Category Archives: NSW

Sydney Pelagic – 10 March 2012

There is a trip report from Roger McGovern available here, and I’ve uploaded a whole swag of photos to the gallery – you can look at them here. I’ll link directly to the album when I manage to sort that out – getting used to new software!

I’m becoming a huge fan of pelagics. I was constantly worried about getting sea-sick and/or having a massive panic attack at being stuck on a boat. I’ve now realised I don’t get sea-sick, and thankfully my anxiety days seem to be behind me. March 2012 was my 5th pelagic, and easily the best one I’ve been on yet.

The birding highlights were many – White-chinned Petrel, White-necked Petrel, (brief) Red-tailed Tropicbird, (very distant – for me) Bridled Tern, cooperative Bullers – unusual for this early in the year – and Shy Albatross, all the Jaegers (Pomarine, Long-tailed & Arctic), and 6 varieties of Shearwater (Flesh-footed, Wedge-tailed, Fluttering, Hutton’s, Short-tailed & Sooty). And conditions were calm-ish. And there were heaps of dolphins everywhere, launching totally out of the water and everything. At one point Nikolas was saying there were Pan-tropical Spotted Dolphin – certainly the dolphins I saw at that point that were very close to the boat weren’t smooth grey like the bottlenose dolphins I’m more familiar with… but I don’t know much about mammals except that they have hair and produce milk, so I’ll defer to the experts.

Not much to say here that isn’t in Rogers report I link to above – so yeah – here’s some pictures.

White-chinned Petrel


Bullers Albatross


Flesh-footed Shearwater


Shy Albatross

I can’t make the April trip, but I’m definitely looking at the May and June ones.

Until next time!

Common Tern


Headed down to Boat Harbour in Botany Bay National Park today. This is easily the best place on the south side of Sydney for shorebirds, and possibly one of the best places in Sydney for terns. I timed my visit for high tide, and with the howling southerlies, I was hoping that something interesting might have blown in. On the way to the rock shelf, I saw a Short-tailed Shearwater in very close. I’m going on the pelagic out of Sydney this weekend, so unless that gets cancelled, hopefully I’ll see plenty more this week. There was also a Jaeger of some description, but I didn’t get good enough views to ID.

Common Tern in the midst of a large flock of other terns and gulls.

On the far side of the rock shelf was a large mixed group of terns and gulls, with a few Sooty Oystercatchers scattered among them. As I approached, I had high hopes for something interesting being in there, and wasn’t totally let down! There was a Common Tern on one edge of the group, allowing fairly close approach. I think the wind took all of the birds steel away from them, as I was able to get extremely close to the birds.

Common Tern - Sterna hirundo longipennis

According to HANZAB, the Common Terns we get in Australia are of race longipennis, which means this guy is getting ready for the flight back to eastern Siberia.

Other migrant news includes Ruddy Turnstones that look to be colouring up, the Red-necked Stints are getting rufous, and there’s a pair of Double-banded Plover. I didn’t want to disturb the birds as they prepare for departing for migratory flights and/or recover from crossing the ditch, and with threatening rain, I went back to the car, quite content with the mornings trip.

Want to see the full list of birds? Click more…

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Golden-headed Cisticola

Went down to Eastlakes Golfcourse this morning to see what was about – nothing totally unusual, although a Buff-banded Rail running across the fairway at hole 16 was an odd sight. There are still good numbers of Fairy Martins about, and the walk through the bush to the crake crate (which appears to have been washed away) is not severely overgrown.

Photographic highlight was a Golden-headed Cisticola, which posed nicely for a few dozen photos. I love it when they play along.

Golden-headed Cisticola

Golden-headed Cisticola - Cisticola exilis

2011 – a review

What a year… Orange-bellied Parrot, Grey-backed Storm-petrel, Painted Snipe, Mallee Emu-wren, Short-tailed Grasswren, and Mallee Whipbird being some of the more awesome lifers I managed to pick up. I saw 340 species over the 12 month period, which included a few large trips: most notably the big one – Sydney->Wagga Wagga -> Hattah-Kulkyne NP -> Gluepot Reserve -> Flinders Ranges -> Kangaroo Island -> Grampians NP -> Sydney; and a counter-clockwise trip around Tasmania. Visiting 4 states picks up a large amount of different habitat, which in turn equals a large amount of birds. I’m still entering all my old records into the excellent Wildlife Recorder program, so I’m not 100% certain of my current lifer count, but I think I’m at 515 or 516.

