Wednesday 25 October 2023

Wild Bird Wednesday 587 - Shy Albatross

 'When a man is tired of London Albatross, he is tired of life'

with apologies to Samuel Johnson.

I had the opportunity to go out on another 'pelagic' trip this weekend - although this one was a little different from the ones I have done in Tasmania.

Melbourne is not really close to any genuine deep ocean - which is what you need to find for most pelagic birds - but we do have access to a large area of shallower seas.  These shallow seas cover what is basically part of the landmass of Australia that was flooded at the end of the last ice age. A remarkable thing about this, is that when colonised by Australia's first people they would have been able to have walked to the part of the country we now call Tasmania. Bass Strait, which now separates the mainland from Tasmania, formed during the history of human occupation!

Anyway, I took a short trip out into the shallow waters of Bass Strait to see what we could find.

One of the more abundant birds we found were Shy Albatross (Thalassarche cauta).

These are some shots of Shy Albatross performing braking manoeuvres as they approached the back of our boat.

OK, I admit it - these birds are not braking! 

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Wednesday 18 October 2023

Wild Bird Wednesday 586 - Brolga

Just before I retired from work, I was told that I needed to be ready to be busier than I had ever been in my life.  This advice was not wrong! 

Today I give you some images of Brolga (Grus rubicunda) one of two species of crane found in Australia.  I found these birds at Werribee Sewage Farm a few week ago.  They seemed very calm and I watched them for a protracted period of time - hoping that there were be some 'dance' moves or similar.  Alas they just pecked at the ground and pulled up plants for food.

But what a bird!

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Wednesday 11 October 2023

Wild Bird Wednesday 585 - Giant Petrels

If last week's post was about light and beauty, then this post is about power and strength.

There are two living species of Giant Petrel - the Northern Giant Petrel (Macronectes halli) and the Southern Giant Petrel (Macronectes giganteus).  They were considered to be a single species before the 1960s,  and given that the key way to tell them from each other (at least in the field) is the colour of beak tip this is hardly a surprise.

These birds are large, muscular and pretty aggressive.  They are scavengers, and many of the images of them taken on land shown them eating seal carcasses and such like! Some people call them the Vultures of the Southern Ocean.

We saw a number of individuals of both species on my recent pelagic trips off the southern coast for Australia from Eaglehawk Neck in Tasmania.

The Northern Giant Petrel has a reddish tip to its beak, and this often contrasts strongly with the rest of the beak.  The beak tip of the Southern Giant Petrel is greenish, and has far less contrast.  Trying to see this (even while a little seasick) can be a little more straight forward than it sounds - although I am still a complete beginner at such things!

This picture shows both species together (how nice of them!), with the Northern closest to the camera.

The next set of images are all Northern GPs.

with shy Albatross

The next set of pictures are Southern Giant Petrel

The pale eyes of some of these birds do give them a kind of crazy look!

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Wednesday 4 October 2023

Wild Bird Wednesday 584 - Just birds and sky.

For about the first time in a year I have been at work this week - I can assure you that I much prefer 'retired' weeks than work weeks!  I may have to resist the temptation to work again for as long as I can!

Anyway, during my time locked to a computer screen I began to wonder what I would do for this week's WBW.

I think that all (maybe not all!) of us birders / photographers can get a bit carried away at times - trying to name the species, trying to get the perfect shot.  And when we do I think we can lose sight of just how remarkable birds are.

So here are some pictures - not named deliberately - that just show some birds with nothing but the wing beneath their wings and the sky above them.  Just remarkable.

I hope you enjoy these simple shots.

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