• Welcome to BirdForum, the internet's largest birding community with thousands of members from all over the world. The forums are dedicated to wild birds, birding, binoculars and equipment and all that goes with it.

    Please register for an account to take part in the discussions in the forum, post your pictures in the gallery and more.
Feel the intensity, not your equipment. Maximum image quality. Minimum weight. The new ZEISS SFL, up to 30% less weight than comparable competitors.

Exploring Sydney - and further afield. (1 Viewer)

MKinHK

Mike Kilburn
Hong Kong
My wife Carrie and I moved from Hong Kong to Sydney just over a month ago and I'm amazed to find no-one is currently posting regularly on BF from anywhere in Australia. So ... having enjoyed the BF community in sharing my Hong Kong birding and my overseas trips I hope this thread might fill a bit of a gap. So far I have not settled on a fixed patch, but as we're living in Cremorne - a leafy but far from wild suburb on the north shore of Sydney Harbour and my daily dog walks take me around the various parks nearby - this seems a reasonable place to start. It will most definitely not mark the limit of my birding, not with 870-odd species on the Aussie list.

DSC04212 Rainbow Lorikeet @ Cremorne bf.jpg

A bit more context - I've visited Australia a few times before - including brief visits to Sydney, Melbourne, Port Fairy, southern Tasmania, Brisbane (+ Gold Coast), Cairns and Darwin (+Kakadu), so I'm not starting completely from scratch. I have also seen some of the species with a wider distribution outside Australia - most notably the waders that travel the East Asia Australasian Flyway. But going on the breadth of habitats and ranges covered I guess my pre-2022 Aussie list stands at around 300spp. But since they're all on different spreadsheets and it will delay me too long in writing this post to resolve what my list should be I'm going to start here at zero. I'll also do the same for a list of species photographed. Should I get organised I will produce a consolidated list of the former at some time in the future.

Perhaps most important I am yet to find a patch to call my own. I had several in Hong Kong and thoroughly enjoyed them all in different ways. Anyone with time to spare or an interest in birding HK can find those threads in the Hong Kong section here and another thread of my wider explorations in Hong Kong here. Cremorne is pretty and has some great birds, but diversity is not especially high - just 63 species on the eBird list, and after over 30 walks with the dogs I've managed just 30 species. Watch this space. Before arriving in Cremorne we spent a week around Northern Beaches, which has a significantly larger range of habitats - including frontage to the Pacific Ocean and a wonderful list of seabirds that includes numerous albatrosses, prions, loads of shearwaters and petrels! A day at Long Reef Aquatic Reserve and Dee Why Lagoon showed early promise - with over 50 species and plenty more diversity, and I will write this up shortly.

Anyway here's the initial list (and a few photos for the first month) in more or less accurate order of discovery:

DSC04176 Laughing Kookaburra @ Avalon Beach bf.jpg DSC04101 Pied Currawong @ Queenscliff bf.jpg DSC04167 Little Wattlebird @ Avalon Beach bf.jpg


Day 1 arrival in Sydney

1. Silver Gull
2. Australian Ibis
3. Australian Magpie
4. Sulphur-crested Cockatoo
5. Rainbow Lorikeet
6. Australian Raven
7. Laughing Kookaburra
8. Noisy Miner
9. Welcome Swallow

Days 2-4 - Queenscliff and Manly (see post in Your Birding Day here for pix)

10. Australian Brush-turkey
11. Pied Currawong
12. Grey Butcherbird
13. White-faced Heron
14. Masked Lapwing
15. Grey Teal
16. Eastern Osprey
17. Australian Gannet
18. Pacific Reef Egret
19. Greater Crested Tern
20. Little Black Cormorant
21. Pied Cormorant
22. Australasian Darter

Days 5-8 Avalon (Northern Beaches) - (see post in Your Birding Day here for pix )

23. White-bellied Sea Eagle
24. Peregrine
25. Superb Fairy Wren
26. White-browed Scrubwren
27. Silvereye
28. Little Wattlebird
29. Pacific Black Duck
30. Red Wattlebird
31. Common Myna

The next post will cover my first month at Cremorne, and the one after that Long Reef and Dee Why Lagoon.