Where I birded in 2011

Oh and I got my 300/2.8, which is a sexy beast of a lens. Shame that due to the tsunami delivery was delayed and I didn’t have it in time for the South Australia trip, but it came to Tasmania with me.

Anyway – what does 2012 have in store? First up, a trip to Ash Island tomorrow to get the Yellow Wagtails. Then around mid-year I’m thinking of a 35th birthday present to myself of a week round trip to Bowra Station. End of year will be either Christmas/Cocos-Keeling Islands (a week on each) or Norfolk and Lord Howe Islands (a week on each) – I’m still tossing up which trip to do… I’ll get good numbers (30+) lifers on either trip, but one involves about 18 hours in a plane to get there, the other one about 4… and it’s a couple of grand cheaper, which means I can get a new camera body and buy other new toys that I probably don’t need… ahhh first world problems…

So – the target for next year is a year list of 300, but more importantly, I am hoping to crack the 560 life list tally. If I get out on a few boats, get over to one set of islands and up to Bowra – no worries.

Good birding everyone!

Bird 507

Just a quick note to say that bird 507 has been seen and photographed – a party of 12 Australian Painted Snipe at the location posted on the NSW birdline earlier in the week by Matt Weeks.

Best start to an Easter long weekend ever!

Back in Sydney tomorrow arvo, so more details and pictures then. I’ll also post something to birdline when I get back.

Ostrich – a rather silly bird to tick in Australia

Greetings from Swan Hill. Still have no interwebs, so no photos yet, and it’s all from the phone, so there’s no links and it does silly autocorrect and stuff, but anyway…

Today was a big and good day. Drove around 600km, leaving wagga a bit later than ideal, and headed up to Leeton. Too sunny for crakes, but good birds such as Black Falcon, and Spotted Harrier were had.

Then we headed down to a spo near Barham to look for an apparently tickable population of Ostrich – 1 male and 3 females/juveniles were found. Bird #491 on the list. One of the more ridiculous birds on the list, but at least ts not a milestone bird there is (scarily) a chance I’ll end up with Barbary Dove as #500!

A rough guestimate of birds seen today is about 60 species, bringing the trip list up to around 90ish. Not bad for 3 days with only a few “proper” birding moments.

anyway – I’m pretty rinsed after all the travel, and am going to bed shortly. Tomorrow is Mildura via Hattah, Should be a cracker

And thanks to everyone involved in the parcel shenanigans that happened today!

No longer a graduand…

Well, it’s done. I’m officially a graduate, not a graduand. Stupid word that my phone spellcheck says is spelt wrong, by when the chancellor of a uni says that’s what you are, that’s what you are.

Anyway – birds! Haven’t done loads of birding yet, that all kicks off tomorrow. That said, I was out at Berry Jerry SF this morning, and saw stubble quail, superb parrot and the usual suspects, saw white-necked heron out near CSU, and when you add the peregrine falconfrom tumut yesterday, it’s been pretty good thus far.

Tomorrow we’re off to Swan Hill via Leeton and Moama where I hope to see some crakes and feral ostrich respectively. I also am hoping to see grey falcon at Leeton- same as last year, but I very much doubt I’ll manage that. Even though it’s the same time of year at the same place, I don’t expect to see one.

Anyhoo – more tomorrow maybe from sunny Swan Hill!

South Australian Adventure Ahoy!

Howdy all,

As some of you know, we’re about to head off to South Australia for a couple of weeks of intensive birding. I’ll be trying to update this blog whenever I have access to the interwebs, which will be sporadic, but regular.

