From Russia to Burren Junction

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Subject: From Russia to Burren Junction
From: "Dion Hobcroft" <>
Date: Wed, 19 Jul 2006 16:47:38 +1000
Whilst cruising from Petropavlosk, the capital city of Kamchatka in the
Russian far east towards Attu, the westernmost of the Aleutian Islands I
received breaking news from my soon to be five year old daughter. The
email suggested there was a "black-headed greywing-yes there is!!"
Somewhat perplexed further enquiries confirmed the news of the
Grey-headed Lapwing. It was to be a sleepless voyage.
Still there were plenty of distractions. A Blue Whale cruised alongside
a Fin Whale. The strange site of a Red-legged Kittiwake with Mottled
Petrels. At the end of the day a superb Murphy's Petrel was watched for
10 minutes. On Attu a vagrant pair of Falcated Teal and a Snowy Owl
whilst the White-tailed Eagle on Kiska was almost the equivalent of a
GHL in North America. More landings-more great birds Whiskered Auklets
by the thousand, Mackay's Buntings perched in snowbanks, a Sabine's Gull
at arms length, Laysan and Black-footed Albatross, the ocean swarming
with Short-tailed Shearwaters and Fork-tailed Storm-Petrels, nesting Red
Phalaropes and displaying Western Sandpipers. Still everynight I checked
the email and the GHL was still there.
Eventually I made it to Nome, Alaska and had a great morning birding
towards Safety Lagoon. Long-tailed Jaegers hovered like kestrels,
Aleutian Terns flew with the Arctic Terns and a family of Northern
Shrikes was a lifer. Finally the plane took me to Anchorage. Overnight
here and a phone call home. Yes the car is packed-we are ready to go.
Anchorage to Portland, Oregon-plane troubles and a new one is found.
Portland to Los Angeles. LA to Sydney. An agonising crawl through
customs and immigration. An even more agonising crawl to Burren Junction
highlighted by the "are we there yets" starting in Hornsby in Sydney's
northern outskirts. I really need to give my family a gold medal for
tolerating my birding ways.
Eventually we were there but no lapwing at dusk. I fell completely AOT
down the railway embankment as I scanned the fields. The night in Wee
Waa and then early the next morning a group of very happy Canberra
birders (thanks Alastair) had located the wonderful Grey-headed Lapwing
tucked in behind a fence in tall grass and there it was in the scope.
Thank goodness for that and what a great rarity! My daughter enjoyed the
bird and perhaps even more running around in the wide open spaces
liberated from the back of the car. Two days later I was in Fiji. 
All the best

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