It was brought to my attention that I tend to go birdwatching alot. So here is my attempt to document my outings and sightings. I also hope to show photos of as many of my ticks as possible.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Rufous Whistlers at Broke

Spent Wednesday afternoon at Broke Common in the Hunter Valley snapping anything that moved. The late rays of sun were beautiful and the male Whistlers proved to be very co-operative.
Other birds in the area included Satin Bowerbird, Striped Honeyeater, White-throated Gerygone, Olive-backed Oriole, Bar-shouldered Doves, Dollarbird and Sacred Kingfisher.

The last image is heavily photoshopped as I screwed up the exposure. Very pleased with my efforts and another trip to Broke is planned soon.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Cairns Trip Report

On the 19th November, Nick & Liz Livanos, Rob and I flew off to Cairns for a 5 night tickathon. Nick and I had previously visited the north but for the two tropics virgins it proved to be a real boost to their life lists.

19th Nov: Our flight was delayed so we didn't arrive in Cairns until late but as it was pelting down it didn't really matter. The first northern birds for the trip were the many Pied Imperial Pigeons flying around the streets. That night after our gourmet pizza on the Eplanade we spotted Nankeen and Striated Herons, Common Greenshank and Royal Spoonbill in the dark.

20th Nov: We awoke early and headed for the mangrove boardwalk just south of the airport. On our drive there we saw Bush Stone-curlew, Metallic Starling and Helmeted Friarbird in the suburbs. The mangroves were silent until a pair of Collared Kingfishers started calling nearby and we got excellent views. Then a pair of Olive-backed Sunbirds darted through. At the end of the walk we could hear a Mangrove Robin calling mournfully and was easily called in with a similar whistle. Black Butcherbird, Shining Flycatcher, Varied Honeyeater, Aust. Swiftlet and White-bellied Cuckoo-shrike were seen on the walk back to the car.
Rob and I then dropped the other two off at the wharf where they were catching a barrier reef cruise. 100+ Swiftlets were flying low over the street trees. Yellow Figbirds were very common.
Cairns cemetary was a great place to go birding. The bush was alive with Yellow, Brown-backed, White-throated and Dusky Honeyeaters, Varied Triller, Drongo and a single Fig-parrot whilst amongst the headstones Bee-eaters hawked, Stone-curlew hid and Peaceful Doves wandered. A Grey Goshawk flew over and Nutmeg Mannikins flushed from the grass.
Kuranda was our next port of call with touristy stuff to be done. Whilst walking around the markets and attractions we spotted more Fig-parrots, Wompoo Fruit-dove, Orange-footed Scrubfowl, Spotted Catbird, Macleay's Honeyeater and a Barred Cuckoo-shrike. We also had the best supreme pizza I've ever eaten at the cyber cafe.We then headed back down the mountain to pick up Nick and Liz. Crimson Finch and Chestnut-breasted Mannikin were in the cane fields north of Cairns.
That afternoon was spent searching for Dowitcher on the Esplanade to no avail. Luckily there were still heaps of waders to scan through and we quickly added Bar-tailed and Black-tailed Godwit, Curlew, Whimbrel, Grey-tailed Tattler, Terek Sandpiper, Great Knot, Sharp-tailed, Curlew and Broad-billed Sandpipers, Red-necked Stint, Greater Sand, Lesser Sand and Pacific Golden Plovers, and Little and Eastern Reef Egret.

21st Nov: We started the day in torrential rain at Centenary Lakes. Birding was very hard with few birds being seen. Large-billed Gerygone feed low in the mangroves and more Nutmegs feeding in the grass. The highlight however was seeing a magnificent Great-billed Heron up close and personal. It actually flew towards us and landed in the mangrove opposite. Due to the rain none of us had our cameras but we had all scored a massive tick.
We then revisited the cemetary, only adding Yellow Oriole to the list.On our way to Atherton Rob ticked off Forest Kingfisher and Intermediate Egret. Brilliant male Red-backed Fairy-wrens sat on the wire fences. At Cathedral Fig Tree we had Grey Fantail, Large-billed Scrubwren, Grey-headed Robin, Little Shrike-thrush and a pair of nesting Chestnut-breasted Mannikins.We stopped for lunch at Lake Barrine where we got smashing pics of Macleay's Honeyeater. A raft of several hundred Great-crested Grebe sat on the lake.A pair of Baza and a Tree Kangaroo were seen near the Malanda Waterfall. We had a wonderful hour further down the road at the Curtain Fig Tree. Everyone got great views of Victoria's Riflebird, Tooth-billed Bowerbird, Pied Monarch, Pale-yellow Robin and Yellow-spotted Honeyeater on nest.We then spent the rest of the afternoon trying to find Sarus Cranes between Malanda and Atherton. Buff-banded Rails were common along the road, as were Magpie Geese and Plumed Whistling-ducks. Black-shouldered Kite, Black Kite, Nankeen Kestrel and Peregrine Falcon patrolled the roads. The only birds we weren't seeing were cranes!Our last attempt was Bromfield Swamp right on dusk.....nothing! We were standing around feeling very sorry for ourselves when two Sarus Cranes flew in and landed in front of us. Lovely views through the scope and a great way to end the day. The drive to Julateen was done in the dark.

