Cockatoo Gulls.

Not a weird Cacatuidae-Laridae hybrid, rather the predominant birds on Cockatoo Island, Sydney Harbour.
Cockatoo Island is a sacred site for the women of the Dharug Nation, but under European rule has been a Penal Settlement and a Naval Shipyard. Nowadays it is a UNESCO World Heritage site, tourist attraction, glamping hotspot, and hosts exhibitions and festivals.
The elegant decay of the heavy industrial area is a magnet for photographers, but there is not a lot to offer the bird-lover. Silver Gulls (Chroicocephalus novaehollandiae) are by far the most common bird here.

We visited hoping to get shots of gulls and chicks on the nest. Many years ago we were on the island when the chicks had arrived, and back in those days, you could get quite close to them. It seems like there have been a few incidences of gulls becoming overly aggressive towards humans around breeding season in the past few years however. Authorities have taken drastic measures to limit the number and location of possible nesting areas – which is a bit of a pity.
In any case, we were too early this time. No chicks were evident, but there was much fighting and squabbling over mates and potential nest sites. It was a day of raucous squawking!

Rock Doves (Columbia livia) are of course also on the island:

An Australian Raven (Corvus coronoides):

An Australian Pelican (Pelicanus conspicillatus) flew over:

Nearly all of the best cliff-edge and cliff-top nesting areas have been netted off by the Island authorities, so competition is fierce. Now there are hardly any nest-sites, just nets-sites!

The layout of the island is such that the central plateau allows one to get up quite high and overlook the action below. This makes for some nice shots of gulls in flight:

Fitzroy Dock is a favourite area of the Silver Gulls, where they can bathe and sun themselves:

Familiarity breeds contempt… Silver Gulls are so common, and so rowdy and argumentative that we think many people overlook how handsome they really are.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s