Dale's Big Year Challenge 2021

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Devster
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If you're after new visitors, I'm happy to visit you Dale

AbbyGrace
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Love seeing your Tassie birds Dale. Nice photos. 

dwatsonbb
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So its been a while since I have posted anything. While most have been in lockdown to some degree, we have been very lucky in Tasmania. 

Just hope you all are well, and staying safe.

Here are a few - went to Bruny Island with 5 target species, missed all 5, but did find a nice one, that I have only ever gotten photos of once before - have seen, but too quick for me. Also some common birds I didn't realise I had missed (until I check the stats - Thanks Karen), and a few extras, just because I can!

63. Bassian Thrush - apparently an unusual sighting for this area of Cloudy Bay - it was patient with me, but lighting and shubbery proved challenging - anyway here he/she is.

Bassian Trush3 (Zoothera lunulata) by Dale Watson, on Flickr

Bassian Trush2 (Zoothera lunulata) by Dale Watson, on Flickr

Bassian Trush (Zoothera lunulata) by Dale Watson, on FlickrBassian Trush1 (Zoothera lunulata) by Dale Watson, on Flickr

64. Grey Fantail - another from Bruny, this time the Cape Queen Elizabeth walk at "The Neck". Another one I find hard to keep still. Common bird, but hard to get decent shots. 2nd photo not the best, but I like it has a reflection.

Grey Fantail1 (Rhipidura albiscapa) by Dale Watson, on Flickr

Grey Fantail (Rhipidura albiscapa) by Dale Watson, on Flickr

65. Yellow-rumped Thornbill - closer to home, in my mate's plum tree - heavy crop.

Yellow-rumped Thornbill (Acanthiza chrysorrhoa) by Dale Watson, on Flickr

66. Eurasian Coot - an easy bird for me to get, did not realise I hadn't listed yet.

Eurasian Coot (Fulica atra) by Dale Watson, on Flickr

Eurasian Coot1 (Fulica atra) by Dale Watson, on Flickr

67. House Sparrow - very common, and one I often overlook - both female and male, near home.

House Sparrow - female (Passer domesticus) by Dale Watson, on Flickr

House Sparrow - male (Passer domesticus) by Dale Watson, on Flickr

68. Black Swan - a handsome couple happy to pose.

Black Swan (Cygnus atratus) by Dale Watson, on FlickrBlack Swan1 (Cygnus atratus) by Dale Watson, on Flickr

And now a few bonus photos.

33 Long-billed Corella

Long-billed Corella (Cacatua tenuirostris) by Dale Watson, on Flickr

61. Green Rosella - these from Cloudy Bay - nice morning light.

Green Rosella (Platycercus caledonicus) by Dale Watson, on Flickr

Green Rosella2 (Platycercus caledonicus) by Dale Watson, on Flickr

Dale Huonville, Tasmania

karentwemlow
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Thanks for the update Dale, some lovely new additions.... I love the Black Swan pair, aren't they gorgeous :-)

Alex Rogers
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Some lovely photos and cool birds. Love the Thrush - I've only ever seen one, and it was on Bruny too. Quite unafraid, but yes, they do like the shadows and undergrowth :-) 

I'm glad you are free to travel and take pics - post up more to keep us entertained!

sue818
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Wonderful, Dale.. love that Long-billed Corella and the Bassian Thrush. So pleased to see you posting such nice birds which keeps us entertained here in locked-down Sydney. I am staying safe in my little bubble but missing the birding as local park is a bit dull and too many people walking. 

More birds please. You are getting some great shots and birds this year.

dwatsonbb
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Thanks for your kind comments. Glad you all appear safe.

Although we are not in lockdown, my workplace is severely affected by returning staff requiring quarantine, and that no one is aloud to enter with even the slightest respiratory symptom. This means short staffed, working 60+ hours a week with resulting fatigue.

Weather is also causing some issues.

Hopefully I will have some more photos soon, with some more species no one else will have at this stage (I have some still to process), and weather permitting will get out next week.

Dale Huonville, Tasmania

sue818
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Stay safe, Dale and get some rest when you can. I edited my post as did not belong on your string. Looking forward to some more lovely Tassie endemic.

dwatsonbb
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Thanks Sue. I certainly get enough rest, just not the time to get out much. Some of our endemics are proving difficult for me to find, but I will keep trying.

