Jeff Clarke Ecology

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In Pursuit of Prions part 1

In Pursuit of Prions (Part 1) - Sydney

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This is the first in a series of blogs detailing a month long tour of New Zealand and Australia in the company of my lovely and long-suffering Wife Adele, who as it happens took some of the best images we achieved during our explorations. For this blog I have used images that missed the cull for my new talk on New Zealand but are still decent images.

We began in Sydney, arriving during an evening thunderstorm and exited out taxi to the strains of Coldplay blasting out Viva la Vida in the stadium close to our Hotel at Rushcutters Bay. Despite the 11 hour time difference I was up at dawn the following morning exploring the adjacent park. The raucous, throat-wrenching calls of The Sulphur-crested Cockatoos were anything but elegant, unlike the dazzling creamy-white plumage of these large and lovely parrots.

Most of the birds in the park were largely indifferent to the presence of humans. Just after 6am the park was crammed with joggers and small knots of people being tortured by personal trainer as Australian Magpies, Australian Ibises, Indian Myna's and Masked Lapwings blithely wandered among them.

Later in the morning we hooked up with one of our emigrant friends and enjoyed a stroll through the botanical gardens, though for me the day proved increasingly frustrating as my Canon 7D had developed a fault on arrival and it was getting progressively worse. There were a few extra bird species to see in the gardens including a nesting colony of Shags, Little Pied and Little Black respectively.

A trip out to Manley the following day allowed us to find a few of the 'bush' birds including Eastern Whip-bird, Lewin's and New Holland Honeyeaters, Spotted Pardalote and variegated Fairy Wren to nam but few. The highlight though was a mammal, not just any mammal, a monotreme in the form of Short-beaked Echidna. It appeared all to briefly in a small open patch at the side of a track and trundled back into cover before I could sort out my camera.

Later that day Jane and her family took us out to Bobbin Head for a barbeque. We were surrounded by inquisitive birds and for most of us the highlight came when Jane had a piece of steak plucked off her fork just as she was about to put it in mouth courtesy of a Kookaburra. Jane was less than pleased! I, to my discredit, laughed hysterically.The hysteria may have been borne out of frustration with my camera which had all but stopped working.

The following day we boarded our cruise ship. On the way I had purchased a replacement 7D for an eye-watering $1,400 dollars. We had a few hours before sailing and so I promptly disembarked and headed for the nearby botanical gardens with my new camera. It was a joy to use and I managed, in just over an hour, to take some pleasing shots of Masked Lapwings and got lucky breaks with Buff-Banded Rail and Powerful Owl.

It was time to set sail in pursuit of magical and almost mythical seabirds.

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