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.

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.