 I support you and other members during these trying times, and you post was relevant to where the world is at the movement and how it is affecting your and your family.

Sometimes to voice your situation to others who are not directly involved in your daily life can be a benefit to your own mental health and well being.

Dale Huonville, Tasmania

dwatsonbb
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So I know I promised some new birds, which might be unique to me. Was lucky enough to go on another Pelagic out of Pirates Bay near Eaglehawk Neck. There were lots of birds previously seen, and a few "lifers" for me. Some new species, unfortunatley I could not ge a photo of, so I don't count those.

Again sorry, not sorry for too many pics.

69. Antarctic Prion (lifer) - too fast and at some distance, but enough features to seperate from the plentiful Fairy Prion.

Antarctic Prion (Pachyptila desolata) by Dale Watson, on FlickrAntarctic Prion1  (Pachyptila desolata) by Dale Watson, on Flickr

70. Grey-faced Petrel, no fact sheet (lifer) - large numbers on this day.

Grey-faced Petrel (Pterodroma gouldi) by Dale Watson, on FlickrGrey-faced Petrel3 (Pterodroma gouldi) by Dale Watson, on FlickrGrey-faced Petrel2 (Pterodroma gouldi) by Dale Watson, on Flickr

71. Black-browed Albatross (lifer) - only a couple, and did not hang around for long, so I feel lucky to have seen them.

Black-browed Albatross (Thalassarche melanophris) by Dale Watson, on FlickrBlack-browed Albatross2 (Thalassarche melanophris) by Dale Watson, on Flickr

72. Yellow-nosed Albatross (lifer). BiBY has these listed as Yellow-nose, where the Birdlife list has them as Indian Yellow-nose, They were called Yellow-nosed on the day.

Got excited with some distant views, heaps of photos (just in case), but then they came and stayed for quite some time, too many photos here, but hard to choose. Tried shooting in manual, so have had to process a little, but still happy, and looking to improve. Focus is my big problem, particularly with moving objects.

Like this photo with water droplets as it took flight.

Indian Yellow-nosed Albatross1 (Thalassarche carteri) by Dale Watson, on FlickrIndian Yellow-nosed Albatross5 (Thalassarche carteri) by Dale Watson, on FlickrIndian Yellow-nosed Albatross2 (Thalassarche carteri) by Dale Watson, on Flickr

This one is not cropped!

Indian Yellow-nosed Albatross3 (Thalassarche carteri) by Dale Watson, on FlickrIndian Yellow-nosed Albatross4 (Thalassarche carteri) by Dale Watson, on Flickr

Have'nt posted any more of the common albatross - we sighted Shy, Bullers and Wandering, but those photos are too similar to my previous post. I will however put a few more Southern Royal Albatross in. There were maybe 2-3 sighted, and I think I managed some improved photos (at least as good if not better!)

47. Southern Royal Albatross - has to be my favourite of the Albhatross, not as colourful as some, but the size just blows me away.

Southern Royal Albatross (Diomedea epomophora) by Dale Watson, on FlickrSouthern Royal Albatross2 (Diomedea epomophora) by Dale Watson, on FlickrSouthern Royal Albatross4 (Diomedea epomophora) by Dale Watson, on FlickrSouthern Royal Albatross4 (Diomedea epomophora) (1) by Dale Watson, on Flickr

Dale Huonville, Tasmania

Alex Rogers
Alex Rogers's picture

Wow Dale, love those shots! So cool to see birds I've never seen before (and congrats on the lifers for you!). I'm so keen to do one of those Eaglehawk pelagics too, looks like a great day out. But that sea looks cold.... Great shots, and nice to think of being free on the sea :-) 

Alex Rogers
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Wow Dale, love those shots! So cool to see birds I've never seen before (and congrats on the lifers for you!). I'm so keen to do one of those Eaglehawk pelagics too, looks like a great day out. But that sea looks cold.... Great shots, and nice to think of being free on the sea :-) 

sue818
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Wow, Dale, thanks for sharing these beauties. All would be new to me. I especially like the shots with those wave crests behind the bird  and some great close-ups. 
 