Cheers,
Mike
 
Last edited:

delia todd

If I said the wrong thing it was a Senior Moment
Staff member
Opus Editor
Supporter
Scotland
Looking forward to your reports Mike, should bring back some memories, even though I didn't get to NSW (saw it though from the top of a mountain LOL).

Think I saw everything on your list so far, except the Pacific Reef Heron. Puzzled by the Grey-backed Butcherbird though. Can't find anything called that, even Googling?
 

MKinHK

Mike Kilburn
Hong Kong
Thans KC!

I remember your epic trip Delia - I followed every post!

You are absolutely right - the Butcherbird should be Grey - not Grey-backed - and I have amended it accordingly. Thank you!

I've also added a couple of pix to the first post.

Cheers,
Mike
 

MKinHK

Mike Kilburn
Hong Kong
As my first month of living in Cremorne draws to a close here's a summary of the birding so far. All of the birds have been found during my twice-daily dog walks around Cremorne Point and in the dog-friendly Reed Park, which is surrounded by lovely stands of Sydney Red Gums and native bush, complete with birds nest ferns, tree ferns, casuarinas, melaleucas, and various wattles which has also been lovingly restored by various community groups right along the coastal path.

The birds are typical of any leafy Sydney suburb near the water, with the first visitors to our garden being an inquisitive pair of Australian Magpies, Noisy Miners, Rainbow Lorikeets and a pair of Pied Currawongs that I'm pretty sure are breeding in the trees between us and the building next door. None these birds are know for their shy retiring personalities, and the burrawongs have become my regular alarm call - shouting out their melodious "coo-coo cooraa-wong" calls just before 7:00 every morning.

A pair each of Common Mynas and Crested Pigeons (32) live on our street, and we enjoy regular flyovers from Australian White Ibis (much maligned by locals as Barry the Bin Chicken for their dumpster diving habits),Sulphur-Crested Cockatoos, and rather plaintive-sounding Australian Ravens. I've twice seen Spotted Doves (33).

DSC04255 Noisy Miner @ Cremorne bf.jpg DSC04256 Grey Butcherbird @ Cremoyne bf.jpg

The nearby Reed Park hosts numerous Australian Brush-Turkeys and Laughing Kookaburras, including the endearing sight of five birds huddling together on a single branch one evening, and the more ominous sight of one bird with a blood-spattered bill having a staring match with a Noisy Miner. I've twice seen Magpie-lark (34), (which I was delighted to learn is actually a giant semi-terrestrial monarch flycatcher!), and more regularly, a pair of Grey Butcherbirds (35) that are fully signed-up members of the noisy gang.

DSC04406 Laughing Kookaburra & Noisy Miner @ Cremorne bf.jpg


Small passerines are in short supply - with only White-browed Scrub Wren and Superb Fairy Wren recorded so far. Slightly bigger the miner-sized Eastern Whipbird (36) is a notorious skulker that I am yet to see properly, but two or three birds hold territories and their whiplash song can be heard form the more tangled patches of undergrowth. A family of Australian Figbirds (37) also seems to have avoided the predations of the currawongs, which are notorious egg and nestling thieves and hang out in a fruiting tree along one of the streets on my way out of the park.

DSC04450 Australian Brush Turkey @ Cremorne bf.jpg DSC04265 Australian Figbird @ Cremorne bf.jpg

Next up - the waterbirds ...

Cheers
Mike
 
Last edited by a moderator:

MKinHK

Mike Kilburn
Hong Kong
The noisiest of the non-passerines are the elegant pair of Masked Lapwings that switch between the lawns of the swankier properties and the grass along the western shoreline, which offers wonderful views of downtown Sydney, the bridge and the Opera House. Like everything else they attract the curiosity of the ubiquitous Noisy Miners, which examine them with great curiosity.

DSC04373 Masked Lapwings + Noisy Miner @ Cremorne bf.jpg DSC04370 Masked Lapwing @ Cremorne bf.jpg

Other waterbirds include Pied, Little Black and Little Pied Cormorants and the always exciting Australian Darter. Pied is the commonest. Up to ten birds roost a in large eucalyptus on the eastern shore where they are sometimes joined by a Darter or Little Black Cormorant. Silver Gulls, which gather in flocks of a hundred or so sometimes shadow the Little Black Cormorants as they fish, doubtless waiting to see what they might steal.

