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.


Kimberleys: May-June 2024

I travelled to Kununurra from where I joined a 12-night birding tour with NT Bird Specialists. We went to various locations in the northern and central parts of the Kimberleys - places such as Lake Argyle, Mitchell Plateau and Wyndham. Then I flew to Broome where I met up with Margaret and we did a 16-night nature tour with Inspiring Vacations. We went to various locations in the southern and central parts of the Kimberleys - places such as Mitchell Falls, Halls Creek and the Bungle Bungles.

12 May

I flew into Darwin arriving mid-afternoon. Later in the afternoon I walked to the Botanic Gardens. It was rather hot and birds weren't all that active, and so I gave up after about an hour. However, I found a large group of Australasian Figbirds (one of the northern races) and also there were many Brown Honeyeaters and some Rufous-banded Honeyeaters, several Orange-footed Scrub-fowls and also some Varied Trillers. I was delighted to find a small flock of Crimson Finches, but the highlight of my visit was a Black-necked Stork - a young bird which was loitering by a small waterhole.

13 May

Before leaving Darwin I walked to the esplanade and along it for a while. There were several Spangled Drongos together, and with some Helmeted Friarbirds and White-quilled Honeyeaters nearby. A couple of Green Orioles were calling (briefly seen) and there were more Australasian Figbirds. Then I flew to Kununurra. It was too early to check in at my hotel, so I stored my bags and walked to Lily Creek Lagoon. This yielded several honeyeaters including Yellow-tinted, White-quilled and White-throated Honeyeaters. I saw several Comb-crested Jacanas out on the floating plants, and also several Green Pygmy-geese. I flushed a White-browed Crake but only had brief views of it. There were numerous Black Kites around, and also a few Whistling Kites. I saw more Crimson Finches, and a couple of Great Bowerbirds. On my way there, I found some black-rumped Double-barred Finches.

14 May

In the morning I walked to Mirama National Park, a couple of km out of town. There were Grey-crowned Babblers building a new roost, and I had great views of a Northern Fantail. A Brown Goshawk flew through and there were Double-barred Finches, Yellow-throated Miners, a Torresian Crow and I heard a Red-tailed Black-Cockatoo. I hung around the hotel (with an excursion to buy food and a decongestants) until the birding tour started at 2:00. We drove to Mirama NP for the introductions etc, which took a couple of hours, and then walked around - covering pretty much the same ground as I’d done in the morning. Extra birds included several White-quilled Rock-Pigeons (they definitely were absent in my morning visit). There also were some Purple-backed Fairy-wrens and distant views of Little Woodswallows. Our main guide, Luke, heard a Sandstone Shrike-thrush which would have been a tick for me. We spent a fair while looking for it but my only view was of it flying away - not a tickable view of it unfortunately.

15 May


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30 May


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1 June


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10 June


11 June



May 2024

11 May

On a wet morning, Ross and I did the monthly survey of Ash Island. The raptor list comprised Black-shouldered Kite, Swamp Harrier, Nankeen Kestrel and Brown Falcon.  We found three Pacific Golden Plovers on Phoenix Flats - I was surprised that they were still around (they didn’t have much by way of breeding plumage though).  There was a largish group of Pied Stilts on Swan Pond - about 75 birds. By the time we reached Fish Fry Flats things perked up - the rain had stopped (for a while) and also we found some good birds. There were about 30 each of Red-capped Plovers and Black-fronted Dotterels, the latter well-scattered but the plovers were bunched together. We also saw four White-fronted Chats there (and further on I saw a fifth bird). We don’t often see chats on Ash Island nowadays.

9 May

The forecast rain didn't eventuate, so I went to the Warrah Trig section of Brisbane Water National Park and did my monthly surveys there. It was rather foggy at the beginning but that eventually lifted. Honeyeaters were present in good numbers, big contrast to the situation of a few months ago. There wasn't anything out of the ordinary though, until I got to my final 2ha survey site. A Superb Lyrebird crossed the track right in front of me, and soon after began a bout of singing. While I was listening to that, I heard and soon afterwards saw a Rockwarbler - at pretty much the same spot where I saw two birds together last month. And then, a Peregrine Falcon flew past - only a few metres off the cliff face! Three exciting species almost simultaneously - I just didn't know where to look!

