|Antipodean Wandering Albatross|
I booked onto a pelagic out of Sydney for 10th March way before my trip. It excited me a lot. This was the highlight to the entire trip as far as I was concerned. I adore being offshore and have very sturdy sea legs so don't suffer from mal de mer. Nick Addey very kindly put me in touch with Steve Hey, a Scarborough birder who has decamped to Sydney and equally kindly Steve offered to put me up for a night and show me some birds after the pelagic and the following day. Steve went above and beyond and I cant thank him or his lovely wife Vicky enough.
Several Crested Terns and many Silver Gulls were foraging about the harbour but we couldn't pick out any Little Blue Penguins as we left. It took a while to get clear of the Heads but once a mile or two off the first Wedge-tailed Shearwaters were seen crossing the bow. A little chum and a swarm of these cracking birds was present off the back. As we ventured further it was pointed out that a handful of Flesh-footed Shearwaters had joined the throng. Immature Pomarine Skuas came and went, largely disinterested in the shearwaters but hoping that the oily slick may contain a choice morsel. A nudge in the ribs from Steve helped me to see a distant Short-tailed Shearwater that flitted in and out of the flock like a compact Sooty. By this stage several hundred wedgies were off the boat, all dark phase, and I was picking the Flesh-footed out with a little more ease. Hutton's Shearwaters were seen passing in small numbers, rarely interested in what was going on and very reminiscent of Manxies in behaviour.
|Flesh-footed and Wedge-tailed Shearwaters|
Further Short-tailed Shearwaters were seen and a candidate Fluttering Shearwater but sadly it was not to be. I missed a Sooty Shearwater and a couple of Wilson's Petrels but frankly I didn't care. The Wandering Albatross remained until just a couple of miles offshore. A small pod of Risso's Dolphin's showed briefly and just off the heads as we returned a large dolphin was nearly run over and I got decent views of the fin and back. A False Killer Whale! Amazing.
As we passed the nudist beach a couple of the Aussies tried to convince me there was a colony of brown boobies on the rocks before collapsing into fits of giggles about willie wagtails. It takes all sorts I guess! Still no penguins. It was quite late in the afternoon and Steve suggested trying Centenary Park for a few species. A handful of specials were on the cards and we bumped into local raptor expert and the dude impersonator Biggles of Solander. Biggles is avant garde, Biggles definitely smokes large quantities of cannabinoids and has done since the late 60s however Biggles knows birds of prey in the Sydney area. Unfortunately before I even know what we are looking for he says they aren't there. The Powerful Owls, the aren't there. They have an alternate unviewable roost and sadly we won't be seeing them today. Ah, Biggles you bugger. Thankfully he had lots of gen on where to find Tawny Frogmouth and before you know it I found one near the regular roosting areas. Not bad considering how busy the park is. A classic Australian bird and full of character even if it didn't actually move. The final part of the parks charismatic triumvirate is Buff-banded Rail and some patience sees excellent views of an adult briefly before a juvenile gives us a little more of a show. Elsewhere in the park we see my first Hardhead, which is a Fudge duck sort of thing and a Little Black Cormorant. We thank Biggles and push on to a golf course to make hay in the final hour of sun.
|Juvenile Buff-banded Rail|