Monday, June 10, 2013

Sydney Pelagic

Wandering albatross juv
 On Saturday morning I travelled out of Sydney on a Halicat pelagic, unfortunately it was the only one during my stay as I would love to go out again! It started great with 2-3 humpback whales just out side the harbour,  1 breaching right out of the water. Wandering, shy, yellow-nosed, black-browed and cambells all seen really well. I took out the sketch book briefly but I quickly felt a little queasy and gave up.
Shy albatross
Shy albatross's were constantly around the boat, following us almost back into Sydney harbour. 

Cambells albatross
Black-browed out numbered Cambells but there were still plenty to be seen during the trip. I havn't edited or cropped any of these images, the birds were at arms lenght at times, and the light was stunning for most of the trip.

Black-browed albatross
Hard to know how many were around the boat during the day, had 22 sitting on the water when we reached the deep water shelf with many more circling around. Beautiful birds and hopefully it won't be so long before I see them again.

Short-tailed shearwater
We had a few shearwaters during the day, but the only one to come close was a single short-tailed. It sat on the water just off the boat and allowed it's pale claws be seen to confirm it's identity! 

Fairy Prion
Several prions were around the boat for most of the trip, only rarely would they come close enough for a photograph. Obvious against a dark sea, they disappeared completely when looking against a lighter background. 

Thursday, June 6, 2013


Beach Thick-knee
I have been in Australia for almost two weeks now, visiting my brother in Sydney. I have also tried to get in as much birding as possible with a trip up to Cairns and the surrounding areas. The time of year wasn't the best but have been happy so far, getting great views of most of my target birds. Lots of waders on the mud right below the promenade were a nice surprise. This thick-knee was one of two on Wonga beach, a reliable site for them, but a long walk in hot weather!

Bush thick-knees
These thick-knees were a little more co-operative, 2 of 3 that spent the days under a tree in a quiter area of the centenary lakes in Cairns.

 Noisy Pitta
I was delighted to finally find my first pitta in cairns, on the blue arrow trail overlooking the city. The hike wasn't the toughest, but the 'viewpoint' was very disappointing, completely enclosed by tall trees blocking the view of Cairns below! Fortunately I had already seen what I went for, this was one of 2 seen really well on the trail.
Sacred Kingfisher
 Sacred Kingfishers were quite common, this was one of a pair in the Centenary lakes park in Cairns. I think I saw all the kingfishers in Queensland at this time of year, and was lucky to get great views of them all.
Sooty tern
I went on one of the tourist boats to the reef, stopping off at a sea bird colony off-shore. I was really hoping for bridled terns, but despite searching I had to settle for a few thousand sooty's, noddy's, booby's and a couple of lesser frigatebirds. Had great close and pro-longed views of 3 green turtles, shame I don't have an under water camera!

Australian Bustard
I had some gen on where to find the bustards from staying in the Kingfisher lodge near Cairns, driving a few dirt roads eventually led to my first, followed quickly after by several more. The bird above was one of a pair that refused to move off the road!

Salt-water Croc
I had been hoping to find my own croc by searching from lay-by's over looking rivers but had no luck, eventually I gave in and travelled on a tourist boat from Daintree. I had told them I hoped to see birds and after a quite first trip, I was offered a free trip on the next one where we got great views of this 4 1/2 metre croc plus little and azure kingfishers, Brahimy kite and a few other great birds. 

Great knot
Upto 75 great knot were on the sea front in Cairns at high tide everyday. Most were in winter plumage, but a  few showed some advanced summer plumage. On my final evening I picked up a red knot with the naked eye, delighted at how obvious the bird was, will hopefully be as easy when I find a great knot in Ireland someday! With the knot, there was good numbers of bar-tailed godwits, grey tailed tattlers, red-capped plovers, black-fronted dotterels, lesser sandplovers, whimbrel, 2 terek sandpipers and a sharp-tailed sand. It must be a fantastic location in winter when there are huge numbers wintering here.