Thanks for understanding my little rant... I have moved on to keeping busy and trying some old recipe. Stay safe and we will catch up one day.

dwatsonbb
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Thanks for your kind words. The Pelagics are my new favourite past time. Being a shift worker, I can be flexible sometimes, so have been put on a short list for short notice trips.

Alex, the water temp is around 14 degrees at the moment, it will get colder. Unfortunately total smooth waters don't tend to bring the birds in (at least that is what the experts say).

Sue, it's hard when the birds are so close you can almost touch them! It is giving me practice, which will hopefully help in the long run.

I feel a bit guilty that I have no restrictions on my activity, while you guys just seemed to be getting hammered with lockdowns. The only consolation is that we all seem to enjoy each other's posts, so I will keep trying for more, if not for me, then for the rest of the flock.

Dale Huonville, Tasmania

sue818
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Thanks, Dale. Wonderful that you can thrill us with the Pelagics. Most enjoyable and great photos.

TommyGee
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Fantastic pics Dale! I holidayed at Eaglehawk Neck when I was a lad... now I want to go back for a completely different reason :) You've seen so many wonderful birds on your Pelagics.

dwatsonbb
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Weather been a bit ordinary - some nice sunny days (work days), overcast and showers mostly. Did get out today for an hour or so close to home, so a couple more for my list. Playing with some settings, trying to improve - still a long way to go, but at least we can identify them!

73. Hoary-headed Grebe - was feeding in the creek, would dive, and then surface quite a distance away. Amazed how long they can stay submerged for. 

Hoary-headed Grebe (Poliocephalus poliocephalus) by Dale Watson, on Flickr

74. Goose - a domestic species, which has been allowed to roam, so not sure if it counts or not? Small gaggle of 4 birds, but I like the colours of this one.

Goose by Dale Watson, on Flickr

Dale Huonville, Tasmania

michaelrt71_1
michaelrt71_1's picture

Hoary-headed Grebe!

I haven't seen any grebe, any time...ever. I had to look them up in my field guide. Your hoary-headed one has performed the exact pose presented in my guide. 

Alex Rogers
Alex Rogers's picture

Nice one Dale - they really are amazing divers aren't they :-) 

Michael - keep an eye out on your local ponds. The Hoary-headed are quite rare in greater Syd region, but the Australasian Grebes are really quite common, and I'd be surprised if you don't spot one if you start looking out for them. Pay attention to the small "ducks" on freshwater ponds and lakes and if they dive and disappear - check it out, chances are its a grebe :-) 

sue818
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Thanks Dale, nice to see some more. I love seeing those Grebes with their heads all hoary!

dwatsonbb
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Thanks all.

These grebes always remind me of the slick back hair, rock'n'roll style. Not sure think I found a few more today, couldn't stop, but might have a look Saturday. They amaze me how long they can hold their breath for.

Dale Huonville, Tasmania

karentwemlow
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Great pics Dale, love seeing these birds, so different to what I'm used to. I'm planning a Tassie trip (just enjoying planning it for now, who knows when it will happen!). 

dwatsonbb
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Nothing exciting, but it is another number for my list.

75. Rock Dove.

Rock Dove (Columba livia) by Dale Watson, on Flickr

Dale Huonville, Tasmania

Devster
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During these times you take what you can get Dale, even a Rock Dove.

sue818
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Well done finding a new bird for your list, Dale... even a Rock Dove deserves to be counted. Great to see you posting such a nice photo for us all to appreciate at these times.

Alex Rogers
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Lockdown birds! While I'm a bit frustrated at not being able to go and hunt for exotics, I have been enjoying paying more attention to the common birds - and you see and hear and notice new things all the time when you pay attention :-) Thanks for posting. 

dwatsonbb
dwatsonbb's picture

Thanks all.

Got another Pelagic in on Saturday - not many new birds, but still a great day - only 3 lifers (some have maybe seen before, but could not confirm ID from my photos). Also playing with settings - was not all that happy with most of my photos and these are the best of a bad bunch.

Anyhow, hope you enjoy.

Highlight of the day was a Light-mantled Sooty Albatross - did only 2 passes and I missed the best shot - (might be pushing the ssp a bit, but it is actually listed as a species in it's own right). Not too much chance of me passing the majority, so hopefully you all will be kind!

