Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Port MacDonnell Pelagic

Port MacDonnell pelagic birding is always enjoyable and last weekend's trip was no exception.

Sunday morning at 6am we were aboard the Remarkable skippered by Mark and heading out to sea.

When we were well past the shelf we stopped and we getting ready to start the burley when we were instantly visited by a Soft-plumaged Petrel! What a fantastic way to start the day...

Northern Royal Albatross then came in for a look

Wandering Albatross joined in the fun

Gooneybird - Immature Wandering Albatross

Cape Petrel were in good numbers

Cape Petrel

Great-winged Petrels and White-faced Storm-petrels were in good numbers

White-faced Storm-petrel

Great-winged Petrel

I was happy to finally manage to snap a few photos of a Salvins Albatross.

Shy "Salvins" Albatross

Cape Petrel

A very enjoyable day with friends - I cant think of a better way to spend a weekend!!

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Goldcoast Hinterland Rainforest Birding

After 10 days birding in Cairns and Cape York I decided to spend 4 days birding in Lamington National Park and Mt Glorious.
Scarlet Honeyeater

I stayed at Binna Burra which is a beautiful place, the lodge is managed by lovely staff who are all extremely helpful. I really enjoy staying here.
Binna Burra

Binna Burra is a great place to stay if you are a birder as it has Satin Bowerbird, Lewins Honeyeater , Red-browed Treecreeper Tawny Frogmouth, Southern Boobook, Marbled Frogmouth and Grey Goshawk living right at the lodge!
Satin Bowerbird

Red-browed Treecreeper


Walking alone in the rainforest allowed me to view some of the more elusive species such as Alberts Lyrebird, Noisy Pitta and Rufous Scrub-Bird, along with wildlife.

Carpet Python

Noisy Pitta

Red-legged Wallaby

I was also able to spend some time with fellow Bushpea photographer Geoff and we went birding together in Lamington National Park and Mt Glorious.

Red-necked Wallaby

We enjoyed viewing rainforest species including Logrunner, Eastern Whipbird, Rufous Fantail, Large-billed Scrub-wren and a Russet-tailed Thrush on a nest!

Rufous Fantail

We had lunch at Maiala Rainforest Teahouse at Mt Glorious where we enjoyed photographing Eastern Spinebill and King Parrots while drinking out coffee!

Yesterday I caught up with my friend Barry Davies and we spent the day birding together.  After good views of Paradise Riflebird we again staked out the Rufous Scrub-bird. Hearing one calling we climbed down into a grassy gully and sat in amongst the vegetation wondering how many Ticks we would have attached to us by the time we climbed back out.

Tick infested Rufous Scrubbird territory

Thankfully the risk paid off and we watched a Rufous Scrub-bird skulking about and hopping through a clearer patch under the grass. We got good views but sadly again I dipped on getting a photo. This is the third time I’ve seen this bird now and I’m starting to think that photographing it is going to be impossible! Satisfied with our views (and Ticks well attached to our bodies) we moved on and decided to try for a few lifers.

First we had breakfast at the Binna Burra Restaurant. Where else can you watch Grey Goshawk, Satin Bowerbird and Top Knot Pigeons whilst drinking coffee?
A quick walk along Lower Bellbird Circuit provided good views of Bell Miner and Green Catbird.
Bell Miner

Driving toward Beechmont we called into Ken’s house who has a lovely native garden. Ken is a keen birder and thanks to his knowledge of landscaping and love of native plants has Scarlet honeyeaters feeding in his yard.

Scarlet Honeyeater

A quick chat and about 20 photos later we were driving further down the hill scanning the roadside for White-headed Pigeons.  One lone pigeon was found eating grass seeds.

White-headed Pigeon

We then decided to drive to the Port of Brisbane to seek out the Mangrove Honeyeater. I was unprepared for the wonderful views we gained of this pretty honeyeater.  They were feeding happily and posed for photos even on the fence railing.
Mangrove Honeyeater

This location was also great for Brown Honeyeater, Spangled Drongo, Australian Figbird and little Friarbird. The lake provided Hardhead, Chestnut Teal, Black Swan,  Australasian Grebe, Coots and numerous other waterfowl.
Brown Honeyeater

Spangled Drongo

It was then time to head back to Binna Burra for a lovely dinner and well deserved bath to recover from the last 2 weeks of hard core birding!

I’d recommend birding at Binna Burra – a wonderful location – just be sure to wear heaps of insect repellent and check yourself regularly for Ticks as they burrow in quite deep.

Removing mine this morning was quite a surgical procedure and who knows how many others I have not found yet!!
Leeches, Ticks, a twisted ankle along with numerous bites, scratches and bruises seem to be a small price to pay for 52 Lifers in 14 days! 
So where to go next?  That is the question!!

Michaelmas Cay Birding

No trip to Cairns is complete for any birder without a trip out to Michaelmas Cay.
Only a few tour organisations go out to the Cay and after some investigations I decided to book with a smaller provider called Passions of Paradise. They take less people, therefore providing more personalised customer service. I was impressed with their willingness to accommodate me, being the only person on their boat who did not even take swimming gear as my only interest was birds.

I can only imagine what the other customers thought. All these people in skimpy bathers with towels and sunscreen, then there was me.... wild scruffy long red hair in pigtails, khaki outfit, hiking boots, huge camera and binoculars....

I positioned myself on the front of the catamaran and was immediatedly searching for birds, before they had even left the wharf.
An Osprey was nesting on a pylon on the way out and then it was a large number of Crested Terns.
A sea snake was skimming along the surface further out which was a treat to see!
Scanning the horizon allowed me to spot a few Humpback Whales and we were able to stop the boat and they came in fairly close.

Closer to the Cay the Terns got a lot more interesting and I enjoyed scanning the pylons for Bridled Tern amongst the Crested Terns.
Crested Tern

I was verry happy to find a lone Intermediate Morph Red-footed Booby  perched on a boat motor!
Red-footed Booby Intermediate Phase

Great Frigatebirds, Brown Booby, Sooty Terns and Common Noddys were everywhere. I’ve never seen so many birds!
Common Noddy

Sooty Tern feeding immature

Sooty Terns

Sooty Tern on egg

Sooty Tern

I spend about 45 min in the small roped off humans allowed  area of the cay staring in wonder at the tens of thousands of nesting birds. It seemed that almost every bird was sitting on an egg. Thousands of young chicks were calling for their parents while a lone white-morph Eastern Reef Egret was wandering happily, and well fed, between them.

Sooty Tern

I was then taken around to the back of the island in the glass-bottom boat for a private tour. We were able to get in fairly close tothe cay allowing me to scan the terns for any interesting birds! Black-naped Terns, Lesser-crested Tern and Little Terns were identified along with Black Noddy, more Frigatebirds and Brown Booby.
Black-naped Tern

Great Frigatebird

Lesser-crested Tern

We then had lunch on the boat before moving on to Paradise Reef for an hour. During this time I enjoyed a glass of Chardy and a chat with the Skipper and it was then back to Cairns.
What a wonderful experience and privilege to be able to witness these breeding birds at such close range!! I am relieved this area is constantl policed and protected to ensure the birds are not disturbed by human interferance.