Thinking About Birds

December 2023

23 December

I did my walk alongside Brisbane Water this morning. It was busy with people but there were plenty of waterbirds on offer, as usual. This time the Mallards outnumbered the Pacific Black Ducks - it's not always like that (but, always, the closer to Woy Woy the fewer Black Ducks there are). I saw a group of four Australian Pied Oystercatchers together on a jetty, and another two pairs elsewhere. That's my highest count of them in the area.

22 December

I did my surveys of the Warrah Trig area of Brisbane Water National Park. Although it was quiet, things had improved a bit compared with when I did my November surveys. There were some honeyeaters around today - not in big numbers, but there were almost none of themin November.  There were Scarlet, White-cheeked, White-eared and New Holland Honeyeaters today (and a Lewin's Honeyeater at Patonga later). The highlight was a pair of Glossy Black-Cockatoos - I saw my first for the Central Coast just yesterday! At Patonga there were lots of cormorants (Great Pied, Little Black, and Great Cormorants) sitting on boats offshore, and an Australian Brush-turkey was wandering around.

21 December

Early morning I went to Pearl Beach where I did my monthly surveys of the Caves Walk and the Arboretum. To my great surprise, I added two species to my (relatively short) Central Coast list. The important record was a family group of Glossy Black-Cockatoos - a pair with a youngster. Also there were two Common Cicadabirds around. The Arboretum by contrast was quiet but I did see two well-separated Australian Brush-turkeys (with different wattles) and some Variegated Fairy-wrens.

18-19 December

A group of eight of us from HBOC went to Broughton Island for what was planned to be a 3-day visit. Unfortunately the weather intervened and we came back at the end of Day 2. The island was very dry and also much of the mature Monotoca shrubs are dying if not already dead. Those two things (possibly connected?) impacted the birding somewhat. The Silvereye numbers were down but the banders re-trapped a bird which now is 7+ years of age, and they had numerous other re-traps of Silvereyes and Yellow-faced Honeyeaters, and there were breeding records for both species.

I heard Buff-banded Rails at two locations plus I found 3 dead chicks (together) during one of my surveys. There were up to three Red-capped Plovers on Providence Beach and small scattered numbers of Sooty Oystercatchers around the island. Raptor numbers were low but I saw a White-bellied Sea-Eagle, a couple of Swamp Harriers and three or four Ospreys, and others saw a Black-shouldered Kite. I had two sightings of a single Eastern Reef Egret, well-separated but they were a few hours apart and thus possibly involved the same bird.

Three of us went to the Gould’s Petrel nest boxes on Tuesday morning, where we found four birds, each sitting on an egg. All four had previously been banded - the long-term study is paying dividends. That’s a record return for the small Broughton colony and supports my campaign to have additional nest boxes installed. The campaign is making headway! When we arrived back on the mainland I was told by NPWS that they have ordered 30 new nest boxes - they won’t all be for Broughton though. We went all the way to Pinkatop afterwards, where the birding highlight was a Fork-tailed Swift flying around us for a short while. Not much later, we were seeing one of Eastern Reef Egrets!

The trip back, in windy conditions, delivered stacks of Wedge-tailed Shearwaters, to complement all the ones we’d been seeing or hearing on Broughton.

13-14 December

I went to Newcastle for the HBOC December meeting (at which I presented a small quiz).  I stopped at the Ourimbah Rest Area on the way north - the cicadas were rather loud and I didn't stay for long, but I did see three Red-whiskered Bulbuls during my short stopover. That night at Shortland there was a Tawny Frogmouth calling. Heading back home, I stopped at the Ourimbah RTA Reserve - cicadas again were a problem but I had good views of a couple of Rufous Fantails and also of a Yellow-throated Scrubwren. Also, an Australian Brush-turkey wandered through.

11 December

I did my regular walk alongside Brisbane Water. Birdwise, I found nothing exceptional, although I did encounter three separate sets of 1 or 2 Australian Pied Oystercatchers. Of interest, all were on the roofs of cabins at boats that were at anchor. Perhaps the tide was to high for the oystercatchers to roost normallY?

9 December

Sarah and I surveyed Ash Island as part of the monthly HBOC waterbirds survey. We found a Spangled Drongo at Teal Waters - quite a surprise as they’re usually long gone by now. We had four Far Eastern Curlews at Milhams Pond / Phoenix Flats but not much else, until we arrived at the Area E ponds. Wader Pond was dry but the others were good, especially Swan Pond which had about 120 Sharp-tailed Sandpipers, 50 or so Pied Stilts, 4 Marsh Sandpipers, 5 Red-necked Stints, 5 Black-tailed Godwits and 13 Red-capped Plovers including a chick and a flagged adult (which I photographed and will follow up on). Fish Fry Flats also had several Red-capped Plovers and an adult Striated Heron, which sat nicely for us on a post for a while. Raptors today were Black-shouldered Kite, Osprey and Swamp Harrier.

8 December

Early morning I went to Bulbul Crescent in Fletcher from where there had been recent reports of some Australian Painted-snipe. Two birders were already there, which was fortunate because they were able to point out where to find one! It was distant, and incredibly obscured by vegetation. Every now and then it would come out more into the open and we could see it was a female, but the least bit of disturbance, by anything, sent it back into deep cover. There were plenty of other birds to be watching in the meantime - numerous Sharp-tailed Sandpipers, some Red-kneed Dotterels, lots of ducks (mostly Grey Teal but a sprinkling of other including four Australasian Shovelers).  By now we were up to 8 observers. I briefly saw two Curlew Sandpipers in flight (landed out of sight), there were Fairy Martins and Tree Martins about, Pheasant Coucals and Eastern Koels calling etc - it was a marvellous morning.

The day was too hot for birding so I relaxed until late afternoon and then went to Stockton Sandspit. The tide was already fairly high and lots of shorebirds were roosting. The main site had Pacific Golden Plovers (at least 135 birds) and miscellaneous other shorebirds such as Curlew Sandpiper, Sharp-tailed Sandpiper and Bar-tailed Godwit but the highlight was the 33 roosting Australian Gull-billed Terns. Then I walked to the Fern Bay roost where I found my targets - Grey-tailed Tattler (3 birds) and Terek Sandpiper (6 birds). The visit was capped off with a flyover by an adult White-bellied Sea-Eagle.

7 December

I went to Newcastle via some Central Coast spots. My first stop was at the Tuggerah salt marsh where there were about 90 Sharp-tailed Sandpipers and 18 Bar-tailed Godwits, also Masked Lapwings, Black Swans, a few Pied Stilts and various egrets. The swans were hard to count as my views were obscured but there were at least 250 of them. On the walk in I saw a young Brush Cuckoo. It was lurking silently although I was told that later it began begging calls and was fed by one of the White-browed Scrubwrens I had seen.

My next stop was at the Central Coast Wetlands near Wyong. It was midday and hot to be out but I recorded 41 species there including a Rufous Fantail and some Brown Gerygones down by the creek. I saw three raptors - Black-shouldered Kite, Whistling Kite and White-bellied Sea-Eagle and one Latham’s Snipe (in flight). As I was leaving there was a Buff-banded Rail wandering out on the lawn.

Then I went to some spots around The Entrance - firstly to the rock platforms at Blue Bay and Twowoon Bay and then to Karigi Point.  It was a bit too early in the tide cycle to be at the rock platforms so I didn’t find many shorebirds but there were two Ruddy Turnstones on one of the beaches and I saw two pairs of Sooty Oystercatchers. At Karigi Point the Little Tern colony was already very active - about 200 birds and many were defending scrapes. On a nearby sandbar there were two Caspian Terns, three Bar-tailed Godwits and many Little Black Cormorants plus miscellaneous other species. I stayed overnight at a motel in Mayfield.

4 December

I went to four of my sites in Brisbane Water National Park - around Curra Swamp and Van Dahl’s Trail. I had a White-bellied Sea-Eagle in a tree near Curra, for a short while but then a pair of Australian Ravens chased it away.  Overall it was quiet - my highlight was to watch a group of three Variegated Fairy-wrens sitting together - two males and a female. All three were preening but the two males sometimes were also allopreening the female.  I heard three Pheasant Coucals and at one point two of them were interacting.

1 December

In the morning I walked alongside Brisbane Water, from Blackwall to Woy Woy. I recorded almost 40 species, including I saw a Buff-banded Rail out on a mudflat, just before it scurried away out of sight. There were lots of Pacific Black Ducks today (about 80 birds) plus 20 or so Grey Teal. I had a close view of an Australian Pied Oystercatcher by the shoreline and there were some Bar-tailed Godwits and a Far Eastern Curlew on the sandbank. The Australian Pelicans were present in good numbers - I estimated 200 birds and there seemed to be some youngsters amongst them.

November 2023

20 November

I did my surveys of the Warrah Trig area of Brisbane Water National Park this morning. There was very little blossom about and the birds knew it. I didn't find many birds, and at my first site I didn't see a single bird (I heard a New Holland Honeyeater). The area that was burnt in July is starting to make a comeback though (albeit very slowly). Highlights of the morning included a Superb Lyrebird (my first one for this area), some Variegated Fairy-wrens, a group of four Yellow-tailed Black-Cockatoos, and I heard a Brush Bronzewing. I finished at Patonga, where I saw four separate Australian Brush-turkeys (each had recognisably different wattles) and there was a Fan-tailed Cuckoo calling.

16 November

I detoured to Pearl Beach on my way home, and did the Pearl Caves and Arboretum surveys. It was pretty much all the usual birds, but I did have a good look at a male Superb Lyrebird and an Australian Brush-turkey and also saw a fledged young Little Wattlebird being fed by an adult bird.

15 November

I overnighted in Nelson Bay and joined a pelagic trip in the morning. We went out in a large whale-watching catamaran, which was a different experience - so spacious. The birds were a bit slow to appear but it turned into a pretty good day (birds and weather). We had a Wilson's Storm-Petrel about 10km before the shelf, and 15 or so more of them at the shelf. We also had a Sooty Shearwater on our way out. At the shelf there were good numbers of shearwaters (Wedge-tailed, Flesh-footed, Short-tailed, and one Hutton's Shearwater) plus a couple each of Providence and Grey-faced Petrels. Three different albatross species hung around - one each of Black-browed, Campbell and Shy-type Albatross. A highlight was a Black Petrel, which came close to the boat often and gave us great views. On our way back we found a Red-tailed Tropicbird - only my second one for the Hunter Region (the first one was my 400th Hunter Region species). And I had far better views of it this time. We capped things off with a Brahminy Kite hunting in the estuary after we entered the heads.

14 November

I walked alongside Brisbane Water, from Blackwall to Woy Woy, finding 38 species overall. I had three pairs of Australian Pied Oystercatchers plus another single bird. There also were two Far Eastern Curlews and a Bar-tailed Godwit. As usual there were many Black Swans and Australian Pelicans, but the numbers for all the other waterbirds were down.

11 November

Ross and I did the Ash Island survey early morning. Last week's rains have refreshed the ponds and there were some ducks around (mostly, a mix of Grey Teal and Chestnut Teal). In our travels we found three Australian Gull-billed Terns, four Far Eastern Curlews and four Red-necked Stints, also about 15 Red-capped Plovers. While waiting for Ross to arrive I was hearing a Brush Cuckoo, and we heard Shining Bronze-cuckoos at two locations as we moved around the island, and a Fan-tailed Cuckoo. The highlight was to see a Latham's Snipe, on National Snipe Day.

8-9 November

The nine of us from the trip to Japan did a presentation on Wednesday night atthe HBOC meeting. We each covered different aspects of the trip (I did a very brief overview of the birds of Hokkaido, with a focus on the Latham's Snipe). We also provided a Japanese supper. The audience seemed to enjoy everything!

Next morning I had a meeting at the University, about the process for getting undergraduate students to do an "industry placement" with HBOC. The prospects seem good.

3 November

Four of us from HBOC did a quick trip to Broughton Island, with the new NPWS Ranger, Gabby. We'd have liked to have stayed longer but the weather was against us. There was one Gould's Petrel in a nest box (it was a bird that has been a regular breeder for five years now). We cleared up the areas around the Gould's Petrel and White-faced Storm-Petrel nest boxes. We found a nest and eggs of a pair of Sooty Oystercatchers, and had a couple of views of Eastern Reef Egrets. One of the Swamp Harriers was a very pale bird - that caused some confusion for a while.

On our way to Broughton, and back again, there were many Short-tailed Shearwaters including there were four dead ones on Esmeralda Beach (ie on Broughton Island). Also, we heard a couple of Buff-banded Rails on Cabbage Tree Island as our boat went slowly past. Also, about halfway back to the mainlandwe had a rather amazing encounter with a Humpback Whale and her youngster.