76. Light-mantled Sooty Albatross - the last photo clearly shows it's "light mantle".

Light-mantled Sooty Albatross (Phoebetria palpebrata) by Dale Watson, on Flickr

Light-mantled Sooty Albatross1 (Phoebetria palpebrata) by Dale Watson, on Flickr

With a bonus Fairy Prion

Light-mantled Sooty Albatross2 (Phoebetria palpebrata) by Dale Watson, on Flickr

77. Campbell Albatross - love the eye colour. The last photo was ID as a young Campbell, with the eye still a little dark, and a black tip to the bill. Again pushing the friendship, some call it a ssp. of Black-Browed, it is clearly listed in the Birdlife list as a separate species, but no fact sheet.

Campbell Albatross1 (Thalassarche impavida) by Dale Watson, on Flickr

Campbell Albatross (Thalassarche impavida) by Dale Watson, on Flickr

Campbell Albatross2 (Thalassarche impavida) by Dale Watson, on Flickr

78. White-headed Petrel - a few sighted, but this is my best photo. Many other Petrel species on the day, but alas, I cannot ID them from my photos.

White-headed Petrel (Pterodroma lessonii) by Dale Watson, on Flickr

Dale Huonville, Tasmania

sue818
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Wow, Dale. Love these pelagics ... especially as I have only just seen bird 21 in my own backyard! Thank you for these great shots of birds I have never seen.

michaelrt71_1
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I love all these southern seabirds, Dale, all of which are unknown to me. Great flight shots!

dwatsonbb
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Thanks Sue, lucky I can get out at the moment, My "yard list" would be around a dozen.

Michael thanks for your comments, this is why I like these challenges, we can share our local birds with others, who may not get the chance to see for themselves. I have been enjoying your contribution, so please keep them coming.

Dale Huonville, Tasmania

Alex Rogers
Alex Rogers's picture

Wow, I just love these shots and birds, Dale. Like Sue, nearly all of these would be lifers for me, and so cool to see and hear about birds I know nothing about. If you ever feel like telling us more about these pelagic birds (behaviour, how you ID them, anything really) I'd be very interested. And your technical skill in pelagic BIF is really coming on, some cracker shots there. 

dwatsonbb
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Thanks Alex, my IDs are from the resident experts who organise these trips. I will try and remember to provide some descriptive points for ID in future posts. As far as the BIF shots go, still hit and miss - many photos of perfectly focused waves, thank goodness for digital cameras. I have learnt to leave plenty of room in the frame, and crop. That tends to get most of the bird in the frame most of the time.

Hoping to be able go every 2nd month or so, subject to work and weather, and of course finances. Not too many new birds to be had for me, but hoping to upgrade some photos. There are a few which are too small and fast that I have seen, but missed the shot, I guess time will tell.

Dale Huonville, Tasmania

TommyGee
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Another Pelagic Dale! That Campbell Albatross is striking indeed.

dwatsonbb
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Thanks Tommy, this is my new addiction. I am still a novice, but the eye colour separates Campbell and Black-browed, also something about the "smudging" of the black eyeliner. I will try and post a couple of cropped portraits later in the week to hopefully to highlight the difference between the 2.

Dale Huonville, Tasmania

Devster
Devster's picture

So very jealous Dale. They are wonderful and I know all too well how hard it is to get these birds in flight with the right light and the boat rocking. Well done!

sue818
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Just updated the stats for Karen and notice that you are leading with unique species, Dale. Well done!

One day, I would love to go on a pelagic trip. The closest I have managed is from a cruise ship going past the Cocos-Keeling Islands and the birds were spectacular and numerous but too far away with hubbie's camera.

dwatsonbb
dwatsonbb's picture

Thanks Sue. Unless I can get half decent photos to some of the smaller Petrels (flying spuds), I reckon my pelagic list is nearly done. Guess I have been lucky on the unique species front. I still have some endemics, but can't seem to locate at the moment.

Hopefully one day you can get a Pelagic, and experience the frill for yourself. 
 

We were into cruising before the COVID hit, hoping to resume one day. Maybe one day you can set foot on the Cocos-Keeling Islands for a closer view.

