Magic Pelagic brings up my 300th

Campbell Albatross, my 300th for the Hunter – note the amber eye a key id feature from Black-browed. Also an Australia Tick

Yesterday it was up early to get the pelagic out of Port Stephen’s. Only a couple of days earlier the forecast was such that it would have been cancelled but fortunately conditions improved to permit a sailing. It takes three and a half hours to get to the shelf, allowing three full hours prime oceanic birding. We’d already seen Brown Skua (297) on the way out. Once we got to the shelf we saw our only Indian Yellow-nosed Albatross (298) quickly followed by Providence Petrel (299), leaving just one more species to reach the magic 300! As predicted, it came in the shape of a Campell Albatross – a fairly recent split from Black-browed and, as a bonus, an addition to my all-time Australia List. In addition to the new Hunter species, we had Wedge-tailed, Hutton’s, Fluttering and Short-tailed Shearwater, White-faced Storm Petrel, Australasian Gannet, Wandering (Antipodian) and Shy Albatross (probably White-capped), Bar-tailed Godwit. Not a bad trip!

Brown Skua – the first of the mornings new species

Providence Petrel (Solander’s) – photo courtesy of Dan Williams

Indian Yellow-nosed Albatross – one of five species of Albatross seen

A Trip to the Baths

White-fronted Tern, amongst Crested Tern – Newcastle baths

Today, it was an early morning trip to the baths – Newcastle’s outdoor swimming pool, to search through the roosting Crested Tern flock in the hope of finding White-fronted Tern, another winter visitor to the NSW coast, and a Hunter tick. It didn’t take Dan long to locate the only two birds present amongst their bigger cousins. I also located a Crested Tern with double metal leg rings – partially readable.

On the way back home we called in at Bunnings DIY store to add another Hunter tick – Mallard. Whilst the male looks reasonably pure and apparently sufficiently ‘tickable’, the female has more than a gene or two of Black Duck in her I’d say.

296, with hopefully one or two more additions on tomorrow’s planned pelagic, out of Port Stephens.

Hunting down those Hunter ticks

A lone Double-banded Plover,  found along a stretch of the 40k Worimi Conservation Land (Stockton Beach). First Hunter tick of 2017 

We’re over in Australia at the moment, visiting our son and his family, holidaying with my brother and hunting down those Hunter ticks! This must be our fifth trip to Newcastle since Dan, Morgan and the kids have lived here and, in addition to boosting my all-time Australia list – which now stands at over 500, I’ve been slowly amassing my Hunter Bird Observers Club list, in the hope that I might meet their ‘entry level’ Bronze standard of 300 species. At the end of our last visit I was frustrating close, on 291.

Grey Plover – another ‘Hunter tick’

We arrived here from Sydney airport yesterday mid-morning and, with barely a half-hour turn-around, we were back out the door, bound for Worimi Conservation Land (Stockton Sands), in pursuit of our first Hunter tick of the trip. A small group of Double-banded Plover winter along this 40k stretch of beach – said to be part of the largest dune system in the southern hemisphere. Most of these birds have now left the Hunter, bound for New Zealand where they breed, but my brother did photograph one about ten days ago, when he and Gi were visiting. We’d driven more than half the length of the beach before we finally came across a lone individual – phew! Waders were few and far between, but we did see Red-capped Plover, Pacific Golden Plover, Grey Plover (another Hunter tick) Curlew Sandpiper, Pied Oystercatcher, Great Knot and Sanderling. On our way home we stopped-off to collect Freckled Duck – usually a difficult species to track-down anywhere in NSW, as my third addition for the trip. 294 – we’re on target to reach the magic 300 before we leave (fingers crossed!).

Other wader interest coming in the shape of Great Knot and Sanderling

and Gull-billed Tern