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 2019

14 September

Ross and I did the Ash Island monthly survey. Although it rained this month and hence there was water in the ponds, that hasn't yet brought birds back. About all that we found at the main pond system were some Black-fronted Dotterels (which were already there from before the rain). However, we found six Eastern Curlews at the tidal Milhams Pond and a Brown Songlark at Wader Pond. The highlight was right at the end, when we found a pair of Black-necked Stork wandering through a paddock. After finishing the survey, we went around to the rainforest walk where we could get a closer look at them.

13 September

Margaret and I went to Glenrock SCA for a while in the morning. The area around the lagoon had lots of birds although nothing out of the ordinary. Still, it was nice watching the Red-browed Finches and Superb Fairy-wrens hopping about on the grass and listening to the Bell Miners calling. We also walked the Yuelarbah Track, to the lookout. My highlight was when I heard a Rose Robin.

11 September

Today was my first day of birding in more than 2 weeks!  Too many other things have been happening. I went up to the Gloucester Tops with Greg Little and Rob Kyte. Our main purpose was to clear net lanes for the coming season's Rufous Scrub-bird program. We visited five territories, and heard five scrub-birds. We also heard Red-browed Treecreepers and Crescent Honeyeaters, and Rose Robins at a few spots (so, they're back for the summer). Flame Robins are back too - we saw a pair together, the male an immature bird (with only a faint reddish wash on his breast). And at the same spot as the robins, there was a big surprise - a Willie Wagtail! I have never seen one at high altitude in the Gloucester Tops before, in more than one hundred visits. On our way back down from the Tops, we came upon a flock of ~45 Little Ravens; that was another first for me in that part of the Gloucester River valley. 

In the evening I went to the HBOC meeting, where we had a very interesting talk by Lynn Baker about coastal Emu (and the use of sniffer dogs).

August 2019

24 August

I spent the morning in Goulburn River National Park. Highlights for me included: Tree Martin, Little Lorikeet, pair of Rockwarbler, Restless Flycatcher, pair of Turquoise Parrot, Dusky Woodswallow, Speckled Warbler, Diamond Firetail, Brown Treecreeper and then a Spotted Quail-thrush flew across the road and landed alongside it.

23 August

At a park in Yanco I found a mixed flock of various thornbills (Yellow, Yellow-rumped and Buff-rumped Thornbill, also Weebills). I ended up at Fivebough Swamp where I spent a couple of hours and did the circuit. There were remarkable numbers of Purple Swamphens, also Golden-headed Cisticolas, Australian Reed-warblers, Little Grassbirds, etc. The highlight was a Black Falcon flying through, I also had a nice encounter with a Black-shouldered Kite, and the fairy-wrens were Purple-backed Fairy-wren (which I suppose I can now tick; they are separated from Variegated on the IOC list). I had a lot of driving required in the afternoon but made a brief stopover at Gum Swamp near Forbes. It didn't have a lot of birds but there were some Pink-eared Ducks amidst the Grey Teal. I stayed overnight at Gulgong where the highlight (perhaps) was a Common Blackbird.

22 August

I left Euston in the morning, heading back east. However, at Balranald I detoured northwards towards Ivanhoe, until I was into good salt bush country. Mick Todd had given me some locations for Redthroat, and at the second of those I found a couple of them and a White-winged Fairy-wren. Also, there were Brown Songlarks at a couple of stops, and some Yellow-throated Miners. Back on the Sturt Highway the trip was uneventful - very windy conditions and not many birds. I tried for Superb Parrots at a couple of spots, unsuccessfully. However, there was good birding at the Birdcage Rest Area including some Spiny-cheeked Honeyeaters and large numbers of Sulphur-crested Cockatoos and Little Corellas. Late fternoon I tried some spots around Leeton and Yanco for Superb Parrots, again with no luck.

21 August

I met Mick Todd this morning and he took me to some Regent Parrot nesting areas. Mick is the Threatened Species Recovery Coordinator for them. The first place we went to turned out to be where I was yesterday and where several hundred of them breed! We visited a nearby Peregrine Falcon nest (not active) and later saw one bird. Apparently they feast upon Regent Parrots regularly; the parrots fly fast but predictably. At a second breeding colony we again saw many Regent Parrots; they do well in this area but their range is very restricted. Once again there were many Sulphur-crested Cockatoos and Little Corellas in the same area, and many many hollows.

20 August

I spent the day in the Euston Regional Park. In the morning I found 3 Regent Parrots but later on a tip-off from John and Beth Cockerell (also visiting this area) there were 30 or so of them in red gums down by the river (plus many Sulphur-crested Cockatoos and Little Corellas, all hanging around hollows. In the morning I also had a male Crimson Chat, several White-winged Trillers, a couple of Horsfield’s Bronze-cuckoos, Chestnut-rumped Thornbills and a Pallid Cuckoo. There were Australian Ringnecks as well, and I found a Brown-headed Honeyeater in the mallee.

19 August

I had stayed overnight in Gundagai, after the first day of my trip down to the Murray. It was a cold windy day today and hence the birding stops were few. I stopped at a lagoon near Narrandera, finding very little except almost at the end I flushed a pair of Australasian Shelduck. My next stop was by the river just west of Hay. Here were some Black Kites, a Restless Flycatcher by the river, Tree Martins and a few Yellow Rosellas. I went into Yanga NP near Balranald, where I found three Marsh Sandpipers also Pied Stilts, Red-necked Avocet and Red-capped Plovers at the lake. There was a pair of Singing Honeyeaters near the car park too. My final travel stop was a rest area west of Balranald (Prungle Mail) where I found Mulga Parrots and an adult Blue Bonnet feeding a juvenile. Eventually I reached my destination, Euston, and soon after was on a walk alongside the river. There were lots of Red-rumped Parrots, and plenty of Yellow Rosellas. Then, finally, my target - a Regent Parrot. Two of them actually, and the first sighting for me since October 1989. Very pleased! 

17 August

Ross and I did the Ash Island survey. It continues to be very quiet out there but at least this time we had some Red-necked Avocets (4 birds!) and Pied Stilt (43 birds). At Fish Fry Flats we also had nine Black-fronted Dotterel, and a single Red-capped Plover.

16 August

I had a meeting at midday with the bird banders, to go through some planning for the now three projects I'm involved with that have each a banding component.  It was a productive meeting! In the evening I went to a gathering of birders, a chance to talk about "nothing but birds" for a few hours. That sort  of worked (and overall I enjoyed it).

7 August

I spent the morning at the Victorian Museum in Melbourne, examining their Rufous Scrub-bird collection. They had lots of skins; almost all were of birds collected in the northern parts of the range, but there were two birds from the Chichester River collected in the 1920s. There were two broods of eggs (and there was a missing brood, the indentations of the two eggs still visible in the cotton wool). The three remaining eggs looked similar to the ones I saw in Sydney last week. There also was a nest, which is what I had been keenest to see. It was partly disintegrated and so I couldn't get a full impression of what it looked like, but it wasenough to know what to look for in the field. It was lined with chewed vegetation, very much like the Noisy Scrub-bird nest that I saw in WA last year.

5 August

After spending much of the day dealing with papers for The Whistler (only one of them being one of mine), I went to Nobbys Beach for a walk out along the pier. There were some Aust. Gannets around, and lots of Silver Gulls and Crested Terns, but not much else until I found a group of Sooty Oystercatchers on the rock platform near the Ocean Baths.