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.