Saturday, 25 February 2017

Special birds!

Last weekend I had a 4 day weekend away as a friend came down from Queensland to try to see a Rufous Bristlebird, a bird which lives along the western coast of Victoria.  Unfortunately we didn't manage to see it, partly because it was very windy the whole weekend and there were a lot of people about.

We arranged to go on a tour of the Australasian Gannet colony at Point Danger, near Portland in western Victoria.  Most of the birds nest on an island off the coast, but the overflow now nests on the mainland opposite, so the area has been fenced off to protect the birds and chicks, as there are foxes and feral cats in the area, and to keep human visitors at a safe distance from nesting birds.

It's the only mainland Gannet rookery in Australia, and is extra interesting as there is a nesting pair of Cape Gannets there too.   Cape Gannets are an African species, so they have strayed from home!   Apparently there are another two Cape Gannets there as well but they weren't breeding.

An adult Australasian Gannet in flight.

The Cape Gannet chick is much darker than the Australasian Gannet at a similar stage.

We were very lucky to see it as it was almost ready to leave the colony, and in fact it did fledge and leave next day.   Hopefully it will survive life at sea and maybe return in about 6 years to breed itself.

It was great spending time watching them, despite the strong wind, and burst of hail which surprised us not long after I took this shot!

Monday, 13 February 2017

Birding in the heat!

It's summer in Melbourne, and while we haven't had several days in the high 30Cs or 40Cs like some parts of Australia, we have had some hot days.

On a couple of those hot days, I spent much of the day out birding beside a treeless salt lake where there have been several different rare birds visiting.

One of these was a little Long-toed Stint.

I've seen only one before.

Also there, was a Ruff, a bird which seems to come to visit every 5 years or so.

I did photograph two of our regular migratory shorebirds there.

That one is a Sharp-tailed Sandpiper, while the one below is a Curlew Sandpiper, a species which is now listed as "Critically Endangered".

Unfortunately my photos of the really rare visitor we'd gone to try to see, a Buff-breasted Sandpiper (last one in Melbourne 25 years ago!) aren't worth sharing because of heat haze, and also because one of the friends I went with really needed a good photo of the bird for a lecture he had to present the next week, so I kept back to allow him the best chance of getting closer.