Friday, June 26, 2009

20 years ago this week

Packed the wife, kids and car off north for ten days to allow me to get on with some serious painting and decorating today. This is a considerable sacrifice on my part - chance to watch Wimbledon, lots of dragonflies and grouse...

So in the absence of birding in the present it is back to nostalgic trawling of the Benstead bird diaries...

Twenty years ago found me in Queensland in the middle of a 16 month long trip with my girlfriend at the time (Cath Jeffs). I always like to factor time into my trips to just sit and watch stuff go by - the chance to watch the migration of hump-backed whales north along the Queensland coast was one we could not pass up.

21/6/89 Point Lookout, Stradbroke Island fine SE 15-20
Arrived in the early afternoon, good seawatching conditions but distracted by two fine hump-backed whales, which jumped for ages. Fantastic. Also 20+ bottle-nosed dolphins.

22/6/89 Point Lookout, Stradbroke Island wind SE in pm
Seabirds noticed today, good conditions during the afternoon. Cath came up trumps spotting every single good bird. Plenty of gannets, but the star bird was a fine Providence petrel (1) viewed down to 400m, showing white primary and covert patch, beautiful bird. Also a single black-browed albatross, an immature, separated from grey-headed by pale bill, and a brown booby (1).

Little else of note, though an Australian hobby brightened things up a bit. Plenty of shearwaters out there at extreme range; fluttering/Hutton’s types.

23/6/89 Point Lookout, Stradbroke Island offshore winds

Five hump-backed whales showed up today after no definite signs yesterday. Only other thing of note was a very close fluttering shearwater (1), definitely pale underwing. Plenty more further out. A whistling kite was seen to harass this bird for some time and flew 2-3 km out to sea hunting.

24/6/89 Point Lookout, Stradbroke Island calm W
No birds during morning session, though a total of 3+ hump-backed whales noted. Afternoon session more productive (seemed to be a general rule during our stay but light so much better then). Loggerhead turtle seen off the rocks, good to see again. The chaps (the Corben gang) having joined us in mid-afternoon enjoyed an entertaining seawatch; Providence petrel (1) seen flying backwards and forwards at range often associating with a whale, arctic skua (1) very unusual at this time of year and Indo-Pacific hump-backed dolphin (3).

25/6 /89 Point Lookout, Stradbroke Island calm
Spent most of the day at Lookout. Plenty of dolphins including Indo-Pacific humpback (15+). Also two hump-backed whale mid afternoon. No seabirds but a nice wandering tattler (1) rounded things off nicely. An immature white-bellied sea eagle being harassed by an osprey made entertaining watching.

27/6/89 Boombana and Slaughter Falls
Morning trip with Tom and Lisa looking for red-browed treecreeper failed but turned up logrunner (pair), paradise riflebird (male) and rose robin (male). Tom locked his keys in the car which led to an amusing half hour.

Checked out the powerful owls (pair) and did some spotlighting with Dave and Chris; tawny frogmouth (4), white-throated nightjar (1), brushtail possum (2) and sugar glider (1). Finally got ring-tail possum in Chris’ back garden during the week.

Chris Corben, if you are out there I salute you!

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