2 November

On my way to Nelson Bay in the afternoon I first went to the Tuggerah Lake salt marsh. There were hundreds of Black Swans on that side of the lake, and also many shorebirds foraging in the shallow areas. There were 50-60 each of Bar-tailed Godwits and Sharp-tailed Sandpipers plus three Red-necked Stints and some Pied Stilts. Also, three Caspian Terns and singles of a couple of egret species. Then I went to the Central Coast Wetlands at Wyong, where there were more Sharp-tailed Sandpipers (just a few) plus I found most of the regulars. I saw one Fairy Martin (it perched obligingly, albeit  briefly). There were none on my previous visit and I think they must breed somewhere else.

1 November

Late afternoon I went to Cockle Bay Nature Reserve. It was quiet there, not helped by there being three boats of teenagers zipping noisily around the bay and thenpulling up at the old wharf area just as I arrived there.  But birds were in low supply in any case. My highlight was a small group of Australian King-Parrots and also some nice views of Red-browed Finches.

October 2023

28 October

I went to Brisbane Water National Park in the early afternoon, to survey my four other sites for this month. It was remarkably quiet! In two 500m sites, I saw no birds and only heard three species (in each). However, at my first site I did see a White-winged Triller (a male) which was a new species for me locally, and I again flushed a Brush Bronzewing - from almost the same place as last month. I also heard a Pheasant Coucal.

25 October

It was cool and windy in the morning and so I delayed my walk until after lunch. I walked to Woy Woy alongside Brisbane Water, on a rising tide. I saw one Far Eastern Curlew and, later, two Bar-tailed Godwits. There were no Aust. Pied Oystercatchers seen this time although at one point I thought I heard one. I had a great view of a Striated Heron which was foraging on a close-by mudflat. It didn't want to leave, but clearly it was bothered by my unmoving presence, watching it. There was a single Caspian Tern on the bigsandbar, along with all the Australian Pelicans.

24 October

In the morning I went to Pearl Beach. There were lots of lorikeets around including one big flock of Musk Lorikeets and some smaller groups of them. I saw a Superb Lyrebird ascending a tree, and there was another Australian Brush-turkey lurking too. The highlight was the Topknot Pigeons. I counted 11 of them but they were high up in Cabbage Tree Palms and possibly there were more. Occasionally I had great views of some of the birds out in the open.

I spent much of the day editing a Whistler paper (alas, not one of mine). Late afternoon I went to the Central Coast Wetland at Wyong. My mission was to photograph a Latham's Snipe, which eventually I was able to do (a couple of them actually were foraging out in the open, although some distance away). There were 40 or so Sharp-tailed Sandpipers, and a pair of Black-fronted Dotterels with three runners. As usual, there were Purple Swamphens everywhere and I saw one chick. Just as I was leaving, an adult White-bellied Sea-Eagle flew in, carrying some sort of prey item. Immediately it was attacked by two Whistling Kites, of which there'd been no sign of until then. I ate at the Wyong pub and then went to the Central Coast bird group's meeting In Tuggerah, where the main event was a talk about a trip by boat to Lake Eyre.

23 October

I did my monthly surveys of the Warrah Trig area of Brisbane Water National Park. There was almost no bird activity! It was the quietest I've ever encountered. However, I did flush a Brush Bronzewing as I arrived, and probably the same bird again about ten minutes later. I also twice heard a Chestnut-rumped Heathwren - from the same general location both times but about two hours apart. Afterwards I went to Patonga where I heard a Superb Lyrebird and saw an Australian Brush-turkey, plus there was the obligatory Whistling Kite.

16-20 October

I spent these days in the Upper Hunter with other HBOC members, doing the spring surveys firstly at Martindale and then McCullys Gap. I drove to Martindale on Monday afternoon, with only brief stops because the wind was strong (which persisted until sometime overnight on Tuesday night and then resumed Wednesday and Thursday afternoons). I heard a Buff-banded Rail from near Martindale Creek on my way in - an uncommon record and I was pleased to confirm it by seeing one on Wednesday morning less than a kilometre away from that spot. I recorded 75 species in the surveys and the group total (there were six of us) was in excess of 100 species. My highlights included Hooded Robin (a male at one site and a female at another), Restless and Leaden Flycatchers, Latham's Snipe (there was one at a wetland that we survey), Spiny-cheeked Honeyeaters (at several spots), Grey-crowned Babblers, White-throated Gerygones and Speckled Warblers. But the absolute highlight was a Western Gerygone, at one of the sites on Wednesday morning. It's been several years since I've had a Hunter Region record of one - and this time I even managed some photos.

After lunch on Wednesday, five of us relocated to McCullys Gap, where the wind caught up with us again. There were Rainbow Bee-eaters and Leaden Flycatchers around our campsite, and an Australian Hobby. On Thursday night we also had a Barn Owl around. Thursday's surveys brought few surprises but an immature White-headed Pigeon took us a while to identify correctly. Friday had several exciting sightings, including a pair of Red-capped Plover, two Yellow-billed Spoonbills and Black-fronted Dotterel at one dam and an immature Pied Stilt at another. The absolute highlight was a male Red-capped Robin at our final survey site. There also was a Shining Bronze-cuckoo calling from around the campsite as I packed up. I recorded 73 species at McCullys Gap.

On my way home I stopped at Doughboy Hollow near Singleton. The Plumed Whistling-ducks were back - I counted 250-300 of them and that was with limited views of the entire waterbody. And, there was a pair of Black Falcons nearby, for a while they were having goes at the Rock Doves.

13-14 October

In the morning I surveyed the Brisbane Water shoreline, finding pretty much just the usual birds. However, I had a brief view of a Buff-banded Rail near the start of my walk. It was secretive, and it ducked for cover as soon as it realised I was onto it. I only found one pair of Australian Pied Oystercatchers, but there were three roosting Far Eastern Curlews on the pelican spit. In the afternoon I drove to Belmont, where there was an adult male Mallard on the water outside my motel. Next morning I did the Ash Island survey (with two others). It has dried out considerably since the previous month's visit, and as a result the bird numbers have declined. We did find two Far Eastern Curlews, and later an Australian Gull-billed Tern. Our highlight was to watch an Australian White Ibis macerating an eel, in preparation to eating it. I took many photos. Also, I had a brief view of a fleeing Buff-banded Rail.

For lunch, the Japanese tourists (ie all of us from the May trip) met at the Wetlands Centre. The main purpose was to plan the supper arrangements for our presentation at the November HBOC meeting. Sorted!

9-11 October

I organised the annual Rufous Scrub-bird surveys - for which, 16 of us spent three days in the Gloucester Tops. I joined in on walks on Monday and Wednesday, and on Tuesday I serviced my trail cameras and visited some potential scrub-bird territories to "mop-up" from some of Monday's findings by other teams. We found 15 scrub-bird territories. I didn't see any scrub-birds but I had a couple of intimate encounters with them calling from just a few metres away. Highlight species that I saw included Flame Robin, Red-browed Treecreeper, Eastern Shike-tit, Varied Sittella, Bassian Thrush (carrying food) and Black-faced Monarch. Good birds heard but not seen included Olive Whistler, Noisy Pitta and Rufous Whistler (a rare species in the Tops, even though it is widespread and common throughout our region). In the evening I went to the HBOC meeting where the main talk was about Bush Stone-curlews; I enjoyed it and Ilearnt some things too.

6 October

In the morning Margaret and I did a ferry trip from Woy Woy to Empire Bay and return. That gave me the opportunuty to check out some of the mudflats along the way. I saw two Australian Pied Oystercatchers and two Far Eastern Curlews (all those birdswere well-separated) and a single Striated Heron. Also, plenty of Australian White Ibis were foraging, plus a few White-faced Herons.

4 October

I heard a Channel-billed Cuckoo at home this morning - my first onefor the season. Then there was another one calling when I did the Brisbane Water waterside walk. That was a good walk, I recorded 37 species during it. The highlight by land was a pair of Musk Lorikeets flying through, and there were some White-breasted Woodswallows around. The highlights on the water, as well as the usual large numbers of Australian Pelicans and Black Swans, included three pairs of Australian Pied Oystercatchers and two Caspian Terns.

September 2023

30 September

I surveyed two more of my sites in Brisbane Water National Park. It was remarkably quiet - almost all the blossom had finished and there was very little bird activity. My highlight was to watch a White-eared Honeyeater bathing. I also heard another Pheasant Coucal.

29 September

I visited the Curra Swamp section of Brisbane Water National Park, where I have two survey sites. I heard a Pheasant Coucal, briefly saw a Spotted Quail-thrush and a Brush Bronzewing (both of those I flushed from near the track as I walked towards them), and had a wonderful view of a singing Chestnut-rumped Heathwren. There also were some Brown-headed Honeyeaters, which I don't see often in the National Park, and I had a good look at a male Variegated Fairy-wren too.

27 September

I joined Michael at Pambalong Nature Reserve shortly before dusk, as part of the Hunter Region's Australasian Bittern survey. We listened for about an hour and a half, and heard none. But, there were two well-separated Lewin's Rails calling, and I saw a Latham's Snipe and a group of nine Magpie Geese flew through.

26 September

I went to the Central Coast bird group's meeting in the evening.  On my way to it, I stopped firstly at the Tuggerah Lake salt marsh site, where the highlights included two Red Knots, also some Sharp-tailed Sandpipers, Bar-tailed Godwits and Black-winged Stilts, and a White-bellied Sea-Eagle flying over. Then I went to the  Central Coast Wetlands near Wyong. There were at least a hundred Purple Swamphens feeding out in open areas including out on the lawns, also some more Sharp-tailed Sandpipers and Black-winged Stilts, and a pair of Black-fronted Dotterels. Another highlight was the Latham's Snipe - I saw five birds and had good views of some on the ground.

25 September

Mid-morning I walked the path from Blackwall to Woy Woy alongside Brisbane Water. There were about 300 Australian Pelicans (the majority were on the breeding island but I saw no signs of breeding activity) and about 150 Black Swans. I saw two Caspian Terns, and three pairs of Australian Pied Oystercatchers. Perhaps because it was school holidays and hencelots of people about, the Siver Gulls were out in force - about 100 of them, I estimated. There were 30 or so Mallards including a female had five ducklings with her. I saw one Far Eastern Curlew - my first one on the central coast this season.

23 September

Sally and Tom were visiting and I took them to Cockle Bay Nature Reserve for another attempt at them seeing Scarlet Honeyeaters. This time we were successful. Just like the previous attempt a few weeks ago, the birds were always high in the foliage but there were enough birds around for them to eventually get their binoculars on. We saw Varied Sittellas and Brown Gerygones, which also were new birds for them, and there were many obliging White-cheeked Honeyeaters around.

21 September

I did my Warrah Trig (Brisbane Water National Park) surveys in the morning. There wasn't a lot of fresh blossom and overall the birding was very quiet. However, I did see a Brush Bronzewing (and heard another) so that was nice compensation. I also saw a couple of Variegated Fairy-wrens. I finished up at Patonga where the resident Whistling Kite took a while to put in an appearance, but when it did it was carrying a prey item and looked to be heading to a nest (it went into the woods near Dark Corner).

17-19 September

Margaret and I went to Canberra - it was for a funeral so there were not many birdwatching opportunities overall. On our way there we stopped at the Derrick VC Rest Area near Towrang. That's a nice bushy area with some interesting convict heritage. I found a Rufous Whistler and a Shining Bronze-cuckoo there. Next morning I went early to Jerrabomberra Wetland, a favourite spot of mine in Canberra. They've opened up new paths since my previous visit and so it's now an even better place. There were Hardheads and Australasian Shovelers in with the more common ducks. I had several nice close-up encounters with Superb Fairy-wrens and White-browed Scrubwrens and also several very good views of Australian Reed-warblers, which were in full-on singing mode at the start of spring. The Red-rumped Parrots were inspecting hollows, and I saw a male Common Blackbird. On Tuesday morning before leaving, we spent a couple of hours at the National Botanical Gardens. There were White-browed Scrubwrens everywhere, and also plenty of Crimson Rosellas. On our way home, near Collector, there was an Australian Hobby hunting.

16 September

Three of us did the Ash Island survey this morning, just beating the hot conditions that kicked in late morning. The only migratory shorebirds that we found were one Far Eastern Curlew and three Sharp-tailed Sandpipers, there also were 50 or so endemic  Pied Stilts and a Red-capped Plover. A flock of seven Yellow-tailed Black-Cockatoos flew through and we had views of a perched, singing Horsfield's Bronze-cuckoo. It was a quiet day, although we managed to find  four species of raptor - Brown Falcon, Whistling Kite, Swamp Harrier and Nankeen Kestrel.

