Sunday 25 September 2011


Just back from our family holiday in Norfolk. Had a smashing day out starting at Kelling Heath where I had good views of juvenile Dartford Warblers hanging out with the Stonechats. Also stumbled across a good mixed flock of Coal Tits, Chiffchaffs, Yellow Hammers and I'm pretty sure there was a Garden Warbler in there too. Went down to the coast via Meadow Lane and along the beach to Cley and back. As well as this Guillemot paddling along the coast I saw a ringtail Hen Harrier flying close in shore heading West and an Arctic Skua come in and land on the beach. There were lots of Gannets out to sea too. Without trying too hard my day list got up to 70 (and didn't include collared dove, blackbird and greenfinch!). However, the birding highlights from the holiday was a Barn Owl viewed from our cottage window (whilst I was in my Pyjamas and eating coco pops) and a Barn Owl viewed from the sofa that landed on our car (too close to focus with a pair of bins!).

SOSSA Pelagic, Wollongong

Shy Albatross with broken leg.

Cape Petrel

Short-tailed Shearwater with broken mandible.

Kelp Gull. 1 of 5 seen.

Wandering Albatross

Juv Black-browed Albatross

Providence Petrel

Wandering Albatross

Juv Campbell Albatross

Saturday 17 September 2011

Barren Grounds and Budderoo Plateau

Eastern Bristlebird, Barren Grounds

Eastern Bristlebird, Barren Grounds

Gang-gang Cockatoo. One of seven seen feeding together along the Budderoo track.

Southern Emu-wren, Budderoo

Grey Currawong. My first for NSW seen about 2-3Kms along the Budderoo track.

Pilotbird (behind that twig there), shot from the car along the entry road to Barren Grounds

First light at Barren Grounds

Copperhead(?), Budderoo

Wombat. My first sighting today at Barren Grounds, shot before sunrise (thanks to a noisy 6400 ISO).

The heath was buzzing today! 27 degrees and no wind made a real contrast to last weekend's failed efforts at the same spot. The only thing missing was a Ground Parrot sighting.

Sunday 11 September 2011

Meadow Cricket

Popped down to Vange Marsh today for a quick look around. Unlike me, all the birds were sensibly sheltering from the strong Westerly that was blowing through today. Thanks to this beautiful Meadow Cricket it wasn't a completely wasted journey. Good cricket and grasshopper ID guide here.

Saturday 10 September 2011

Wryneck - South Fambridge

The autofocus gods were not with me today. Nice bird though.

Sunday 4 September 2011

Salvin's Albatross ID

I slapped this one-stop-guide to Salvin's Albatross identification together from shots taken yesterday. The info is largely gleaned from yesterday's learnings and the sighting I had a few weeks back.

DISCLAIMER: This is a simple guide and doesn't go into age, moult, the time of year and your position on the globe. There's plenty of crossover with all of the above.

I also received the following shots from Nick Edards who was on the boat. Check out his site and some of his excellent bat pics.

Graeme Phipps holds the Salvin's steady, Lindsay installs the bracelet, Daryl stands by with a Wanderer and [Be]linda (?) takes down the record. Photo by Nick Edards.

Me and the Wanderer. It was about the same age as me and had probably been on the boat more times. Photo by Nick Edards.

Saturday 3 September 2011

Wollongong Pelagic

Cape Petrel. Bit of a crowd pleaser - we had two around the boat for a while.

Salvin's Albatross. My second this year. Compared to some of the birds I haven't seen yet, like Buller's Albatross, this is quite a rare piece.

Salvin's Albatross

Here's a close up of the Salvin's underside wing tip. It shows the dark tip without a white wedge typical of Shy/White-capped Albatross. Also, the messy patch on the leading edge of the 'hand'.

White-headed Petrel. My first fleeting look at one took a good nudge from Lyndsay to get me onto it.

Northern Giant Petrel AKA The Stinker.

Young female Wanderer (Antipodes). I had the privilege of holding this bird while it was having its new bracelet installed.

The ID for this dolphin is still up in the air.

UPDATE: The flying dolphin seen above is in fact a Striped Dolphin. Here are some slightly more diagnostic shots.

The Sandra K bobbed out of Wollongong harbour again this morning at 7am. The weather was perfect for pelagics - a bit of wind (10 knots gradually increasing to 25) kept the birds on the wing without burning a layer of skin off your face. The sea wasn't big either so the camera work wasn't too tricky. Once again it was great to be aboard with an inspiring bunch of people and we saw some good birds. One new one for me was the White-headed Petrel.

Osprey (at last!)

I've had a couple of failed attempts at seeing an Osprey this year so I was pleased to see this distant bird first thing this morning at Wakering Stairs.

Thursday 1 September 2011

Night Garden

I've already provided the insects in my garden with a pond, log piles, native flowers and other organic nectar-rich plants. This year I've resisted the urge to cut back the dead foliage and fading flower stems to create a bit of winter cover for my critters. Photo's from top to bottom; An Angle Shades moth is perfectly camouflaged among the dead leaves of my Centaura; Garden spider with prey; a Crab Spider cuts a ghostly figure with it's prized Small White.