Monday, 28 July 2014


I had booked to go on a pelagic out of Swansea on 24 July 2014, so Rog and I decided to drive up from Melbourne and do some birding on the way.  The trip was cold and wintery and often dangerously foggy.  Bird highlights en route were a male Musk Duck at Wonga Wetlands in Albury and Superb Parrots at Cowra.  And I was delighted to see Scaly-breasted Lorikeets in the main street of Swansea when we arrived.

Male Musk Duck
Swansea is just south of Newcastle and pelagics used to go from here quite regularly.  Today they go sporadically, when someone feels like organizing one.  I was pleased for the opportunity of a winter trip, hoping for a Slender-billed Prion.  The boat was comfortable.  There were 18 participants and we each had a seat.  The weather was kind; much warmer than I'd expected.  Seas were not rough.

The idea was to take three hours to cruise to the shelf; spend three hours burleying there, then another three to get home.  We left at 7 a.m. and planned to be back at 4.  It went pretty much to plan, although we were slightly late back.  It was a legal requirement that we don life jackets to cross the bar.

It was a pleasant day.  We were pleased to see three (perhaps four) adult Wandering Albatrosses, both Antipodean and Gibson's, and one young clown.  Other albatrosses were Indian Yellow-nosed, Black-browed, Shy and Buller's.  There were a few Brown Skuas and a few Providence Petrels (that my northern birding mates insist on calling Solander's Petrels). Just one Cape Petrel visited us and at least one Great-winged Petrel.  There were some Fluttering Shearwaters and one White-fronted Tern amongst the Crested.  Add Australasian Gannet and that's about the total birdlist for the day.  Apart from the prions, sadly, they were all fairies. I did my best to turn some paler looking birds into something more interesting, but the experts on board were having none of it.

Solander's Petrel

It's always a matter of luck.  When you drive 2,500 kilometres, you expect that you've earned something good.  It was not to be.  I cling to the perverted logic that every pelagic I do without seeing a lifer, makes a lifer more likely next time.

Birding highlights on the way home were a Speckled Warbler at Migurra Walk near Cootamundra, a Red-capped Robin on the road to Bethungra dam (we had lots of Scarlet, Flame and Eastern Yellow) and Black-chinned Honeyeaters at Chiltern Park roadside stop.

The flowers were worth looking at when the birds were not performing.  Cootamundra and picnantha wattles were flowering.  There were dwarf greenhoods, early nancies and sundews at The Rock, and a happy yellow goodenia at Chiltern Park.

Winter is not the best season for birding, although my total list of 107 species seems pretty pathetic to me, even given the conditions.  I am consoling myself that my next lifer is one pelagic closer.

1 comment:

  1. The next life is always just a trip away.

    Saw the article in The Age today - always good to see birding getting some decent coverage.

    I run a collaborative birding post each Wednesday - called Wild Bird Wednesday - it would be great if you were able to join in and link up your posts.

    Cheers - Stewart M - Melbourne