Our final packing for three and a half months away was completed in the rain – 116mm over three days to Saturday 15th of June – our departure day. Driving east, the Nicholson, Tambo, Snowy, Bemm, Cann and Genoa Rivers were all in minor flood. The watery world had expanded, delivering disaster for some and a food bonanza for the birds. Ducks were busy exploring their new habitat along with egrets and spoonbills. Ibis, currawongs, ravens and magpies were busy in the sodden paddocks picking up small animals brought to the surface by saturated ground. Once we crossed the border the rain eased and stream flows were normal in southern NSW. However the cold and very windy weather persisted all week with frequent showers of rain. Not great birding weather and especially not great for bird photography.
Our first stop was a two-day visit with our oldest son at Millingandi. He and his partner live on a small property in a rural area out the back of Pambula. We recorded 40 species of birds on the property over two days. The highlights were a Peregrine Falcon and Rose Robin. I was hopeful of photographing the Rose Robin however it disappeared as an Eastern Yellow Robin perched before me in a brief show of late afternoon sun – so in spite of having plenty of EYR photos I couldn’t resist snapping one more of this very cooperative and photogenic subject. Here is the result with a couple of cropped versions to show detail around the head.
From Millingandi we headed to Narooma where we caught up with my brother and his partner. They were visiting family who live in Narooma so we had another couple of days socialising and eating with a few walks around the Narooma water front in between rain showers and family engagements. We set up our van in a caravan park on the waterfront. One morning while having breakfast, I watched about 46 Bar-tailed Godwits loafing, and a few feeding, on the sand/mud flats less than 100 metres away. If only all our campsites could be this good? Photos here were of the Little, Intermediate and Great Egrets plus one flight shot of a Crested Tern.
|Looking north from the Narooma entrance sea wall - big seas have persisted for our trip so far.|
|This Crested Tern was hunting just inside the Narooma entrance - a wise choice given conditions out at sea.|
|A Little Egret sheltering in mangroves less than 70 metres from the Princes Highway and Narooma shops.|
|Great Egret showing gape extending well behind the eye - a good identifying feature for this species.|
|This Intermediate Egret was looking for a meal from a jetty where boats offering fishing charters, whale watching and nature tours out to Montague Island were moored on the Narooma waterfront.|
From Narooma we drove north to our next stop at Jervis Bay and set up the van in a caravan park in Huskisson – too cold and wet for us oldies out in the Booderee (Jervis Bay) National Park at the Green Patch camp ground – no power for the small fan heater. Cold and very windy weather with frequent showers persisted as we explored the park on the south side of Jervis Bay on Thursday 20th June. My bird of interest here was the endangered Eastern Bristlebird, a ground dwelling species found in dense heath. I suspect their main threat is inappropriate fire regimes; both too much and too little fire can be a problem. We heard five Bristlebirds in three locations, however none showed. There were lots of honeyeaters, especially New Holland, and Little Wattlebirds on the Telegraph Creek walking trail, and I managed a few shots of the White-checked Honeyeater. From Murray boat ramp I watched a Black-browed Albatross in Jervis Bay being chased by a White-bellied Sea-Eagle. From Governor Head I photographed an albatross which I was not able to identify in the field. However this was easy back in the van with enlarged photos on the laptop and a field guide at hand (see photos below).
|Point Perpendicular and edge of Bowen Island viewed from south side of Jervis Bay.|
|White-checked Honeyeater on the Telegraph Creek nature trail near Green Patch, Booderee NP.|
|White-browed Scrubwren foraging on edge of road at Green Patch. At one point this little fellow came over and hopped around my feet - way too close for a photo.|
|I decided this was a Black-browed Albatross based on black across top of wings and back, black tail, under wing leading edge very wide and black and bill is a uniform yellow. Also this species is common in the area.|
|Some of these albatross were seen in Jervis Bay and I saw one chased by a Sea-Eagle.|
On Friday 22nd we caught up with friends from BirdLife East Gippsland who moved to the Jervis Bay area a year or so ago. They took us out to the Beecroft Weapons Range on the north side of Jervis Bay. This area is not always open to the public especially on weekdays. The weather improved later in the day. Managed a few bird photos however nothing very exotic. We drove through lots of Bristlebird habitat but once again they eluded us.
|Same bird as above after its stretch.|
|The pair of teal were hiding in a dead Casuarina that had fallen conveniently into the water.|
|The female of the pair above. The water was as good as a mirror.|
|Azure Kingfishers are one of my favourite birds. This bird was on rocks at Honeymoon Bay on the north side of Jervis Bay. Conditions here are close to marine. This kingfisher is happy in both fresh and salt water environments.|
|One of a pair of Masked Lapwings asserting ownership of a sea weed strewn rocky platform at Honeymoon Bay.|