22nd Nov: Kingfisher Park. Almost immediately Rob found a beautiful Buff-breasted Paradise-kingfisher sitting on the clothes line. Pale-headed Robin, Macleay's Honeyeater, Spectacled Monarch and Emerald Dove were the most common birds around our room.
We then headed up the Mt. Lewis Rd. A Paradise-kingfisher flashed across the road and as we searched for Chestnut-breasted Cuckoo along the road we had awesome views of 4 Chowchillas calling and displaying, and a pair of Superb Fruit-dove high in the canopy. A Russet-tailed Thrush flushed from the road.
On the dam walk from the top 'parrot finch' clearing we easily found Bower's Shrike-thrush, Atherton Scrubwren, Topknot Pigeon, Mountain Thornbill and a male Fernwren calling from his exposed branch. The biggest bummer/highlight for the trip was when Rob startled a Southern Cassowary from the track!!! Unfortunetly the rest of us were too far behind to see the bird so Rob scored himself an impressive first attempt tick.
Back at the Park and we finally saw a Graceful Honeyeater feeding in the Grevillas. Very hard to tell apart from the Yellow-spotted Honeyeater. Luckily I got pics.
After some advise from Keith (the park owner) we headed south of Julateen and on our second stop we had Lovely Fairy-wrens, 3 males. Also at this location we had Cicadabird, Leaden Flycatcher, Pheasant Coucal, Graceful Honeyeater and Blue-winged Kookaburra.
Abbatoir Swamp was lousy for water birds but did have Lemon-bellied Flycatcher, Northern Fantail and Pale-headed Rosella in the carpark.
Around Mt. Molloy we ticked up Great Bowerbird, Red-winged Parrot, more Rosellas and a Koel. Helmeted Guineafowl were roadside at Mareeba, as were Double-barred Finches and another Coucal.
Last stop of the day was at Lake Mitchell and in the late afternoon light we saw Green Pygmy-goose, Comb-crested Jacana, Black-necked Stork, Horsfield's Bronze-cuckoo, Little Friarbird and Grey-crowned Babblers.
On arriving back at the Park we joined the spotlighting tour and had lovely views of Barn Owl, Striped Possum, Green Ringtailed Possum, Northern Bandicoot, Fawn-footed Melomys and White-tailed Rat.

23rd Nov: We started the day on the lower rainforests of Mt. Lewis. Nick finally saw a Pied Monarch and we came very close to a calling Noisy Pitta. Wompoo Fruit-dove, Catbird and Paradise-kingfisher called regularly. The rain had started to become more frequent and we spent a bit of time sheltering in the car. Between showers however we could hear a Chestnut-breasted Cuckoo calling and after much patience we finally scopped one high in the canopy. We shared the moment with a local bird guide and his customers. A great moment.
Coming down off the mountain we stopped at a little creek that looked ideal for Boatbill and within a minute of playing their call a pair flew in straight to the source and showed off nicely for the cameras.The rest of the afternoon was spent around the park watching Pacific Baza on nest with two chicks, Fig-parrot and wonderful views of Paradise-kingfishers.

