Michael's Big Year 2022

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michaelrt71_1
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Long weekend sneak out to Wollumboola again. Didn't expect any new birds, but relatively lucky.

120. Fairly sure of this ID, but require a check: Tawny Grassbird (a lifer if I got it right). 

121. Gull-billed tern. I haven't seen one of these this century, so happy to bump into them again. Sharing the fishing with plenty of caspian terns and crested terns.

122. Kelp gull - jr. Hanging out with all the terns, then did a grumpy loop past my spot.

123. Eastern reef egret - a lifer too. At first glance flying in I guessed it as a white-faced heron, then I noticed it holding its neck different in flight. Luckily it landed close by and I saw the gray face instead of white. It seemed a chunkier bird than the white faced, too.

124. Common for some, but a lifer for me. I have heard these were everywhere, but somehow, they always saw me coming and scarpered. A grey teal, at last.

dwatsonbb
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Some great photos ther Michael. Can't help much with the ID of the grassbird. I think the Eastern Reef Egret will be my favourite from that set.

Dale Huonville, Tasmania

michaelrt71_1
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What?!

karentwemlow
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Your long weekend paid off, great photos, I don't think I have seen any of those birds before.

And ha ha love the 'seagull', like it's been caught with it's beak in the cookie jar :-) 

sue818
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Well done, Micheal... definitely a Tawny Grassbird... clean unmarked breast and tawny crown. Love the Eastern Reef Egret and wjat a mouthful that Silver Gull has for brekkie! Great set of shots and birds.

AbbyGrace
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What great finds Michael. Love the Eastern Reef Egret, and also the Silver Gull made me laugh, what a great shot! 

michaelrt71_1
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Recent July holidays in Perth, WA. 

Joondalup Lake first. Honestly, this was a random last-minute booking in response to COVID changing our original plans. The family were a little sarcastic when we just happened to have an apartment next to a birding hotspot. 

125. Hooary-headed grebe - 2 of them at least sitting centre right. Lifer

126. Brown honeyeater

127. Rock dove

128. Western gerygone. Lifer

129. Australian Shelduck male - saw plenty of these flying in pairs across the late afternoon sky. Lifer

130. Yellow-billed spoonbill - never spotted those 'over East', so another lifer for me.

131. Musk duck - male performing for two or three ladies. Watched him flap, splash and honk through his routine for some time. Only ever taken very poor distant shots of these, so I was happy to catch this close up.

dwatsonbb
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Michael, some lovely shots there. I reckon there is a lot more  than 2 Grebes in that photo. Greta captures of the Sponnbills. I love them all. Nice getaway, hope you had or are having a great time.

Dale Huonville, Tasmania

sue818
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Some beautiful shots, Michael. Love the Musk Duck with his ladies. Expect the trip nay produce a few more.

AbbyGrace
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Nice birds Michael. 2 of those are lifers for me. And what a pity that you had your accommodation next to a ebird hotspot :D haha.

michaelrt71_1
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Thanks folks!

Yes Sue, more birds coming slowly - but I have had my desktop die at home and am trying to post through a senile old laptop. It can't cope with RAW and likes to rest after simply loading 'Google'. Although the potential loss of files did force me into learning how to pass files from my camera directly to my phone while in WA. I have lost a few birds and sessions, but had a fun time chasing new birds regardless. :)

sue818
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Sorry about your bad luck, Michael. Yes, those files are big & challenge old computers. I travel with a 1 terabyte drive & load a copy of my photos on there & keep it separate to my laptop. Covering theft & malfunctions.
Eager to see more from your trip but it all takes time. Here in Mt Isa the wifi is very weak so uploading files is time consuming.

michaelrt71_1
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Within Perth suburbia, I found Herdsman Lake to be another promising spot, and had the company and extra spotting eyes of my family to help me out. A busy session, only walking a quarter of the park and back.

132. Swamp harriers - I am pretty sure I have a young one and an old beaten up one (bent tail feathers), individually, then together, but not great photos unfortunately.

133. Glossy Ibis - lifer! The white ibis were nesting nearby under pressure from a hobby falcon, and straw-necked ibis were here too.

134. Australasian Shoveler - another lifer. Can not get over the size of the bill.

Back in Perth, along the Swan.

135. Laughing Dove - hanging out at Nedlands yacht club, I had assumed it was another spotted dove. Lifer for me.

136. Singing honeyeater - saw lots of these during my trip, but a lifer nonetheless.

Back to Herdsman Lake

137. Pink-eared Duck - lifer! Got poor shots of these the first walk at Herdsman, only slightly better here. Tricky deciding to pack and walk with monopod, or be free-wheeling in order to catch BIF. Either way my shots are not so sharp, but the birds count.