13-14 September

I did my surveys at Pearl Beach on Wednesday morning - at the Caves Walk and then around the Arboretum. Scarlet Honeyeaters were present in good numbers, as were the Rainbow Lorikeets. I had a nice view of a male Variegated Fairy-wren and watched a Laughing Kookaburra at work in a termite nest, excavating a nest hole. There were a couple of Australian Brush-turkeys prowling around too. After lunch I headed for Newcastle, to attend the HBOC meeting that night.  I stopped at Ourimbah Rest Area (where I saw a Topknot Pigeon) and then did the two boardwalks on Ash Island (saw an Osprey, heard Mangrove Gerygones).

On my way home on Thursday I visited the Wyong Pioneer Dairy, where I saw two Latham's Snipe, two Plumed Egrets and a Buff-banded Rail, amongst the 40 species that I recorded overall. Then I found an area of salt marsh on Tuggerah Lake (it is a known spot but not previously to me). There were 80+ Pied Stilts plus some migratory shorebirds - three Bar-tailed Godwits, nine Sharp-tailed Sandpipers and one Red Knot. I saw the latter through a telescope that another birder had brought along. A young White-bellied Sea-Eagle flew through too, and there was a Little Egret foraging on the edge of the lake.

10 September

I took my grand-daughter to the Australian Reptile Park - it was not a birding expedition by any means, but I saw two Buff-banded Rails (they seem quite inured to close proximity topeople) and there was a White-throated Gerygone calling - the first one I've heard this season.

7 September

I walked alongside Brisbane Water from Blackwall to Woy Woy. Birds were plentiful (I recorded 34 species), with the highlights including some Tree Martins foraging down low, more than 200 Australian Pelicans and about 150 Black Swans, and a Little Egret, plus I heard a Mangrove Gerygone (it was on Pelican Island, just off Woy Woy).

2-3 September

On the Saturday, HBOC organised a Bird Forum at the Wetlands Centre in association with the BIGNet meeting that we were hosting. I presented about Rufous Scrub-birds and there were five other speakers. It was a great day - a good attendance (about 75 people), very good speakers, everyone very enthusuastic. Kate Millar, the new CEO of BirdLife Australia, was along too, and it was great to meet her. The only negative was that I'd heard all the talks before (including mine!) but at least two of them had been updated a bit since I last had heard them. There was a dinner that night at the Shortland Waters Golf Club - 35 or so people were at that. After dinner I presented a quiz, which sort of was about birds, and that seemed to go over quite well.

Next day, in Jesmond, I sourced a copy of the Sep/Oct issue of Australian Geographic, which includes a story about Broughton Island - I'm one of the features of the story. On my way home I went to the Munmorah State Conservation Area and investigated that for a while. I'd hoped for lots of honeyeaters in the heath but I was a bit disappointed with what I found.  I had a nice view of an adult White-bellied Sea-Eagle as it flew over me.  My final stop was at the Ourimbah RTA Reserve, where I saw a male Common Blackbird and had brief views of a Bassian Thrush. I also found all three of the possible scrubwren species - White-browed, Yellow-throated and Large-billed Scrubwren.

August 2023

31 August

I visited some more sites in Brisbane Water National Park - two that I had visited once before, and a new one. All of them were in the area approximately behind Pearl Beach (up on the ridge). As per the other sites in the NP that I've visited recently, honeyeaters were the dominant species. I did hear a Pheasant Coucal though - I just love that gurgling call of theirs.

30 August

I spent some of the morning at the Cockle Bay Nature Reserve - which is a rather neglected area alongside Brisbane Water (although, the tracks had been mown recently). There were lots of Scarlet Honeyeaters (mostly they were up high, I did see briefly a female at just 2-3m above ground). I had great views of some Variegated Fairy-wrens. The Brown Gerygones confused me for a short while as they had dark faces - I suppose from something they'd been eating. They sounded quite normal though. I then went to Putty Beach in Bouddi National Park - birds were few but there was a raft of 300-400 Silver Gulls just offshore and I had great views of some White-cheeked Honeyeaters. At home, mid-afternoon a Musk Lorikeet whizzed through - a new bird for my yard list even though it didn't stop.

24 August

I did my monthly surveys of the Warrah Trig area of Brisbane Water National Park. At my first site I had a pair of Chestnut-rumped Heathwrens - the views of them were fleeting though! There was lots of blossom at that site, and hence the honeyeater activity level was high. In particular there were many Yellow-faced Honeyeaters, New Holland Honeyeaters and White-naped Honeyeaters.  A bit further down the road, in the recently-burnt area, the honeyeater activity was higher than last month (when there were none!) and I saw a Fuscous Honeyeater - it was my first record of one in that National Park. I had Variegated Fairy-wrens at a couple of spots too. I finished up at Patonga, where tI saw two Australian Brush-turkeys crossing the road, annd there was a Whistling Kite on patrol.

23 August

I went to the Coora Swamp section of Brisbane Water National Park.  The heath was in flower and there were lots of honeyeaters, but not much else. I heard some Yellow-tailed Black-Cockatoos but didn't manage to see them.

22 August

Mid-morning I walked the path alongside Brisbane Water, from Blackwall to Woy Woy. As per usual there were many Australian Pelicans and Black Swans out by the pelican breeding island. I saw two Caspian Terns, and two pairs of Australian Pied Oystercatchers, and there was a Striated Heron resting on a jetty. Also as per usual, the Mallards were out in force.

20 August

Sally and Tom were visiting for the weekend and I took them to Pearl Beach to try to see a Scarlet Honeyeater. There were several of them in the area near the Arboretum but they were quite hard to see, always so high in the foliage. I saw them in flight several times but the others dipped on getting a decent view. There was a Superb Lyrebird calling while we were there.

19 August

Ross and I braved the Antarctic gales to do the monthly survey on Ash Island. We found some migratory shorebirds - two Far Eastern Curlews at Milhams Pond / Phoenix Flats and a couple of nice surprises on Swan Pond - a Marsh Sandpiper and a bit later, a Sharp-tailed Sandpiper. Both birds were skittish. It's the first Marsh Sandpiper we've had on an Ash Island survey for a couple of years. There were lots of teal on Swan Pond too - about 1,500 with the Grey Teal outnumbering the Chestnut Teal. We saw a handful of Australian Shovelers there too. Milhams Pond had 8 Australian Gull-billed Terns and there were 6 more at Fish Fry Flats. And 73 Purple Swamphens at Bellfrog Wetland, a spot which they've taken quite a liking to for most of this year.

11 August

I went back to Pearl Beach with Margaret to watch the Noisy Miner behaviour again, of taking sugar packets from the cafe and eating the contents. This time I took some photos. I am writing up the behaviour and will use some of the photos in the article. Afrerwards I walked along the coast and around the headland, to home. It was far less birdy than I was hoping it would be!

9-10 August

I went to Newcastle for the HBOC meeting that evening - the main talk was about House Sparrows living in highly lead-contaminated mining areas such as Broken Hill and Mt Isa, how much Pb they accumluate in their bodies and how that affects them. It was very interesting. That morning I was interviewed for a future podcast about shorebirds and the Hunter estuary, and in the afternoon I went to a meeting to discuss the idea of putting up an artificial nest platform for Black-necked Storks in the estuary.  On my way home on Thursday I stopped at the Mt Penang Gardens I saw a Common Blackbird which was my first record of one on the Central Coast, and there were several Satin Bowerbirds, plus a Tree Martin flying with the Welcome Swallows..

5-6 August

Sally was visiting - on Saturday afternoon I took her to Warrah Lookout and on Sunday morning, with Margaret, to Pearl Beach where we walked to Pearl Cave and then around the Arboretum. There were Scarlet Honeyeaters everywhere that we went and we saw three Australian Brush-turkeys at Patonga on Saturday and then two more of them at the Arboretum on Sunday. I saw an interesting behaviour by Noisy Miners on Sunday - taking sugar sticks from a jar on an outside table at a cafe (in Pearl Beach) and flying off with them, to then rip them open and consume the contents. Later I asked on Hunterbirding if anyone had seen similar behaviour - the answer was yes occasionally, fromwidespead locations. It seems the Miners have learnt a new trick.

3-4 August

I stayed at South West Rocks for a couple of nights. My mission was to patrol Boyters Lane from where there had been many reports of a vagrant Hudsonian Godwit. Alas, the bird was not seen by me! I spent all of Thursday morning and some of Thursday afternoon there, plus I made another stop on Friday morning on my way southwards. On Friday morning I saw an Australian Spotted Crake plus there were several Black-fronted Dotterels. The rest was fairly standard although a pair of Black-shouldered Kites was a highlight. On my way southward later, I visited Cattai Wetland, a one-time favourite haunt of mine which I hadn't been to for several years. It wasn't in great condition and the water lilies were looking rather sad, but I found three Comb-crested Jacanas and many other nice birds included Variegated Fairy-wrens and lots of Red-browed Finches. After that I went to Coopernook Corner Wetland where the first bird I saw was an Australian Spotted Crake and I had three definite individuals, and also two Black-fronted Dotterels.

1-2 August

On Tuesday afternoon I drove up to Nelson Bay. Along Tomago Rd on my way there, I stopped to investigate a road-killed bird. It was rather mangled but identifiable as a Grey Goshawk. I also detoured down to Birubi Point but there wasn't much around and there was a cold wind blowing. The next day we did the winter Port Stephens waterbirds survey. The Conditions were perfect. The highlight in my sector was a mixed flock of shorebirds - 14 Far Eastern Curlews, 17 Bar-tailed Godwits and a Whimbrel. We saw several Australian Pied Oystercatchers (overall for the whole Port there were 119 of them). We also had many Black Swans (there were 1100+ of them in the Port) and Little Pied Cormorants (almost 400 in the Port). We had a pair of Brahminy Kites, and another one later, also several White-bellied Sea-Eagles and two Ospreys - they had a nest on a pole in the water, which seems a most unusual place for them to put one. There was a Dingo on Corrie Island, which our photos showed was wearing a tracking collar.

July 2023

30 July

I walked the southern side of Brisbane Water mid-morning. There were two pairs of Aust. Pied Oystercatchers (each pair roosting on separate jetties) and two other jetties had 7 Caspian Terns and 16 Little Pied Cormorants, respectively. The sandbar had about 180 Australian Pelicans but with no signs of any breeding activity, and there also were 50 or so Black Swans roosting there. There were some Australian White Ibis sitting near the top of a Norfolk Pine where I could see several nests, but I decided they weren't yet into breeding mode.

27 July

I went to Sue Hamonet's funeral in the morning. Sue was my first birding mentor and I was pleased that 25 or so HBOC members went to her funeral. Late afternoon, after I was home, I did my Booker Bay walk. Mostly the birds were standard but I briefly saw an Osprey (which was only my second local record) and also four Topknot Pigeons (again, I have had few previous local records).

26 July

Mid-morning I went to Pearl Beach and birded along the Pearl Caves walk and then in the Arboretum. The birds were unexceptional for the most part, and they were not very active either. However, there were several Scarlet Honeyeaters and I found a group of six or so Musk Lorikeets in the Arboretum, and an Australian Brush-turkey just before I left. Then mid-afternoon I went to Ourimbah and found the RTA Reserve (I received directions for it last night). The first bird I saw was a Bassian Thrush (there were two of them) so, off to a good start. I also had all three of the local scrubwrens including very good views of Yellow-throated Scrubwrens and Large-billed Scrubwrens. I also found Brown Gerygones and several Satin Bowerbirds. It's a nice rainforest site although it's far too close to the noisy motorway for my liking.

25 July

I did my monthly surveys of the Warrah Trig area of Brisbane Water National Park. There were a couple of Yellow-tailed Black-Cockatoos at the first site when I arrived. They stuck around, plus five more of them came in while I was doing the 20-minute survey. Soon afterwards, a large flock flew through and I ended up with a count of 29 birds! As usual, honeyeaters were the main guild around - there were many Yellow-faced Honeyeaters and six other species, including some Scarlet Honeyeaters and I saw one White-naped Honeyeater. A sizable section of the site had been burnt since my June visit - I later found a newspaper article that it was a hazard-reduction burn done on 14 July. The burn has impacted one of my 2-ha sites (about half of the site burnt) and I had scarcely any birds there apart from Rainbow Lorikeets - which were present in large number, I counted 36 individuals in the 20 minutes. So, obviously the burn was to their liking.  I finished the morning with a visit to Patonga, where I had the usual Whistling Kite and a handful of other species. In the evening I attended the Central Coast Birding NSW meeting where there was a talk about an expedition to see the Opalton Grassswren.

