Sunday, February 15, 2015

Perth Buzzard Twitch

This time last weekend I was lying flat on my back in a sunny Perth park watching a very rare visitor to Australia that was drifting slowly over my head on the thermals.
Crested Honey-buzzard

The adventure started when the local birding websites started reporting the arrival of two Crested (Oriental) Honey-buzzards at a suburban park in Perth. These birds are so uncommon in Australia that only three or four have ever been seen here before, and not all those were seen well enough to be documented.
Crested Honey-buzzard

Showing its long neck and small head

I looked at an Asian field guide and saw that they are a really spectacular bird. Then Joy rang me, so that was two of us who wanted to see it. We sent some emails and by Wednesday night six of use had booked our seats to Perth and I had booked a large 8 seat family-type wagon. A twitch is such fun when it is done with friends!
Australian Hobby

We arrived at the lake and there was already a group of birders standing around chatting. "Have you seen it" we asked? "Oh yes" they said, "it came over 15 minutes ago and hasn't been seen since". Aaaargh! Not good news when you have just flown 2,700 km (1,700 miles) and driven for an hour from the airport. Had the bird flown north never to be seen in Perth again?
Dark morph Little Eagle in heavy moult

Our luck held and we did see it in the distance about an hour later. Sigh, the tick was safely in the bag. We then took a break, went and booked into the motel and then had lunch. Back at the lake there was no sign of the bird so we decided to drive around the lake looking. Before we got to the end of the street the call came in that it was about 1/2 a km behind us. A quick U turn, a fast but short drive, and we piled out of the car.

For the next hour or so we just lay around and watched both birds circle over us, fly off a bit, come back, circle, fly off, return – they put on a beautiful show, just for us. Then we noticed the sign; we were right at the end of Mega Street, how appropriate is that!

In between buzzard visits we had a veritable parade of raptors with Australian Hobby, Little Eagle, Swamp Harrier and Whistling Kite all paying a visit.
White-browed Scrubwren

On Sunday we drove north to look for a Western Fieldwren which two of the group hadn't seen. We had no luck with the fieldwren but we did end up at Lancelin where we found some Roseate Terns, which also turned out to be a tick for two of the group.
Bottle-nosed Dolphin feeding along the beach at Lancelin

The plane left Perth at about 5:30 in the afternoon but because of the time difference and a three and a half hour flight we weren't in Melbourne until about 11:00 pm. Still, not bad really, a 40 hour twitch with 5 friends, lots of good times, lots of laughs, lots of birds for the year list and the workers in the group were back at work Monday morning. Now all we do is have to wait for the next vagrant to turn up ....
Straw-necked Ibis

All text & images © Jenny Spry

1 comment:

  1. Wow! That's wonderful! I followed a facebook page that radio tracked a pair of Oriental Honey Buzzards from Northern Japan to islands just off the north of Western Australia last year. I wonder where these buzzards are going to return to for the Aussie winter? I often see them here in Niigata, Japan in September when they are migrating. Cool trip! Birding is the best!