138. Tawny frogmouth - braved the tiger-snakes and long grass to come across this one.

139. Spotted pardalote - dark and blurry, but it'll do for now.

michaelrt71_1
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sue818 wrote:

Sorry about your bad luck, Michael. Yes, those files are big & challenge old computers. I travel with a 1 terabyte drive & load a copy of my photos on there & keep it separate to my laptop. Covering theft & malfunctions.
Eager to see more from your trip but it all takes time. Here in Mt Isa the wifi is very weak so uploading files is time consuming.

Good advice, thanks Sue. The theft bit is concerning when traveling; hard to hide and care for a 600mm lens.
dwatsonbb
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More great photos, I would be happy with those. The Pink-eared duck with relflection is stunning. Again they are all great.

Dale Huonville, Tasmania

michaelrt71_1
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Last batch from WA sorted. Managed to see some new birds in the south-west, staying near Dunsborough/Cape Naturaliste. 

140. Australian Ringneck - saw these in Perth, but managed to find friendlier ones down south.

141. white-breasted robin - backlight silhouette, but the best I could manage; they kept flying off, not as confiding as their yellow-breasted cousins over east. (no fact-sheet?)

142. Osprey - flew close overhead and then down to the point to hassle the terns. Watched one fishing at sunset with my daughter later that afternoon - great entertainment. A family watching close by on the beach jumped up, cheered and applauded when it caught one!

143. Pacific gull - managed to capture this young one, but the adult was too far off. No kelp gulls in this area also helped with ID.

144. Red-capped parrot - Lifer! Saw one on a bushwalk and took a wobbly disappointing photo. But this one came to find me at our AirBnB. Soon followed by...

145. Western Rosella - also lifer. 

It had become a bit of a joke that I had seen but never photographed the black cockatoos in WA. They always appeared when I did not have a camera, even insultingly flying past the window at my airport gate before boarding! Nevertheless I tried one last time on my last day in Perth, to no avail. But, I happily bagged one more lifer anyway, in Bold Park. (I am back in WA in 2 weeks, so fingers crossed on the black cockys).

146. Painted button-quail - lifer (thanks Sue!) Shot across the track after scratching in the undergrowth. Not a great shot, but happy to find a new bird!

dwatsonbb
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Love all the parrots, such great variety and colour. Excellent shots Michael well done. Greet detail. Nice you caught the Osprey in flight - great capture.

Dale Huonville, Tasmania

sue818
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Great to see that you did not lose all your photos, Michael. Some wonderful birds. Love the Red-capped Parrot and the Western Rosella and I'm rather fond of the Laughing Dove.

However, you have photographed a Painted Button-quail not a Brown Quail... I'm sure it will still be a lifer! 

michaelrt71_1
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sue818 wrote:

Thanks Sue; either is a lifer. The ebird list for the area only listed the brown quail, and being ignorant of all things 'quail' apart from general shape, I latched onto that. Painted button-quail certainly sounds more impressive, too. ;)

Great to see that you did not lose all your photos, Michael. Some wonderful birds. Love the Red-capped Parrot and the Western Rosella and I'm rather fond of the Laughing Dove.

However, you have photographed a Painted Button-quail not a Brown Quail... I'm sure it will still be a lifer! 

AbbyGrace
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What wonderful photos Michael! Love your Glossy Ibis shot. Also love seeing a different Rosella. Quite a few in there would be lifers for me. Looks like you had a great trip.

michaelrt71_1
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A Perth long weekend for family/social purposes, but managed to get one lifer (EBC), soaring above us at the Pinnaroo Memorial Park.

147 Little Eagle - initially thought it was the whistling kite I have been looking for since joining last August. Better still, a bird I have never seen or properly ID-ed before. A long way up, so tricky to get a crisp shot in the middle of the day. Somewhere in my travels with taking the big lens on to the plane, my AV mode moved from F8 to F25, which did not help with birds-in-flight at all.

dwatsonbb
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Wow Michael, great shot, another bird which would be a lifer for me.

Note to self (and others), check the camera and settings, including spare battery(s) before your shoot!
This has happened to me so often it's not funny anymore. Sadly I also accidentally change setting mid shoot, sometimes it works, mostly it does not.

Dale Huonville, Tasmania

sue818
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Great catch, Michael. Much harder to find than a Whistling Kite.

We all have camera issues with settings shifting ... I often find the auto-focus has been bumped off or it is set to close distance not infinity... very frustrating so I try to check it all before heading off but... things still happen. Seems a very worthwhile trip.

michaelrt71_1
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Thanks Sue and Dale. I have just reviewed the settings for my July WA trip as I was frustrated with the quality of all my photos. Nothing as sharp as I expected. Somewhere during my first day around Lake Joondalup my f-stop went from f8 to f11, then to f25 and f29 for the rest of the fortnight. Even shooting the osprey in flight I was at f29. Aaaargh! I fixed it this morning and went to test it. Even hand-held in the wind, my photos were much better focused, and blurred background. A lesson learned, huh.