24th Nov: We sadly had to leave Kingfisher Park and head back to Cairns for our flight. We dipped on Cassowary around Kuranda and Papuan Frogmouth at Centenary Lakes. The rain was now falling heavily again so we called it quits.
We recorded around 200 species on our 5 night stay in the north, 11 of which were ticks for me.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Dodgy Drongos 2010 Twitchathon Report...pt 2

We made good time as we headed across the Liverpool Plain and into the Hunter, swinging north as we hit Singleton. At this stage we still hadn't recorded a single night bird except for a very early Owlet-nightjar calling in Leard . It wasn't until a few kilometres south of Greford that we saw our only Barn Owl for the night flying beside the road. At my usual pit stop in Gresford we heard a distant Boobook calling and a bit further up the road we saw our first Frogmouth. Our final night bird was a real hoot, a Powerful Owl calling from the hills. What a successful night run!
The next day we awoke to a some what subdued dawn chorus in the rainforest. Black-faced and Spectacled Monarch started early with Golden Whistler, Brush Cuckoo, Rose Robin, Superb Lyrebird and Yellow Robin soon kicking in. Russet-tailed Thrush and Noisy Pitta called close to where we slept. Trudging through the now very overgrown track, with leeches marching up our legs like battalions on the warpath, we ticked White-browed Scrubwren, Topknot Pigeon, Brown Cuckoo-dove, Satin Bowerbird and Crested Shrike-tit.
Heading towards Barrington we ticked Bassian Thrush on the road and at our 'hill top' spot we bagged our only Brown Thornbill and Eastern Spinebill for the race! We also found one of our highlight species, a single Red-browed Treecreeper. Brush Turkey, Bell Miner and Yellow-faced Honeyeater made the list as we hit the old guest house. Yellow-throated Scrubwren and Grey Goshawk were added as we avoided 2 other twitching teams, busy spot!
Leaving with rainforest we were a little disappointed to miss so many pigeons and doves but still pleased overall. This stretch of road to Dungog is generally pretty slow bird wise but Torresian Crow, Pheasant Coucal and Tawny Grassbird kept spirits high. Dungog revealed Red Wattlebird and Rainbow Lorikeet....where have those White-headed Pigeons gone!!!Our Clarence Town spot was alive with bird noise. White-naped and Scarlet Honeyeaters in the canopy and a distant Shining Bronze were great finds. Seaham was next and besides the initial rush of Blue-faced Honeyeater, Scaly-breasted Lorikeet and Spotted Dove not much was happening, no night herons or snipe.
Things were really starting to slow up now with no new species being added at Green Wattle Creek. Banded Lapwing and Cisticola were on the flood plain and Goldfinches called on the Maitland back roads. Walka was deadsville for us. A few Great-crested Grebe, the common waterfowl and Reed Warbler....hmmm probably should have oiled that a bit better.
We added Yellow-tufted and White-cheeked Honeyeater, Buff-rumped Thornbill and Variegated Fairy-wren at Kurri. It was at this stage our race fell to bits a little. A complete lack of oiling in the lower wetlands saw us heading east. In hindsight a trip to more bush/rainforest would have been more productive. Live and learn I guess.
From our vantage point on Lenaghan's Drive we could see Straw-necked Ibis, Great Egret, Whistling Kite and two Chestnut-breasted Mannikins as they whizzed past us. Little Grassbird and Brown Goshawk at Pambalong.We dipped on Brahminy Kite at Raymond Terrace but did see Caspian Tern, White-bellied Sea-eagle, Mallard, White-breasted Woodswallow, Nankeen Night Heron and Little Wattlebird. Hexham Swamp was a complete waste of time with no birds added, although Rob did get his best looks of Sea-eagle and Great Egret. Ash Island was a one bird wonder with Mangrove Gerygone calling from the.....mangroves.
Newcastle was next and what a wonderful 15min we had. Short-tailed, Wedge-tailed and Fluttering Shearwater were all very close to shore. Crested, Common and Little Terns patrolled and roosted on the rockshelf. Turnstones and a Whimbrel camouflaged themselves beautifully in amongst the rocks, unlike the ' I don't give a toss' Sooty Oystercatchers.Off to Stocko with team moral very high. Unlike last year we actually had something to look at on the spit despite the constant disturbance from fishermen. Bar-tailed and Black-tailed Godwits dominated with Red Knot and Curlew Sandpiper in lesser numbers. Eastern Curlew, Red-capped Plover, a Golden Plover and Pied Oystercatchers all sat in the lagoon. Two non-breeding Gull-billed Terns gave a wonderful flyby show. Tereks and Tattlers in Fern Bay.
Now this is really where we fell to pieces. Off we went to Awabakal (why!) where our only tick were New Holland Honeyeater *slaps forehead*.
With 45min to spare we arrived at the Wetlands Centre, ticked off Wandering Whistling-duck and Magpie Goose, and commenced looking for any number of unlikely last minute species to add to our list. Unfortunately the Little Bitterns and Garganey didn't show.
Our final tally was a good one, 219. Little did we think it would bag us 2nd place, tied with the Brewers! (who did 300km less then us mere mortals!). So after 24hrs (really 3 days), 800+km and very little sleep, 4 Drongos were very tired, satisfied and fired up for next year.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Dodgy Drongos 2010 Twitchathon report...the western run