22 July

Four of us did the monthly survey of Ash Island. We found about 1,500 Chestnut Teal on Deep Pond and a few dozens of them elsewhere. Of shorebirds, there were 50 or so Pied Stilts, also seven Red-kneed Dotterels and five Black-fronted Dotterels. We saw quite a few different types of raptor - Nankeen Kestrel, Brown Falcon, Black-shouldered Kite, Whistling Kite, White-bellied Sea-Eagle and Swamp Harrier. And at the Bellfrog Wetland, there were 65 Purple Swamphens.

19-21 July

After lunch I made my way from Martindale to McCullys Gap for the quarterly surveys there, stopping at Muswellbrook to replenish my supplies. I recorded 58 species overall (the team total was 72 species). A Wedge-tailed Eagle was soaring over the property when I arrived - a wonderful start! Later, flocks of Red-browed Finches and Yellow-rumped Thornbills came through, and that night I heard a Southern Boobook. It was a bitterly cold night and morning - it was still down to -5C at 8am! We delayed our surveys until it had started to warm up. Thankfully, Thursday night was considerably milder (+3C). In the two days of surveys we found about 80 species (58 for me). My highlights included Buff-rumped Thornbills, Black-shouldered Kites (including a juvenile with an adult), Musk Lorikeets, Weebills and an out of season Rufous Whistler (an adult male). But the stand-out was a female Flame Robin, just as we were exiting our second-from-last site.

I drove to Newcastle via Martindale, a bit of a detour, to look for the Banded Lapwings that Dave Stuart found on Wednesday afternoon. I didn't find them, but in nice compensation I found a male Scarlet Robin along Jones Reserve Rd, a few km before Jerrys Plains.

17-19 July

After lunch on Monday I drove to Martindale where I joined 5 others for the quarterly surveys of that valley. There were several Nankeen Kestrels on the way in, and I saw the first of several Spiny-cheeked Honeyeaters too. I heard a Powerful Owl that night, and the following night a Barn Owl and an Australian Owlet-nightjar. There were Musk Lorikeets at our first site, and my final species was Little Lorikeet, as I was packing up on Wednesday afternoon. I recorded 71 species overall (the team total was 95 species). I reckon my highlight was the Brown-headed Honeyeaters or maybe the Grey-crowned Babblers (and of course, the lorikeets)

12-13 July

I attended the HBOC meeting on Wednesday evening - to hear an interesting talk about vocalisations by female birds although the information was predominantly resticted to female Superb Lyrebirds (and, just to the southern subspecies of them). On my way to Newcastle on Wednesday afternoon I stopped at the Ourimbah Rest Area, where I found four very active Red-whiskered Bulbuls and also had a sighting of a female Regent Bowerbird. Heading home the next morning I visited the Central Coast Wetlands at Wyong. I found a Buff-banded Rail foraging out in the open (for a long time) and an Australian Hobby flew through. There were considerable numbers of Purple Swamphen, Dusky Moorhen and Eurasian Coot, with many of each of those species feeding out in the grassy areas. Australian Ravens and Torresian Crows both were present, and two Plumed Egrets. There were relatively few waterbirds, and no shorebirds.


WA trip 3-10 July

I flew to Perth, and then drove down to Narrogin where I spent two nights. After that I stayed in Busselton for 3 nights, before heading to Perth for the last two nights (there was not much time for birding when I was in Perth). The final day (10 July) was purely a travel day.

3 July

I flew to Perth late morning. It was pelting down when I arrived, and that continued throughout my drive to Narrogin. Plus it was approaching dusk. So, no birding stops. However I saw lots of Grey Currawongs foraging on the side of Albany Highway as I drove along - perhaps a hundred birds. I also saw some Common Bronzewings and Australian Ravens by the roadside. There was a pair of Australian Ringnecks (the WA race), and a flock of 6-8 Carnaby's Black-Cockatoos flew over as well.

4 July

It rained much of the day, which interfered with my birding but I used the breaks as best I could. I spent much of the day at Dryandra Woodlands National Park, one of my favourite spots. There were about a dozen Rufous Treecreepers near to where I parked at Old Mill Dam, and some Yellow-plumed Honeyeaters. A great beginning, but then things quietened down. However, I found a female Scarlet Robin, and later a couple of males at another spot. Elsewhere in the NP, I found Striated Scrub-wrens, Inland Thornbills, Purple-crowned Lorikeets, a Restless Flycatcher, some Western Wattlebirds. Eventually I got onto a Western Yellow Robin, which was easily my highlight for the day. It was a difficult bird to track down.

5 July

It was another day of frequent rain squalls, which certainly interfered with my birding opportunities but I made the best that I could of the conditions. I started at Foxes Lair Reserve on the outskirts of Narrogin. That has always been a reliable spot for me for Red-capped Parrots and today was no exception. Other species here included Brown Honeyeater (many), Yellow-plumed Honeyeater, Brown-headed Honeyeater and the ubiquitous Australian Ringnecks (aka Twenty-Eights). My highlight, perhaps excluding the frequent close-up views of Red-capped Parrots and a female Scarlet Robin, was the Australasian Shelducks which were frequently flying around. I eventually realised that they were doing a soft contact call all the time, as well as their honking call. I'd never noticed the contact call before.

Much of my travel today was through cleared farmland, not very exciting countryside. However, when I stopped at Lake Towerrinning, between Arthur River and Boyup Brook I found good birds despite the dreadful conditions (a very strong and bitingly cold wind). Firstly I had a male Red-capped Robin at my feet near the carpark, and then there was a flock of 10 or so Brown-headed Honeyeaters, and then in a purple patch together I found Western Thornbill, Western Gerygone and some Splendid Fairy-wrens. I stopped for lunch at Bridgetown, in time to see a group of 22 Carnaby's Black-Cockatoos fly through. My next stop was Jarrah Park, off the Nannup Road, where I saw a Carnaby's Black-Cockatoo up close (it was calling from a branch of a dead tree that seemed to have some potential nest hollows), another Scarlet Robin, and some Inland Thornbills. Plus, shortly before I departed, there was a Western Spinebill. My final stop was at Malbup, in the Tuart Forest National Park not far from Busselton. It's another regular spot of mine. The birding this time was quiet but there were many Welcome Swallows and Tree Martins hawking plus I had excellent views of Western Gerygones and the WA version of Silvereye.

6 July

There was a pair of Common Bronzewings foraging in the motel carpark, which I hoped was an omen of things to come. But, overall it wasn't a successful day. The weather didn't help - there were many sunny breaks but in next to no time another squall would come through bringing solid rain for a while. I drove to Augusta and worked my way northward back to Busselton. In areas around Augusta I found several Pacific Gulls and a few Sooty Oystercatchers, but not much else. Later I visited some national parks, with my highlights being Striated Scrub-wrens, Inland Thornbills and Splendid Fairy-wrens.

7 July

It was yet another day of regular rainy periods! I spent all morning in the area around Cape Naturaliste. I found Striated Scrub-wrens, Silvereyes, Inland Thornbills and the ubiquitous New Holland Honeyeaters. My highlight was to see Purple-crowned Lorikeets. There was a flock of 15 or so of them buzzing around noisily, with many sightings, and then I found a small group of them feeding down low in a Banksia. At one point a Pacific Gull flew over. Later I found a couple of Sooty Oystercatchers at Bunker Bay. Mid-afternoon back In Busselton I walked to the jetty precinct, where I found a group of ten or so Western Corellas. And back at the motel, the Common Bronzewing count had risen to four birds.

8 July

After leaving Busselton I stopped off in Tuart Forest National Park briefly - I saw some Yellow-rumped Thornbills but not much else. It was too wet for doing anything else that morning. Arriving in Perth I went to Alfred Cove Nature Reserve before an afternoon meeting with a former colleague. Almost immediately a group of four Red-tailed Black-Cockatoos flew in! I hadn't expected those! There were two Ospreys around and a pair of Australasian Shelducks, and a dozen Pied Stilts and a Red-necked Avocet on the shoreline. But my highlight was the 82 Musk Ducks out on the water, in the sheltered part of the bay. I remember seeing a similarly large group of them there, many years ago. Late afternoon I called in at Herdsmans Lake, where I saw a Great Crested Grebe and a Hoary-headed Grebe, and Little Corellas were flying through. There also were many Australian White Ibis, roosting amidst the reeds.

9 July

I went for a brief morning walk around Osborne Park, and finally saw some Laughing Doves (about 15 of them, in fact). Most of my day was non-birding but in a lateish afternoon walk from Inglewood to Osborne Park I encountered four separate groups of Red-tailed Black-Cockatoos. It seems that they are reasonably common in Perth (in winter at least).


June 2023

29 June

I was up in Newcastle for mostly non-birding things but mid-morning I was able to do the mangrove boardwalk at Carrington - saw a Striated Heron there plus a dozen or so other species.

27 June

In the evening I attended the Birding NSW Central Coast group's meeting, where the main event was a talk about  Australian cuckoos and their hosts.

25 June

I did a pelagic trip out of Port Stephens. The weather forecast had made the trip quite iffy, but the actual weather was relatively tranquil - which alas didn't help with the birding. We didn't find a lot today. On our way out we came upon a very large group of Australasian Gannets fishing busily at a school of bait fish. They were plunging constantly into the water. We also saw a Wilson's Storm-petrel on our way out (and another later, at the shelf).  There were 30+ Providence Petrels but they mostly were staying on the slick and not approaching close to the boat all that often. There also were a handful of albatross - the majority were Indian Yellow-nosed Albatross but there were a couple of Black-browed types and one Buller's Albatross, which flew right over the boat. My highlight was a White-fronted Tern, which circled the boat a couple of times and then disappeared (it had seen enough).

20 June

I attended a Hunter Local Land Services event to wrap up some of their bird projects carried out under a couple of NLP Grants. I had a role in getting some of the activities underway 4-5 years ago so it was great to be hearing the main outcomes. The meeting was at the Murrook Centre at Williamtown - I''ve driven past it often but this was my first visit. We convened at Stickton Sandspit first thing in the morning but it was cold and windy, and hardly any birds were about. On my way home I checked out a couple of spots on Brisbane Water. At the pelican breeding area, there were lots of Aust. Pelicans of course, but many other waterbirds too. In particular there was a large assembly of ducks - a couple of hundred (at least) of Northern Mallards, 50-100 Pacific Black Ducks, some Chestnut Teal and some Grey Teal. I also spotted a pair of Aust. Pied Oystercatchers.

17 June

Ross, Andrea and I surveyed Ash Island in the morning. We had four species of raptor today - Brown Falcon, Swamp Harrier, White-bellied Sea-Eagle and Black-shouldered Kite. It was the first time in at least a couple of years that I've seen the latter in the Hunter Estuary. We had more than 600 Chestnut Teal, mainly on Swan Pond, and also about 150 Pacific Black Ducks plus some Grey Teal and Aust. Shovelers. There were no migratory shorebirds but we found 100 or so Pied Stilts plus smaller numbers each of Black-fronted Dotterel, Red-kneed Dotterel and Red-capped Plover. The highlight was a large flock of foraging White-fronted Chats, on Fish Fry Flats. They've became scarce on Ash Island since the main mangrove stands were removed. There were about 50 birds today.

For lunch and for the afternoon, the group who visited Japan had a reunion, with Japanese food and a look through all the photos.

16 June

I visited Hexham Swamp for the morning, finding a large group of Pied Stilts (115 birds) plus a Black-fronted Dotterel. I saw several raptor species - Nankeen Kestrel, Brown Falcon, Swamp Harrier, Whistling Kite and White-bellied Sea-Eagle, plus there were a handful of White-fronted Chats. I had lunch at the Wetlands Centre and wandered the grounds afterwards. There were fifty or so Magpie Geese and some Australasian Shovelers as another highlight.

15 June

I went to the Gloucester Tops for a day-visit. It was slow-going both there and back, on account of 7 sets of roadworks and then I also hit peak-hour traffic on the freeway on my way back to Newcastle where I was to stay the night. I visited two Rufous Scrub-bird territories where I attended to my trail cameras. A male was calling often at the second site - however, I didn't hear a peep from any scrub-bird in nearly 2 hours at the first site. There were Crescent Honeyeaters wherever I went and I had excellent looks at a couple of them during my lunchtime stop at the Falls picnic area. The Banksia autumn blossoming wasn't quite over (but, nearly over). Also at lunchtime, I had really close-up views of a pair of White-browed Scrubwrens, and there were 5-6 green Satin Bowerbirds hanging around.

14 June

I drove from Ettalong to Newcastle, taking the coastal route with stops at various places around The Entrance and then Norah Head, and finally at Swansea (at Piretta Island). Now I know much more about where the coastal rock platforms are on the Central Coast! I didn't find many birds but it was a useful exploration. At The Entrance there were 13 Caspian Terns roosting on a sand bar, and at Soldiers Point near Norah Head I found one each of Sooty Oystercatcher and Aust. Pied Oystercatcher. In the evening I attended the HBOC meeting, during which I gave a report about the trip to Japan.

