Monday, 17 August 2015

Pettman's Beach

Birding yesterday with BLEG was a bit cold, windy and wet for starters at Pettman's Beach which is a fair way along a dirt road from the Princes Highway near Wairewa. Whilst the others birded in the relative shelter of the carpark and surrounds, three hardy souls, Chris, Ken and myself, hunkered down at the top of the sand dune overlooking a very rough and tumultuous sea.  First off we spotted a Peregrine Falcon zooming the waves about 50 metres out, the photo images give no confirmation at all, but it was a classic falcon shape. Some Australian Gannets breezed past, a few Crested Terns criss-crossed our panorama and two Shy Albatrosses soared the wind and the waves for somewhere between a few, several and many minutes. What is the word meaning "more than several" but "less than many"? Perhaps five minutes. Enough time for viewing through the bins and taking diagnostic images.

Shy Albatross Thalassarche cauta

Later, at home, I learnt that there is a "Shy Albatross" complex in which there are four speciesPizzey & Knight, but they could be sub-speciesSlater, but they could be racesMorcombe! Diagnostic details are a pale greyish face and neck, a white cap, one metre wingspan and a small black notch on the leading edge of the underwing extending a short way onto the bodyMorcombe, Pizzey & Knight. Each bird effortlessly rode the very stiff breeze up and over the waves without one flap. The Shy Albatross is the only albatross to breed in Australian waters on, wait for it, Albatross Island in Bass Strait!   A lifer for me.

Albatross Island is the little red dot

A flock of 15 or so Silver Gulls flew past hugging the wave tops where they would be sheltered from the wind, relatively. Then 5 Eastern Curlews flew past going upwind and just a few metres off the beach, hence slowly, hence great for images, hence great backgrounds of the pounding surf.

Eastern Curlew Numenius madagascariensis
According to P & K, the EC is a common summer migran .... [wait a minute ... summer migrant ... ??? ... it's August .. 17th ... ??? ... what's going on]  ... ant to the coasts of north, east and southeast Australia from breeding grounds in northeast Asia. P & K defines "summer" as August to May and both it and Slater mention that many birds over winter. So, not an unexpected bird. Still an absolute thrill to see and I was able to get some great images.

Magic. t1250, moisture protection and be there!

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