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Bird Log 8th July 2008

Today was overcast with occasional sunny patches. The temperature was about seventeen degrees Celsius with the wind coming from the West to the North West at around ten knots. The oceanic water temperature is around seventeen degrees Celsius as well. The tide was high at around midday and this is when I went out to Stockton Sandspit which is on the Hunter River Estuary.

Red-necked Avocets

red-necked avocet
Camera settings were : 1/1600 second, f/8.0, ISO640 with a 400 mm lens. The camera was a Canon 40D.

The scientific name for the Red-Necked Avocet is Recuvirostra novaehollandiae. As many as five thousand Red-necked Avocets use the Stockton Sandspit, roosting in the shallow lagoon while they wait for the tide to recede. Strikingly plumaged, they have curious long upturned bills bills which they sweep through the water to feed on tiny aquatic animals. After heavy inland rain they disappear from coastal areas to breed in an opportunistic fashion around filling salty lakes. As the lakes dry they return to coastal drought refuges such as the Hunter River Estuary. They are a gregarious bird, and are often usually seen in dense flocks. They are sized from forty to forty eight centimeters and inihabit tidal flats, marshes, salty waterways, and shallow inland salt lakes. Their most distinctive feature is the red neck and the upturned long bill.

Australian Pelican

australian pelican
Camera settings were : 1/2500 second, f/8.0, ISO400 with a 400 mm lens. The camera was a Canon 40D.

The scientific name for the Australian Pelican is Pelecanus conspicillatus. Pelicans fly in lines or in a V-shaped formation and soar in graceful circles, sometimes very high. They are often seen in the company of Little Black Cormorants and Silver Gulls when they are feeding. They have a long pink bill with a distensible throat pouch. They are sized 160-180 centimeters. Their habitat is open areas of fresh and salt water. They are a very common bird in most waterways around Australia and often can be seen near coastal urban areas.

White-bellied Sea-Eagle

white-bellied sea eagle
The camera settings : f/8.0, 1/2000, iso400.

The White-bellied Sea-eagle takes the scientific name of Haliaeetus leucogaster. It is a magnificent bird that soars over Australian coastal waterways searching for prey. They have broad rounded wings that are held stiffly upswept when they are soaring. The bird above is most likely a juvenile White-bellied Sea-eagle that is in its first or second year. Adult birds will become lighter with the characteristic white belly. They have a wingspan from 180 to 220 centimeters and a size of between 75 and 85 centimeters. Their habitat is large rivers, fresh and salt lakes, reservoirs, coastal waters, and islands.

White-faced Heron

white-faced heron
The camera settings : f/8.0, 1/800, iso400.

The Scientific name for the White-faced Heron is Egretta (Ardea) novaehollandiae. It is a slender blue-grey heron with a white on the face just behind the eye, and the chin. The legs are yellow-green with a dark brown bill. The size is 66 to 68 centimetres and has a harsh croak. The habitat of the White-faced Heron is mainly pastures, farm dams, wetlands, as well as intertidal mudflats.

Great Egret

great egret
The camera settings : f/8.0, 1/640, iso400.

The Great Egret has a scientific name of Ardea alba. The legs extend well beyond its tail whilst in flight and has a harsh croak. They usually inhabit the shallows of wetlands, flooded pastures and intertidal mudflats. They are usually white all over the body with a black bill on non-breeding great egrets. Non-breeding great egrets usually have a yellow bill with yellow facial skin.