DSC04478 Pied Cormorant @ Cremorne bf.jpg DSC04473 Pied Cormorant @ Cremorne bf.jpg DSC04474 Pied Cormorant @ Cremorne bf.jpg

Greater Crested Terns occasionally come into the bays and cruise along close to the path and I've twice come across a pair of Maned Ducks (38). Last week four magnificent Australian Pelicans (39) were soaring over Reed Park as I stepped out of our front gate.

Cheers
Mike
 
Last edited:

MKinHK

Mike Kilburn
Hong Kong
Photospot: Australian King Parrot

The real aristocrats of Cremorne Point are the almost unbelievably colourful Australian King Parrots (40). A group of four like the bare trees and wires on the western side of of the Point.

DSC04230 Australian King-parrot @ Cremorne bf.jpg

DSC04248 Australian King- Parrot @ Cremorne bf.jpg DSC04249 Australian King Parrrot @ Cremorne bf.jpg

Cheers
Mike
 
Last edited:

delia todd

If I said the wrong thing it was a Senior Moment
Staff member
Opus Editor
Supporter
Scotland
Beautiful!

Couldn't have been a better first of the morning thread to open.

Thanks Mike.
 

Atropos

Well-known member
Great thread and one I shall follow with interest. I live in Aus but have never travelled or birded south of Tville, with the exception of ten bitterly cold days around Alice and Uluru in 2020. Spent most of the last ten years living in remote communities in FNQ and Arnhem Land - currently in Weipa. I have a Moth thread on BF but don't take many bird photos so never got round to starting a birding thread
 

MJB

Well-known member
Great thread and one I shall follow with interest. I live in Aus but have never travelled or birded south of Tville, with the exception of ten bitterly cold days around Alice and Uluru in 2020. Spent most of the last ten years living in remote communities in FNQ and Arnhem Land - currently in Weipa. I have a Moth thread on BF but don't take many bird photos so never got round to starting a birding thread
At least in Weipa you'll have two species of Frigatebird coming to roost every evening!(y)
MJB
 

MKinHK

Mike Kilburn
Hong Kong
Thanks Atropos - I've got as far north as Daintree and across the gulf toDarwin and Kakadu, but Weipa really is remote!

I am now two weeks after a great visit to Long Reef Aquatic Reserve and Dee Why Lagoon that also took in views across Collaroy Golf Course from the coastal path. As I'm now starting for the third time I'll limit my ambition and post in stages, starting with the fabulous Australian Pelican (41) that was loitering on the slipway opposite the golf course without the slightest concern for the human activity around it. I see from my pix that it has been ringed - with the nearest three digits I think reading 244. There looks like an O or a 0 on the other part of the ring. Any ideas about the number or where to report the sighting would be greatly appreciated.

DSC04510 Australian Pelican @ Long Reef bf.jpg DSC04504 Australian Pelican @ Long Reef bf.jpg DSC04511 Australian Pelican @ Long Reef bf.jpg

Cheers
Mike
 

JWN Andrewes

Poor Judge of Pasta.
Good to see this up and running, I like following your threads, and I'm looking forward to a procession of exotic bird pics!
 

MKinHK

Mike Kilburn
Hong Kong
Thanks James. I did wonder who would find this thread as the Australia Local Patches section is one of BF's less visited backwaters.

DSC04538 Long reef bf.jpg

The walk out to Long Reef offered views across the golf course, where 20 Maned Ducks (42), half a dozen Australasian Swamphens (43) and a scattering of Masked Lapwings were spread across the fairways while four Dusky Moorhens (44) pottered in the ponds. I enjoyed the typically approachable flock of 30 Sulphur-crested Cockatoos and 8 Little Corellas (45) feeding on the roadside verge. I also nailed my favourite shot so far of a Rainbow Lorikeet grumpy at being disturbed while munching head-down on a wattle flower. Other common birds were a couple each of Little and Red Wattlebirds, a pair of Willie Wagtails (46) and a small party of Superb Fairy Wrens that responded my pishing on the path down to the beach from the end of the point.

