Wednesday, 26 October 2011

A morning in the big backyard

A southerly change last night brought cool wet weather, which was a little unfortunate as we were scheduled to do a morning whale watch cruise to see Humpback Whales migrate back to Antarctica for summer. It is getting towards the end of the migration south and most of the pods consist of females with calves, as the males generally head south earlier in the season. Deciding we would go regardless of the weather, we were soon aboard the Whale watch catermaran Amaroo and heading offshore, however on the way out of Wallis Lake we were able to take in some of the birdlife. Wallis Lake is home to quite a number Osprey and I was pleased to see a few. The first was perched atop of a power pole, which is quite common as they regularly build their nests on the poles.

The power company is active in erecting alternative poles to relocate nests to reduce the chances of the birds being electrocuted. The birds are generally quite happy with this arrangement and readily take to the new nests.
The lake is one of the largest oyster farming areas in Australia so there are lots of posts and fences that form part of the farm structures and they make ideal perches. Other birds took to the air as we went past and gave me a coupe of aerial shots.

Pied Oyster Catcher

Australian Pelican
Pied Cormorant
Pair of Osprey
We were able to watch some dolphins that were moving up the lake with the incoming tide; the pass under the road bridge and up the channel, past birds on a sand bank and along the breakwall to the open sea.

Crested Terns

Crested Tern takes flight
 Once outside we were faced with a bit of a swell that built up with the southerly wind, but we were blocked from the worst of it by the Cape Hawke headland and the nearest pod was reported to be in the vicinity. On the horizon we could see that whales were breaching and in general being quite active, whereas we we not having much luck. Then a calf surfaced almost directly under the boat and things were looking much more promising. However although we managed to see whales surfacing and diving we did not get any real dramatic displays; such is the way with whale watching; maybe next time.

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