Thursday, October 25, 2007

Spin Off---Raptors

I've spent a deal of time on Goat Bluff recently, as you will have gathered from previous articles. Goat Bluff is a scenic lookout, forming part of the South Arm Conservation Area, and is visited by many hundreds of people. It's mainly coastal
heath, with dominant banskia on the western
side, and low regrowth heath on the eastern. To the South, apart from Betsy Island, next stop is the Antarctic. Besides the bush birds, there is the occasional sightings of sea birds, such as Australasian Gannets, Short-tailed Shearwaters, and in storm conditions, the odd Albatross, mostly Shy. While birding here in the last few weeks, I've often watched distant raptors, some on nearby Betsy Island (named after the wife of Tasmanian Governor Sir John Franklin, in the 1830s), and others, 'floating' over the sand dunes to the West. Inevitably, they also hunt over the bluff, where the accompanying shots were taken.
The Swamp Harrier (
top 2 shots) was quartering the heath while I was taking shots of a Shining Bronze Cuckoo. I only noticed it at quite close range, as it hung briefly in the updraught. Floating on, it suddenly took fright at my presence, too close to get the whole wingspan in! As they say--"awesome".
The second event occured a few days later, when this immature White-bellied Sea Eagle (at bottom), circled over the bluff as it climbed in a thermal. It was all over in too short a time, But at least I had a few images to relive the event. Reviewing the shots, I was struck by the huge area of their wings, particularly in the eagle. Both encounters a great addition to a day's birding.

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