Welcome swallow, back to f8...

dwatsonbb
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Well done Michael, seems you have it fixed now. That's a nice crisp photo of a lovely little bird which is sometimes hard to catch sitting still.

Dale Huonville, Tasmania

sue818
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Lovely crisp shot of a little bird as Dale stated. Those f stops would have made speed an issue as difficult to hold still for long enough at f29!  

michaelrt71_1
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Yes quite a relief. I also noticed that at f29 into the sky, the 600mm picks up every piece of dust and spot on the lens, the internal mirror and in the sky. 

Back to my local spot, and found two birds that have been elusive so far this year. Both EBC, but satisfied as they were in dark rainforest.

148. Wonga pigeon - followed some advice I read recently to stay in the car if spotting from the road, as jumping out with the camera is more disturbing than peeking out the window. The pigeon didn't spot me.

149. Superb lyrebird - hope to get a better one with patience in Spring.

Eastern yellow robin upgrade - just because I can focus properly again! 

sue818
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Very nice, Michael... seems to be working really well now... love them all.

AbbyGrace
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Thats a great shot of the Welcome Swallow. Nice shots of the other birds too!

TommyGee
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Great photos Michael and some stunning birds. That Glossy Ibis is gorgeous. 

I'm still mainly relying on the automated settings on my little bridge camera, stretching out bit by bit and trying new things every now and then. But about 4 months ago it started behaving quite strangely and I ended up resetting back to default settings... and for the life of me I suddenly couldn't focus on anything. So I feel your frustration!! I messed about with it for a couple of weeks and it seemed to come back to normal, but it was a good reminder that the more I know, the more I can control.

Never even thought of checking the f-stops. I am a novice :D

michaelrt71_1
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Thanks for sharing the pain, Tommy. It is a challenge thinking you have the bird sharp, only to find the camera mechanics (my lack of care or knowledge) have mucked it up. Learning curve is still steep for me, too.

150. Eastern Bristlebird - lifer. Sometimes heard but hardly seen at Barren grounds, eventually got an identifiable photo! (no factsheet) I will tell you which tree, Sue ;)

The rest are upgrades.

88. Brown goshawk - thought it might be sparrowhawk initially.

104. Great Egret - such a strange angle/view.

106. Pied Currawong - Landed on my car to start with at Barren Grounds

117. White-Necked Heron - spent 10 minutes flipping this hefty frog around.

Lastly an argument between a Lewin's honeyeater and a fan-tailed cuckoo.

dwatsonbb
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Congrats on 150. Lovely photos thanks for posting.

Dale Huonville, Tasmania

AbbyGrace
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Nice photos Michael! Bristlebirds can be tricky to photograph, so well done to you!

sue818
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Great shots, Michael... quite envious of the Bristlebirds! Congrats on the 150. I need to get back to Barren Grounds and check that tree (but perhaps I'll finish processing current trip photos first).

karentwemlow
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Great pics Michael, awesome glare from the Goshawk! I love the argument between the Lewin's and the Fantailed-Cuckoo, the Cuckoo doesn't look too concerned. 

Alex Rogers
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Well done on that Bristlebird! Make sure you point out the tree to me too, I still haven't seen one lol. I like your Lewins/Cuckoo standoff as well, quite amusing expressions. 

michaelrt71_1
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Cheers, folks.

I escaped the cycling races yesterday to try my first pelagic trip (out from Kiama). I kept in mind some hints from Dale, Sue and Alex from earlier in the year, but it was challenging! Lots of photos of the floor of the boat, the back of people's heads, and pure sky and sea with no birds to be seen. I did manage to photograph some (apparently a quiet trip for birds, but exciting for a newbie like me), and they were ID-ed by the guide and 'pros' on the boat. I have since tried to match up their ID calls, my photos, ebird and my guide book at home, and it all seems to make sense. Happy to edit where incorrect, of course.

151. Flesh-footed Shearwater - tricky dark bird, dark water and dark skies

152. Providence petrel - no fact sheet (changed)

153. Black-browed albatross

154. Shy albatross - couldn't find fact sheet under either name. Birders on boat called it a 'Shy'.

155. White-faced storm petrel - glad of this ones easy ID despite wobbly shot. Fast and funny bird, hopping across the wave peaks mid-flight.

dwatsonbb
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Michael , some great shots, if that was your first pelagic, you have done extremely well. I don't mention how many photos have little or no Birdlife in them, your not on your own.

Given you location, the "Shy Albatross (Thalassarche cauta)" might be referred to as White-capped Albatross (Thalassarche steadi), which as you mentioned has some genetic differences. My understanding is that it is difficult to separate the 2 species, and it is acceptable to call them as "White-capped" if unsure which one. I am sure the experts on your trip will know far more than I. If you want to be more specific, post it for ID on the Seabirds and Pelagics Australia Facebook page - sit back and watch the discussion.