DSC04519 Sulphur-crested Cockatoo @ Long Reef bf.jpg DSC04512 Little Corella @ Long Reef bf.jpg DSC04520 Rainbow Lorikeet @ Long Reef bf.jpg
DSC04535 Superb Fairy Wren @ Long Reef bf.jpg

The reserve itself is a roughly triangular wave-cut platform which extends some 200 metres out to sea and has a slightly elevated tip comprised of layers of what is presumably slightly less erosive stone. A few boulders are scattered about and these provide roosting sites for a couple of dozen each of Silver Gulls, Greater Crested Terns and Pied Cormorants and I was chuffed to watch a White-fronted Tern (47) drift in and settled with the Greater Crested Terns. Some of the latter were ringed. Unfortunately my photos were not clear enough to capture any numbers, but I'd be interested to know more about where they were ringed. Happily the birds were not bothered by human activity and I was able to walk out over the natural pavement as the tide dropped and get to within 15 metres without spooking them.

DSC04857 Pied Cormorants @ Long Reef bf.jpg
DSC05123 White-fronted Tern @ Long Reef bf.jpg DSC04871 Greater Crested Tern @ Long Reef bf.jpg
DSC05124 Silver Gull & Greater Crested Terns @ Long Reef bf.jpg

On the southern edge of the reef three Ruddy Turnstones (48), four Red-necked Stints (49) and four Double Banded Plovers (50) were feeding on the wave-washed and barnacle-covered rocks. The two former species were presumably non-breeding birds that had over-summered, while the latter is a New Zealand breeder that spends the austral winter in Australia and a few Pacific islands. I was interested to find one buffier juvenile with the adults that reminded me vaguely of a miniature juvenile Dotterel; although truth be told the only one I've seen was a miserably bedraggled bird on Scilly in autumn 1987. Other bits and pieces taking advantage of the ref were a couple of White-faced Herons, a solitary Little Pied Cormorant, and a beautiful jet black and coral-billed Sooty Oystercatcher (50) that never showed for anything except backlit views. I did also see four small tube noses close offshore. There are two closely related species - Fluttering Shearwater and Hutton's Shearwater, but since the former shows a paler face and underwings, and the latter should be breeding in New Zealand I'm happy to add Fluttering Shearwater (51) as an Aussie tick.

DSC05072 Double-banded Plovers & Red-necked Stint @ Long Reef bf.jpg DSC05016 Ruddy turnstones & Red-necked Stints @ Long Reef bf.jpg DSC05088 Sooty Oystercatcher @ Long Reef bf.jpg

I spent a good hour with this group, trying to get shots of the waves breaking behind them and in that time a pair of Masked Lapwings dropped in from the golf course and three different White-bellied Sea Eagles appeared - two adults and a youngster - and an Osprey that is apparently nesting nearby drifted past a couple of times.

DSC04963 Masked Lapwing @ Long Reef bf.jpg DSC04624 White-bellied Sea Eagle @ Long Reef bf i.jpg

Cheers
Mike
 

MKinHK

Mike Kilburn
Hong Kong
Collaroy Golf Course and Dee Why Lagoon

As I headed way from the point along the southern edge of the golf course I was able to see into a few more ponds and against the light nonetheless managed to pick up a Pacific Black Duck, a pair of Hardheads (52)(Australia's only regular Aythya), my first Great Cormorant (53) of the day and a Dusky Moorhen. A pish over the dune scrub on the other side of the path delivered White-browed Scrub Wren, and more Superb Fairy Wrens, a couple more Little Wattlebirds, a typically showy Willie Wagtail and a few New Holland Honeyeaters (54), looking as ever - with their black and white striped plumage and staring white iris like humbugs on a bad acid trip. It also brought in a mixed gang of Common Mynas and Eurasian Starlings (55) while a Spotted Dove (56) out on the golf course and a Red-vented Bulbul (57) on entering the Dee Why Lagoon pathway added to an oddly productive short session for invasive species I know well from Hong Kong. The Welcome Swallows hawking over the same area and the Crested Pigeons in the same copse as the Spotted Dove added a little respectability.

