With Dave from Altona as my company this morning we drove down to the coast to look for seabirds from a prominent landmark. What better place than Pt Lonsdale Lighthouse for some close in action. Dave was hoping to connect with jaegers of some sort as they regularly do fly-bys close to the lighthouse. We saw 4-5 during the course of the morning in flight and harrassing terns and gulls out to sea. Views weren't great but they were most likely to be Arctic Jaeger by the cut of their jib. Also present were a number of other birds, nothing outstandingly rare in terms of pelagic seabirds, but we had good views of Black-faced Cormorant, Fluttering Shearwater, many Short-tailed Shearwater, several White-capped Albatross and a single Black-browed Albatross. Alas my dedicated reader, you'll be dismayed to know there were no sightings of any White-faced Storm-Petrel, my long-standing bogeybird. Ne'er'less twas a good morning out there in the stiff sea air to be sure.
18th February, 2011
Today I was with a lovely couple from British Columbia in Canada and I helped introduce them to a variety of birds around the wider environs of Melbourne. Highlights included a surprise in the form of 27 Plumed Whistling-Duck, as well as Stilt Sandpiper, White-winged Black Tern, Double-banded Plover, Little, Purple-crowned & Musk Lorikeets, White-throated Needletail, Rainbow Bee-eater and Scarlet Honeyeater.
19th February, 2011
Jerry from the US of A had signed up for a half day tour so we spirited ourselves away down to the wilds of Werribee and the You Yangs for the morning, where we latched onto such beauties as Australasian Shoveler, Short-tailed Shearwater, Little Eagle, Stilt Sandpiper again (two days running...) amongst others. We managed to notch up 77 species for the morning, albeit in somewhat hot & windy conditions.
20th February, 2011
This morning I was charged with finding a Pilotbird for my client Wendy, so we shot up the highway to the two best spots I know of to find this elusive bird. True to the indomitable laws of nature and birding, you'll only see a desired bird when you are in fact not looking for it. By the same token, it is also fair to say that when you truly seek a species, it is not to be found anywhere, up hill or down dale as they say.
And so it was this godforsaken morning, with not a Pilotbird's finery to befall our eyes, and to add insult to injury, to rub salt into our ever-gaping wounds, two birds uttered their cry within close proximity and tantalisingly close to our persons, yet did not reveal the true nature of their physical whereabouts...
Other peripheral species recorded for the morning included Brown Gerygone, Large-billed Scrubwren, and Rose Robin.
24th February, 2011 Wet then Dry.
Jenny & Pete from the UK were keen to see some forest and woodland birds whilst they were over here for a conference, so I decided to start the day in a great wet forest location to the north-east of Melbourne - Toolangi State Forest. Here we enjoyed great views of a huge flock of White-throated Needletail high overhead in the early morning sunlight, a Collared Sparrowhawk half-heartedly and somewhat optimistically attacking a huge Yellow-tailed Black-cockatoo in flight, Olive Whistler, Superb Lyrebird, Red-browed Treecreeper, Rufous Fantail, and, amazingly easily after yesterday's shenanigans, a pair of Pilotbird!! We also heard a Pink Robin singing very briefly.
Moving north-west to central Victoria we re-commenced birding in the drier forest and woodland around Heathcote. Here we had great views of Speckled Warbler, White-browed Babbler, Rufous Songlark, a small flock of Rainbow Bee-eater, Restless Flycatcher, Horsfield's Bronze-cuckoo, Mistletoebird, Crested Shrike-tit and some fine Diamond Firetail, their startling blood-red rumps glowing in the late afternoon light.
25th February 2011
Not satisfied with simple forest birding in its many guises, Jenny & Pete (from yesterday) today wanted to broaden their horizons so to speak and have a look in some different habitats at some coastal and heathland birds. So off we drove to the south-west of the city for the morning, taking in ocean, shoreline, clifftop and rolling windswept heathlands around the Anglesea and Torquay area. Whilst we unfortunately didn't secure the sought-after Hooded Plover, we nonetheless had a bounty crop of other birds, including 3 Rufous Bristlebird, Southern Emu-wren, White-capped Albatross, Fluttering Shearwater, Gang-gang Cockatoo, Tawny-crowned, Spiny-cheeked & Singing Honeyeaters, Double-banded & Red-capped Plovers, Red-necked Stint, a lovely trio of Blue-winged Parrot and a late-ish record of two probable passage migrants in the form of Satin Flycatcher and Rufous Fantail. A terrific morning's birding with 78 species.