Wednesday, 5 December 2012


We are home from Tasmania now.  We flew down for the weekend so I could go out on a pelagic on the "Pauletta" on Sunday.  Being Tasmania, it was cold.  It was also a little wet at times.  It was a good day and we saw some lovely birds, but, sadly, no ticks.
Setting off on the Pauletta

This was my sixth and final pelagic for the year, and I had hoped for something special.  Well, we did see something special, but it wasn't a bird.  It was a pod of bottle-nosed dolphins.  They played around the boat for a while, then two jumped high out of the water, and appeared to twist around each other in mid air, before returning to the sea.  They did this twice and it was quite spectacular.  I had thought that such behaviour was a trick taught to dolphins for circus crowds; I had no idea it was a natural expression of exuberance.

As to the birds, my tally for the day was just 17 species.  The only new bird for the year was White-chinned Petrel - and we saw lots.  We also saw both Southern and Northern Giant-Petrels and (even better) both Southern and Northern Royal Albatross.  We also saw several Wandering Albatross (or perhaps the same bird several times) and just one Yellow-nosed.  As usual off Tasmania, the most numerous albatross was the Shy.  We saw Black-browed and just one Campbell's.

Others on the boat saw Grey-backed and Wilson's Storm-Petrels:  I saw just White-faced.

Sadly, there is little else to report.  This was the first Tasmanian pelagic I've ever done without seeing a Sooty Shearwater.  (The boat had gone out the day before and seen just one Sooty amongst a flock of Short-tailed.  That would be useful for me, to help hone my pathetic identification skills.)  Of course there were Kelp Gulls, Black-faced Cormorants and Australasian Gannets.

I didn't have time to look for all the endemics, always a satisfying challenge on a Tasmanian trip.  There were plenty of Tasmanina Native-hen beside the road, and I couldn't miss the Yellow Wattlebirds and Green Rosellas.  As I didn't look, I didn't see any others.  As usual, there were plenty of Crescent Honeyeaters in Pirates Bay.

Now it is time to start thinking about 2013.  How can I do better next year?

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