The lead up to the big race was nothing but stress with many species vacating their usual haunts for greener pastures out west in the channel country. We had talked ourselves down to the point where a 190 species count sounded the most likely outcome, one of our worst results ever. But we kept our chins relatively high as we made our way up to Manilla a day before the race to get some last minute oiling in and to do a proper dumby run that afternoon.
Our team was considerably younger then last years with Max Breckenridge (15) and Rob Kilkelly (21) joining the Drongos. The co-pilot Nick was still on board and was stressing as much as I. We booked into the Manilla caravan park, stopped for supplies and then headed west towards our starting spot.
On route as we stopped to show Max his first ever White-winged Fairy-wrens, several Stubble Quail could be heard calling in the paddocks, a much sort after race bird. We couldn't afford to add the extra km to the Saturday leg so me prayed for closer birds. Luckily further on we found more birds calling in a field on our route....hazzah! What more there was a male Brown Songlark displaying overhead! Another cracking bird.
We rocked up at Borah and slowly wandered around until we got to our Hooded Robin spot. This is where we had decided to start the race and at 4pm we ticked the robin, our dumby run was under way. I wont go through all the species we saw but some highlights included Spotted Harrier, Plum-headed Finch, Little Raven, Southern Whiteface, Singing Honeyeater and Blue Bonnet. As the sun sunk behind the hills Rob did the count and we had seen 93 species. Not a bad effort we thought, hoping we'd get the same the next day.
A great sleep was had before leaving the caravan park at 9:30 and making our way west to Boggabri. The Plum-heads were still on the dam we had seen them at the day before. We located a great spot for Yellow-throated Miner and beyond our Leard SF turnoff we found Yellow-billed Spoonbills loafing in the River Gums. We refueled the car and grabbed some fuel in town, listening to Musk Lorikeets, Blackbird and Brown Honeyeaters.
We headed back to Borah TSR where we had lunch and readied ourselves for the race. Clouds started rolling in and the wind was quite gusty.....my stress levels had now entered the red zone. Rob, Max and I headed off to the starting point as Nick continued to rest. A Black-eared Cuckoo was heard but couldn't be found but seeing a female Turquoise Parrot fly into her hollow was nearly as good. At the starting point the Hooded Robins were still there but constantly moving around so I followed them for a good 20min until at 4pm we had ticked off the robin as our first bird again. Max yells out White-bellied Cuckoo-shrike and that was our second bird for the race. White-throated Gerygone, Brown Treecreeper, Dusky Woodswallow and Diamond Firetail fell quickly and down by the creek we bagged 3 common ducks, Black-fronted Dotterel and Dollarbird. Fuscous, White-plumed and Black-chinned Honeyeaters called from the canopy as a Painted Button-quail was flushed from underfoot. High above the eucalypts Tree Martin and White-backed Swallow danced, but where were the Bee-eaters!!! Little Frairbird called, Little Lorikeets zoomed past, and Red-winged Parrots could be heard in the distance. What couldn't be heard was the Rufous Songlark quietly sitting on an old stump, our last bird for Borah. We sped off towards Leard ticking Apostlebird, Wedge-tailed Eagle and Pipit on the way.
There was silence at our songlark/quail spot...stress!!! A Brown Falcon, Little Raven and Horsfield's Bushlark were seen and just as we were giving up......a Stubble Quail called.....HAZZAH again.
Back on the road and finally ticking off Rainbow Bee-eater. At the Plum-headed Finch spot we totally dipped on Plum-heads (Grrrrr) but did get 2 Southern Whiteface for our troubles. Singing Honeyeater, Double-barred Finch, Weebill, Western Gerygone and White-throated Treecreeper were recorded in the bushier areas. Fairy Martins flushed from a road culvert.Our Yellow-throated Miner spot was true, bagging us a much needed western bird. White-winged Fairy-wren called nearby but the Brown Quail were silent. Large flocks of Cockatiel greeted us as we turned off towards Leard but the flock of 20 odd Plumed Whistling-ducks standing at our farm dam was a true highlight as we'd never seen this species here before. Grey-crowned Babbler crossed the road as we entered Leard which was alive with bird calls. Striped Honeyeater, Leaden Flycatcher, Speckled Warbler, Inland Thornbill, Channel-billed Cuckoo and Varied Sittella were ticked in quick succession. A little further on we finally got White-browed Babbler onto our Twitchathon list.
As we passed out the other side of Leard our options for new birds were slim and we still had so much daylight. Blue Bonnets were feeding in the same spot as the previous day and Bar-shouldered Doves were heard but the Spotted Bowerbirds failed to show so we turned the car around and headed towards Boggabri. What a great move that turned out to be.
As we were talking about how good it would be if a Mallee Ringneck was to be seen a Mallee Ringneck flew across the road in front of us. In unison 3 of our members called the bird and commenced a very load ' UP THE DRONGOS!" .
As we passed through some flooded paddocks we bagged our Yellow-billed Spoonbill and in a road side ditch Max spotted a brilliant White-necked Heron. These two species had deserted the east so we were glad to tick them up.
In Boggs we drove the streets hearing Musk Lorikeets, Blackbird, Sparrows and Brown Honeyeater. I glimpsed a Hobby zoom past out of the corner of my eye so 10min was spent patrolling the streets until Nick spotted him (her?) plucking its freshly caught prey in a roadside tree.
As Rob counted up our final score we looked for Blue-faced Honeyeater to no avail. Itching for a score we huddled around him to hear the news that we had scored the same as our dummy run, 93 species. We were quietly pleased until Rob cracked a smile and told us he was kidding, we had actually scored 110 species! our highest ever western run score, and all in 3.5hrs. Alot of cheering and laughter followed as we left Boggabri and made our way to Gunnedah for tea.
Night drive and Sunday run coming soon..........

