Tuesday, 15 November 2016

Birding Down Under: Macquaire Island

I cuddled up in bed & survived mountainous seas! Staggered out of bed at 7 am on 22nd November. A quick look outside revealed no sea birds at all, dull & drizzling conditions & very grey seas. However conditions had calmed down a lot overnight.

Light mantled Sooty Albatross

The most graceful of all Albatross.

White capped Albatross

Southern Royal Albatross

Brilliant birds!

Mottled Petrel

Soft Plumaged Petrel

I tried several sea watches throughout the day, but numbers & variety were much reduced. Photos were hard to come by because of persistent drizzle & spray.

Best birds were:

Gibson’s Wandering Albatross; Wandering Albatross; 3 Southern Royal Albatross; Campbell Albatross; Black-browed Albatross; 2 Grey Headed Albatross; 23 White Capped Albatross; 2 Light Mantled Sooty Albatross; Northern Giant Petrel; 5 Cape Petrel; 80+ Antarctic Prion; 46 Mottled Petrel; 31 White Headed Petrel; Soft Plumaged Petrel; 2 White Chinned Petrel; 3 Sooty Shearwater & 9 Black Bellied Storm Petrel.

The fabled island!

Macquarie Island

The research base.

A little bit of Australia in the middle of nowhere!

Thousands of King Penguins nest here.

You can just see the brown one year old 
King Penguins among the throng.

King Penguins

Royal Penguins

They never came close to the ship.

Of course the penguin eaters are also here!


These individuals are a little bit different
 from the ones in the northern hemisphere.

The saddles are much greyer.
Soon to be split into three species of Orca.

Black browed Albatross nest here.

Macquarie Island Shag

Dawn on 23rd November was overcast with sleet/snow showers. It had been quite a rough night at sea again. We were patrolling off the coast of Macquarie Island but it was too rough to land. We spent the rest of the day doing the same just trolling up & down the coast waiting for a break in the weather which never came. All of us were bitterly disappointed as we headed out to sea northwards in the early evening. It had been an interesting, but incredibly frustrating days birding, seeing all those penguin colonies at great distance & not being able to land!

Black browed Albatross

Campbell Island Albatross

Notice the yellow eye.

Grey headed Albatross (Immature)

Grey-headed Albatross adult.

Immature Grey-headed Albatross

Light mantled Sooty Albatross


They don't come any closer than this!

Southern Giant Petrel

Northern Giant Petrel

Southern Giant Petrel

Southern Giant Petrel

Cape Petrel

White headed Petrel

Notice this individual is quite dark on the head.

Grey backed (on the left) & 
Black bellied Storm Petrel

Black bellied Storm Petrel

The commonest Storm Petrel in these waters.

Best birds were:

25+ Eastern Rockhopper Penguin; thousands of King Penguin; thousands of Royal Penguin; 8 Wandering (Snowy) Albatross; 2 Southern Royal Albatross; 5 Black browed Albatross; 4 Grey headed Albatross; White capped Albatross; 9 Light Mantled Sooty Albatross; 2 Northern Giant Petrel; 50+ Southern Giant Petrel; 7 Cape Petrel; 150+ Antarctic Prion; 5 Blue Petrel; 4 White headed Petrel; 5 Soft Plumaged Petrel; 15 Sooty Shearwater; Black bellied Storm Petrel; 20+ Macquarie Island Shag; 2 Kelp Gull; 5 Antarctic Tern & Brown Skua.

Peter Harrison & Dominique

Sea birders!

Eden & Giselle
Eden is a seabird fanatic & 
Giselle is a wildlife illustrator.

24th November & I was literally all at sea! The conditions were much better than the day before & I spent the whole day on deck looking for seabirds. It was mainly sunny & quite good for photography. It was a bit of a slow sea bird day but by the end of it a good tally was seen.

Black browed Albatross

Grey headed Albatross (immature)


Light mantled Sooty Albatross

Southern Giant Petrel

Southern Giant Petrel

About 15% of this species is white phase.

Bit of a stunner!

Soft Plumaged Petrel

It is not often they come close to the ship.

Blue Petrel

This is about as far north as this species gets.

Antarctic Prion

Fairy Prion

Best birds were:

2 Gibson’s Wandering Albatross; 2 Southern Royal Albatross; 5 Campbell Albatross; 2 Grey Headed Albatross; 4 Light Mantled Sooty Albatross; Northern Giant Petrel; 3 Cape Petrel; 45+ Antarctic Prion; 1+ Fairy Prion; 4 Mottled Petrel; 7 White Headed Petrel; 2 Soft Plumaged Petrel; White Chinned Petrel; 10+ Sooty Shearwater; 2+ Grey Backed Storm Petrel; 15+ Black bellied Storm Petrel; 2 Common Diving Petrel; 20 Macquarie Island Shag & Brown Skua.

Interesting cloud formation.

A calm evening in the middle of the southern ocean.

Enjoy, because this doesn't happen very often!

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