Thursday, 3 March 2016


I'm just back from my first scheduled birding trip for 2016:  to Kiama, to do a pelagic, hoping for a White-necked Petrel.  No luck, I'm afraid.  In July 2013, I remarked that I had five bogey birds - these are birds I have looked for again and again and again, with no luck.  Since then, I have managed to see four of those five miscreants.  Only the White-necked Petrel remains on the list.  This was my eleventh failed attempt to see it.  Perhaps I never will.

This was my first SOSSA trip out of Kiama on the boat Kato.  It was a good, safe boat, with plenty of seating.  However, I found it extraordinarily difficult getting on and off, even with three strong men assisting me.  Embarking involves climbing down a ladder (easy), crossing a short ramp (piece of cake), then jumping onto the unpredictably heaving boat over about a metre of surging waves (impossible!).  To think I achieved all that and still didn't see my White-necked Petrel!  In fact we had very few birds all day:  some shearwaters (including one very welcome Streaked Shearwater), some Grey-faced Petrels, a couple of albatross and one Arctic Jaeger.  I had just ten species on my list for the day.  Some people got excited about marlin, there was at least one whale sighted and several dolphins.

Eastern Bristlebird - a bird I did not see at Barren Grounds
Photo by Paul Gatenby

Birders must retain a positive outlook.  Eleven failed attempts to see a White-necked Petrel simply means I must try again.  And again.  In retrospect, it seems this whole trip was dogged by bad luck.  We stopped for coffee at Bowning on the way up.  I stood under a tree where a White-throated Gerygone was singing his pretty song at the top of his voice for all the world to hear.  He was not hiding.  Do you think I could see him?  I craned my neck.  I walked backwards and forwards.  I looked from all angles.  Roger laughed at me.  I fancy the bird did too.  My coffee got cold.  We left without seeing the gerygone.  

Also on the way to Kiama, we stopped at Barren Grounds, often a good birding spot.  Not for me.  We bumped into a couple of people also on the way to enjoy the Kiama boat trip the next day.  They saw Eastern Bristlebirds, Southern Emu-wrens and Beautiful Firetails.  I did not.  I saw an echidna and a flock of sittellas.

On the way home from Kiama, we spent a delightful couple of days at Gipsy Point.  It is impossible to be disappointed at Gipsy Point, even if you don't see Glossy Black Cockatoos, Turquoise Parrots or Tawny-crowned Honeyeaters.  Which I didn't.  I'm afraid the Bell Miners have taken over Double Creek Nature Walk, and I don't think I'll bother doing that again.  They create a monoculture in the bush just as our unwelcome Noisy Miners do in our suburban parks.  While at Gipsy Point, I did manage sea eagles, Azure Kingfishers and Hooded Plovers.

Driving back to Melbourne, I stopped for the Drummer Rainforest Walk (Rufous Fantail, Rose Robin), the Mackenzie River Rainforest Walk (nothing at all except one Crimson Rosella - not even the usually reliable Pied Currawongs!) and Cabbage Tree Flora Reserve (White-throated Needletails).

While I did not see my target species, and came home with a list of birds that I had not seen which was much longer than the list of birds that I had seen, it was nevertheless an enjoyable few days.  True.  What's more, I still have a reason to return.

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