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Saturday, 8 August 2015

Port Fairy Pelagic 19/07/2015

This trip was a last minute decison, the previous weeks pelagic was cancelled due to bad weather and Neil called me to discuss the pelagic in September which our group had booked on, and he made mention of a few spots available for the upcoming weeks trip.
The weather over the past week was rough and strong winds and the possiblity of getting something rare was on the cards, How could i resist!
After a bit of effort i re-scheduled all that was on my calendar and then contacted a few people seeing if they were keen to join, As Tim Nickholds and Owen Lishmund were already on the boat  i had a lift which was great.
I spoke to a few people and the last person i asked was Matt McCrae only because i knew of his nervousness of going on one in previous discussions and i was expecting a big fat NO but to my utter surprise the answer was Yes.
The Road trip was on and 4 of us heading down to Port Fairy to stay at Pelican Waters Caravan Park. We left late afternoon and driving into Port Fairy just after dark, a nice Barn Owl made a good start for the birds which we saw just outside of Killarney sitting on a fence post.
Arriving at the Caravan Park we dropped off our bags and headed into Port Fairy for dinner, we found a funky Pizza Shop which was great, got a few beers and headed back to the cabin to settle in for the night.
Early awake Sunday morning with nervous excitement, the previous months reports there had been a Southern Fulmar and Brown Skua seen around the area so was hoping to see one of these.
16 people arrived at the boat just before 7am and away we went, we left just before sunrise and as we headed out of Moyne River and started to steam towards the Continental Shelf we were greeted with a beautiful Sunrise.

Sunrise at Port Fairy

As We continued out we had large numbers of Fluttering type Shearwaters around the boat, the light was very tricky and was hard to work many of them out, but we did have good views of Huttons and Fluttering Shearwaters so was a good start.
The First Albatross started to circle the boat and a very nice Black-browed Albatross was observed by all.

Black-browed Albatross

The boat trip out takes a good 2 to 3 hours so you have to be on the look out the whole time, we had a very distant view of a White-fronted Tern ( LIFER 1) as we past Lady Percival Island.
Lady Percival Island

As we cruised towards the Shelf LIFER 2 was a Common Diving- Petrel which gave a quick view before diving into the waves and disappearing, was a nice find it wasn't a bird i had on my radar thinking i wouldn't be fast enough to catch a glimpse of it.
We arrived at the Shelf at nearly 9.30am and it was relatively quiet for the first 40 minutes, only a few Albatross and a few Fairy Prions which circled the boat, we contemplated moving ( glad we didn't), as we waited finally a few birds started turning up, Grey-backed Storm-Petrels seemed to be bouncing on the water surface.
Grey-backed Storm-petrel

This is when the bird activity got exciting, bird after bird turned up, LIFER 3 was a Cape Petrel which landed on the water just next to the boat, a beautiful little bird.
C ape Petrel

Cape Petrel

From there it was a call from James Mustafa of Sooty Albatross (LIFER 4) off to the horizon, luckily for us the bird came in for a closer look and did a few circles of the boat, giving us unbelievable views!
Sooty Albatross

Sooty Albatross

Northern Giant-petrel

The next bird to fly in, was a Northern Giant-petrel which cruised past the boat and came to rest on the ocean ( LIFER 5).
As this bird sat on the water another Giant-petrel headed in, the initial call was Northern but as the bird got closer and closer the green tip of bill  was seen making this LIFER 6. A Southern Giant-petrel.
Southern Giant-petrel
And as you can see in the below picture you can see the different colours of the bill tip.
Northern and Southern Giant-petrel
The next bird to circle the boat was A Sooty Shearwater LIFER 7, it didn't hang around for long but did manage a photo.
Sooty Shearwater
The last lifer was a beautiful little prion, after a lot of searching the many Fairy Prions finally we found a Slender-billed Prion.
Fairy Prion
Slender-billed Prion
Below are a fair few shots of the other Seabirds we saw during the day, i ended up with 8 lifers and another great day at Sea.
Black-browed Albatross

Indian Yellow-nosed Albatross

Shy Albatross

My trip Report is listed below as well as Neil Macumber reports which is found on his website if your interested in joining one of the upcoming pelagic trips give Neil a call.

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