Here is the report for how the BA-Vic Portland Pelagics went for 2007 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 at
THE BA – VIC VICTORIAN PELAGIC FROM PORT FAIRY IN 2007 AND 2008
By Chris Lester
VICTORIAN PELAGIC BIRDING IN 2007 AND 2008
Trips in 2007 – a miserable year
In 2007, only one boat trip was held, which is the least in some
The year got off to a poor start with the trips in January and February
cancelled because of life-boat inspection issues. The March trip got out
and then that was it. For 5 months, the boat owner was sick, then from
September on, all trips were cancelled because of bad weather. So, this
was very disappointing for all those who were desperately trying to get a
pelagic list in 2007.
Trips in 2008 – a poor year
In 2008, only four boat trips were held, which is well below our
longer-term average of 6-7 per year. Given the problems of 2007 when only
one trip was held, we were very encouraged to be able to run four trips in
a row from March until June. And, the May trip was exceptional with four
great rarities. But then the wheels fell off again (figuratively, of
course) and we did not get out again for the rest of the year.
All but one of the 12 trips we attempted for the rest of the year (two per
month) were cancelled because of consistently bad weather. It seems that
the weather patterns that have resulted in Victoria’s ongoing low rainfall,
have also brought a constant series of fronts timed for our boat trip
Sundays. Hopefully, the weather will change back soon, as many Victorian
birders, both regulars and aspiring sea-birders, are now getting quite
desperate to see some pelagic birds.
The only unusual bird on the March trip was (Northern) Royal Albatross.
The 2008 highlights were:
March – Nothing exceptional.
April – A mysterious albatross (which had features of Buller’s and
Grey-headed Albatrosses and was ultimately identified as a hybrid adult
Black-browed / Grey-headed Albatross) and White-fronted Tern.
May – Soft-plumaged Petrel (4), Sooty Albatross (2), Antarctic Prion (1),
South Polar Skua (1) and Southern Skua.
June – an unusual juvenile Black-browed Albatross (which generated much
discussion because of its similarity to a juvenile Grey-headed Albatross)
and Buller’s Albatross.
The common pelagic bird species
>From Port Fairy, the common birds seen on nearly all trips are Little
Penguin, Great-winged Petrel, Short-tailed and Fluttering Shearwaters, Shy,
Black-browed and Yellow-nosed Albatrosses, Australasian Gannet, Black-faced
Cormorant, Silver, Pacific and Kelp Gulls and Crested Tern.
2007 seasonal variation
The regular species on autumn trips that we saw were Fairy Prion,
Flesh-footed and Hutton’s Shearwaters, Wilson’s, White-faced and
Grey-backed Storm-Petrels and Pomarine Jaeger.
2008 seasonal variation
Autumn regulars were Common Diving-Petrel, White-chinned Petrel, Fairy
Prion, Sooty and Hutton’s Shearwaters, Wandering and Buller’s Albatrosses,
Wilson’s, White-faced and Grey-backed Storm-Petrels and Pomarine and Arctic
In winter, the regulars were Common Diving-Petrel, Southern and Northern
Giant-Petrels, Fairy Prion, Hutton’s Shearwater, Wilson’s and Grey-backed
Storm-Petrels, Southern Skua and White-fronted Tern. The number of the
latter was exceptional with at least 30 seen on the June trip.
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 Sooty Shearwater and Great Skua, where only one or two
birds were observed on each occasion.
It was, not surprisingly, a very quiet year for cetaceans in 2007. The
only non-birding highlights were a Humpback Whale and two spouts of Blue
Whale. As well, we saw the normal Common Dolphin and the Australian Fur
It was a fair year for cetaceans in 2008. The highlights were Humpback (1)
and Blue (4 or 5) Whales in March. As well, we saw the normal Common
Dolphins at sea and the Australian Fur Seals on Lady Julia Percy Island on
most outings. A rabbit was also observed on LJPI in June, which we believe
is first sighting of this species on a Port Fairy pelagic.
A BIRDS AUSTRALIA OFFICIAL ACTIVITY
The Victorian Pelagic from Port Fairy is an official Birds Australia -
Victoria outing. This group continues to support our trip in many ways and
has our thanks.
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