Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Antonov An-124 in Adelaide

Today I made an early morning visit to Adelaide Airport to see an Antonov An-124 Ruslan, one of the largest cargo planes in civilian use.  It was flying in from Brisbane on a cargo charter.  I got to the airport just after 06:30, only to find that it had been delayed and was likely to come in after 09:00.

While waiting, this Qantas 737-800 arrived.  It is painted in a heritage scheme representative of the 1970s and 80s

The usual international flights arrived, first Malaysia Airlines, and then Singapore Airlines both flying Airbus A330s

As the China Southern Airbus was landing, the Antonov was turning on finals behind it.

The Antonov is a very impressive aircraft, originally designed in the 1980s and is still in limited production in the Ukraine.

Friday, December 8, 2017

Favourite birds I've photographed

On the SA Birding facebook group. there was recently a meme for the top ten birds you had photographed (as opposed to your top ten bird photographs).  

I thought I'd share mine with you.

Looking through my photos and trying to identify my top ten favourite birds I have photographed proved to be an impossible task!

At number ten is a tie between two predominantly Black and White Australian birds that I cannot resist taking photos of every time I see one: Australasian Gannet and Australian Pelican.

No 9 in my top 10 is Eastern Spinebill, one of the most co-operative of the Honeyeaters. It is always a special moment to find these lovely little birds.

No 8 in my top 10 is not an Australian bird. In the past, I have been lucky enough to travel a lot with my work, and I made good use of the weekends when I was away. In America one of my most wanted birds was Scissor-tailed Flycatcher. I caught up with one in Texas. Not a great photo, but this was taken in the days when a 3mp point and shoot was pretty high tech stuff!

No 7 in my top ten is one of the most enigmatic Aussie Birds. On my first trip to Australia it was high on my list. A family friend took me to the then Cheetham Salt Works at St Kilda an I was blown away seeing 1000's of these beautiful, graceful waders. Banded Stilt. I never tire of seeing them still.

Time for another "ring in" for Number 6 in my top 10. I was working in Cape Town, and went onto the rocky escarpment early one morning looking for Cape Rockjumper. I had first seen this bird on a David Attenborough TV program, and he had made it look so easy! After hours of clambering over and around boulders and only getting distant views, it was getting hot so I decided enough was enough and headed back. On the way to the car, I sat down for a rest and up he popped! Bingo!

And into the top 5 at number 5 is another bird from Texas. I saw this bird in good number skimming skilfully over the shallow in-shore waters of the Gulf of Mexico, but then caught up with a couple in a wader roost close enough for a portrait. Black Skimmer, an amazing bird that lives right on the edge. If it hits a submerged rock, tree branch or too big a fish it can break its lower mandible and cannot eat.

No 4 in my top ten, always a thrill to see, but often high up, partly obscured. When you get one in the open its time for 100's of photos. I took a couple of hundred of this Tawny Frogmouth family at Aldinga Caravan Park. They were completely at ease on a branch only a metre or so from the ground.

We're getting to the pointy end now. At no 3 is a bird sadly all but extinct in South Australia now. It took me three trips to Hattah Kulkyne National Park in North Western Victoria to get this photo. I ended up sitting in a small bush for about three hours waiting for a small group of Mallee Emu-wrens to come close enough. In the end they came too close! This pic was used by Birdlife International to launch their Red Data Book in 2007.

And the runner up is.........well it was just too difficult to choose one bird, so it goes to ........ Albatrosses. I love the effortless majesty of these birds. How you decide between Wandering and Shy Albatross, or between Black-browed and Yellow-nosed. I can't, so here they all are for you to enjoy. I would say to any birdweatcher who hasn't been on a pelagic trip, go! it will blow your mind!!

To anyone that knows me, my top choice will come as no surprise.  Again it is a bird family, otherwise at least the top 5 places would have been filled with Herons.  I just love the variety of birds in this family. Graceful, stealthy, efficient killing machines.  From Herons and Egrets through Night-herons and Bitterns, I never tire of seeing and photographing them.  The photos are: White-faced Heron, Rufous Night-heron, White-necked Heron and Eastern Reef  Egret, all seen in South Australia. Pied Heron and Great-billed Heron from the Northern Territory, and Cinnamon Bittern which was taken in Sri Lanka but is a rare vagrant to Australia.

Friday, December 1, 2017

Adelaide Airport and the Dreamliner

A few weeks ago, Air New Zealand announced that they would be using the Boeing 787 Dreamliner on their service to Adelaide.  Since then I've been to the airport a couple of times hoping to get some photos of it.  But more of that later.

Adelaide Airport is a major Royal Flying Doctor Service base, and their Beech Kingairs and brightly coloured Pilatus PC-12s are a regular sight flying in and out.

Major regional centre like Whyalla, Port Lincoln and Kangaroo Island are served by Regional Express using their fleet of Saab SF340s and Qantas Link using Dash 8s.

Interstate flights are operated by Qantas and Virgin, supplemented by the budget carriers Jetstar and Tigerair.  Qantas mainly use Boeing 737s but also use the bigger Airbus A330s on some major routes.

Virgin also use Boeing 737's, but more recently have also been using Airbus A320s.  Recently Virgin took over SkyWest in Perth, and we are now starting to see some of their aircraft like this Fokker 100

Jetstar and Tigerair both use Airbus A320s, including some new aircraft sporting winglets.

Adelaide is also a hub for the mining companies.  They use charter operators to service their Fly-in -Fly-out requirements. Alliance use Fokker 50s and Cobham use British Aerospace BAe146s. Some lucky people travel in style in executive jets like this Learjet 45!

Adelaide is also serviced by a number of international airlines who mainly use the Airbus A330 including Singapore and Malaysia Airlines.

So back to Air New Zealand.  The first few times I went looking for the Dreamliner it was substituted for an Airbus A320 and then for a Boeing 777.

But this morning the Dreamliner flew in.  Success!