We head off next week, and after graduating at sunny Wagga Wagga, we head out into western Victoria to try again for Mallee Emu-wren at Hattah, then out to Gluepot via Ned’s Corner to try for everything that you find there. From there, off to Port Augusta and Lake Gilles NP to get a few WA birds on the eastern edge of their range, then up to the Flinders Ranges for a bit. After stooging around there for a week or thereabouts, it’s off to Adelaide for some plastics (well, Barbary Dove) and to check out the Pandas. Then off to Kangaroo Island, and back to Sydney via Mt Gambier and the Grampians. About 4 and a bit weeks and 9000km all up.

We were going to get up to Mt Lyndhurst, but recent rains have seen the road open and closed to 4wd only, and as much as I’d like to take the un-4wd up the Strzlecki, I don’t really want to risk it and the fines. At the moment it’s open to 4wd, but it was closed to all traffic last week. So I figure I’ll go back in a couple of years and spend proper time looking for Chestnut-breasted Whiteface, and instead spend an extra day in the Flinders.

Keryn will be doing a photo blog on my flickr in a new set, and I’ll be doing landscape, birds, flowers and insects as I find them. Not expecting too much in the way of reptiles, but will put anything from those groups up as well.

Anyway – should be a corker of a trip – I’m aiming for 15 lifers on it, and there’s a possibility (albeit slim!) for plenty more than that. Although that requires things to be well out of range, and me to be very lucky.

And for any budding thieves out there, there will be people staying in our house, so don’t bother :)



ps: unfortunately due to the earthquake and tsunami, my lens was held up :( so no shiny new lens for this trip…

Birding the Royal

In the possibly futile attempt to post monthly, I’m going to sneak in with a quick report on my trip to Jersey Spring on Lady Carrington Drive (LCD) in the Royal NP this morning. Photos to come – I’m just trying to not write my powerpoint for a series of classes I’m delivering in 8 days time.

I went for a stroll along LCD down to Jersey Spring and back, in the hope of finding some youngish male Lyrebirds.

It’s a month or 3 too early for them to be flexin’ for the ladies, but they should be around. And they are. I found a party of 4 young males bickering and carrying on, as young males do – it’s quite similar to the first few weeks of university really – frisky young people carrying on… good on them, but jeez it gets tiresome (at uni anyway – i quite like it in the bush. fnar, fnar). There was even one male calling, but he was over the river – I suspect that this winter will be Lyrebird season in the Royal, as I’m seeing more young this year than in many years indeed. I can only assume that it’s the same throughout their range.

At Jersey Spring, I wandered over to the river and saw an Azure Kingfisher fly north towards Audley – and I thinks to myself, sweet, I’ll set up shop and wait for him to fly back and take some shots. So I clambour across fairly dry mud that is smashed by deer hoofs (obviously the wet summer has been good for the Rusa Deer in the park as well, while not being so good for the river edges!), and notice another Kingfisher perched on a branch in the river. Another Azure! and s/he even let me take photos. And then I notice another Kingfisher perched! A Sacred. Not as exciting as an Azure, but to have the 2 of them in close proximity gave an excellent chance to compare size, and the Azure is as small as you’d think it is.

SO anyways – I’ve seen the kingfishers, they’ve gone off king-fishing, and I head back – pretty good tally for Jersey Spring – 2x kingfisher species, big party of Lyrebirds, Catbird and Bowerbird, good views of Striated and Brown Thornies, and Brown Gerygone, no topknots, but i’m pretty happy – it’s 11am and pretty much a howling gale after all – so I start to head back and come to work.

At the spring itself, I stumble across a mixed feeding party of bush-birds – Lewin’s, White-eared and Yellow-faced Honeyeaters, Eastern Yellow Robin, and at least 10 Black-faced Monarchs, including juveniles. Sweet!

About 200 meters along the track past there, I see a mixed flock of small birds feeding on the edge of the track – and then I hear a Beautiful Firetail whistle. That totally threw me – I’ve only seen BF’s in heath and swampy heath. not in tree-fern lined gullies of recovering rainforest/wet schlerophyll… then I see one. and another! definitely Beautiful Firetails! stoked! Got a dodgy, dodgy record shot (to come) to prove that they’re in rainforest. The nearest I’ve seen these guys is at Chinaman’s Helipad – about 150 meters of altitude (as in sheer cliff), and 3ish km as the firetail flies, but a whole different ecosystem. I should track their expanding range across the NP – and will even try to do that based on my records. Stay tuned.