Friday, October 1, 2010

Western Thornbill

Been processing a few shots of these little cuties taken at Dryandra last month. Western Thornbills Acanthiza inornata are endemic to the south west and fairly common, often found foraging in low vegetation.
Their quite vocal and easily approached. Behaviour and calls are some what similar to our Buff-rumped Thornbill Acanthiza reguloides.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Western Australia Trip Report...part 2

Day 9
Left Moora bright and early and made our way north to Payne's Find. I'm not sure what Payne found but it clearly wasn't much, just a roadhouse surronded mulga scrub. Being in such an isolated location we decided to top the petrol tank up and at $1.70 a litre we were glad it was just a top up.
From Payne's we turned right onto the Maranalgo Road trying to find Grey Honeyeater. We dipped of course but did see the western race of Southern Whiteface, White-backed Swallow, Crested Bellbird, White-fronted Honeyeater, White-browned Babbler, White-winged Fairy-wren and SLATY-BACKED THORNBILL.
A stop at Lake Austin (north of Mount Magnet) netted us five Orange Chats.

We finally pulled into Nallan Station (10km north of Cue) late in the day and had enough light for a quick stroll. White-plumed Honeyeaters were seen for the first time on the trip and the difference between the bright yellow western birds and our dull olive eastern blobs was quite staggering. We also encountered the red northern race of Grey-crowned Babbler.
Near the homestead we found another tick, WESTERN BOWERBIRD. The pink nape feathers glowed in the afternoon light.
Day 10
Another early start saw us leaving Nallan and heading a few km's west of Cue on the road to Austin Downs station. At exactly 3.8km from town (Frank O'Connors website is fantastic by the way) we had 2 calling CHIMING WEDGEBILL. My impression of wedgebills was always of a bold bird perching out in the open calling but its quite the opposite. We found it hard to get a clear view through the binoculars, just fleeting views as they ran from shrub to shrub.
Further up the road we stopped at another of Frank's sights and scored our second tick for the day, 3 BANDED WHITEFACE. What a cute little bird and very different to their Southern cousin.

It was at this stage that we should have packed up the gear and headed west to the coast but silly us decided to stay on and find those mythical Grey Honeyeaters. The next 2.5 days were hell. Sure there were a few good birds around like the western Chestnut-breasted Quail-thrush, Bourke's Parrot, Black-capped Sittella, Crimson Chat, Black-breasted Buzzard, Redthroat and Mulga Parrots, but on the whole bird numbers were down and hard to come by. We spent alot of time dozing, reading (oh thank you Angels & Demons.....strongly recommended ;) ) and eating to fill the time.

