All At Sea …

… again, from Portland this time.

Portland is close to the western extremity of the Victorian coast. It was settled illegally by the Henty brothers back in 1834. It provides a reasonable harbour which has been important in whaling and fishing and these days live meat and woodchip exports.

The attraction for the sea bird enthusiast is its proximity to the edge of the continental shelf, where the lighter blue meets the darker blue in the image above. Most of Victoria’s coast is deep water deprived. Upwelling water at the shelf edge brings in the long distance wanderers of the sea, the true pelagics.

So eight birdos assembled on the dock in the early morning looking like they had been dressed by a Salvation Army Op shop and carrying about 80,000 dollars worth of optics. Tragics in search of pelagics.

The sea was initially a metre plus slop on top of almost no swell whatever, reasonably comfortable for the 50 km ride out to the shelf. Once there the dispensing of handfuls of shark liver soon attracts the birds which are then continuously and thoroughly depixellated to the machine gun like sound of overheating motor drives … for about four hours.

It was not a day of great variety. White-chinned Petrels dominated the scene with Shy Albatrosses running second, two flavours of Shearwater showed themselves at various times along with the odd Fairy Prion and a few also rans.

Shy Albatross
Fairy Prion

The wind and sea picked up as the day wore on heading towards a forecast 30 knots. We had a less comfortable and fairly wet ride home.

On the way we stopped for a look at Lawrence Rocks just off Point Danger at the entrance to Portland Bay. It is home to a massive breeding colony of Australasian Gannets and a good place to rest for a variety of terns, cormorants and fur seals.

Lawrence Rocks
Australasian Gannet

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