Sunday, 17 July 2016


Because recent pelagic trips had been producing such exciting sightings (and mainly because the latest Port Fairy pelagic had recorded Antarctic Tern) Neil Macumber put on a special trip on Saturday, 16 July, 2016.

An enthusiastic group of birders gathered on the wharf in the dark and boarded the Perceive with hungry anticipation.  Neil had mentioned the possibility of Kerguelen Petrel.  Most people wanted Antarctic Tern.  I was secretly hoping for a Southern Fulmar.

The first bird we saw was (appropriately) a Shy Albatross.  I've never done a pelagic out of Port Fairy (or, indeed, Portland or Port MacDonnel) without seeing Shy Albatross.  They are beautiful birds and should not be overlooked because they are common.

The next bird that flew into sight was a Crested Tern.  We saw several Crested Terns throughout the day and I don't remember terns ever being exposed to such scrutiny.  No matter how we examined them they remained stubbornly Crested Terns and refused to morph into anything else.  We did see one Arctic Tern later in the day, but apart from that, every tern was Crested.

We saw both Fluttering and Hutton's Shearwaters - large rafts of both, close to the boat.  I saw just one Sooty Shearwater - the keen-eyed youngsters probably spied more.

There was a sprinkling of Australasian Gannets throughout the day.  There were Fairy and Slender-billed Prions, a handful of Grey-backed Storm-Petrels and three or four Northern Giant-Petrels.  I saw one Great-winged Petrel.

And then there were albatross.  We'd have had a hundred around the boat at a given point in time.  Magnificent!  We had Black-browed, Campbell's, Yellow-nosed, a couple of Northern Royal and one young clown - an immature Wanderer.

There were two metre swells on the way home and a few people were queasy.  One unfortunate fellow spent the day on the deck.  The rest of us proclaimed it a good day at sea.  If we'd managed to chalk up a lifer, it would have been a great day at sea.

On board the Perceive with two metre swells,
One man on the deck (he'd forgotten his Quells).
Albatross, shearwaters loving the weather
Soaring with pleasure, not ruffling a feather.
We saw several terns, all of them Crested.
Cold and uncomfortable, patience is tested.
Wet through from seaspray and feeling quite queasy,
Getting a lifer was not meant to be easy!

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