Saturday, September 27, 2014

Spring has Sprung

You don't have to travel far to find birds, just go to your local park, wetland or even sit outside in your back yard! They will come to you. It is spring and the birds are breeding, love is in the air and there is a lot of activity going on. They are building nests, eggs are hatching and little birds need to be fed by exhausted parents.

It was warm and sunny today so I decided to head to the local wetland for a little while.

The Australian Wood Ducks were busy with lots of young about. One pair had 14 ducklings keeping them busy.

Australian Wood Duckling

Australian Wood Duckling

Australian Wood Duck keeping guard

Australian Wood Duckling
Look closely and you can see razor sharp edge to the bill. Don't get to close to the ducklings or he will pounce! Ha ha ha

There was a fairly tame Hardhead on the pond along with plenty of Pacific Black Duck.


Hardhead - also sometimes called White-eyed Duck but note only the male has a white eye!
So, what are you waiting for? Get yourself a note book, bird field guide and a pair of binoculars and get yourself outside! See how many different birds you can find!

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Cape Gannet in Australia - or how to play Wheres Wally!

When my friends invited me to meet them at the Gannet Colony in Portland Victoria on Saturday morning to have another crack at ticking the lone Cape Gannet how could I refuse?

So, on Friday evening I left Adelaide, SA and drove through the night.
Just after 6am my friends Rob and John arrived and we started searching. The next thirty minutes was like playing Where’s Wally to spot the almost identical Cape Gannet from the thousands of Australasian Gannets, having to pain-stakingly wait for each bird to lift it’s head to check for the distinctly longer black, featherless gular stripe, stretching from the base of the lower mandible down to the middle of the throat as well as checking for the all black tail.

Finally we had success, Rob got the bird in the scope and we got great views and photos- hi fives all round!  My other birding mate arrived and was able to get straight onto the bird so we were all very happy!
The bird stayed around for about 30 minutes before flying out to sea to go fishing for the day oblivious to the small group of dancing birders nearby!







Thanks to Rob, John and Bernie for convincing me to make the journey!
With the bird ticked all was well in the world once more until I realized I then had to drive all the way back to Adelaide again…. This time I broke up the journey, got some sleep and then did some birding around Bool Lagoon in South East SA which is always worth a visit!
Australian Reed-warbler

White-browed Scrubwren

Swamp Harrier

Swamp Harrier
Swamp Harrier

Monday, September 8, 2014

Citrine Wagtail -To twitch or not to twitch - it's not even a question!

When the call went out that there was a Citrine Wagtail in Australia I was stuck - literally. I was on my way to Tassie to go  out on a pelagic. I received 3 messages from other obsessed twitchers "THERE IS A CITRINE WAGTAIL IN MUDGEE" they cried! I KNOW I cried back, in anguish....

"PARKIN, are you on your way?"  -" No" I sobbed, "I'm heading in the opposite direction" I mumbled pathetically, hardly believing I was saying it...

Steadily my mates sent me details, and, to rub it in, they regaled me with photos as one by one they made the pilgrimage and collected their photographic trophies. I, meanwhile, had my trip to Tassie, which was great, but I kept thinking about the wagtail, I simply had to see it!

But, my holidays were over and  I had to return to work to pay for my birding adventures, there was no time left to squeeze in the trip. I was defeated....

I walked into my office on my first day back to work and my boss greeted me happily, "BIRDER, welcome back"!! Are you refreshed and relaxed after 3 weeks off"?
 "NO" I exclaimed, "There's a Citrine Wagtail in Mudgee, a first for mainland Australia" I cried in despair.
 "OK" she said "when do you need to leave? You have to get on a plane! Go book your ticket, you have to get the bird!!!!"

WOW! Was she serious? YES, she understands the importance of a vagrant! I'll convert her to birding yet!  THANK YOU most patient and understanding boss! Ticket booked immediately!