13 June

I went off in the morning to do my monthly surveys of the Warrah Trig area of Brisbane Water National Park. There was plenty of honeyeater activity but less so than in the previous month (when Noisy Friarbirds were out in force - whereas I only encountered two of them today).  At my first site, I had 30 or more Silvereyes, with good enough views for me to be sure that all three of the potential subspecies were present. There also were many Yellow-faced Honeyeaters present. Later I found many juvenile New Holland Honeyeaters plus adult birds. I finished up at Patonga where there was an Australian Brush-turkey wandering plus the usual Whistling Kite.

5 June

I went to Pearl Beach, where I did the Pearl Caves walk and after that I walked around the Arboretum. There weren't many birds and I heard many more of them than I actually saw. My best sighting was of two Australian Brush-turkeys together, in the Arboretum. There were many Silvereyes moving around, mostly they were high in the foliage, and also there were many Yellow-faced Honeyeaters.

2 June

In the morning I visited a couple of spots in Brisbane Water National Park - in the Coora Swamp area. The place was buzzing with honeyeaters - there were many Yellow-faced Honeyeaters but also White-cheeked, New Holland, White-naped etc; I recorded eight different honeyeater species overall. In the afternoon I was in an online meeting about Rufous Scrub-bird conservation. Not much will be happening.

May 2023

29 May

I had some errands to do in Newcastle today. Beforehand, I visited Stockton Sandspit. It was low tide, and so any shorebirds in the estuary were well-dispersed. However, I found two Whimbrels and there were about 30 Masked Lapwings foraging amongst the exposed rocks. Later, I walked alongside the Newcastle Rock Platform. Access was limited because of refurb work on the Ocean Baths, but I did manage to see one Sooty Oystercatcher foraging.

26 May

It was a cool, windy day back in Ettalong, and with occasional rain squalls to boot. I did my regular walk around the village, finding the birds a bit tame after all those recent exciting ones in Japan. I did look for a while at the Welcome Swallows, to consider the differences to the Barn Swallows that I'd been seeing the two preceding weeks.


Japan trip 11-25 May

Margaret and I travelled in Japan, with six other people from Hunter Bird Observers Club. The initial motivation for the trip was in connection with the Sister Wetlands agreement between Port Stephens, Newcastle and Kushiro (which is in Hokkaido), and also with the Sister Cities agreement between Port Stephens and Yugawara (which is in Honshu). We had formal visits in both those cities on back-to-back weekends. In between I organised a guide to take us birding in Hokkaido, and then later another guide to take us to some places around the Tokyo area.

11 May

In the morning I did my surveys in Brisbane Water National Park (see the entry below) then completed my preparations for the trip. It's been a long time coming, and a lot of work has gone into it (especially from me). Mid-afternoon we took a train from Woy Woy to the airport for our flight to Japan.

12 May

We arrived at Kushiro airport mid-morning. Soon afterwards, we were visiting the Akan International Crane Center, where amongst other things they look after injured Red-crowned Cranes. We saw some behind fences including one which had imprinted onto humans; there wsa a chap in there with her, helping to look after her infertile egg. The woman showing us around was a keen birder and she pointed out some wild species for us, such as Long-tailed Rosefinch and Masked Bunting. And, we saw our first wild cranes - there were birds flying through a couple of times. In the afternoon we were taken to a lookout (the Hosooka Observatory) over Kushiro Wetlands, where we saw more Red-crowned Cranes plus a White-tailed Eagle. And then, we had a Latham's Snipe doing display flights above us!  It was one of my motivations for the trip was to see that! On our way back, we stopped at Lake Takkobu where there were Tufted Ducks and Common Mergansers on the water plus a Great Crested Grebe (which was unseasonal), and around us we found Eurasian Nuthatches and Japanese White-eyes. Finally there was a Civic Reception where the Mayor and I made speeches and there was much giving of presents. And then we met our host family and went back with them to stay.

13 May

A large contingent of visiting and local birdwatchers plus translaters and officials went to Kushirocho Park in the morning (travelling in a coach), where we wandered for a couple of hours. We found a good selection of birds including Sakhalin Leaf Warbler, Eurasian Wren, Japanese Pygmy Woodpecker, Brown-eared Bulbul and Olive-backed Pipit. The highlight was to see a pair of Great Spotted Woodpeckers copulating. After lunch we went to the Hoshigauragawa estuary, where we found various shorebirds such as Wood Sandpiper, Little Ringed Plover, Grey-tailed Tattler. I had good views of Common Reed Buntings and displaying Eurasian Skylarks, and we saw a distant Siberian Stonechat. The day finished with a river cruise to watch the sunset - I mainly watched the hundreds of Slaty-backed Gulls and Black-tailed Gulls, plus there were Great Cormorants and Japanese Cormorants in good numbers. And then, the day's highlight - a White-tailed Eagle, which we had seen perched, flew right over the top of the boat. I was excited, and so were the gulls!

14 May

In the morning we visited the Institute for Raptor Biomedicine Japan, where they work on conservation of White-tailed Eagles, Steller's Sea-Eagles and Blakiston's Fish-owls. That included birds in care - the owls were asleep in roost boxes (we could only see them on live cameras), but we saw many of each of the two former. It was a very interesting visit. And there were some Little Grebes and Tufted Ducks on a pond within the IRBJ property. In the afternoon there was a symposium about bird migration, organised by the Kushiro group. I was a guest speaker and later I joined an expert panel to answer questions from the audience. There were 90 or so people in the live audience plus another 30 or so attending on-line.

15 May

In the morning the eight of us set out in a 10-seater van with our guide for the next four days, Takeyoshi Matsuo. Our first stop was the Onnenai Visitors Center, in Kushiro Wetlands National Park. We saw Marsh Tit and Eastern Crowned Warbler here. We drove through a section of Kushiro Wetlands National Park, stopping to look for Red-crowned Crane nests, and to look at some White-cheeked Starlings. Then, we had a stop at a known site for Ural Owl: bingo, we were onto a bird straight away. From there we went to Suigo Park in Teshikaga city, for a one hour circular walk around the lake. We had good birding here, including excellent views of Eurasian Wigeon, Brown-eared Bulbul, Japanese Tit, Long-tailed Tit, Masked Bunting and Japanese Bush Warbler. The highlight was to see a Lesser Spotted Woodpecker, which is uncommon in the area. After that we stopped at Lake Kusharo, where an Osprey was the highlight, and we also saw Common Merganser (aka Goosander). Our final stop was on the Wakoto Peninsula, where we looked, unsuccessfully, for Varied Tit but saw a Great Spotted Woodpecker.

16 May

Our morning started with a two hour walk before breakfast, roadside building in the deciduous forest adjacent to Lake Kussharo. New birds included Japanese Grosbeak, Narcissus Flycatcher and Russet Sparrow, plus we had a great views of Japanese Pygmy Woodpecker and Eurasian Treecreeper. Take-san heard other species that we did not sight, but we did eventually track down a White-backed Woodpecker after considerable effort. There was a feeding station in front of the dining room, and so our breakfast was spent watching the critters that came in. There were several Red Squirrels (moulting from their winter fur)  and various birds (Great Spotted Woodpecker, Eurasian Nuthatch, and three tits - Japanese Tit, Coal Tit and Marsh Tit).

We drove through a mountain pass, heading north towards the Sea of Okhotsk. We spent time at two nearby lakes, Lake Tofutsu and then Lake Toroso. We saw many waterbirds. New ones for me included Smew, Greater Scaup, Gadwall and Whooper Swan, and there were stacks of Tufted Ducks and Common Pochards. We watched an Eastern Marsh Harrier hunting. Take-san later told me that they were uncommon in this area.  At Lake Toroso there was also a breeding colony of Grey Herons – they were going to and fro with nesting material while we looked unsuccessfully for Chestnut-eared Bunting. We then drove alongside the Sea of Okhotsk for quite a while, with occasional stops, including at a prominent rock feature where we had a Blue Rock Thrush and a large raft of Harlequin Ducks. At the fishing village of Utoro, there were breeding colonies of Slaty-backed Gulls, and nearby we found a spot which also had a Black-tailed Gull plus a Black-headed Gull.

We got to our inn, called (in Japanese) Owl Inn, at about 5 pm. Almost immediately, a Brown Dipper landed in the stream in front of us and began to forage. It was a fairly basic place, but well-known for its resident Blakiston’s Fish-owls . After dark I and most of our group settled down for owl watch. The inn’s owners place a live fish in an artificial rock pool within the stream each evening, and at some point a Fish-owl will come down for it. I watched until 11 pm; some of the others persevered until midnight. The owl did not come! (We were told next morning that it came in at about 3am).

17 May

I saw the Brown Dipper again just before we departed. We drove back across the mountains to the Sea of Okhotsk, making several stops. At the first of these we had immediate success, with a Blue-and-white Flycatcher coming in for us. The next few stops were unsuccessful; however, eventually we got onto a pair of Grey Buntings. The male and female look quite different – I was fortunate enough to see both. We arrived at Lake Shirotogogoko mid-morning and did a walk across a very impressive and extensive boardwalk. It encircles the Five Lakes system, a national park. We only went about a kilometre along and then turned back. We were looking for the Meadow Bunting, which eventually we found. We drove for a long time after lunch, headed for the east coast of Hokkaido. Not far from the coast we made a short detour to the Churui River. Our target was Long-billed Plover – we soon found a couple of them plus a Japanese Wagtail. From there, we made our way to the Notsuke peninsula.  We found many shorebirds here – at least a dozen species (e.g. Dunlin, Common Redshank, Red-necked Stint, and there were several hundred Ruddy Turnstones). Also, there were many Northern Pintails. On our way back out, we encountered many ducks, including Northern Shovelers and more Northern Pintails. And there were a few Falcated Ducks, which was a new species for all eight of us.

Having missed the Fish-owl the previous night, Take-san took us to a reserve near Lake Furen (our overnight destination). We arrived shortly before dusk, and listened/looked for owls to no avail, for 40-50 minutes. However, we had displaying Eurasian Woodcocks (a new bird for me) and displaying Latham’s Snipe. For the first time, I heard the tail-drumming sound that they make. It was an awesome sound, and I was so delighted to hear it.

18 May

We stopped briefly at the Lake Furen estuary, where we heard but did not see an Eastern Water Rail. Then we went to the Onneto National Forest where we spent much of the morning. Not all the target birds cooperated, but we had fantastic views of Siberian Rubythroat and Brown-headed Thrush, and Take-san and I saw a Mandarin Duck fly through. The highlight was a Japanese Robin. We could hear one; and then spent at least 20 minutes trying to see it. It was so close by and yet so elusive. And then, all of a sudden it was sitting on top of a stump and singing away for ages! We had such great views of it. We returned to the coast, stopping for a while at an estuary which had Greater Scaups and Spot-billed Ducks and other water birds, and some Sand Martins hunting. After lunch we headed to the Nebboro Peninsula, aiming for seabirds. Unfortunately, a thick sea-fret had come in, plus some quite cold winds. We tried at a couple of spots, including at Cape Nosappu, the easternmost point of Japan. But to no avail - we could only see 50m or so offshore. We did see several Japanese Cormorants, and a Red-necked Grebe.

19 May

After breakfast I did a pre-recorded interview with Clive Hamilton from ABC Newcastle radio. This was in follow-up to a media release about our trip, put out by the Port Stephens Sister Cities subcommittee. It was mainly a travel day today. We went to Kushiro Airport late morning, flew to Haneda Airport in Tokyo and then took trains (three of them) until we reached Yugawara, where we will spend the weekend.

20 May

My host and I set out just after 8:00 am for the group meeting place. After the obligatory photography session, forty or so people piled onto a coach and began an ~1 hour drive to Hakone on Lake Ashi. We ascended to about 1,000 m, and then dropped down to Hakone at ~750 m. Our first stop was at the Hakone Visitor Center. We watched a video about the changing of the seasons in the mountains, and then met our guide. He took us for a walk to go “birdwatching”. However, the noise from about 30 people would have driven most birds away. We did see a few birds, mainly Brown-eared Bulbuls (which were plentiful), but there were brief encounters with Japanese Pygmy Woodpecker, Japanese White-eye and Narcissus Flycatcher. We also did a short trip to the Hokane Botanical Gardens for Wetland Plants. I had hopes of good birding there, but that proved not to be the case. However, there was a male Green Pheasant, which eventually we tracked down and had extensive although restricted views. Some people in front of me flushed a Spot-billed Duck; I had brief views as it flew away.

