Sunday, 24 November 2013

Around Eden

Humpback Whales - mother and calf
Last week I went on a trip down to Eden on the south coast of New South Wales, primarily to go out on a boat trip to see the last of the whale migration pass by, and also to see some local birds of the area - on land as well as at sea. And we had splendid close-up views of two mother and calf pairs of Humpback Whales. They were quietly cruising across the bay outside the fishing port of Eden.

Short-tailed Shearwater - note feet protruding beyond the tail
Although the boat trip was primarily aimed at whale-watching, we saw several species of seabirds including the most numerous -Short-tailed Shearwater Puffinus tenuirostris. While the whales were on their way south to the Antarctic for the southern summer, these birds were on their way back to their nesting burrows on offshore islands around Australia, having just returned from as far as the Bering Straight where they spend their non-breeding season.

A few shearwaters landed behind the boat in anticipation of bait being thrown out - as done on some birdwatching trips
I will post more detailed accounts of birds seen on the trip later, but for now I draw attention to what for me was the bird of the trip - the Southern Emu-wren Stipiturus malachurus. I like these birds because of their tiny size, generic wispy tail and overall adaptation to life in grassy heaths. They can be difficult to find in amongst the grasses, but it is well worth listening out for their thin trilling calls. A seemingly simple, yet marvelous bird.
The distinctive silhouette of an Emu-wren
Both form and colour are unique, as is their character.

An adult male Southern Emu-wren in full colour - a rather smart bird

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