A flight to Sydney, some helpful details from a birding mate who had already twitched the bird and 4 hr drive later I was at the local wetland in Mudgee NSW - it was the middle of the night  and it was FREEZING!

I waited for the sun to rise and by 6am Saturday I had the bird. What an exquisite little bird, happily feeding in the mud. 1200 photos later and I was ecstatic!

Citrine Wagtail



I met up with my mate Grant and while enjoying the bird we discovered why there were so many snake warning signs in the area. Sitting on the grass photographing the wagtail Grant heard a noise behind us and turned to see a Red-bellied Black Snake less than one metre behind us sliding straight towards us! He jumped up which made the poor little snake realise we were there and it changed direction and disappeared.

The wetland birding was great but I failed to really take many shots other than of the wagtail.

Australasian Shoveler

We left about 11am ready for breakfast very happy with our morning birding at the wetland.

The next morning I looked around Blue Mountains National Park and in Blackheath found some lovely Rockwarblers.

Not exactly ideal weather for photography

Even though it was foggy and rained non-stop I was able to get some photos as I sat on the ground in a puddle. The bird I was photographing was calling to its mate. The mate replied, it sounded close to me so I turned my head and realised it was actually sitting on my foot! Too close to get a shot!





The area had a Superb Lyrebird as well who gave me a great performance of it's various calls.

Superb Lyrebird in the fog



A very successful weekend with Citrine Wagtail becoming my 709th bird on my Australian Life List!




Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Eaglehawk Neck Pelagic Tasmania Birding

It's been a couple of years since I've been on a pelagic birding trip so when I was invited to join some friends on a trip to Tassie to go out on a pelagic trip from Eaglehawk Neck I immediately agreed.

A group of us arrived, keen and full of expectation and booked in at the Lufra with ocean view rooms and good meals we knew this weekend would be great.



We left the jetty at 7.15am heading straight for the shelf passing the Hippolytes, craning our necks for birds immediately.


We had a few Common Diving Petrels on the way out. These birds are so difficult to photograph as when we see them the boat is going full pelt and the bird is also going at top speed in the opposite direction. 

This splodge is actually a Common Diving Petrel

Photography was tricky as it was partially overcast and the sea got increasingly rough as the day went on.


We first stopped at 250 fathoms and put out burley and then again at 600 fathoms.

We had a lot of Wandering Albatross with 4 Gibsons, 1 Southern Royal Albatross, a few Black-browed and Campbells Tross, over 50 Shy Albatross and 1 Salvins & 1 Bullers Albatross.

Campbells Albatross

Wandering Albatross


Wandering Albatross - juvenile

Wandering Albatross

1 Southern and 6 Northern Giant Petrel, about 8 Cape Petrel came in to the boat along with over 100 Fairy Prion.

Cape Petrel - the panda of the sea

Fairy Prion run across the water

We carefully checked each prion in the hope of finding something different and YES! BLUE PETREL!  14 Gore-Tex clad birders rushed to the side of the boat and all the cameras went into overdrive!

Blue Petrel
Blue Petrel

Blue Petrel

Blue Petrel

Blue Petrel
Blue Petrel

Blue Petrel

We also had good views of Soft-plumaged Petrel before  about 8White-headed Petrel came into the boat and circled us hanging around for a while.

White-headed Petrel


We had a fair few Great-winged Petrel (Gouldi) as well as a few White-chinned Petrel.

White-chinned Petrel

White-chinned Petrel

A few Providence Petrels flew past along with a few Grey-backed Storm-Petrels and White-faced Storm-Petrels who examined the slick. Brief views were had of a Hutton's Shearwater and a Sooty Shearwater along with Australasian Gannet, Created &White-fronted Tern.

Kelp Gull

Birding around Eaglehawk Neck is excellent, I'd suggest you allow a bit of time to look around if you are heading there!





Beautiful Firetail

Beautiful Firetail

Kelp Gull

Scarlet Robin

Cape Barren Goose
Cape Barren Goose with young

Little Penguin

Pink Robin

Eastern-barred Bandicoot