On my way back to the car, a Musk Lorikeet flew through. I stopped in Patonga for a while before heading home - there were more than 20 Great Pied Cormorants roosting on the several boats moored offshre, and also two Australian Brush-turkeys foraging in the boat ramp parking area.

7-8 May

I went up to Nelson Bay on Tuesday, with my main purpose being to give a talk in the early afternoon to the Port Stephens Artists Society. That talk was about shorebirds and migration, and the aim was that I inspire them with ideas about themes for art works to be produced for the November vists by Kushiro representatives to re-sign the Sister Wetlands Agreement. The talk seemed to go quite well. Before the talk, I wandered the waterfront for a while. I saw a couple of Australasian Gannets (they were young birds fishing in close in the harbour), and there were Great Pied Cormorants and Australasian Darters too; also some Blue-faced Honeyeaters. On my way back to Newcastle, where I stayed overnight, I dropped in at Stockton Sandspit. It was low tide, so there was not much around - but a flock of 86 Pied Stilts flew in and began to forage near the rock platform.

Next morning I met with the university placement student, Emily, for an hour or so, to talk about the review she is doing of the Martindale data, and then I was at a meeting with Wetlands Centre and University staff, discussing possible bird research projects that potentially might involve HBOC members plus either or both of the two other organisations. After lunch I dod a short wander through the grounds. There were about 120 Magpie Geese (a species we had discussed at length in our earlier meeting) and also a Grey Goshawk came in and landed almost in front of me - I had terrific views.

4 May

During a break in the miserable constantly-wet weather, I walked to Woy Woy and surveyed the birds on Brisbane Water.  As usual there were hundreds each of Black Swans and Australian Pelicans, most of them closely bunched onto the sand island. I only found seven Australian Pied Oystercatchers - quite a drop on the recent numbers, and they were scattered locations (but, I might have nissed some on the sand island if they were obscured by all the larger birds). There were 17 Caspian Terns - it seems that the winter influx of themhas begun.

2 May

I visited the Crommelin Arboretum at Pearl Beach, the Pearl Caves area of Brisbane Water National Park and two other of my regular sites in the National Park. The Silvereye and Yellow-faced Honeyeater migrations were in full swing - I saw plenty of both species. There also were good numbers of White-cheeked Honeyeaters at one of the National Park sites; I had a nice view there of a Scarlet Honeyeater too (and there were numerous of them everywhere). A Yellow-tailed Black-Cockatoo flew through at one of the sites, and I saw an Australian Brush-turkey at Pearl Beach.

April 2024

29 April

In the afternoon I went to Cockle Bay Nature Reserve and then Bouddi National Park. It wasn't a lot of fun - the mosquitoes were dreadful everywhere I went and there were hardly any birds! Also, the distal part of the track I was on in Bouddi National Park was closed for a hazard reduction burn. My highlight was a Striated Heron at the Nature Reserve.

25 April

Mid-afternoon I did the final two of my monthly surveys in Brisbane Water National Park. The highlight was a solitary Yellow-tailed Black-Cockatoo (I saw it on my way in and on my way back out ), and there were some Brown-headed Honeyeaters as well.

23 April

Mid-morning I did surveys at two of my sites in Brisbane Water National Park (seeing mainly the standard honeyeaters) and then drove to Newcastle for the inaugural meeting of HBOC's Research subcommittee. After that, I went to Wyong and visited the Central Coast Wetlands. It was full of water after all the recent rain and that seemed to have impacted what birds were around (no muddy margins). There were a hundred or so Cattle Egrets when I arrived but most of them dispersed after a while. About a dozen Red-rumped Parrots were feeding on the lawns and there were 20-30 Australian Wood Ducks too. As I was leaving, a Black-shouldered Kite turned up. Later I was the guest speaker at the Central Coast bird group's monthly meeting - I talked about the trip I did to Sri Lanka a few years back.

17-19 April

After lunch I packed up at Martindale and eventually relocated to the campsite at McCullys Gap. On my way I stopped at the Muswellbrook sewage works: there weren’t many ducks present but it was pleasing to see two each of Pink-eared Ducks and Hardheads. At the McCullys Gap campsite that afternoon I saw three flocks of Musk Lorikeets fly through - 44 birds in total. We saw many of them in the ensuing two days. It was just Tom Clarke and me doing the McCullys Gap surveys. On Thursday, we had mixed success, with the highlight being a gully where there were four species of thornbill (Yellow-rumped, Buff-rumped, Brown and Yellow Thornbill) plus we had seen Striated Thornbills earlier in the morning. We’d also seen Striated Pardalotes and Spotted Pardalotes several times at other sites during the morning. The afternoon’s highlights were a male Australasian Figbird and two Wedge-tailed Eagles at the campsite. That evening I heard a female Powerful Owl, initially some way off but later, she was within the home paddock. And, walking back to the campsite we had a Barn Owl fly right in front of us.

