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.

February 2020

14 February

I attempted to go up to the Gloucester Tops today but couldn't get past the first ford which was about 25cm deep and a torrent of water gushing through it. The fords beyond are deeper so I figured there was no point in trying. I later heard from someone who went through on Thursday in a big 4WD - the final fords were tough and thus I made the correct decision. So instead I went to Copeland Tops SCA. It wasn't easy birding, as the creek was so noisy. But, I had great views of Southern Logrunner (there was a pair) and several Large-billed Scrubwrens, and there was Superb Lyrebird, Spectacled Monarch and Brush Cuckoo as well.

11-13 February

I spent quite a lot of my time drafting a paper about Rufous Scrub-birds in the Gloucester Tops - an overview of ten years of doing surveys of them. There has been a substantial decline in the territory density over the decade. I think it will be an important paper. I also worked on some Featured Bird fact sheets. Number 2 in the series will be published this week and I have #3 ready now plus much of #4. On Wednesday night I went to the HBOC meeting; it was a hot night and I felt uncomfortable (physically) in sitting through a very long presentation.

6 February

Quite a bit of the day was spent sorting out a media release and a newspaper article, both of them were about the Gould's Petrel chick we found on Broughton Island last weekend. Story is here, and several more links are available here (towards the bottom of the page). In the evening I went to the HBOC Management Committee meeting.

31 January to 2 February

I and seven others (one being a frog specialist) went to Broughton Island for the quarterly visit. Bird activity was relatively low, because of the heat and the long dry spell, but there were many things of interest. My first activity was to go to the nest boxes, where we found an adult Gould's Petrel in one nest box and a healthy chick in another. The first breeding success in these nest boxes!

We had four new species for the island, all providing brief views only: Channel-billed Cuckoo, Spotted Pardalote, White-throated Needletail, Arctic Jaeger. Each morning after the night-time high tide we found tracks of several Little Penguins and in a visit to the colony on Saturday night we saw six birds going towards burrows. There were Eastern Reef Egrets at the northern and southern extremities, plus two birds often seen around Esmeralda Cove. They often went to the same spot on the opposite side of the cove; eventually when the tide was low enough we explored that area and found a nest, almost certainly belonging to them. It was not active but there was a large grey feather alongside. There's only one prior breeding record, and it dates from 1910; and so, I'm excited!  I'll set up a camera next visit.

January 2020

30 January

I spent more of the day than I would really have wanted, working on the Rufous Scrub-bird status update for the IUCN Red List. The summer fires have destroyed about 50% of the total habitat and presumably most of those birds are dead. A few months ago there was chatter about down-listing it from Endangered to Vulnerable; now I think the decision is whether to upgrade to Critically Endangered. Very sad!

29 January

I went out to Ash Island in the morning, to show it off to Steve Klose the new BirdLife Australia shorebirds project manager. Ann Lindsey and Millie Formby also came along. It was a great morning!  We had Far Eastern Curlews and Pacific Golden Plovers at the beginning of the morning (at Milhams Pond and Phoenix Flats). At the main ponds we had Pied Stilts and Red-necked Avocets, and also those two Banded Stilts which have been present for a few months now. At Fish Fry Flats there were 100+ of Sharp-tailed Sandpiper, and nine Red-necked Stints plus a solitary Far Eastern Curlew. The mosquitoes at times were very bad!

28 January

In the morning I wrote the URRF submission for the Pycroft's Petrel sighting from late last year and then I had a lunchtime planning meeting for the coming trip to Broughton Island. We also discussed the Rufous Scrub-bird project and the new Featured Bird series that I have started.

24-26 January

Margaret and I went to the HBOC camp at Smiths Lake (at the UNSW Field Station). It's quiet birding as the habitat is limited, but nonetheless a pleasant spot. There were some Forest Ravens in the area, and 100 or so Black Swans on the lake. On Sunday the numbers of honeyeaters rose compared to the two previous days, and it seemed there was some sort of passage movement happening. Main species involved were Noisy Friarbird, Yellow-faced Honeyeater and Little Wattlebird, and also White-naped Honeyeater and Scarlet Honeyeater to some extent.

20-22 January

On Monday morning I made a brief visit to Stockton Sandspit (in between non-birding appointments) where I found 30 or so Grey-tailed Tattlers, about 150 Far Eastern Curlews and miscellaneous other shorebirds. In the afternoon I headed west, eventually to the Martindale Valley. I did some birding along the way but didn't find much (hot day, afternoon, there's a drought). I joined the others and we birded for a while at Medhurst Bridge and then around the campsite. Then we had two days of doing the quarterly surveys. Highlights from those, for me, included male Hooded Robin, Dusky Woodswallow, excellent and prolonged views of a Rockwarbler, Speckled Warbler, Spiny-cheeked Honeyeater, and a night-time fly-by of a White-throated Nightjar. Also, there were first-time records for the valley of both Pink-eared Duck and Australasian Shoveler.

I went home via Doughboy Hollow near Singleton, where, as I had hoped, I found lots of Plumed Whistling-Ducks (170 birds were visible, many more could be heard - there is no close access as the site is private property).

13 January

No birding today, but I did an interview with ABC Newcastle Radio, about the just-released draft management plan for Australian seabirds. It will go to air in their news bulletins on the 14th.

11-12 January

I made a very quick trip to Perth, for a family event. Not much birding time therefore, but I did get to see several Laughing Doves and a small flock of Western Corellas, as well as a few of the non-endemic species. In Osborne Park, where I stayed, there were New Holland Honeyeaters "everywhere".

4-10 January

I had a week with my family, staying at Harrington. I only had one actual birdwatching event in that time, a trip to Old Bar from where there had been reports of a Roseate Tern, which is a NSW rarity and never before recorded in the Hunter Region. I managed to find that bird, plus one Aleutian Tern, three Lesser Sand Plovers, one Greater Sand Plover, three Grey Plovers, two Sanderlings and various other species. Red-necked Stints were present in high numbers (about 120 of them) and there were lots of Far Eastern Curlews too. A good day out! The general area around Harrington had several Ospreys, a Striated Heron, some Bar-tailed Godwits and Far Eastern Curlews, and there werestacks of Australasian Figbirds at the caravan park. I didn't go too the rainforest, which was right at the edge of where the fires had been. Much of the Crowdy Bay National Park was burnt out late last year.