21 May

We met in the morning at the Community Center (the same place as Friday night). After an introduction about local birds from some experts we set out on a birdwalk. There were 10 or so kids, plus parents, host families and us; perhaps 40 or so people overall. We wandered the streets of Yugawara for about 90 minutes and found a moderate number of species including Barn Swallows and Asian House Martins on nest and quite good views of Blue Rock Thrush, Japanese Wagtail and Grey Heron (foraging in the river). We also saw a Japanese Rat Snake emerging from the river. It was a large snake, probably some sort of python. We also encountered a family of Spot-billed Ducks – the parents and five ducklings. After a picnic lunch we relocated to Tokyo, an inn near Shinjuku Station.

22 May

Our guide Masayuyki Shimada picked us up from outside the inn at 7:30 and we heraded south towards Mt Fuji. We stopped at three sites at the base of Mt Fuji; they all were at about 500 m. Our target was Latham’s Snipe displaying - we didn’t see that but we found a handful of other species. The only new one was Chestnut-eared Bunting, which we saw well through a telescope.After lunch, we arrived at the Fifth Station of Fujinomiya. Basically it’s the slope on the north-eastern side of Fuji-san. Our targets were high altitude birds: we found Red-flanked Bluetails and Goldcrest but dipped on the other possibilities. A few (not me) saw a Eurasian Nutcracker. The walk started at a bit over 2,300 m, initially along a moderately difficult trail (three people turned back) and then it became difficult. Those of us who pressed on, eventually reached a crater rim and then had a strenuous ascent on a scree slope to an area where Alpine Accentors were a possibility. We saw none! Much of the time there was mist constantly swirling through and it was rather chilly (10ºC but no wind). Briefly the mists cleared and we had a sensational close-up of Fuji-san. By this time we had climbed to 2,470 m. Amazingly, right there, I received a call from Susanne Callaghan and we had a longish chat about various things to do with Broughton Island projects. Suse was gobsmacked when I told her where I was. The ascent was physically challenging, especially given the altitude. The descent was about as difficult, aiming to avoid any slips on the very loose substrate.

23 May

Six of us set out with Masa-san shortly after 7am. We drove northwards for about 90 minutes, in steady rain for much of the time, until we reached the village of Itakura. By then, the rain has eased off and we only had a few light showers during the remainder of the day. We spent a couple of hours in the back streets of the village, checking out the fields (rice, wheat, barley, various vegetables) and any ponds that we encountered. It was fantastic birding!  We saw many species, including a Black-crowned Night-heron, some Zitting Cisticolas and several Grey-headed Lapwings. At a large pond, which we circumnavigated with some stops, we found many exciting birds. There were Oriental Reed-warblers, such a wonderful singer, various waterbirds, a Common Kingfisher, and a Yellow Bittern, which we saw in flight a couple of times.

After that we went to the Watarase Retarding Basin, which is a huge wetland area that acts as a flood mitigation system to protect Greater Tokyo. The birding here was beyond fantastic. Oriental Reed-warblers were everywhere, all of them singing. Meadow Buntings and Green Pheasants seemed almost as prolific, although they were further-spaced. We found some Black-browed Reed-warblers and then one of the area’s specialities, the Japanese Marsh Warbler. It took us a while to get onto one but eventually we saw a few of them and were able to watch their display flight. Still in the Basin, we checked out two towers installed for Oriental Storks to use for nesting. One nest had an adult stork and two half-sized youngsters; we saw them well using a telescope.

Our birding day finished with two species of owls. One was a Ural Owl – we’d seen one of them in Hokkaido, but this one was a different subspecies. The second  was a Long-eared Owl, roosting in a tree in a small park within the Basin. It was a known site, and there was a Japanese birder sitting at it with a camera. It wasn’t a difficult bird to find. It was my first ever eared owl. It looked a bit like a pussycat, actually.

24 May

Six of us set out from the inn at 6 am, and took trains to get to Takao-san-guchi Station where we met our guide Masa-san. We walked around the village for a while, finding some Grey Wagtails and a Japanese Brown Frog. The frog is a specialist of pure mountain streams. Then we took a cable car up Mt Takao.  At the top of the ride there was a ~2 km walk to a Buddhist temple. The walk took us through densely wooded forest, with very tall trees growing on very steep slopes. We heard many birds, but it was quite difficult to see them because of the dense vegetation. Also, they mostly seemed to be high in the canopy, which towered above us. We did have good looks at Long-tailed Tits and Varied Tits, also a Eurasian Jay and the inevitable Brown-eared Bulbuls. A Ryukyu Minivet was briefly on a dead branch at the very top of a very tall tree, and we saw some Japanese Buzzards hunting over an adjacent valley. Masa-san was intending more activity at another place, but it was already nearly 2 pm and we’d walked 10 km by now. Margaret, Ann and I bailed, the three others pressed on. We found a White Wagtail on a nest at the station.

25 May

Today was mainly a travel day, leaving our inn at 5:30am and arriving home at 10:30pm. In the early morning drive to Haneda Airport I saw some Tree Sparrows and Carrion Crows - they were the farewell birds for me!


11 May

I did my monthly surveys in Brisbane Water National Park in the morning, in the Warrah Trig area. There were many Silvereyes, Noisy Friarbirds and Yellow-faced Honeyeaters on the move - it is peak migration time for them. I also saw some White-naped Honeyeaters - which not a species I find often locally and probably that was also a small migrating flock. There was a flock of six Musk Lorikeets too, but there were many more Rainbow Lorikeets. However, honeyeaters definitely won the day; I recorded ten species of them including a Striped Honeyeater, which again is not a species I encounter often in the survey area.

Later in the morning the writer from Australian Geographic, Scott Bevan, rang me and we reviewed the text about birds and/or HBOC from his draft article about Broughton Island.

5 May

No birding today; instead I was on duty at the HBOC display at this year's Tocal Field Days. I'd not done a Friday stint before - I have now decided that I prefer to be on duringthe weekend as there are more people coming through wanting to talk about birds on weekends. There wasn't so much of that on the Friday (but, there was some, and which I very much enjoyed).

4 May

I went to Pearl Beach, initially to the Arboretum. There were many Yellow-faced Honeyeaters present, and also some Scarlet Honeyeaters. Two Musk Lorikeets flew through, which was a brief change from all the Rainbow Lorikeets that were around. An Australian Brush-turkey didn't want to leave the track - it kept walking along it in front of me, until it came to a junction where we went our separate ways. After that I went to the Pearl Caves (the first bit of the Pearl Beach to Patonga fire trail).  At forst the birding was quiet but on my way back I encountered a busy group of Brown Gerygones and a pair of Rose Robins, plus plenty more Yellow-faced Honeyeaters .

2 May

In the morning I went to the HBOC outing at Old Brush, a private property near Brunkerville, and which is well-known for its birding opportunities. However, it was a quiet day overall. A Superb Lyrebird was calling often but it remained out of sight. One of its frequent impersonations was of a Yellow-tailed Black-Cockatoo, but eventually I saw a single real one flying over me. Near the owners' house, where there was a bird feeder, we had terrific views of Brown Cuckoo-doves and Australian King-parrots, and there also were a couple of Wonga Pigeons hanging around. Brown Gerygones were present in substantial numbers, as were Eastern Yellow Robins. On my way home I stopped at the Pioneer Dairy at Wyong - there were a couple of Pied Stilts but no other shorebirds (except for Masked Lapwings). An interesting thing was that there were both Australian Ravens and Torresian Crows present, in multiple numbers, and they seemed to be have quite a turf war.

April 2023

23-25 April

On Sunday and Monday we woke to heavy fog, which didn't lift until mid-morning on either day. However, on Tuesday it was sunnier from much earlier on. There were Brown Thornbills and Silvereyes in the garden and a Satin Bowerbird was calling often from next door, and occasionally it turned up in our garden During Sunday I saw many large groups of Silvereyes flying - presumably they were migrating flocks (the only bird I laid eyes upon in aclose-up was a buff-sided bird ie a migrant of some sort) . Similarly there were flocks of Yellow-faced Honeyeaters, but their numbers were less. We walked through Blue Mountains National Park (it was just across the road from where we were staying) to Echo Point via the Three Sisters. The birding highlight was to watch a Superb Lyrebird foraging. I heard another Lyrebird the next day (Monday) while we walked to Gordon Falls. On Tuesday I saw more migrating flocks of Silvereyes and Yellow-faced Honeyeaters. Main locations visited: Three Sisters, Echo Point, Pool of Salome, and Wentworth Falls.

22 April

I did the Ash Island survey in the morning. There were four of us, which was fortunate as we had a lot of birds to count - the total was around 1,800 of them. The largest number was Chestnut Teal, with about 700 birds. There also were 300 or so Pied Stilts. Swan Pond had some Red-necked Avocets and also a few Australasian Shovelers, and some Aust. Gull-billed Terns were roosting.  Fish Fry Flats had many small shorebirds, running around and sometimes flying - as a result it took us quite a while to get counts of them that we considered to be accurate. There were 20-30 each of Red-capped Plovers and Black-fronted Dotterels and 5-10 each of Red-kneed Dotterels and Red-necked Stints. Also, our count of Far Eastern Curlews eventually reached to five birds there, and there were another 30 or so Pied Stilts. I've put exact counts of everything into Birdata. We had a good raptor day too - seeing White-bellied Sea-Eagles, Whistling Kites, Swamp Harriers, and a Nankeen Kestrel and an Australian Hobby. Afterwards we went over to Stockton Sandspit where there was a sizeable crowd at an event to celebrate 20 years of mangrove control by volunteers. Despite us being 2 hours late in arriving, there was still food thank heavens. We had missed most of the speeches but I was called upon for one. Afterwards I drove to Katoomba, where the family was gathering for a 3-night visit.

21 April

l went back into Brisbane Water National Park, this time to do a couple of walks on the western side of the Patonga Rd (Currra Swamp etc). The habitat was taller than on the other side although still lots of heath. Mostly the birds I found were honeyeaters - White-cheeked, New Holland, Scarlet, White-eared Honeyeater plus Little Wattlebirds and Noisy Friarbirds.

18 April

ln the morning I did my monthly surveys in Brisbane Water National Park. There was almost no blossom on any of the heath, but many gum trees had good amounts of it. I found all the usual honeyeaters, although the numbers of New Holland Honeyeaters appeared to be down a bit. There were good numbers of White-cheeked Honeyeaters instead, and also some Scarlet Honeyeaters. I heard a Chestnut-rumped Heathwren but it wouldn't show itself. Afterwards, I went around to Patonga, where the highlights were an Australian Brush-turkey wandering around, and a hunting Whistling Kite.

15-16 April

A large contingent, including seven birders, spent the weekend on Broughton Island. There were seven others in the group, with two of those being a writer & a photographer for a forthcoming Australian Geographic story about the island. We were kept very busy, doing our usual surveys and banding plus interviews and related activities for the AG story.  Some Grey Fantails were back on the island - the pattern is shaping that they are autumn/winter visitors. There was only one chick remaining in the Gould's Petrel nest boxes. That bird was almost fully feahered and thus, would be soon to leave. The other chick, that had been present in February, must have departed not long before. Whiile Tom and I did posings for the photographer, we were also watching Ospreys, White-bellied Sea-Eagles and Peregrine Falcons flying around. The banders caught over 160 birds, the majority of those being Silvereyes. Of interest, there were lots of migratory southern mainland birds (subspecies westernensis) but no Tasmaninan birds (subspecies lateralis). The banders also trapped a Buff-banded Rail and an immature Lewin's Rail. It was the first time I'd had the opportunity for a close look at the latter species. It stank! Which must be a dietary thing of some sort. Late on the final morning I had my one and only sighting for the weekend of an Eastern Reef Egret, and the previous day my only sighting of a Brown Goshawk (but, others saw 1-2 of these often).

10-12 April

On Monday morning I did one more lap around the Willie Retreat campsite and house paddock. I found most of the birds of the previous days, plus a Pallid Cuckoo and some House Sparrows. I looked carefully at all of those, because a Eurasian Tree Sparrow had been reported to be with them - but I couldn't spot it. There were about 150 Tree Martins, all very active. We packed up then drove to Nyngan, seeing many Emus en route plus several Wedge-tailed Eagles. Shortly before Nyngan I saw a group of four Brolgas. Then, at the wastewater treatment plant there were about 75 Pink-eared Ducks and 50 or so Plumed Whistling-ducks, plus miscellaneous other species. From Nyngan we drove to Tottenham State Forest for lunch. There was a Singing Honeyeater there, plus Splendid Fairy-wrens and Chestnut-rumped Thornbills, and a Collared Sparrowhawk flew through. Our final break before overnighting in Orange was at Forbes, where I visited the newly-revamped Gum Swamp. There were Little Friarbirds plus lots of waterbirds but the same types that I had been seeing often in the preceding several days.

