Monday, 11 July 2016


Last weekend I had a wonderful time seabirding off Eaglehawk Neck in Tasmania.  Highlights were the albatrosses, so many birds and so many species.  Also several Blue Petrels, a couple of Grey Petrels and (perhaps my favourite) a few White-headed Petrels.  Jaegers were quite absent, there was just one Brown Skua, and very few diving-petrels and storm petrels.  We were on the Pauletta, seas were calm and no one was seasick.  It was cold, but for a winter pelagic off Tasmania, you really couldn't ask for better conditions.
White-headed Petrel, photo by David Mitford

Most people had difficulty arriving at Eaglehawk Neck, because, without explanation or apology, Jetstar deferred or even cancelled just about every flight.  I flew Qantas and arrived on time.  David Mitford, who organized the trip, flew from Sydney.  His flight was cancelled, so he flew to Launceston and another obliging birder drove up from Hobart to collect him.  I flew home with Jetstar and arrived three hours late.
Light-mantled Sooty Albatross, photo by David Mitford
Sooty Albatross, photo by David Mitford

On Saturday, the albatrosses were nothing short of spectacular.  The most numerous species was Shy, but there were plenty of Buller's too, and close sightings of both Black-browed and Campbell's.  We saw several Wandering Albatrosses and more than one Southern Royal.  Of course, the most exciting were the Sooty and the Light-mantled Sooty.  Altogether, an exceptional array of albatrosses.  Then, on Sunday, the icing on the cake, a Grey-headed Albatross appeared.
Southern Royal Albatross, photo by Andrew Walker

Grey-headed Albatross, photo by David Mitford

We saw both Fairy and Slender-billed Prions, as well as the Blue Petrel, both races of Cape Petrels, and both Great-winged and Grey-faced Petrels.  Each day, just one Sooty Shearwater put in an appearance.  
Blue Petrel, photo by David Mitford

On Saturday evening, after the pelagic, we all drove down to Port Arthur to see the Masked Owl.  We arrived on dusk and waited just a few minutes before the owl appeared.  It flew and was quickly relocated, allowing everyone to have magnificent views.
Tasmanian Masked Owl, photo by David Mitford

Thank you, David, for organizing the weekend and for providing the beautiful photos shown here.  It really was a terrific weekend.  Great birds, great company, what more could you want?

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