Winter is a good time for land-based seawatching in southern Victoria so with this in mind myself and Andrew made for Pt Lonsdale on the BellarinePeninsula to look out over the ocean from the lighthouse there. Hoping for the freak occurrence of some spanking subantarctic rarity we scanned the seas, yet the majority of the birds we saw were White-capped Albatross, with handfuls of Black-browed Albatross and Black-faced Cormorant.Of course there were gazillions of Australasian Gannet too.
The absolute highlight came later in the morning with the very unusual winter occurrence of a jaeger which was observed flying in from the south-east.Slim and tern-like, it was an all dark bird that, when a half-hearted attempt was made at piratism on a passing Crested Tern, it could be seen that the jaeger was of similar size to the tern. I suspect it was a juvenile dark-phase or 'dark-type' Long-tailed Jaeger, but views were too short and just a bit too distant to be sure.Very much the one that got away...
21st June 2010 GunnamattaSurfBeach, MorningtonPeninsula
A quick visit to this beautiful ocean beach today in a vain search for Hooded Plover produced a nice Brush Bronzewing flying over the scrub in the dunes behind the beach, an equally nice Singing Honeyeater sitting on the scrub, and several Kelp Gull of various ages on the beach.Some stately White-capped Albatross were skimming the water just beyond the breakers too.
22nd June 2010
Today was a Full Day Tour booked with Kevin from Houston, Texas. Kevin had squeezed an extra day on his business trip to slot in some birding, and thankfully he had chosen yours truly to show him around.We left early and at first light were birding in some cold and wet forest just east of Melbourne.It seemed the birds were a bit slow to start their days; which isn't surprising as it was freezing, but we managed to get onto a cracking male Superb Lyrebird that sang richly for us. The morning was clear and sunny and in some heath woodland there was lots of honeyeater activity consisting mainly of Eastern Spinebill in droves, with Crescent, Yellow-faced, White-naped, White-eared and Brown-headed Honeyeaters also seemingly omnipresent. We heard some Southern Emu-wren calling but it was a bit too chilly for them to poke their heads above the undergrowth. After an all too brief view of a Pilotbird fluttering across the track and otherwise refusing to show, we split the scene and headed across town to some more open, drier woodland.On our way we stopped briefly to check out at a Bell Miner colony, and one curious bird flew in very close indeed giving us a great look at the bizarre color scheme of this species.
This move to more open habitats proved to be a little more bird-friendly, and we soon feasted our eyes upon squadrons of Swift Parrot, with lesser numbers of fly-by Purple-crowned and Musk Lorikeet. The Swift Parrots afforded close views as they foraged, and we drank in the almost complete color spectrum displayed on these birds' plumage. The din created by the large flocks of these and the lorikeets was remarkable, and it was added to by Red Wattlebirds, Black-chinned Honeyeaters, Galahs, Crested Shrike-tits and New Holland Honeyeaters. At one point a marauding Collared Sparrowhawk shot through, virtually clearing all the birds out of the area.
We finished the trip with a cute pair of Jacky Winter and a flock of Weebill, Australia's smallest bird and one final lifer to end Kevin's big list of new birds for the day.
27th June, 2010 WTP, Pt Lonsdale & Pt Addis
I was out again with my most loyal and faithful client, Dave 'Richo' Richardson, on a bit of a pilgrimage of sorts for a few species that have so far eluded the grasp of the big man.
First stop Western Treatment Plant, where we hoped for a small miracle whereby one of the Australasian Bitterns that everyone else has been seeing here would just pop out from cover for us somewhere, or at least give us a quick fly-by. It wasn't to be - no surprises there dear reader, yet minor compensation was recieved with a few Blue-winged Parrot and a Glossy Ibis.
Moving on, we hit the desolate and wind-blown outpost of Pt Lonsdale on the tip of the Bellarine Peninsula. On the sheltered side of the lighthouse there that looks out over the Port Phillip Heads and into Bass Strait we scanned for pelagic seabirds and, more specifically, Black-faced Cormorant. This is a much-sought lifer for David and sure enough after ten minutes we had one of these pot-bellied little shags in our 'scopes. Bingo.
Not long afte that a giant-petrel was spotted about a km offshore, hanging around a fishing charter. An all dark-brown juvenile bird, it was just too far out for us to determine the color of its bill-tip, so its specific status remained undetermined. Other goodies seen here today included lots of Black-browed Albatross and White-capped Albatross, with one bird seen that seemed to go close to fitting the description of a juvenile Salvin's Albatross, with even dove-grey coloration around the head and neck, and fairly extensive dark primary tips to the underwing.
On our final leg of the journey we reached another coastal headland further to the southwest, Pt Addis. An hour's seawatching here produced 100's of Fluttering Shearwaters in rafts not too far offshore. We managed to make out a handful of Hutton's Shearwater amongst the hordes of Flutterers -another lifer for Dave, plus a number of "Flutton's".Also present were at least a half a dozen Little Penguin fishing and yapping just below the cliffs, giving good views, and more White-capped & Black-browed Albatross.A single second-year Kelp Gull also put in an appearance.
So David ended up with 3 more lifers to his list and we managed over 80 species for the day.