We went to the Orange Botanical Gardens first thing Tuesday morning. There was a Western Gerygone and some Crimson Rosellas, and many Common Blackbirds. After that I went to the Spring Creek Reservoir, which had several hundred Eurasian Coots on the water but also I found a Great Crested Grebe, a Musk Duck and a Hardhead. And there were many Grey Fantails along the dilapidated approach road. I then tried a few other places (Goodal Park, Ploughmans Wetlands, Lake Canobolas) but didn't find much at any of them.

On Wednesday, it was cold and raining for much of the morning, and then we had the drive through Sydney freeways to get home. I did see a few groups of Yellow-tailed Black-Cockatoos between Orange and Lithgow. We stopped at Mt Tomah Botanical Gardens, which had few birds but I was surprised to see some Little Wattlebirds as well as Red Wattlebirds.

7-9 April

We left Dubbo in light rain, and drove to Warren. There we visited the Tiger Bay Wetlands - these were dry at many of the ponds and so waterbird numbers were way down. However, in compensation I found a couple of Spiny-cheeked Honeyeaters, a Spotted Bowerbird and a group of Grey-crowned Babblers. We drove north, to the HBOC camp at Willie Retreat near the Macquarie Marshes, along the way seeing the first Emus for the trip. We set up camp and then I wandered the property for a while, finding a Rufous Songlark, Yellow-throated Miners, Yellow-rumped Thornbills and much more. Late afternoon there was an expedition to private property on the Marshes. We found plenty of waterbirds there including Pink-eared Duck, Glossy Ibis, Australian Shelduck, Plumed Egret, Red-kneed Dotterel and Black-fronted Dotterel. Bush birds included White-fronted Chat, White-winged Fairy-wren and Zebra Finch. In the evening an Australian Owlet-nightjar called regularly.

On Saturday morning I did another walk around Willie Retreat. Birds additional to yesterday included Chestnut-rumped Thornbill and Hooded Robin, and there were 65 Tree Martins together on power lines. Later in the morning there was a group expedition to a waterhole at The Mole, a property along Carinda Rd. As well as many waterbirds, there were Red-winged Parrots, a Black-faced Woodswallow, a Sacred Kingfisher, some more Tree Martins etc. After lunch back at the camp, Margaret and I went to Burrima, along Carinda Rd, where there is a new ~3km boardwalk through the Marshes. This was a great walk although not a lot of birds were in evidence. However, I saw a Hoary-headed Grebe, some Plumed Egrets, and a dozen or so other species. On our way to Burrima, we passed a paddock with 39 Emus, all in one corner of it. About 2 hours later, on our way back - there were none! Late afternoon I went to the Monkeygar Creek crossing where there were two Brolgas and about 30 Purple Swamphens, plus miscellaneous other species. The Owlet-nightjar was quite close to our tent in the evening but refused to show itself.

On Sunday morning I went early to the Burrima boardwalk. Birds were more plentiful and I found 25 species overall including several Nankeen Night-Herons and good views of some Little Grassbirds. I heard an Australian Little Bittern and was close to it, but I didn't see it. Then I drove along Carinda Rd checking out wetlands etc. At the best spot, there were 50 or more Pink-eared Ducks and lots of Grey Teal, also several Great Egrets, and I had a brief view of a Black-tailed Native-hen as it raced away. At another stop there were five Ground Cuckoo-shrikes in a group - I had seen two as I drove past, which is why I stopped. I also had a brief view of a Major Mitchell's Cockatoo. Mid-afternoon I resumed my Carinda Rd exploration - I found some Southern Whiteface and a Spotted Harrier amongst other good sightings. The best spot was a box woodland ~8km to the south of the crossroads - here I found White-browed and Masked Woodswallow, Rufous Songlark, Hooded Robin, Spotted Bowerbird, Emu, Diamond Firetail, White-browed Babbler - and a group of seven Glossy Black-Cockatoos. I reckon I had a pretty good day today!

4-6 April

Margaret and I drove to Dubbo where we spent three nights. Our stops en route were at Jerrys Plains cemetery and Cassilis Park Rest Area - neither were very fruitful for birds. I saw the first Apostlebirds near Dunedoo and a few more groups of them later, and somewhere around there I also started to see Black Kites.

On Wednesday I went to Momo State Forest, where I found a Red-capped Robin and heard a Western Gerygone (I couldn't track it down). I also spent too much time trying to find Sappa Bulga National Park, and when I did find it, it turned out to be quite a disappointment.

Thursday morning I went to the Dubbo sewage works, which were nicely set up with a bird hide at the front. Only the front pond was readily  viewable but it had several hundred waterbirds including some Pink-eared Ducks and Australasian Shovelers, plus many Grey Teal etc. There was a Yellow-billed Spoonbill and some Hoary-headed Grebes too. Then I met Margaret at the Botanic Gardens. There was a good section for local plants, which also had some bush birds including Brown Honeyeater, Double-barred Finch and Red-browed Finch. There also were some Common Blackbirds. We had lunch at the Zoo cafe, with Apostlebirds foraging at our feet. Later in the afternoon I walked alongside the Macquarie River near our motel, and found some Blue-faced Honeyeaters.

March 2023

25-27 March

I left home mid-morning on Saturday, headed to Nelson Bay for a pelagic trip on Sunday. I stopped off for a while at the Ourimbah Rest Area and did the walk. Birds were quiet but a Brown Goshawk came through and later, a group of three Topknot Pigeons. I had lunch at the Tarro Recreation Area which had various waterbirds on the ponds, and a surprise - a juvenile Striated Heron which was fishing from a log on the water's edge. Finally, I went to Hexham Swamp. Here I found some White-fronted Chats and about a hundred Sharp-tailed Sandpipers, also there were 50 or more Pied Stilts. Things must be drying out inland. There was another Brown Goshawk too - this one was being mobbed by eight Australian Ravens for several minutes.

The pelagic on Sunday had a delayed start (by almost 45 mins) on account of the deckhand not showing up. However we had a smooth trip out and were at the shelf at 10:30. That was at 180m water depth - after about an hour and a half we moved out to 250m because things had gone quiet. We were off to a great start though, with a Kermadec Petrel being around for a while plus there were several Grey-faced Petrels and a few Providence Petrels. Also, a Wilson's Storm-Petrel put in a lengthy appearance. But, apart from a few shearwater species, that was it. It was even quieter at our second location. There had been some Flesh-footed Shearwaters at the shelf but we picked up many more on our way back - at least a hundred of them.  We also had a handful of Fluttering or Fluttering-type Shearwaters on the trip back.

On Monday morning I went to Barry Park near Fingal Bay and did the coastal walk to Fingal Head. Along the way there was a young fledged Australasian Figbird begging and I saw a Sooty Oystercatcher on a rock platform. Not long afterward, heavy rain set in and I abandoned my plans. I had to be in Newcastle mid-morning in any case. There I met Margaret at friends', then later the two of us had lunch at the Wetlands Centre where there were several Magpie Geese loitering. It was still too wet for a walk. Then mid-afternoon we met with most of the contingent bound for Japan in May, and we spent a couple of hours discussing the plans plus having a brief cultural tutorial from Nigel from Port Stephens Council.

24 March

In the morning I went to Brisbane Waters NP, to do my monthly surveys of the Warrah Trig area. There were more honeyeaters present than I've ever encountered previously, including a few Eastern Spinebills and some Scarlet Honeyeaters, as well as all the usual suspects. I found Crimson Rosellas (for the first time at that location), and I also saw a couple of groups of Variegated Fairy-wrens.


New Zealand trip 11-20 March

Margaret and I travelled to New Zealand . Although it mainly was for a family holiday (we were travelling with my siblings/cousins and their partners - there were ten of us in all) I tried to squeeze in some birdwatching whenever possible. I managed to find four lifers (NZ Fernbird, Black-fronted Tern, NZ Scaup, Dunnock) plus several species I hadn't seen in my only previous visit to NZ. So, I came back feeling happy about my use of my birding opportunities.

11 March

There wasn't much opportunity for birding today - we leisurely made our way to Sydney Airport for a late morning departure to New Zealand. Steve and Luigi met us at Auckland Airport. During our subsequent drive to Devonport I was picking up a few species - Southern Black-backed Gull and Red-billed Gull being the main ones (plus some of the introduced species). Then at Debbie & Steve's place at Devonport, they had Tuis around their garden regularly and I heard Grey Warblers from the forest at the bottom of the garden.

12 March

In the morning I wandered down to an area of mangroves and salt marsh at the bottom of the hill. Almost immediately I found a small group of White-faced Herons and a Sacred Kingfisher. There also were several introduces species, of which Song Thrush was the most exciting for me as I see the other types of plastics reasonably often. Then I came to a sportsfield - which had shorebirds galore. I counted 12 South Island Pied Oystercatchers, 19 Banded Dotterel (the NZ term for what we call in Australia the Double-banded Plover) and 22 New Zealand Dotterels. All these birds were quite wary. I also picked up Masked Lapwings, Silvereyes and Eastern Rosellas, plus I heard a Grey Warbler. Late morning, all ten of us took a ferry across to Auckland to eat and wander. By the harbour I saw a White-fronted Tern plus several Southern Black-backed Gulls and some Red-billed Gulls (and later, many of these scavenging in town).

Back in Devonport, late afternoon a Barbary Dove landed in a nearby tree and posed for quite a while, and not long afterwards a New Zealand Fantail was flitting around and a Grey Warbler was singing from not too far away.

13 March

The ten of us left Devonport pre-dawn, in a mini-bus to Auckland Airport for a flight to Christchurch. It was raining solidly in Christchurch and very blustery, and these conditions continued all day as we drove to Blenheim and our nearby accommodation. Most of my birding was from the car as we drove past fields etc. I saw several groups of Paradise Shelducks, and three large assemblages of Southern Black-backed Gulls (all were in cleared paddocks), plus the usual common plastics. However, there also were several Swamp Harriers, and twice I saw a New Zealand Falcon, and once a pair of Black Swans. For a while mid-journey we hugged the dramatic coastline. At our first stop along it, I found large roosts of both Southern Black-backed Gulls and Red-billed Gulls, also a pair of Variable Oystercatchers plus some cormorants. The next stop (to visit a NZ Fur Seal colony at Kaikoura) had more Variable Oystercatchers, one of which was banded. I took photos but I don't yet know who to send them to. We eventually arrived at our stop near Blenheim with the sun finally emerging (just in time for dusk) and a Common Chaffinch singing from a bush by the front door until our arrival chased it away.

14 March

Mid-morning I went for a walk around the grounds (we were staying in an upmarket large house in the middle of a vineyard in the Marlborough wine-making region). Apart from some Silvereyes, and a late-appearing New Zealand Fantail, everything else was an introduced species - Common Chaffinch, Common Greenfinch, Common Blackbird, House Sparrow, California Quail. Just before we set out, though, a pair of Swamp Harriers were around for a while (exciting all of the plastics). Most of the day subsequently was spent doing wine country tourism activities, but I did see another assemblage of Southern Black-backed Gulls and also there were Welcome Swallows at a few places.

15 March

At Nelson I found a brochure about the Brook Waitmaru Sanctuary, which is located just out of town, and I persuaded the others that we should modify our plans and visit there. It was a rushed visit which didn't do the place justice, but in the hour available I found Bellbirds, Silvereyes, a Tomtit and a New Zealand Fantail, plus had brief views of a Tui. Our destination was a camping ground near the Marahau River, on the edge of Abel Tasman NP. There was a Weka patrollong the area around the cabins, which amazed me but I then saw Wekas every day for the next five days.

16 March

In the night I heard a Morepork calling but it was quite a way off. The Weka was stil around, and later in the day I saw two of them together. I walked down to the mudflats via the Marahau Nature Trail. The  first bird I encountered was a lifer for me!  It was a New Zealand Fernbird, a shy bird of wetland vegetation. I saw a couple more of them later. Closer to the mudflats there were several Sacred Kingfishers and a New Zealand Pipit. Margaret and I walked into the village for lunch - the tide had started to come in and there were lots of South Island Pied Oystercatchers (SIPOs) in sight plus various other non-migratory shorebirds. On our walk back I had great views of a pair of Grey Warblers.

In the late afternoon, closer to the high tide, I went back to the mudflats at the estuary. there were oysteratchers everywhere. I counted at least 150 SIPOs and at least 40 Variable Oystercatchers. Also present were 10-20 each of Pied Stilt, Bar-tailed Godwit and Banded Dotterel, also several Mallards and some Paradise Shelducks. I could see a small flock of roosting White-fronted Terns, and then my second lifer for the day turned up - a Black-fronted Tern! My photos of it were a flop but I had a good look at it.