Day 13
HEADING SOUTH!!!!!! We were so chuffed to be leaving the dry mulga country we didn't stop the car until we hit the wheatbelt again. Pallid Cuckoo were seen several times beside the road, as were White-fronted Chats. Western Corellas seemed to be everywhere (sorry Dave).
We couldn't leave Western Australia without seeing the famous Northam MUTE SWANS. After much deliberation with other birders once we got home we've decided to tick these birds as the remnants of a once sustainable population. We've also heard a report of recent breeding.Day 14
Spent an absolutely gorgeous day birding around Rockingham and Armadale. Nothing overly exciting was seen but just being back in civilisation and being near the turquoise blue waters off Perth made for a great days birding. A few highlights included Red-winged Fairy-wren, White-breasted Robin, 3 species of Black-cockatoo, Western Thornbill, Western Wattlebird, Western Thornbill, Scarlet Robin and a pair of Western Gerygones building a nest.Day 15
Our last day in Western Australia and Rottnest Island was calling. Everyone will be glad to hear that I made it across without being sea sick (Hazzah!!). Nick and I walked many kilometres in the sun with no breeze to help us and with little reward.......oh.....except that stunning little corker known as a RED-NECKED PHALAROPE! What a tiny little bird, dwarfed by the nearby Banded Stilts.
We walked the golf course many times in search of Pheasant but failed, we did however see many Quokkas, furry footballs in my mind ;) . Banded Lapwings and Pied Oystercatchers were common on the fairways.
Our last bird for the day before jumping on the return ferry to Fremantle was a ridiculous looking male PEACOCK, strutting its stuff through the settlement amongst the tourist.

So after 15 days on the road I had managed 12 ticks, totally cleaning up the South west and our trip list was 175 species strong.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Western Australia Trip Report...Part 1

Nick Livanos and I have just returned from a 2 week tickathon in south-west Western Australia. My main objective was to clean up on the sw endemics I missed earlier in the year while birding with Stowie. It was Nick's first time in the west and his life list jumped by 30 odd species! Brief summary of each day below.

Day 1
Flew into Perth and headed straight down to Erskine near Mandurah looking for the Pintail recently sighted there. Dipped badly but did see a flock of REGENT PARROTS flying over...tick 1.
We then headed east towards Dryandra seeing Red-capped and Elegant Parrots and Western Rosella. As we unpacked the car in the dark we could hear Bush Stone-curlew and Boobook.

Day 2
FREEZING!!! Frost covered the ground and a thick fog hung low. Rufous Treecreepers were everywhere and we quickly found our other targets, Blue-breasted Fairy-wren and Western Thornbill. White-browed Babblers foraged on the ground and Purple-crowned Lorikeets were high in the canopy. Westermn Spinebills brightened up the morning with their stunning markings.
More Regent Parrots were seen as we headed south through Narrogin to the Stirling Ranges and the Porongurups. No new birds were added but we did see Tawny-crowned Honeyeater, Splendid Fairy-wren, Purple-crowned Lorikeet, Scarlet Robin, Elegant Parrot and Painted Button-quail.

Day 3
Woke up in beautiful Cheyne Beach and immediately headed down to the main road to tick off Noisy Scrub-bird.....less then 5min minutes later we had the bird crossing both the tarred and dirt roads. We then headed up the sandy track past the caravan park and heard 2 bristlebirds calling near the track. We stalked them slowly never getting any closer. We stopped and played the tape, a verbal response but nothing moved. I decided to set the ipod in a little clearing and this worked wonderfully as the pair of WESTERN BRISTLEBIRDS appeared in the open. Gold!!! My main target for the trip was ticked.
The rest of the day was spent looking at Brush Bronzewing, Red-eared Firetail, Western Wattlebird, White-breasted Robin, Red-winged Fairy-wren and Great Skua.

Day 4
Spent the entire day searching for Western Whipbird without sucess. Did add Fan-tailed Cuckoo, Shining Bronze-cuckoo, Dusky Woodswallow and Brown Quail to the trip list. Watching a mother Southern Right Whale with her calf in the bay was pretty cool.

