Friday, 23 March 2012

Spoon Billed Sandpiper @ Khok Kham 20/03/2012.

It was a hot arrival at Khok Kham and as ever I met with Suchard for lunch and then we went back to his house (above). We sat in the shade with a soft drink catching up. I have woken up in the above house with many a hangover over the years. During our conversation we worked out that this was the 10th year in a row that I had been visiting Khok Kham in order to see Spoon billed Sandpipers. I don't know any one else from outside of Thailand with that track record do you ? more importantly is the fact that a decade of my life has passed since my very first visit to this place, a place that has captivated me for so very long. (Now just where did those 10 years go ?)

By mid afternoon we grabbed a much needed coffee as I had arrived in Bangkok, Thailand during the early hours this morning from a flight from Brisbane - Sydney - Bangkok and the lack of sleep was starting to catch up with me. Afterwards we ventured out on to the salt pans where we both began scanning through the waders. (Suchard above and a rather poorly lit salt pans below).

It seemed to take for ever to locate a Spoon billed Sandpiper of which 3 were present this winter: see blog post:

Recently only 2 have been seen with this single bird late this afternoon. I felt at ease once I had managed to obtain some reasonable prolonged views through the scope but found it difficult trying to get any half decent shots. Also present this afternoon was the usual selection of waders in various stages of moult but more interestingly was a partially albino Red necked Stint that looked more like a winter plumaged Sanderling. As I watched the individual above I lost myself in the moment, just watching this bird feeding, sweeping it's spatulate bill from side to side & occasionally being kicked by the nearby Red necked Stints I began thinking of the migration that this bird has ahead of it and what lays ahead for the future of the species.

As the sun began to drop in the heat hazed distance I kept watching the bird above and as I always do I stayed with it and watched it as if it could be my last ever sighting of this truly unique species of wader. The reason for this is because one day it will be my last view. Sadly I didn't have time today for a Chang fuelled night ahead as I had to get back to central Bangkok to get ready for my next flight. I had just over 24 hours in Bangkok but still managed to grab a much needed SBS fix.

Thursday, 22 March 2012

Southport Pelagic 17-03-2012.

Today Stuart & I joined the Southport Pelagic. Shortly after we ventured out of the harbour we could see quite a few fishing boats returning in the distance with many birds aroud them, mainly flocks of Great crested Terns with a couple of unexpected Caspians thrown in for good measure. Also several Pomarine Skua's with plenty of Wedge tailed Shearwaters also present.

We were treated early on with the pod of "presumed" off-shore Bottle nosed Dolphins (above) and then once we made it to the continental shelf we again encountered many more "performing" Dolphins, again these were "presumed" to be off-shore Bottle Nosed. Also seen whilst the Dolphins were entertaining us around the boat a small pod of False Killer Whales put in an appearance. There was obviously a lot happening beneath the surface today.

Tahiti Petrels were more confiding today than the December pelagic of which only a single was seen as it flew away from the boat. Today they came in close by at times as they flew just beyond the back of the boat and up in to the slick. There could be 2-3 on show at times today and this was as good as a seeing a new species for me as I really wasn't happy with the views I'd previously had. I really did enjoy watching these 2 tone "Pseudobulweria Petrels" as they glided effortlessly passed the boat.

Just as we were getting ready to return back in to land 2 immature intermediate Red footed Boobies came in from the north distantly to begin with but finally coming in close enough to obtain the photos above and below.

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Wandering Tattler @ Mooloolaba.

Arrival back in Brisbane was cooler than at Broome, admittedly it was 23:00hrs and raining but it had that feel about it, "you know" like late September, the wind is blowing, the trees are swaying and the leaf litter is staring to appear. Upon speaking with Stuart, even he quoted " its very autumnal of late". I fancied looking for some Wandering Tattlers and decided to head up to Mooloolaba. An area of rocky headland and beach north of Brisbane that has form from days gone by of being a reasonably reliable site for Wandering Tattlers but also has a nice beach with some winning surf.

It took a while "wandering" around the rocky outcrop and checking the rock pools but "fortune did favour the brave" today and a single Wandering Tattler was present (photo above) Mooloolaba isn't that far from Caloundra and so could be one of the birds from there, who knows ? but at least it was a Wanderer at a new site for me.

I have to admit that it is easy going whilst looking for the Tattlers with Es as she does like mooching around the rock pools, where she seems to like checking most things out. (thats the Diver in her I guess)

Once I'd had a good search around the headland and Es had finished in the rock pools we went and grabbed a swim, crashed out on the beach and just chilled out as local surfers paddled out and rode the waves, para-gliders passed overhead and locals took an amble along the tideline of the beach which was pretty much quiet during our time here as the photo below shows.

Thursday, 15 March 2012

Australian Painted Snipe (In the Hand).

Above shows you the Australian Painted Snipe on the pool (photo by Kuan-Chieh Hung of Taiwan). During the previous few evening's a car load had been going out looking for nocturnal species. Tonight a few of us decided to go to the hot water bore-spring for a soak. On the way back we bumped in to the usual night crew who advised us that they had just found a new Painted Snipe, this time a female. We drove up to the pool where the bird was still present and it was a nice moment watching it on the open pool in the car headlights.

The bird was trapped and then taken back to base where it was processed, ringed and shown to everyone present.

I have only seen 3 Painted Snipe prior to this bird and this consisted of singles in Goa, India, Gambia, Africa & the male a few days back, which was the first Aussie Painted Snipe I had seen but none in the hand. This was a real treat, a total surprise and a stunner in the hand.

Thursday, 8 March 2012

Australian Pratincole.

I was on cooking duties the other evening as I was part of the cooking team but fortunately I was granted a pass for an hour in order to look for Australian Pratincoles. Sarah D from the Wash Wader Ringing Group took me and Simon D (the former Fair Isle bird Observatory warden) to where she and a few others had seen them the previous evening and I was not disappointed when I saw about 30 birds close-by.

This was one of my target species for the trip and was a new species of wader for me and the second of the trip so far. I was surprised at how much they reminded me of Indian Coursers that I had seen in Ranthambore, India, back in 2002.

Above 3 photos shows you a close-by adult Aussie Pratincole and photo below shows you the open-arid like terrain that the Aussie Pratincoles prefer. So a quick jaunt out, scored & photographed the Pratincoles and still managed to be back in time to serve dinner and do the dishes. "Result" however, I do intend to go for more - prolonged views of this species. "No Australian Hobby this evening"