Sunday, September 23, 2012

Top 10 Mistakes by Visiting Birders :D

We all know how difficult it can be birding in a location far from home, with lots of bewildering new birds and a limited selection of field guides to identify them. And then there’s that awkward moment when you confidently post your sightings, only to have some sneering local shoot them down in flames. Well, here at Leeuwin Current Birding we’ve done the shooting and sneering in advance, to compile the top ten mistakes we regularly see made by visiting birders. We hope these are helpful and will be taken in educational spirit they are intended - we’re not laughing, honest! Hey, we’ve all been there!

In no particular order, the top ten are:

1. Paying for lighthouse entry to get Rock Parrot at Cape Leeuwin
This seems to be on the touring circuit of every visiting birder, who dutifully stump up their hard-earned to get a shot Rock Parrot – without realising the best way to see them is to wait near the freshwater pool below the petrified waterwheel – which is outside the fence!

Rock Parrots drinking at the petrified waterwheel near Cape Leeuwin

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Another South Polar Skua - Woodman Point

UPDATE: The identity of this bird has now been accepted by BARC.

Another intermediate-morph South Polar Skua Stercorarius (Catharacta) maccormicki has been reported in south-west WA, seen on the 3rd of May flying briefly over the end of Woodman Point, south of Fremantle. Unfortunately only the silhouette and underside of the bird were able to be photographed, but nevertheless several key diagnostic features confirm the bird’s identity:

Underbody contrast
Though the early morning light is not ideal, the bird shows the diagnostic hallmark of strong contrast between the fairly uniform, cool-toned, paleish grey-brown body, and the evenly cold black underwing coverts and axillaries. There are no rusty or rufous tones in the plumage as is frequent on Brown Skua [1, 2]. Other supporting plumage features include a fairly substantial white ‘flash’ in the primaries; a small but distinct dark loral eye-mask on the paler head; and the suggestion of a whitish grizzled area in the interramal area at the base of the lower bill.

South Polar Skua Stercorarius maccormicki (NB. subject to BARC acceptance) at Woodman Point, 3rd May 2012. Note the strong contrast between the pale, evenly grey-brown body and cold black undercoverts; whitish area at the base of the lower bill (interramal area); long narrow wings and short tail.