Day 5
Stuff the whipbird! After having two gruelling days without sucess we decided to head back to the Stirling Range for a better look. Looking for Mt. Trio we quickly became lost which was the best move we made all trip. We stopped the car and decided to do some quick birding before turning around and finding the main road. As I walked into the mallee/heath PURPLE-GAPED HONEYEATERS appeared from no where, a totally unexpected tick. What a fluke! Across in the adjacent paddock were 2 Banded Lapwing and some Emu.
With our spirits soaring (cockiness levels through the roof) we decided to stop in likely Fieldwren habitat. At our second stop we had sucess.......while I was off having a pee Nick bags us a WESTERN FIELDWREN. Excellent views were had.
Other birds seen nearby included Carnaby's Black-cockatoo, Little Eagle, Red-capped Parrot, Elegant Parrot, Yellow-plumed Honeyeater, and Grey Currawong.
There were Robins galore in the Porongurup carpark with Scarlet, White-breasted and Western Yellow showing well.Day 6
Our final morning at Cheyne was spent looking for those bloody whipbirds. We trudged up that damn hill, over looking the damn bay. Man I was starting to hate that hill. Our heads were down but they soon lifted when we heard our first whipbird calling near the track. We walked towards the calling bird until we were pretty close but we still couldnt see it. Then a glimpse! Through the dense heath I could see it, feeding back on the edge of the track! Nick however couldn't so we made our way towards the bird and eventually after much waiting got cracking views of 2 Western Whipbirds, one was feeding in the front of a small banskia, the other called from the top of a bush before flying in front of us and disappearing. AWESOME!!!! Lots of high fives were had. We left Cheyne very happy with our results, the three toughies done.
Driving west towards Augusta I finally managed to tick off WESTERN CORELLA just outside Rocky Gully. We watched about 60 birds feeding on the ground around a homestead. Soon after, the heavens opened with heavy rain and very strong winds so we were very happy with our well timed sighting.

Day 7
Appaulling weather all day. Very strong gusty winds hammered the Margaret River area and very few birds were seen. We dipped on Rock Parrot at Cape Leeuwin so headed in to the taller forests looking for Baudin's Black-cockatoo which we eventually found.

Day 8
Awoke to much calmer conditions so headed back to Cape Leeuwin, ticking off the 3 Rock Parrots feeding on the visitors centre lawn. We also saw alot more Baudin's just north of Augusta.
We headed north back to Erskine for another try at the Pintail (dipped!) and had a look around Peel Inlet. No where near the number of birds seen previously in the year but seeing 7 Grey Plovers is always good.
South of Moora we bumped into the northern race of Western Corella and also my first Port Lincoln race of the Aust. Ringeck. Our one and only Rufous Songlark was seen in Moora.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Northern Hunter Day Trip

Nick and I headed up to Tuncurry last Sunday looking for the Swift Parrots seen there recently. Unfortunetly we dipped but did see some cracking species while looking.
Our first stop for the day was by the river at Bulahdelah. A Tawny Grassbird shot across the road as we left the highway and White-cheeked Honeyeaters were very vocal. Tree Martins inspected old Fairy Martin nests under the bridge. After 30 odd minutes we had managed 34 species but sadly dipped on the now famous Radjah Shelduck.
We then drove down to Bombah Point still hoping for the Shelduck but again dipped. Blue-faced Honeyeater, Whistling Kite and Eastern Yellow Robin was added to the list.
Next stop was Tuncurry. The flowering eucalypts around the caravan were full of Scaly-breasted, Rainbow and Little Lorikeets but no Swifts. Spinebills, White-cheeked Honeyeater, Little Wattlebird and Noisy Friarbird were also common. A pair of Tawny Frogmouths were seen roosting, an Osprey glided over and a male Satin Bowerbird was welcomed.
We soon got sick of viewing Lorikeets so headed up to Wingham Brush (not before watching a Square-tailed Kite gliding over Taree) in an attempt to add some much needed rainforest birds to our Hunter year lists. Along the road opposite the the Brush we saw Brown Thornbill, Golden Whistler, Red-browed Finch, Brown Cuckoo-dove, Torresian Crow, Spangled Drongo and a stunning male Regent Bowerbird, a year tick for both of us.In the dark of the rainforest we got fantastic views of two Russet-tailed Thrush (year tick for Nick), Brush Turkey, Yellow-throated Scrubwren and Crimson Rosella. Wonga Pigeon and Bar-shouldered Dove were heard nearby.
Excellent days birding .