Put the bins on the fairy-wrens, expecting them to be Superbs, when a male hops across, and I see the chestnut band – “bugger me – they’re Variegated!”. I’ve seen them previously on the Forest Path (about 2.5 km away), but not in the middle of LCD. all good.

In other news – I’m getting a 300mm f2.8 lens for my South Australia trip, and you’ll see all manner of updates from both of us as we’re off on that trip. I can’t wait, and I hope Keryn enjoys it as well ;) haha!


(belated) November 2010 Pelagic Report

After putting it off for a long time, I managed to pop my pelagic cherry back in July, and had such a fun time, I basically started planning my next trip straight away – looking at my assessment schedule, to see when I was free. I wasn’t free much, so planned it as an end of degree pelagic instead, which meant November. This time round, I went out with Mr Bernhard, who unfortunately didn’t quite get on with the conditions as well as he’d like.

Conditions were fairly brutal. 2-3 meter swell with 1-2 meter waves, with a NE wind providing some nice chop and sideways roll on top of that. Significantly different conditions from the July trip, which had a bit of bounce, but nothing too much. Again, I didn’t get sick, so I’ll start planning that Antarctic trip soon ;) haha!

Anyway – I met Bernhard at Rose Bay Wharf, and shortly after boarding, Hal gave us the “it’s going to be rough out there, so hold on to something whenever you move anywhere” talk. And as soon as we got in the open water, we started to bounce around. A lot.

First couple of birds seen were some shearwaters, and a couple of Jaegars, but nothing particularly close to the boat, so we powered out to 12 Mile Reef (I think). We actually stopped for a fur seal, but in the bouncy conditions, i didn’t really get any good photos of it – got some great shots of waves and general sea shots. In the conditions, there were no recreational fisher-people out, so we kept heading out to Brown’s Mountain without stopping. It was a rough, bouncy, fairly unpleasant trip out, with the first couple of people succumbing to sea sickness. When we got to Brown’s, the engines were cut, and the drift was started, all we needed now were the birds.

2nd year juvenile Black-browed Albatross

and none came. Well, not “none”, but not many.

We bounced, and rose, and fell, and rocked, and rose, and bounced, and tilted, and fell, etc etc, but hardly anything came in. Didn’t look like a good day out. bugger. On the corresponding trip last year, they found a Sperm Whale a few more km out past the shelf, so we decided to head out there to see if that could be repeated.

I’m writing this over a month after the event, so I might have my timing incorrect, but I’m pretty sure I’m right. As we were heading out to the site, we came across something I never thought I’d see – a huuuuge sunfish – I’d never heard of sunfish before, but this was a monster. Basically it’s a huge fin on a huge fish that basks just below the surface. A super cool thing to see!

A Great-winged Petrel flying in for some chum

Anyway – back to the birds. At the Sperm Whale site, we continued to bounce about, and a second drift was started – this time, with much better results. Great-winged Petrels by the bucket load (TICK), a Black Noddy, some Storm-petrels, shearwaters, jaegars, everything I came out for. Top shelf birding, in rough bastard seas. I realised then why I went out again.

Unfortunately we had to head back, and for most of the return trip, we had a handful of Great-winged Petrels flying in the wake of the boat providing some more photo opportunities. Once in the harbour, there was some regatta action going on, so we had to detour via Manly to get back to Rose Bay, where as we approached the wharf, we had a Little Penguin pop up. A year tick for me, and most welcomed.

Shooting horizontally from the boat - this is how big the waves were

Anyway – we got off the boat, and I journeyed home to have a well-earned beer. Great day out, and I’ll definitely be back. Of the nearly 1000 photos I took in the 9-10 hours we were at sea, after an initial cull of getting rid of sea and part wing shots, and out of focus shots, I was down to around 200 shots, and of them, only 14 made the cut, and 3 of those were record shots! Good thing I’m first and fore-most a birder and not a photographer, or I’d be pretty not happy with the days proceedings.

Sorry about the belated report, but better late than never.

You can also read Roger McGovern’s report here. That’s got  species list, and more details. I’d probably read that one now if I was you.

Until next time.