DSC05194 Eurasian Starling @ Long Reef bf.jpg DSC05209 Crested Bulbul @ Long Reef bf.jpg DSC05200 New Holland Honeyeater @ Long Reef bf.jpg

The Lagoon itself held a loafing roost of 40 or so Silver Gulls, a close-in Osprey, four pairs of Chestnut Teals (58), a Little Egret (59) and a juvenile Caspian Tern (60) , a pair of Masked Lapwings, an Australian Ibis, another Great Cormorant and a couple of stereotypically noisy and invisible Eastern Whipbirds (61). I had been a little disappointed by this return from the lagoon, but there are few records of Caspian Tern from this site so it seems this was not a bad record. I did however, leave the best to last.

DSC05219 Osprey @ Dee Why bf.jpg


As I headed for the bus stop I wandered down a side path next to an overgrown channel and flushed a small dark ardeid. It was too big for Striated Heron and too small and fine-billed for a night Heron, which meant, much to my surprise that it could only be a Black Bittern (62)! Even more to my surprise it flew a just short distance and landed on a bare branch in plain view. I've seen Black Bitterns in a couple of times in Hong Kong, China (Wuyuan) and Sri Lanka but never have I had such close and unobstructed views for so long. This turned out to be the first record for Dee Why, but I learned from the Greater Sydney Birdwatchers Facebook Group that they bred nearby in Narrabeen. Nevertheless it was wonderful to connect so well with a bird that raised a flicker of local interest on my first full day of birding in Sydney.

DSC05287 Black Bittern @ Dee Why bf.jpg
DSC05294 Black Bittern @ Dee Why bf.jpg DSC05286 Black Bittern @ Dee Why bf.jpg

Cheers
Mike
 
Last edited by a moderator:

MKinHK

Mike Kilburn
Hong Kong
Sea watching from Shelly Beach carpark in Manly

A week of lousy weather has been wonderful for my birding. This is because the wet rainy weather that La Nina brings down from hotter and wetter Queensland also brings southerly and southeasterly winds that push seabirds closer to the shore.

The easiest promontory for me to get to is at Shelly Beach in Manly, which is a 15 minute bus ride and a 20 minute walk from home. The car park sits above the beach on a wooded sandstone headland about 20 metres above sea level and faces northeast. It marks the southern end of a bay to the north that runs up to Long Reef about 6 kilometres away. With judicious selection of my spot I can watch a pretty big area and still protect myself from squalls and keep myself out of the wind. So far I've made four visits. I got soaked on the first, which was a powerful motivator to be better prepared and thereafter I've been able to keep my and the optics dry enough to use.

To make matters more complicated I'm without a scope at the moment as I killed my previous one and never got round to replacing in HK. So my bins and a using a Sony RX10iv bridge camera which has a 1200mm optical zoom as my key tools. For ID I'm using Pizzey an dKnight's Birds of Australia (illustrations) and the excellent Howell and Zufelt Seabirds of the World photographic guide. I've also joined the very helpful Seabirds and Pelagics Australia Facebook Group (SPA FG), which has some of the best seabirds in the region commenting.

And the birds ...

My appetite was whetted by two brief sessions in our first week here at Queenscliff at the northern end of Manly Beach where I was able to pick out two unidentified albatrosses not too far offshore on a couple of days and even see one that I thought was Black-browed off Manly Beach with the naked eye!

On my four visits to Shelly Beach carpark I've had maxima of between 3 and 7 identifiable Black-browed Albatrosses (63). These range between a couple hundred metres and a few kilometres offshore and have given some absolutely wonderful views as they shear above a fantastic vista of turbulent seas. These include a couple of younger birds that raise the prospect of other species, particularly young Indian Yellow-nosed and Grey-backed Albatrosses.

DSC05763 Black-browed Albatross @ Shelly Beach bf.jpg

However the only other albatross species I'm confident that I've seen is Shy Albatross, which has a much paler underwing with a fine dark black edge and a small black notch at the from of the "armpit" - as is clear from the comparison below. Rather unhelpfully Shy Albatross has been split into two basically inseparable species (Shy and White-capped Albatross) that BirdLife (which is the official list for Australia) but no other major authority, accepts. According to the experts on SPA FG the birds that breed in Australia on three islands off Tasmania and generally heads eastwards are less likely that White-capped Albatross, which breeds in New Zealand and drifts NW.

