Thinking About Birds

I only update the gallery photos occasionally. Sorry about that, too busy. See my Sri Lanka gallery though and also  the latest additions to my UK and Denmark galleries.

September 2020

19 September

Ross, Milly and I did the Ash Island survey in the morning. We only found three migratory shorebirds (one each of Far Eastern Curlew, Red-necked Stint and Marsh Sandpiper) but there were three Red-necked Avocets on Swan Pond and 50+ Pied Stilt scattered across various ponds; the first time in ages that we've had avocets or stilts on Ash Island. One of the stilts was on a nest - that's the first time ever that I've seen a stilt's nest! We found 15 Red-capped Plovers and 3 Black-fronted Dotterels too, and a pair of Chestnut Teal with 10 ducklings.

16-18 September

On Wednesday I did another day-trip to the Gloucester Tops, on a gorgeous spring day. My main mission was to record some Rufous Scrub-bird calls, which went well; however, after I got home I spent two days editing the calls ! It's a time-consuming task. I visited three scrub-bird territories, and all three birds were actively calling for much of the time. At one territory I saw the bird twice - once it was up in a shrub, singing, and once it was at my feet. That time the bird popped out to have a look at me! When I went through the recordings I realised that there had been two birds in the territory, one presumably was the female. I was within half a metre of that bird for more than five minutes; it was making lots of clicks and softish whistles, but I never saw it. At the third territory, I followed the bird for well over an hour, eventually obtaining a very clear look at it. It had a yellow band on its right leg! It was the bird we banded in November 2018, still in the same territory.

13 September

I was on a pelagic trip from Nelson Bay to the shelf today. Conditions were fair (only a light breeze, but at least there was some air movement unlike on my previous pelagic trip). We had lots of Wedge-tailed Shearwaters with us all day, hungry birds which had probably only just arrived back. We had occasional, brief views of Fluttering and Hutton's Shearwaters but they ignored the boat, similarly for some Providence Petrels. Before long though, we had White-faced Storm-petrels come in, perhaps 10-12 birds in total. They often came in very close and I got some reasonable photos. Then, a real highlight - a Soft-plumaged Petrel which briefly investigated the boat. It was a Hunter Region tick for me!  We had a Common Tern around for a while, which I hadn't seen at sea before (but, plenty of times from land) and, on our way back in, a Southern Giant-Petrel was briefly seen plus we had the unusual sighting of a Bar-tailed Godwit several km out at sea.

9 September

I did another day-trip to the Gloucester Tops. It was a drizzly cold day and I spent most of it deep in the bush tracking Rufous Scrub-birds to record them. I was soaked through by the time I had finished. However, I got recordings of various calls from three different individuals. I spent about 4 hours within <20m distance of a scrub-bird, but didn't ever see one!

I got home just in time for the HBOC Zoom meeting, which as usual was a very good meeting.

5 September

Margaret, Sally and I went to the Botanic Gardens for the morning. I covered a lot of ground but didn't find much really. There were quite a few Yellow-faced Honeyeaters and one of the White-cheeked Honeyeaters had a yellow crown from all the pollen it had accidentally collected.

4 September

I met with the bird banders (Judy, Greg and Rob) for a couple of hours and we sorted out dates for the next few months for the Broughton Island project work and the Rufous Scrub-bird project work.

3 September

I went to the Gloucester Tops today, visiting five Rufous Scrub-bird territories. Scrub-birds were calling at  two of them. The first was at what I believe is a new territory, about 200m from a long-occupied one where now there is no evidence of a bird being present. There has also been a bird at this new location on my past two visits. I made some recordings of it for a new project, but was never able to get close enough to see it. The second singing bird I also recorded, and saw it five times including once in the open as it ran across a log. However, I wasn't able to see if it had a colour band (which it almost certainly should have). There's always next time!

I saw my first Flame Robin for this season, and there were several Rose Robins around, also Red-browed Treecreepers, Crescent Honeyeaters and Olive Whistlers. Overall, it was a very pleasant day.

August 2020

22 August

Ross and I did the monthly Ash Island survey in the morning. With the wind chill factor, it was bitterly cold (and wet, at times) but we soldiered on. The best birding was had at Fish Fry Flats where we found the usual 15 or so Black-fronted Dotterels and 30+ Red-capped Plovers, also three Far Eastern Curlews which I’m guessing were newly returned birds. There were 22 Aust. Gull-billed Terns and six Caspian Terns there as well. We had close views of a dark phase Brown Falcon.

14-16 August

A group of six of us went to Broughton Island for the quarterly project visit. We had some COVID restrictions to follow, and it was windier than we wanted; however, we got a lot done. My camera at the Eastern Reef Egret nest was ruined by weather events post-installation, but we got some good images on the second camera (and we saw several of the birds over the three days). Coming back from visiting the nest, I found a Beach Stone-curlew - which is Broughton's first everrecord! And on Sunday there were two birds together. We had a young (sub-adult) Brahminy Kite at Esmeralda Cove the entire visit, with many great views of it, and seven other raptor species were seen during the three days (including the banders caught a Brown Goshawk). Neil, Bruce and I went to Pinkatop where we did some gardening to clear the White-faced Storm-petrel burrows and nests, and I made a plan for where to place cameras at the Gould's Petrel nest boxes. We heard Lewin's Rails several times and I had a brief view of one crossing a track. Also, we heard Pheasant Coucals several times - they have been missing on many of our recent visits so perhaps the wetter conditions have favoured them.

12 August

I went up to the Gloucester Tops for the day, visiting the two Rufous Scrub-bird territories where we previously have put bands onto birds. Both birds were only singing sporadically (for one bird, I had to wait for more than an hour for it to begin to call) and therefore I didn't have any success in getting close enough to them to see if either was banded. There were several Crescent Honeyeaters calling during the day. In the evening I attended HBOC's Zoom meeting, where there was an interesting talk given about avian paleontology.

11 August

In the afternoon I took part in a phone discussion about Rufous Scrub-bird monitoring/planning, chaired by Sam Vine from BirdLife Australia. The intent is to achieve a national approach and start to make things happen especially on the species recovery front. There were some good points raised; the issue is lack of funding but BLA and the various Local Land Services groups have ideas for dealing with that.

9 August

Greg, Judy and I met at Rob's place for a few hours, to sort out our thoughts about radio tracking equipment for Rufous Scrub-birds and various other species. We decided to replace our very old, borrowed equipment by new state-of-the-art items and made our choices. We'll have all the new gear by the time the scrub-birds start getting serious about breeding.

5 August

I attended the HBOC Zoom committee meeting in the evening, having spent all of the day's spare time (when not child-minding) generating more of my Penta Puzzles. They're still going onto the Australian Birdlife website to help get people through their days of lockdown.

3 August

I was in a Zoom meeting in the afternoon, to discuss options for regular Manning estuary surveys. It looks like they will be starting up, replicating my older surveys which were done mainly by land, but also incorporating a boat to allow access to parts of the estuary that I was never able to get to. Later in the afternoon, I reviewed my draft Broughton Island report with the ranger, Susanne Callaghan, and we decided to postpone the scheduled visit by a week on account of the lousy weather forecast for this Friday-Sunday.