Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Raptors at Munmorah SRA

White-bellied Sea Eagle at Munmorah SRA
White-bellied Eagle
Located on the Northern border of the NSW Central Coast, Munmorah SRA has for me mainly been a destination for its scenery and wild flowers. However given its varied habitats, one would expect to find a good cross section of bird species. I had intended to photograph some of the honeyeaters attracted to the flowering banksias and lambertia. Unfortunately they were not interestied in performing. The number of species seen was very similar to those seen at Awabakal last week (New Holland, East Spinebill, Tawny-crowned and White-cheeked Honeyeaters). Not surprising given the similarity in habitat and close proximity.

White-bellied Sea Eagle
All was not lost as we spotted an adult White-bellied Sea Eagle cruising along the coast. We quickly set up on one of the headlands and waited for the eagle to return. The clear advantage of this particular position was that it put us close to the bird and potentially at eye level. We did not have to wait long before the eagle returned on one of its regular fly pasts. The overcast conditions meant that we would be shooting with less than ideal camera settings with a washed out sky. The conditions did improve as sunset approached. Unfortunately we needed to leave early.

Whistling Kite
We stayed at our headland location for about one hour and during this time we experienced three separate fly pasts. At one stage the adult bird was joined by a juvenile and after a contact greeting they flew a little way inland to a group of trees on a ridge. I would not be surprised given its location if this was the nest tree.
While waiting for the Sea Eagle to return we got a  glimpse of a Whistling Kite as it flew up the cliff face and then disappeared around the headland. At least the light was good at this stage.
On most of my previous trips to Munmorah, if I stop at one of the headlands for a reasonable time I see a Sea Eagle. I therefore feel confident given the behaviour I witnessed today and the frequency of sightings that a return visit when the light is a little more favourable will return good results.

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