It also appears to be a young bird (darker grey bill with a black tip).

Either way, it's a nice photo, as are they all. Flesh-footed Shearwater would be a lifer for me.

 

Dale Huonville, Tasmania

dwatsonbb
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Actually Michael, after replying to you comment on my list, I think your Grey-faced might be a Providence, but you might need more expert advice.

Took a screenshot of you pic (will delete) and Merlin has ID it as a Providence the most likely bird, with Grey-faced 3rd after Kermadec Petrel. Maybe post on Seabirds and Pelagics, there are some real experts on that page (maybe the same people   as on your pelagic?) Not saying the ID given to you is wrong, but worth looking into.

Dale Huonville, Tasmania

sue818
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Great to see you venturing out on a boat rather han a bike, Michael. Welcome to the really difficult identifications and well done on getting some great shots in poor light and an unstable platform. It is such a challenge when you add that other dimension....a moving boat. My sea legs were awful so I took a seat and photographed from that until it got a bit easier. I was slip sliding all over the place!

As Shy Albatross and White-capped Albatross both exist on the Working List, I'm choosing Shy Albatross as eBird does not seem to split them and the same with my ABID guide. Can change if you prefer.

I eventually found Grey-faced Petrel as a sub-species of Great-winged Petrel in my guide book but listed separately on eBird and the working list. In my very, very limited capacity, I suggest that it is worth following up as Dale suggests because of the underwing pattern. 

I spent hours going through my hundreds of photos of my one trip and it was really difficult to spot one different bird amongst all the others. Did it wet your appetite for more?

michaelrt71_1
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Thanks a heap, Dale and Sue! I am convinced of the providence petrel over the grey-faced. It is quite likely both were out there and I caught the providence - the underwing pattern of white is clear. And I will also adjust the first albatross to 'Shy', that was called celarly and often by the experts on board.

As to doing another pelagic? Yes, I am keen - it was so very different a world out there, wildlife seemingly in the middle of deep, dark nowhere. Knowing it is possible to survive 2.5m swells without getting ill has given me some confidence to try again.

AbbyGrace
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Sounds like you had a great time Michael. I would love to try one, one day. Nice shots too.

michaelrt71_1
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Caught up with my parents in the Mount Annan botanical gardens last week; rain came in making bird photos difficult, but still managed a lifer.

156. Striated pardalote

Spent a few days off-grid behind Kangaroo valley last week too, saw lots of new mammals, and another bird for the count. EBC unfortunately.

157. Noisy friarbird

Scouting new spots in the Illawarra took me to Tallawarra power station fore-shore and found...

158. Olive-backed Oriole

And another spot, where I think Danika visited recently, probably the same bird!

159. Bar-shouldered dove - a lifer for me.

Mammal bonus; wallaroos and rock wallaby (plus joey!)

AbbyGrace
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Nice shots Michael! Isn't it fun getting to see a lifer!

sue818
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Love the Striated Pardalote, Michael but how exciting to get a Lifer.

dwatsonbb
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Fantastic Michael, lifers are great, they seem to elevate the mood to a new level. Loving all the photos and the stories behind them. Thanks.

Dale Huonville, Tasmania

michaelrt71_1
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Cheers, folks. Yes very exciting with lifers - even though three-quarters of Australian species are going to me lifers for me at this stage. Diminishing returns, too, I suppose, place an extra thrill as they become rarer.

160. House Sparrow - EBC Koona Bay

161. Bar-tailed godwit - noticed on the drive home from work, the first two I have seen for the season.

162. Scarlet Honeyearter (Myzomela) - EBC way up in the eucalypts, heard the call when I was searching the undergrowth for this year's orchids.

Upgrades of masked lapwing (64), galahs (107) and great cormorant (23) from Lake Wollumboola.

dwatsonbb
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A couple more nice birds there Michael, love the Scarlet Honeyeater, and the flight shots are good to. The seasonal migratory birds are starting to turn up, so let's hope we can all see some more.

Dale Huonville, Tasmania

karentwemlow
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Great pics Michael, I love the Cormorant with the moon in the background :-).

Good work on the Bar-shouldered Dove, it's great to get a lifer! I am yet to see a Striated Pardalote so even an EBC shot of one of them would make my day too.

sue818
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Great work, Michael. I also love the Scarlet Honeyeater and the Cormorant with the moon but I have asoft spot for Godwits and their amazing travel. Good to see you enjoying it.

I must admit any lifer is difficult for me now so 2 on the last trip was exhilarating. They also keep splitting or lumping species so that can make it difficult to judge what you have seen over the years.

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