So the shortened working week flew buy quite quickly and it wasn't long before we found ourselves in the trusty 4WD again heading down in the predawn gloom to Cape Jervis and our date with the Sealink Ferry that would take us to Kangaroo Island. No local Big Year attempt at least would be complete without visiting the Island as there are several birds there that you just can't see anywhere else on the mainland and some that are easier there than elsewhere.
The short ferry crossing went uneventfully with a few Australian Gannets and a lone surface paddling Little Penguin being the only highlights. Arriving in Penneshaw and after a quick breakfast we decided to checkout the Casuarina groves up behind the town as well as going for a walk in Baudin Conservation Park for the Islands special resident bird. Despite seeing several Crescent Honeyeaters, which were actually new for us, the bird we were looking for was a no show. Undeterred we moved off in the direction of American River where we were staying for the next three nights.
After checking out around the estuary we decided to begin searching for the two feral species that have established themselves on the eastern half of the Island and can only be found there. Between the airport turn off and the Cygnet river bridge we eventually came across a large group of 14 Wild Turkeys foraging in a paddock adjacent to a fence line. Controversially considered feral since around 1950 these birds are now being considered for culling by the Natural Resource Management Board. Including them in our Big Year no doubt will also come with some controversy but the author of "Birds of Kangaroo Island a Photographic Guide" and expert on the Islands avifauna Chris Baxter assures me that these birds are indeed feral and "answerable to nobody" and that is why he included them in his recent excellent tome.
|American imports. Oversexed and over here!|
With the afternoon rapidly expiring we made our way back to American River for an early end to the day to indulge in a few beverages while watching our local AFL team the Adelaide Crows demolish the opposition. The birds of course hadn't quite finished with us and it was with great delight we had several pairs of Glossy Black Cockatoos coming in to roost adjacent to our accommodation in the early evening. These birds are incredibly isolated from the core population on the east coast of Australia and the mind boggles as to how this relic population from a time long ago in Australia's ecological history has managed to survive. The fact is they very nearly didn't, and if it wasn't for some intensive management of the Islands population, which has proven to be quite successful, they may well have succumbed
|One of the eight or so pairs of Glossy Black Cockatoos roosting above American River|
|This guy got us out of bed|
Now we were up it was decided we'd travel to the far end of the Island to Flinders Chase to see if we could catch up with an old friend. Most of the western half of the Island is still quite well forested and we drove past lots of nice habitat on the way Having paid our entry fee we drove down the rest of the way to Remarkable Rocks, an enigmatic volcanic formation that stands on the edge of the sea, but it's here in this spot last year we made a local friend. With a coffee under our belt we went to see if he was home. Nothing............wait a minute......... was that a bird briefly sitting on that rock?.......waiting, waiting......Boom there he is. A little more furtive than last year but we still managed to get good looks in the end of the Kangaroo Island race of Western Whipbird
|I see you!.................Extremely secretive, sometimes you only get to hear them|
|This Restless Flycatcher made his presence known by his "scissor grinder" call long before we saw him|
|Part of a large group of Indian Peafowl we eventually encountered west of Kingscote|
On the ferry trip home we marvelled at the number of Short-tailed Shearwaters passing through Backstairs Passage as they start their long migration across the Pacific to the northern hemisphere. With seabirds now on our radar we wait patiently for the next weekend where we're scheduled to go out on the next pelagic trip from Port MacDonnell