Friday, August 30, 2013

Australia: the big five

My personal favourites, highly subjective and only birds included as I did not see a Great White nor a Croc.

A: Albatross
Scanning the ocean upon arrival at Wollongong yielded the first albatrosses, distant but thrilling as I had never seen them before. The next 2 days I joined the outstanding SOSSA-pelagics, and we had great views of Wandering, Antipodean, Northern Royal, Black-browed, Campbell, Shy (&White-capped), Buller's and Indian Yellow-nosed Albatross. Birding cannot get better than this!
"Wandering", Shy and Black-browed Albatross off Wollongong.

I never realised how much work there is still to be done in the taxonomy (and ID) of especially the Wandering and Shy-albatross groups. The SOSSA-team is doing excellent work by catching and banding them. Full report later!
Deciding which one to catch.

Not so Shy actually.
B: Bowerbirds
It is not their looks, but their engineering, taste of colour and behaviour. They build a bower, decorate it personally and perform strange dances with funny calls to impress the females. Besides these Western and Great Bowerbirds I saw Tooth-billed and Satin.
Western Bowerbird performing at Alice Springs.

Great Bowerbird performing at Mount Molloy.

C: Cassowary
A target bird for every birding visitor and fairly easy to find at Mission Beach. I only had a few hours and started at Lacey's Creek, walked the trail silently and focussed on the sound of a big bird stepping on dead leaves in the forest. Suddenly there it was, just a few meters in front of me on the trail, huge and it was coming my way!
Southern Cassowary blocking the trail
For the first time a bird scared me and I had to retreat, these birds can be dangerous indeed. It slowly followed me for several hundreds of meters before disappearing in the forest. Wow!

beware; stronger than a car!

Dingo? Only distant views and not a native species anyway. Rainbow Pitta then! My first real Pitta, beautifull and not difficult to find in the tropical forests around Darwin. The pictures below were taken at Howard's Springs.

E: the Eagle
The Wedge-tailed Eagle of course. Evolution can have strange results on an isolated island and I am not sure why this Aquila acquired a tail like this. But these big ones are very impressive and when soaring their wingtips point high into the sky.
Wedge-tailed Eagle near Alice Springs Desert Park

Thursday, August 29, 2013


Just returned from a visit to this impressive island with most amazing landscapes and birds. Tropical forests in Darwin and Cairns, the desert around Alice Springs, the Great Barrier Reef and serious pelagics off Wollongong. I need some time to work through the pictures but there will be lots of them soon!!

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Washington/Oregon last part

Anacortes pelagic, whales guaranteed. The Minkeys gave an excellent show but we needed Orca. Good reason for a revisit anyway, and I just love those Rhinoceros Auklets

And some various pictures;

Harlequin and Glaucous-winged Gull @Port Angeles

Marbled Murrelet and the spectaculair Great Northern Diver also @Port Angeles (this bird deserves a better name than common loon:-)

Heermann's Gull

MacGillivraysWarbler (the only warbler I saw and it is a good one, but now I know why american birders visit Point Peelee and other strategic sites to see the warblers. Those birds are singing high up in HUGE trees in dampy rainy forests).

Hairy Woodpecker

Northern Flicker

California Quail

Cedar Waxwing

Chipping Sparrow

Cliff and Violet-green Swallow

  Western Bluebird

Western Gull