17 March

Debbie and Margaret dropped me at the Motuetka Sandspit for a few hours, on their way for some sightseeing. I walked about 5 km (return walk) of the sandspit in soft sand at low tide. There were a few Bar-tailed Godwits and Banded Dotterels, also quite a few SIPOs, and I saw my first Royal Spoonbill for the trip. A nearby wetland/creek had about 20 Canada Geese (my first sighting of them for the trip) and a family of Pied Stilts (a pair plus three very young fledged birds).

Late afternoon I went back to the Marahau estuary mudflats for some high tide viewing. I saw pretty much the same birds as the day before, and in similar numbers. Eventually, two Black-fronted Terns arrived but they were not cooperative - they spent all of their time fishing quite some distance from me.

18 March

There was a lot of driving today, and therefore not much time for birding. We travellled from Marahau to Punakaiki, via winding mountain roads for much of the time. At Buller Gorge, after I braved the swing bridge, I found some Silvereyes and a New Zealand Fantail. I also found Wekas at several stops, including there was one of them on the lawn of our cottage at Punakaiki.

19 March

In the walk around Pancake Rocks (which is a very interesting geological formation) there were several Bellbirds and many Silvereyes. At Greymouth I saw my only Great Cormorants (Black Shags, in New Zealand) for the trip. From Greymouth, Margaret and I took the Alpine Train to Christchurch. I was hoping to see some Keas along the route but no such luck. However, there were Black Swans and Canada Geese on some of the lakes, and I saw a few Swamp Harriers too.

20 March

We spent the morning at the Christchurch Botanic Gardens, prior to heading to the airport for our flight back to Australia. I had left my camera and binoculars with my luggage, as I was expecting a low-key morning for birds. A big mistake! The Gardens were quite birdy including I scored two more lifers! There were plenty of New Zealand Scaup on one of the ponds, plus I saw Dunnocks several times. Although they are yet another introduced species, I'd never encountered them in their native home in Europe.  I also saw Canada Geese, Paradise Shelducks, and most of the usual introduced species, including a male California Quail darted across a track in front of me. It's interesting that I didn't see any Common Mynas after leaving Auckland.

Shortly before departing the Gardens, I came across a New Zealand Falcon. The bird was not in good condition - it was standing in a secluded spot, with one eye misted over, and flies buzzing all around it. I tracked down some Gardens staff and showed them where it was. They then scooted off to get a towel and a cage, so that the bird could be taken into care. I hope it will be OK. But if it's down to having only one functioning eye, I suppose thatit will never be able to be released back into the wild.


10 March

In the morning I went up to Newcastle to do the monthly survey of Ash Island. Ross and Andrzej joined the survey. We found two Far Eastern Curlew at Milhams Pond, ie some birds have already departed since last month. Behind Teal Waters, there was a nice surprise - a group of four Latham's Snipe (which didn't linger after our arrival). At the main ponds, we found a scattered total of 88 Pied Stilts - plus there wasa single Red-necked Avocet amongst them. And, on Deep Pond there were some grebes including seven Hoary-headed Grebes and seven others (ID uncertain due to distance). Finally, at Fish Fry Flats we found 13 Red-capped Plovers. We saw three raptor species during the morning - Australian Hobby, Whistling Kite, Swamp Harrier. Then, I raced back home to finish packing for our trip away.

7-8 March

I spent much of these two days in the Gloucester Tops, or else driving to/from them. I visited two Rufous Scrub-bird territories, to sevice the trail cameras I have set up at them. Proceedings were disrupted by a) a mighty thunderstorm on Tuesday afternoon, which sent me scurrying down the mountain to escape it, and b) a fallen tree on Wednesday on my way back up to the Tops - it was too big to drive across or for me to move; fortunately some NPWS field staff happened by and chain-sawed it out of the way. Birdwise it was quiet, but a scrub-bird was calling at one territory and there were some Crescent Honeyeaters around.  On Wednesday morning I had a meeting at NPWS Gloucester office, to discuss the Rufous Scrub-bird studies and kick round ideas for related activities to consider. Then, that evening I went to the HBOC meeting where there was an interesting talk by a photographer about raptors and owls, and how to get good photos of both those guilds.

February 2023

28 February

In the evening I gave a talk in Tuggerah to the Central Coast branch of Birding NSW (it was about my Rufous Scrub-bird studies). I spent the afternoon birding, en route to Tuggerah. My first stop was at the Australian Pelican breeding colony near Woy Woy - I could only view the sandspit from land but I could easily see that there were many half-sized chicks present. My next stop was the Ourimbah Rest Area, where I again saw Red-whiskered Bulbuls - this time, I found two pairs of them. I also saw some Yellow-throated Scrubwrens and Brown Gerygones. Then finally, I went to the Old Dairy Wetlands at Wyong (sometimes its called the Central Coast Wetland). Almost upon my arrival I found a Buff-banded Rail, and just before departure, a Latham's Snipe briefly emerged. There was a largish roost of Little Pied Cormorants (of 20-30 birds) and with some Little Black Cormorants also present, and the Pied Stilt count had grown to five birds.

17-20 February

I was up in the Hunter Region for these days - mainly to do: a) the Hunter Estuary survey on Saturday morning and b) the Port Stephens survey on Monday morning. I also had some meetings - two of them were to do with the trip to Japan we'll be doing later this year, and the other was to do with the Rufous Scrub-bird project. On my way north, I saw two Red-whiskered Bulbuls at the Ourimbah Rest Area - it's been a very long time since I've seen that species! Ash Island on Saturday morning was quiet - there's not much water present, and many of the wetlands have dried out, or nearly so. It was a good day for seeing raptors though - we found Swamp Harrier, Black-shouldered Kite, Brown Falcon, Whistling Kite, Osprey, Nankeen Kestrel and White-bellied Sea-Eagle. On Sunday morning I went early to Fletcher, where Latham's Snipe were being reported in good numbers. I found 21 birds but there probably were many more hidden away in the grass. On Monday at Port Stephens, my group surveying Foxtrot Sector saw Bar-tailed Godwits, Far Eastern Curlews, Whimbrels and Grey-tailed tattlers, and an amazing tally of 89 Australian Pied Oystercatchers (and overall, there were 173 of them in the Port).

12-13 February

On Sunday afternoon I went for a bit of an explore around Umina Beach and Pearl Beach, finding very little by way of birds but I did find the Arboretum at Pearl Beach which I enjoyed walking through. There were a couple of begging young Channel-billed Cuckoos there, and I heard Pied Currawongs which I assume were the host species. The next day, I took Margaret there to show her the Arboretum. It's impressive. The birds were much more active this time and I found considerably more species than on Sunday - including I saw two Superb Lyrebirds foraging together - they looked to be a mother and juvenile. Later we walked the beach and I found 20+ Welcome Swallows foraging over the lagoon plus saw an Australian Brush-turkey nearby (later, I saw another at Patonga). Earlier today I saw a large group of Mallards (30-35 birds) in the water off Ettalong, so it was a day of large counts. At Patonga, a female Mallard and 8 ducklings were walking through the campground, and a Whistling Kite was flying over.

8-9 February

On Wednesday I attended the HBOC Annual General Meeting (at which I was the Returning Officer). The meeting was OK and was then followed by a wonderful presentaion by Milly Formby about her Micro-Light travels around Australia to publicise shorebird migration. I was delighted to see some Magpie-Geese at the Wetlands Centre prior to the HBOC meeting. On my way home next morning, I stopped off at the Wyong Wetlands - where I saw two Pied Stilts (the first sightings for me on the coast for 12-18 months). I also has great encounters with a Brown Cuckoo-Dove and there were 20 or so Australasian Figbirds present.

3-5 February

Seven of us spent three days on Broughton Island - doing the quarterly surveys plus continuing the banding project. The weather was perfect and it was great to be out there, even though the bird numbers weren't high. The banders had a Buff-banded Rail (which I dropped by to see them process) and some Brown Quail, as well as the usual mix of small bush birds. There were two Gould's Petrel chicks in nest boxes, plus two adults in each of two other boxes. Another nest box had a Wedge-tailed Shearwater chick in a side tunnel from it. Providence Beach had 18 Red-capped Plovers plus a solitary Grey-tailed Tattler, and we saw Eastern Reef Egrets many times (often as a pair together). There were many different types of raptor, but all were in small numbers. We found Red-browed Finches at many locations around the island - they have colonised it quite well in less than two years since first arriving!

January 2023

26-27 January

I joined the Hunter Bird Observers Club camp at Smiths Lake for a while. On my way there I stopped at O'Sullivans Gap and The Grandis, both places are in Myall Lakes National Park. I didn't find much at either spot, alas - some Yellow-throated Scrubwrens were the highlight. At the Smiths Lake field station where we stayed, there was a Brown-capped Emerald-Dove on the lawn when I arrived!  The bird came and went several times during my visit but it was a very wary bird.  There was a pair of Forest Ravens at the site, and another pair back at the start of Horse Point Rd. I found some Large-billed Scrubwrens and my other good sightings included Leaden Flycatcher, Rainbow Bee-eater, and Variegated Fairy-wren. There were considerable numbers of Red-browed Finches feeding on grass seeds all along the track. I heard Lewin's Rail several times (there were at least two of them) but I was unable to see one.

23 January

I went to Brisbane Water National Park in the morning - to the area around Warrah Trig. I have decided to try to do regular surveys there - either monthly or quarterly ones (I'm still deciding about that). I have picked out four 2ha sites within a 5km radius survey area. It's mostly coastal heath so the birdlife won't have massive diversity. But it's very nice heath and a pleasure to be in. The morning got away to a great start - I heard then tracked down a Chestnut-rumped Heathwren. There were many New Holland Honeyeaters and Little Wattlebirds, and I also saw several White-eared Honeyeaters, plus Variegated Fairy-wren, Red-browed Finch and miscellaneous other things. I finished my morning at Patonga where an Australian Hobby whizzed through at one point, causing great alarm amongst the Little Corellas.

21 January

Ross and I did the Ash Island survey in the morning. Although bird numbers weren't high, it was an eventful day. The only shorebirds we found were six Far Eastern Curlews. These were some of the other highlights:  86 Great Egrets feeding together in Wader Pond, along with 16 Royal Spoonbills, a few Silver Gulls and one Little Egret. The ponds are drying out and the egrets were catching fish regularly; a group of 25-30 Royal Spoonbills out of sight in a reedy wetland suddenly rising up when a White-bellied Sea-Eagle flew overhead; four Buff-banded Rails (possibly 5 birds) wandering in the open on the drying mud of the south-western side of Bellfrog Wetland; an Australasian Bittern which flew in front of the car late morning as we drove along Ramsar Rd. Our good deed for the day was to rescue an Australian Reed-warbler that had become caught in a spider's web. The spider was probably wondering how on earth it was going to be rid of its accidental capture.

18-20 January

After lunch I packed up and relocated to McCullys Gap (near Muswelbrook) to join the quarterly surveys there. It had become quite hot (it was 40C at Muswellbrook) and I had a swim at the Muswellbrook pool before I did my shopping - which included to buy an air mattress and pump at Big W. Overnight, the weather conditions changed - it became rainy and windy for the next two days. But the six of us managed to get all the surveys done, doging showers especially on Thursday morning. We found Speckled Warblers at several sites, and also a pair of Spiny-cheeked Honeyeaters with fledged dependent young. The highlight was a gully site adjoing native bushland - it was buzzing with smal birds including 15 or so Buff-rumped Thornbills and also Yellow Thornbills and Yellow-rumped Thornbills plus Red-browed Finches and Double-barred Finches. Elsewhere, we found a very young Fan-tailed Cuckoo and I heard a distant Brush Cuckoo too. I recorded 65 species for my personal list.

16-18 January

I took part in the Martindale surveys, arriving late afternoon on the Monday. I stopped at Jerrys Plains en route, where I found some Grey-crowned Babblers but not much else. The surveys were productive, despite it being warm conditions.  I recorded 84 species for my personal list, and collectively the five of us found just over 100 species. We found a male Hooded Robin at one site, also (elsewhere) a Black Falcon as well as Brown and Peregrine Falcon.  A group of Wandering Whistling-Ducks at one wetland was unusual (out of their normal range) while at another wetland, which was dry the previous time I was there, we found 30-40 Golden-headed Cisticolas and a pair of out-of-range Tawny Grassbirds. The Cisticolas were erupting from vegetation all the time as I walked through it - it was an amazing experience! Overnight I heard Aust. Owlet-nightjar and Southern Boobook, and a post-dawn White-throated Nightjar. My stretcher tent suffered a major rip on the Monday night and I had to sleep in the car on Tuesday night without a mattress. Two uncomfortable nights!