In July 2013 I wrote about my five bogey birds. Since then I have whittled the list down to one: the White-necked Petrel. I have set out from home optimistically, driving north to New South Wales, either to Wollongong, Kiama or Nelson Bay, on no fewer than twelve occasions in search of a White-necked Petrel.
Look at the beautiful bird on my mast head. Photo by Brook Whylie. How could such an elegant creature create such a nuisance?
There is, as yet, no happy ending to this story. I have just returned from this twelfth unsuccessful search and I am not feeling overly charitable towards petrels in general and white-necked ones in particular.
Roger used to say it cost $1000 for each new bird. The White-necked Petrel has cost me a lot more than that. So far.
It took Rog and I three days to drive to Nelson Bay, and four to drive home, as I treated myself to a day's birding in Chiltern. I saw nothing rare, but I did enjoy some lovely birds. Highlights were a Red-capped Robin and a pair of Speckled Warblers at The Rock, Eurasian Tree Sparrows in Rutherglen, Australian Shovelers, a Diamond Firetail (and an antechinus) at Chiltern's Number 2 dam, Dusky Woodswallows and an Olive-backed Oriole at Greenhill Dam in Chiltern and an Azure Kingfisher at Wahgunya.
The pelagic was pretty uneventful, just a little wet on the way home. There are two nice things about these trips on the Argonaut: (1) it is a very friendly boat, and (2) you have a comfortable warm seat to sit on all day. Invariably I go on pelagics by myself. Often I spend the whole day without talking to anyone, but the Nelson Bay trips are not like that. It must be the result of the Roderick brothers, Mick and Steve. Everyone on the boat is cheerful and we all celebrated heartily when one of us got a lifer: a White Tern. We saw several shearwaters, a sprinkling of storm-petrels, plenty of young gannets (but only one adult) and no albatrosses. And no White-necked Petrels. Hrrrmph!