DSC05855 Shy:White-capped Albatross @ Shelly Beach, Manly bf.jpg DSC05430 Black-browed Albatross @ Shelly Beach bf.jpg

Of a similar size to the albatrosses are the two Giant petrels - Northern Giant and Southern Giant. They most regularly occur here in an all-back first winter plumage with silvery linings to the rectrices, and only differ in the colour of the tip of their very large pale bills - Southern being pale green and Northern being pale red. I've had these on two different days, but only one bird has been close enough to get pix that confirmed the bill tip was greenish and therefore Southern Giant Petrel.

DSC05552 Southern Giant-petrel @ Shelly Beach, Manly bf.jpg


more to come

Cheers
Mike
 

MKinHK

Mike Kilburn
Hong Kong
My visits to Manly came over four days during a five day run of weather. On the third day White-Headed Petrel and Wandering Albatross went past the much better-known Mistral Point sea-watching site a bit further south, with the White-headed Petrel also recorded to the north at Long Reef, meaning it almost certainly passed in sight of my watchpoint .. had I been there! Once again the SPA FG had the answer that it was usually the third day of the big blows that brings in the real pelagic. Live and learn young Padawan!

Anyway, my third day and the fourth day of the stormy weather delivered more birds in addition to the usual Black-browed Albatrosses and Fluttering Shearwaters that I should have mentioned in my previous post. About the size of a Manx Shearwater they hang around close inshore, and it was normal so see many tens of birds each day. However it was not until my next visit that I got any useful photos, which I'll post next time.

I also started to pick out larger all-dark birds amongst them. The first one was a Giant Petrel that was always too far out to be identified to species, but being close to the size of the albatrosses they provided a nice size marker for comparison with the stars of the day - 15 or so Grey-faced Petrels that were obviously larger than the Fluttering Shearwaters and obviously smaller than the Giant Petrel. While it wasn't visible from shore my pix did pick up a distinctive grey face, heavy droop-tipped bill and silvery reflective lower rectories on a couple of individuals. In a way I'm a bit disappointed. Grey-faced Petrel Pterodroma gouldi is a recent split from Great-winged Petrel Pterodroma macroptera, which I've always thought is one of the coolest of all bird names. So had it not been split I would have fulfilled a wish to tick a bird I never thought I'd see. And now that may still be the case ... Having said all that I was delighted first to see a bird that is a true pelagic from shore, and to get sufficient evidence to identify it from Great-winged means it is, unlike yesterday's Shy/White-capped Albatross, legitimately tickable.

DSC05652 Grey-faced Petrel @ Shelly Beach, Manly bf.jpg

Cheers
Mike
 
Last edited:

MKinHK

Mike Kilburn
Hong Kong
Photospot: Tawany Frogmouth

A brief rest from seabirds while I write up a nice afternoon on a whale watching boat, and a truly epic day on the Sydney Pelagic. This pair of Tawny Frogmouths are my undoubted favourites from my regular dog walks round Cremorne Point. The roost is in a tree at eye level with the main path. I was delighted to find it after scanning every nook and branch of the route. I've reduced the brightness of the first shot to replicate as best I can my initial view of the bird against the morning sunlight. It was more silhouetted that this pic suggests, but the tuft above the bill just didn't look right for that tree. After changing the angle and shooting to get more light on the bird the pix improved significantly. The birds a pretty loyal to this perch, only relocating when there is persistent rain, but I have't tried to find their wet weather roost.

The same week I came across two other birds in other locations after dark when they are also pretty approachable.

DSC04440 Tawny Frogmouth @ Cremorne Point darkened.jpg DSC04441 Tawny Frogmouth @ Cremorne bf.jpg DSC04444 Tawny Frogmouth @ Cremorne Point bf.jpg

............................... DSC04435 Tawny Frogmouth @ Cremorne bf.jpg .


