel, Sooty and Hutton’s Shearwaters,
Buller’s Albatross, White-faced and Grey-backed Storm-Petrels and Pomarine
and Arctic Jaegers.
In winter, the regulars were Cape Petrel, Southern and Northern
Giant-Petrels, Sooty Shearwater, Grey-backed Storm-Petrel and Great Skua.
Regular spring birds were Common Diving-Petrel, Northern Giant-Petrel, Cape
and White-chinned Petrels, White-faced and Grey-backed Storm-Petrels and
In this seasonal context, “regular” only means that the species was
observed in the relevant season. It does not mean that the number of
individuals was high. In fact, the number may be very low as, for example,
with the listings of Wandering Albatross, Sooty Shearwater and Great Skua,
where usually only one or two birds are observed on each occasion.
It was fair for cetaceans during this period. The highlight was a Blue
Whale in March 2010 with several unidentified whales in April. As well, we
saw the normal Bottle-nosed and Common Dolphins at sea and the Australian
Fur Seals on Lawrence Rocks on most outings.
A BIRDS AUSTRALIA OFFICIAL ACTIVITY
The Victorian Pelagic from Portland is an official Birds Australia -
Victoria outing. This group continues to support our trip in many ways and
has our thanks.
TRIBUTE TO GARY ROBERTS
In January 2010, our Port Fairy boat owner, Gary Roberts, passed away after
a long illness. He had been taking us out from Portland from the late
1990’s and Port Fairy through the 2000’s. Given the often difficult
conditions, he and his driver, Howie, did a fantastic job getting us out to
the continental shelf safely and, sometimes, in comfort. We were very
grateful for his efforts over a long period and were saddened by his death.
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