Dale Huonville, Tasmania

sue818
sue818's picture

Some time ago, I suggested that Christmas on Christmas Island might be interesting. The cruise past Cocos-Keeling was when a friend convinced us to do the Gallipoli Cruise for the centenary event.. once in a lifetime chance but way too long on a ship!

Alex Rogers
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I'm super keen on a Christmas Island trip - birding for sure, but also diving, and red crabs - looks like an amazing place. But you have to fly via Perth, and its been impossible for the last year. Maybe next year. 

dwatsonbb
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Not much new for me, Have been granted access to a 50 acre bush block (has the owners house on about an acre) which bounds the (Mt) Wellington Park behind Hobart. Went for a walk this morning. Many species sighted/heard, but no worthwile photos. Species include - highlight was a Tasmanian Scrubwren (no photo would not come into the open), Fantail Cuckoo and Pallid Cuckoo (heard many could not find), Golden Whistler - sighted a few females, but no photo, Grey Fantail, Tasmanian Thornbill (got a photo of a fluffy but - don't think it is enough to count), Pink Robin male - high in the dense leaves no hope of photo and a flyover of a Swamp Harrier (too high/far off for photo).The usual Superb Pairy-wrens and Tasmanian Native hens in large numbers. There was also evidence of Superb Lyrebirds, but alas no sighting.

The owner has footage of either a Masked or Barn owl on a trail cam (not clear enough for me to ID) so hoping to get some footage for myself (can't count someone elses video).

Anyhoo 1 decent photo of a Black Currawong - Tasmanian endemic, which hang around the house site (can be seen and heard pretty much everywhere on the property). I have more shots, but this is I think the best of an ordinary bunch.

79. Black Currawong - endemic. This one seemed a bit smaller than some of the others. Identified by a lack of white vent feathers and a very distinctive call. Was hoping to get a Grey Currawong (for comparison) on the way home but they were elsewhere today, so the second photo is from a previous year. You can clearly see the white vent feathers, with the fence in perfect focus!!

Black Currawong by Dale Watson, on Flickr

Grey Currawong Feb 2020 Poor photo on an old camera.

DSCN1082 by Dale Watson, on Flickr

Dale Huonville, Tasmania

michaelrt71_1
michaelrt71_1's picture

Good on you, Dale. Get what you can in the thin times! The new bush-walk sounds like it will come to fruition with frequency.

Btw, I was booked for Tassie early December, but it is looking like I am classified 'unclean' and will have to try again next year. 

PS. Yes, that fence is crisply focused ;-)

Devster
Devster's picture

Well done Dale. Make hay while the sun shines. The new area sounds exciting. Always fun to explore new birding sites. Love the in focus fence. If I had a dollar for every shot I took that had something else other than the main subject in perfect focus, I could buy a 800mm prime lens and still have change. lol

sue818
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That new area sounds promising, Dale. I wish we could get down there fro a visit... maybe next year. meantime, I am really enjoying the pelagics and all those Tassie endemics.

Alex Rogers
Alex Rogers's picture

Thanks Dale, great to see Tassie endemics. The black currawongs really do have a distinctive call, dont they? But your yellow wattlebird takes the cake, even ghastlier sound than our wattlebirds lol

dwatsonbb
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Thanks guys. I hope to visit the new site every few weeks, it is at an altitude of around 500metres, and subject to low cloud and fog, so weather dependent.

Michael, sorry your plans have been derailed, hopefully one day soon, it would be great if we could all travel without restriction.

Sue and Alex, trying very hard to complete my endemic list - believe it or not, I still have 2 that continually evade my camera.

Dev, my keeper rate is still pretty low, so thankful for digital and the delete button, which is almost worn out!

Alex, yes the Black Currawong can be heard for miles, you can't miss their presence, even if you can't see them. They can be quite cheeky in some of the National Parks and frequently visited open spaces, trying to steal food.

Keep safe and keep your photos coming.

Thanks

Dale Huonville, Tasmania

TommyGee
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Nice get with the Currawong Dale, I do love seeing the endemics. Enjoy the bush block!

AbbyGrace
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Wow Dale, love your Pelagic photos especially the Campbell Albatross1 shot.  

dwatsonbb
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Thanks Tommy and Abby. Hoping to get some more soon.

Dale Huonville, Tasmania

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