Cheers
Mike
 
Last edited:

lgonz1008

Well-known member
United States
Collaroy Golf Course and Dee Why Lagoon

As I headed way from the point along the southern edge of the golf course I was able to see into a few more ponds and against the light nonetheless managed to pick up a Pacific Black Duck, a pair of Hardheads (52)(Australia's only regular Aythya), my first Great Cormorant (53) of the day and a Dusky Moorhen. A pish over the dune scrub on the other side of the path delivered White-browed Scrub Wren, and more Superb Fairy Wrens, a couple more Little Wattlebirds, a typically showy Willie Wagtail and a few New Holland Honeyeaters (54), looking as ever - with their black and white striped plumage and staring white iris like humbugs on a bad acid trip. It also brought in a mixed gang of Common Mynas and Eurasian Starlings (55) while a Spotted Dove (56) out on the golf course and a Red-vented Bulbul (57) on entering the Dee Why Lagoon pathway added to an oddly productive short session for invasive species I know well from Hong Kong. The Welcome Swallows hawking over the same area and the Crested Pigeons in the same copse as the Spotted Dove added a little respectability.

View attachment 1457359
Great sighting of the Black Bittern! Also, unless the mentioned bird and the one in the photo are meant to be different, I think you meant to say you had a Red-whiskered Bulbul instead of a Red-vented?
 

MKinHK

Mike Kilburn
Hong Kong
You're absolutely right Luis! I saw thousands of Red-whiskered Bulbuls every year in Hong Kong, where the Cantonese vernacular name is "red butthole", and I must have been subconsciously transported back there when I wrote up the report.

Ten days ago Carrie and I joined a three hour morning whale watching trip that heads out of Sydney harbour and out to the "Humpback Highway" along which around 40,000 Humpback Whales migrate to and from their summering grounds in the southern ocean to their breeding grounds around Queensland. There are a bunch of companies offering whale watching trips and I chose Whale Watching Sydney for offering the best combination of time at sea, value for money and a nice big stable catamaran.

While I love whales as much as the next man my ulterior motive was of course to get closer to some of the seabirds that have tantalised me from my watchpoint at Shelly Beach carpark in Manly. The boat unmoored at 10am, and by 1015 we were out of the harbour and into seas that were still settling from four days of rough weather. This made for a choppy ride on an initially rather bird-free sea - barring an occasional Australian Gannet, a few Silver Gulls and a Greater Crested Tern.

The albatrosses did eventually appear, but not in any great number. The first was an immature Black-browed Albatross that showed the typical putty green, black-tipped bill, dark underwings and a grey back and collar. It never came especially close but I'd seen a couple of birds like this from Manly, so it wasn't too hard to work it out. After seeing a couple of distant adult Black-browed Albatrosses another one that approached much closer revealed a broad dark patches on the lower inner arm and my delight the smeared mascara and piercing yellow iris of a Campbell Albatross! Not yet split by most authorities (except Birdlife and hence BirdLife Australia), these birds breed only on Campbell Island some 600km south of New Zealand and mostly wander up to Australia during the austral winter. I was delighted to get some pix to confirm the ID and to create an archive that I hope will help me to pick out future birds from Manly.

DSC06057 Campbell Albatross @ Sydney Whalewatch bf.jpg DSC05807 Black-browed Albatross @ Shelly Beach, Manly bf detail.jpeg

Two large Humpback Whales eventually appeared and we tracked them for a while as they headed slowly north. Always impressive we learned that they breed in one season and, after returning south for the summer, return to calve in the shallow waters around the Great Barrier Reef. Other trips before and after us enjoyed spectacular views of whales breaching and spy-hopping, but in the still rough conditions our two were content to mooch slowly along.

DSC06305 Humpback Whale @ Sydney Whalewatch bf.jpg DSC06325 Humpback Whales @ Sydney Whalewatch bf.jpg

DSC06195 Humpback Whales @ Sydney Whalewatch bf.jpg DSC06327 Humpback Whales @ Sydney Whalewatch bf.jpg

At the same time they appeared an adult Shy/White-capped Albatross also came through - posed for just a single photo that clearly shows the fine black edge to the underwings and disappeared again over the horizon. A decent day, except that it took the rest of it to recover from the seasickness pills and head and stock were not right for some days after.

DSC06307 Shy:White-capped Albatross @ Sydney Whalewatch bf.jpg

Cheers
Mike
 

Users who are viewing this thread

Top