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, April 15, 2010

Bird of the Week: Crested Bellbird

Oreoica gutturalis
With its distinct cow bell like call, the Crested Bellbird is one of interior Australia's most recognised birds. They are found in various dry, timbered habitats throughout much of Australia, including mallee, mugla and cypress forests.The sexes are easily separated with the male having a white face which is surrounded by a large black bib. He also has a small black crest which he can raise when needed. The female lacks the white face and bib but does have a black stripe along the crown. Young birds are duller versions of the adults. This species is generally heard long before its seen and its call is quite deceiving making tracking its location hard. Once found, the male will often pose and call without to much worry.I first saw this species in 2003 while birding around the Macquarie Marshes. I've since seen them on most trips out west, mainly in the Lake Cargelligo, Cunnamulla and Bourke regions.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Black Noddy Twitch

At 10:30 yesterday morning Nick and I decided to ditch our planned Radjah trip and head south instead to attempt bagging a lifer, the Black Noddy. The Noddy was first seen off Long Reef last week by Mark Young but it wasn't until Mr. Stowe's phone call yesty morning that made me want to tick off this little beauty. By 2pm we were on the ground in Collaroy and searching for the bird.As we walked out onto the rock platform we stopped for some Welcome Swallows perched on the rocks. Their colours can only be appreciated in the afternoon sunlight. We managed to creep up on them and obtained cracking shots.
Closer to the waters edge a fair sized group of waders were feeding on the rocks. Ruddy Turnstone, Red-necked Stint, Pacific Golden Plover, Double-banded Plover, Sooty Oystercatcher and a Grey-tailed Tattler made up the flock.
We finally made it to the furthest most rock and there was the Noddy fishing in the white wash, its white cap glowing in the sunlight. It did several passes of the ledge before landing nearby. We slowly crept around so the light was in a more favourable position and started to take 100 odd pics each of the bird in many different positions. He was so tame that we were able to creep to within 4m as he preened and surveyed his surrounds.
After a while an Australian Raven flew over and started harrassing the Noddy which eventually took off (as did the Raven after a rock was somehow thrown in his general direction lol). We watched as the Noddy flew out to sea and then turned back only to land right in front of us again....happy days. Eventually we decided we'd had enough of clicking the same bird in the same position so we made our way back to the waders.Down I went, dragging my arse through the water, just to get that nice low angle to my pics....shesh I'm turning into a photographer...on no!!!! Its amazing how close you can get to waders when your soaking your butt in salt water. The Stints barely moved as I approached but the Double-banded Plovers and Tattler were much more wary.We were only on Long Reef for 1.5hrs but in that time I snapped 188 pictures of 7 species. We were over the moon with our efforts and the excitment was still with us when we got home at 10:30pm.....damn F3 being closed, stupid trucks, stupid 4.5hr wait on the Pacific Hwy! Oh well.
542 = Black Noddy, Long Reef, 12/4/10

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Newcastle Seawatch

Spent a lovely afternoon looking out to sea from Fort Scratchly Drive with fellow HBOC members. The weather was perfect, to perfect in fact with very few pelagic species close to shore. Mostly it was a social event with the birders and their scopes, hoons and their wheels and lots of beautiful people walking by......doesn't get any better really.
Silver Gull and Crested Terns were in abundance. Sooty Oystercatcher and Ruddy Turnstone fed on the rockshelf below and a constant stream of Wedge-tailed Shearwaters passed in the distance heading north. A prolonged view of an Arctic Jaeger gave me a Hunter Year tick which was unexpected.Eventually the Common Noddy was spotted flying around the Newcastle Baths rockself. Everyone watched as it fished along the coast all the way up to Nobbys Breakwall and back. Gannets were also fishing but further out the sea.Nick and I then decided to head down to the Baths and try our luck with the Turnstones which are now in full breeding plumage. We crawled along on our butts until we got close enough for a decent shot. Of course this was the same time the sun decided to disappear behind the clouds! AHHHHHWe kept at it and eventually scored some half decent shots. The Crested Terns were very obliging and allowed us to get quite close, in fact I was pulling the 400mm back to fit them in frame.
Very good afternoon for birding and clicking.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Hunter Rarity: Common Noddy

My phone rang hot yesterday as I sat on registers at work. It wasn't until I had finished my shift that a found out that a Common Noddy had been seen that afternoon. Noddies are rare visitors to the Hunter coast so this was an opportunity to good to miss. I flew down to Newcastle Baths with Rob and was greeted by Dan who was looking at the bird.....how easy is that! The bird moved twice before retreating back out to sea.
Also present were heaps of Sooty Oystercatcher, a few well coloured Ruddy Turnstones and the usual Crested Terns and Silver Gull.Not a bad after work twitch.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Bird of the Week: Turquoise Parrot

Neophema pulchella
This beautiful little parrot can be found in grassy woodlands from southern Queensland to northern Victoria. They are generally found in pairs feeding quietly on the ground or occasionally in small groups. Breeding takes place in the warmer months and the nest is usually found in a tree hollow or similar (fence post). They raise 3-5 young. Their call is a sweet, high pitched 'tink'.My first encounter with this species was in the rocky, cypress covered hills in the far western Hunter Valley. I generally find them to be common around Munghorn Gap, Borah TSR and the Capertee Valley. Fairly easy bird to pick out on jizz alone, with their size and bright yellow tail edgings being excellent give aways.

HBOC Easter Camp: Borah TSR

Just returned from a wonderful 3 day camp with the Hunter Bird Observers Club in the grassy woodlands west of Manilla, NSW. Borah Travelling Stock Route is a magic spot made up of mostly remnant box woodland, a beautiful little creek and some large, open grassy areas. 30+ members attended the camp and a great time was had.
Red-winged Parrot, Jacky Winter, Restless Flycatcher, White-backed Swallow, Apostlebird, Grey-crowned Babbler, White-bellied Cuckoo-shrike and Spiny-cheeked Honeyeater were ticked off several kilometres before the campsite.After setting up camp we decided to make the most of the time available and headed off in search of the woodland specialists. We easily found Azure Kingfisher, Double-barred Finch, Buff-rumped Thornbill, Speckled Warbler and Fuscous Honeyeater. Diamond Firetails called from high, exposed branches making photos impossible. Several Brown Treecreepers were very vocal up towards the main road and a White-throated Gerygone gave a great show.
That night Southern Boobook and Owlet-nightjar called non stop.

The next morning we were up and about early and were rewarded with a pair of Hooded Robins hunting over their patch. Little and Musk Lorikeets screeched overhead as King and Red-winged Parrots drifted through the trees. Dusky Woodswallows were quite common and a young one was found. A highlight was seeing 10 White-backed Swallows perched in a dead tree. I finally managed half decent shots of Black-chinned Honeyeater which was exciting but not as good as the female Turquoise Parrot pics 6 of us scored as she fed quitely in a low shrub. Crested Shrike-tit, Little Friarbird, Peaceful Dove and Striated Pardalote were common.
The next day we had to leave so we packed up camp and headed west before heading east again. On the back roads towards Boggabri we picked up Yellow-throated Miner, Southern Whiteface, Singing Honeyeater, Plum-headed Finch, Black Falcon, Cockatiel, Western Gerygone, White-winged Fairy-wren and Horsfield's Bushlark. Seeing 3 Ground Cuckoo-shrikes south of Gunnedah got the blood pumping and a White-headed Pigeon flying across the road in Medowie was a Hunter Tick.

All up I saw 122 species, 7 year ticks, 1 Hunter year tick and scored lots of awesome pics. Thanks to everyone involved.