I'd booked to go on the Portland pelagic in June and was disappointed when I had to pull out as I had an exam the next morning. As soon as the exams were over, I put my name down for a July pelagic out of Port Fairy with Neil Macumber. Then the weather turned foul and the trip was cancelled. I thought I'd never see my prion. Luckily, Neil rescheduled the trip the following weekend, and we managed to get out on Sunday 19 July 2015. It turned into a most memorable day.
|Southern Giant-Petrel, photo by James Mustafa|
|Slender-billed Prion, photo by Bruce Wedderburn|
Sooty Albatross, photo by James Mustafa|
The weather was cold (very cold!) but the threatened swells did not eventuate and it was a relatively pleasant winter's day at sea. Relatively pleasant! What am I saying? It was a fantastic day! I got a lifer!
We were all so excited when we saw the Sooty Albatross, we momentarily forgot the temperature. Then there were a few giant-petrels, mainly Northern, but definitely one Southern. We had lots of prions, and every now and then I interrupted the boat's birding and begged them to look at one bird that I imagined had a broader, whiter eyebrow than Fairy Prions are supposed to have. I must say everyone was very patient with me, as I did my best to wish my Slender-billed Prion into being. Finally, James Mustafa found a bird that was undeniably a Slender-billed. I don't usually try to walk around at sea, as I'm liable to fall over, but I did try to get to the right side of the boat to see James's prion. I glimpsed it as it flew. But there were more and I achieved very good sightings. Yippee! My fourth bogey bird was no more. Thank you, James.
And thanks to James and to Bruce Wedderburn for their photos.
I believe that there were other prions too, apart from Fairys and Slender-bills. Of course there were lots of photographers present, so no doubt we will learn in due course what other prions were present.
Some pelagics are cold and wet. Some produce few birds. But occasionally there is one that stands out. Sunday's trip was one such pelagic. Most people celebrated the Sooty Albatross. I rejoiced in the Slender-billed Prion. Everyone went home happy, with a special warm glow known only to successful twitchers.