Bird Encounters With Coral Expeditions
Many of our guests are nature-lovers who are eager to discover more about Australia and its unique wildlife. Over the years, I’ve noticed a growing number of bird enthusiasts on our expeditions, equipped with long telephoto lenses and expensive binoculars. What’s even more impressive is how a number of guests leave our expeditions with a newfound love for birds!
On any Kimberley expedition, I always try to let guests know which rare or unusual birds we are likely to encounter before we get there. “Be ready!”
Some good examples are nesting Ospreys on the coastal cliffs, Red-headed Honeyeaters in the tidal forests, White-quilled Rock Pigeons amongst the Kimberley sandstone boulders & Chestnut Rails on the tidal mudflats. Some of our groups have been fortunate enough to view and photograph a number of species at close range, including extremely rare endemic birds such as the Black Grasswren.
Incidentally, while we were watching the solar eclipse on my most recent expedition, an Oriental Reed Warbler landed on our vessel in a state of exhaustion, probably from nearby Timor as a result of a recent cyclone. This Indonesian species has rarely been recorded in Australian waters & this little guy, whom the guests christened ‘Eric’, seemed very grateful to have people to care for him. Each record, such as this one, is willingly received by the various state conservation agencies, so we always report unusual bird & animal sightings to them.
While traveling, we always encounter fascinating moments. Just moments before a total eclipse at Scott Reef sandbar, a curious Common Noddy Tern became intrigued by the ‘invaders’ on its sandbar and decided to examine the strange telescopes! As the guest lecturer, I had already informed our guests about the peculiar behavior of birds during solar eclipses, but this particular bird surprised us all. It landed on several photographers and closely examined their equipment! We were also fortunate during our recent Circumnavigation of Australia when, as we sailed past Rowley Shoals, I made a general announcement to keep an eye out for the Abbott’s Booby of Christmas Island. This elusive bird has only been spotted in this area a few times, making it the sole known location in Australian waters so far. Within minutes, a specimen was spotted flying around the ship, and many guests swiftly joined me on the Vista Deck armed with their telephoto lenses and binoculars!
Despite being a seasoned bird enthusiast every voyage has been filled with surprise and wonder. Even on my last expedition, only a week ago, guests were treated to a colourful close-up experience with a flock of our largest & shyest tern variety – the Caspian Tern.