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Goulburn River NP...again

Another quick trip out to this glorious spot with the aim of getting Plum-headed Finches on the Hunter year list. The fog was thick for most of the morning, not lifting until 10:30am, so birding was slow until then.At O'Brien's Crossing we easily found 10-15 Plum-heads feeding along side Double-bars, Zebras and Red-brows. Deeper into the NP we found an Emu, 3 Black-chinned Honeyeaters, Diamond Firetails, Peaceful Dove, Brown Treecreeper, Speckled Warbler, White-eared Honeyeater, Jacky Winter, 2 Chestnut-rumped Heathwren, and White-browed Babbler.
We once again dipped on Spotted Harrier and Red-winged Parrot.

Victoria Trip Report

Knowing that I’d never seen Blue-winged Parrots, my mate Geoff invited me down to his local patch where he regularly sees them. I’m a sucker for a tick twitch so my airfares were booked ASAP and off I went to yet another airport (my 6th for the year!).
Geoff picked me up from Avalon airport and we headed straight for Werribee STW where we met up with George and Paul. It was awesome to finally meet these guys who I’ve only ever chatted to via BOZ.Birds were everywhere as we drove the dirt tracks around the ponds. Skylarks and Welcome Swallows were incredibly common with Swallow numbers in the 1000’s. A Glossy Ibis was spotted in amongst the Spoonies and a flock of Zebra Finches flushed from the road. It wasn’t long before someone yelled out Brolga! George and Paul quickly bailed out of the car as I added one to the list. At the bird hide we were greeted by Fairy-wrens, Scrubwren, Horsfield’s Bronze and Little Grassbird. Pacific Gulls hunted off the shore. George’s coffee was much appreciated and a good chat was had.....love being around other birders!Several small terns were spotted at a distance and after referring to some pics the conclusion was they were Fairies. Unfortunately I couldn’t ID the birds properly and they soon disappeared....a missed tick? Pied Oystercatchers were on the rocks and Greenfinches proved to be quite common. We then parted company after finding 60 odd species.Geoff and I then headed to his local patch near Torquay. I’ve never seen so many White-fronted Chats in my life! Same could be said for Striated Fieldwren although I’ve only ever seen them once before. Little Grassbird called from the saltmarsh and Black-fronted Dotterels feed in the shallows. After searching for quite some time a pair of Blue-winged Parrots were finally spotted sitting on the fence line and gave spectacular views in the late afternoon light. Crawling on my knees through the long grass enabled me a close view and pics. A superb way to end the day.The next day we headed west along the Great Ocean Rd to Point Addis where we quickly found two Rufous Bristlebirds in the carpark. It’s been several years since my last sighting and I’d forgotten how beautiful they were. Black-browed Albatross passed by.
Fan-tailed Cuckoos were very common in the Anglesea Heath. Geoff’s Yellow Robin on a string was very amusing and allowed me to score my best ever shots of this species. Silvereyes and Brown Thornbill were ever present and a White Goshawk was only my 3rd ever sighting.
Back onto the Bellarine Peninsular and birding the fantastic Ocean Grove NR. Grey Currawong and Brush Bronzewing were state ticks for me and the sight of Flame Robin feeding in the open paddock was enough to make me wanna jump the 2m high fence. We were puzzled by a pair of odd looking Rainbow Lorikeets and we finally decided that they were hybrids with Musk Lorikeets.Several stops were made on the way home adding Restless Flycatcher, Great Cormorant, Spiny-cheeked Honeyeater and King Parrot to the list.
The next morning we headed into Geelong for a crack at Song Thrush....dipping badly. Then we tried the You Yangs for Swift Parrot and Purple-crowned Lorikeets....another two dips! However we did see Scarlet Robin, Buff-rumped and Yellow Thornbill, Weebill and White-naped Honeyeaters.As I was flying out that afternoon, we decided to have one more go at Fairy Tern at Werribee. Swallows and Skylarks were still very common. Shoveler and Pink-ears were added to the list and 3 Black Kites passed overhead. Small terns were again seen flying off the shoreline and one landed on some nearby rocks so down I went through the mud and ticked up my second lifer for the trip. Striated Fieldwren, Wedge-tailed Eagle, Brolga and a Whistling Kite with a fresh rabbit kill were our last sightings for the day.

124 species in 3 days.