albany pelagic

me and my good friend travacalm have done this albany gig couple of times before.  birdman was on the boat last time.  he spewed up on some young lady’s foot.  impressive way to start a conversation.  a few years back albany was my first pelagic.  i had no idea what to expect.  would there be any birds out there?  would we actually get any aves coming close to the boat? oh yeh.  it was fabulous.  seabirds are choice, mastering that environment is both remarkable and inspiring

i have also done hillarys, eaglehawk neck and ashmore reef pelagics.  i am doing eaglehawk again in sep, more on that expedition later

i am driving down on thursday afternoon.  2 may 13.  doing an early runner from work.  a leave day on fri, gonna look for australian bitterns with one other pax.  never seen a bittern, i want to get the bins on one so bad.  get outa my way.  staying at emu point motel ritz – two star joint with six star prices.  and i thought tourism was struggling in wa

of course all this detailed planning is subject to getting confirmation from the organiser that sufficient birders have signed up to run the vessel.  here’s hoping.  more later

sat before – no word from the organiser so i guess we are good

mon before – plan is lake pleasant view for the fri bittern hunt.  right behind the manypeaks village.  bins up at 0630.  check outcomes below

tue before – got an email from the organiser.  just enough numbers for a go. now the only thing standing in the way is the weather

wed before – no cancellation emails.  all good.  put in my notice (6 months) at work today.  feeling good.  check the weather tonight.  pack all the gear.  remember my best friend travacalm

thu before – finally on the road at 5p.  rain belting down most of the way. get to the emu point ritz at 10.30p

friday 0630.  bittern hunting was a bust.  turned off highway 1 [0608320, 6145035].  lake pleasant view [0608510, 6145584] is a great spot, even if sounds like a place from upstate new york.  reeds, rushes, water and mud, lots of deep sticky mud.  my wellies got stuck in the mud, pile-driven down by my bulk fat guts.  water flowed in over the top.  all this caused me to lose balance at least a dozen times, powerless to resist momentum and gravity.  face down in the mud, on my bum in the mud, flopping uselessly in the mud.  no wonder i have never seen a bittern.  not likely to if this is what it takes.  no choice but to scan from the shoreline.  as if that is ever gonna find a bittern.  i did spot some good stuff [0608374, 6145326] Pachycephala pectoralis, Acanthorhynchus superciliosus, Malurus elegans so i felt i had earned a pie for lunch.  a bit stuffed after a big morning fighting quicksand, back to the emu point ritz for a snooze.  gotta be rested for the pelagic.  so i was after 12 hours kip

saturday 0630 at the jetty [0586156, 6127172].  yep, i’ve done this albany gig 3x before.  forgot how small the spinners charter canoe is.  travacalm, make that two.  conditions are described by other birders in the know as “lumpy”.  simply means the vessel rolls and pitches and windy sea spray attacks you from all directions.  3 hours later here we are the edge of the shelf [0606060, 6079922]  some people are so talented, they can get their bins on a bird – and make a call.  fantastic.  i try and take some photos.  a couple are here.  Puffinus carneipes on the right.  highlight of the day is a magnificent Sterna paradisea in splendid nick – i was spellbound, not even a snap.  i was snapping with a canon 7d with  an ef 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6l out front.  not real sharp.  i am sure i would be better off with an ef 400mm f/2.8l, only money and my missus stops me

IMG_2720IMG_2628

sunday 0630 at the jetty.  travacalm.  conditions are described by those birders the know as “sloppy”.  this means the vessel rolls and pitches and windy sea spray attacks you from all directions.  back to the same spot on the edge.  more good aves, some pics below.  Oceanites oceanicus on the right.  highlight of the day is Catharacta maccormicki and Phoebetria fusca.  don’t mention the Fregetta tropica that buzzed in and out while i was sitting in the cabin wheel-house changing the cf in my camera.  predictable but annoying

IMG_2619IMG_3707

IMG_3843

in my 5 pelagics out of albany these are some of the good aves spotted;

Macronectes giganteus Macronectes halli Daption capense
Pterodroma macroptera Pterodroma mollis Puffinus carneipes
Puffinus assimilis Diomedea exulans Diomedea melanophris
Diomedea chlororhynchos Diomedea cauta Diomedea chrysostoma
Phoebetria fusca Oceanites oceanicus Pelagodroma marina
Morus serrator Catharacta skua Catharacta maccormicki
Sterna paradisea    

it is great that some fab birders organise these pelagics.  my thanks are always offered.  then it is into the ‘cruiser for the journey home.  long black, double shot, to go.  concentrate, it is a long way.  totally rooted after all of this, made up for with a feeling of total adventure

my next expedition will be at the donnelly river village