Next morning, at one site we found more thornbills (not Striated but all the others) and 4-6 each of Striated and Spotted Pardalotes. At another site I watched one of the latter digging a burrow using its bill. The day’s highlight was two Red-capped Robins (female or juvenile) at a site where we saw a male in January. Perhaps they bred! I recorded 67 species over the two days. On my way home I stopped at Doughboy Hollow where well over 200 Plumed Whistling-ducks were out in the open, presumably many more were out of sight.

15-17 April

After a morning spent mainly on Whistler administration tasks, I set out for Martindale for a couple of days of helping with the quarterly surveys there. In Martindale I met the uni student, Emily, and escorted her to the campsite. There was a large group of Australian King-parrots on the way in, and I also saw Nankeen Kestrels and Black-shouldered Kites. Our arrival at the campsite coincided with a fly-through by a dozen or so Musk Lorikeets. Over the next two days I saw many good birds, highlighted by a pair of Hooded Robins at Horseshoe Rd, Brown Treecreepers and Jacky Winters at the hillside site, and a young Wedge-tailed Eagle (with a parent) along Horseshoe Rd. A pair of Black-shouldered Kites seemed to be nest-building at Bureen. I recorded 78 species over the two and a bit days. I was interested to note that there still were some Little Grassbirds at the swamp (at least four of them) plus a group of four Zebra Finches were there.

13 April

I went back up to Newcastle to do the monthly survey (it was scheduled for last Saturday but that was called off at  the eleventh hour). Ross and I found three Pacific Golden Plovers (there were 7 of them a week ago) and five Black-fronted Dotterels (four birds a week ago). There were considerably more ducks too, including three Australasian Shovelers on Swan Pond. We had excellent views of four Australian Gull-billed Terns and four Caspian Terns, at times foraging together and often quite close to us. We saw one-offs of Black-shouldered Kite, Nankeen Kestrel and Australian Hobby - all are uncommon species on Ash Island. A small group of Chestnut-breasted Mannikins whizzed through - they didn't give us much of a look.

10-11 April

Late afternoon on Wednesday I met with James Wilson at the Hunter Wetlands Centre, to talk about they and HBOC doing strategic bird projects. It’s early days but it was a positive meeting. Then in the evening I went to the HBOC club night. I did a brief presentation about the Merlin Bird ID app - that seemed to go OK and initiated some good discussion. The main speaker talked about his recent trip to Costa Rica, so that was a trip down memory lane for me.

The next morning I went to the Gloucester Tops, with my main purpose being to retrieve my trail cameras from some Rufous Scrub-bird territories. I did not hear any calls from them at any time. The autumn honeyeater influx was just beginning. There were plenty of Eastern Spinebills and New Holland Honeyeaters, and I saw a White-cheeked Honeyeater which is definitely an autumn-only species.  But overall, it was nowhere near to being in full swing. I saw a Bassian Thrush not yet descended from the Tops, saw some Superb Lyrebirds and heard Crescent Honeyeaters and Red-browed Treecreepers.

9 April

I did the Pearl Caves walk in Brisbane Water National Park and then went to the Crommelin Arboretum. It was remarkably quiet but right at the end I saw a Rufous Fantail, which was a great way to finish the morning!

8 April

I did my monthly surveys of the Warrah Trig area of Brisbane Water National Park. After the quiet summer, things are definitely improving, and I ended up with a respectable bird list. The honeyeater numbers have certainly increased over the past few months. I heard a Chestnut-rumped Heathwren but it did not cooperate. My absolute highlight was a pair of Rockwarblers near the lookout. I know that others have seen them in that area previously but it was a first for me. I had wonderful views of them. I finished up at Patonga where there still is a Masked Lapwing sitting in the middle of the oval, with a cone alongside it to warn off the Council mowers. The bird was there last month too - and so I doubt that there will be any breeding success.

5-6 April

I went up to Newcastle Friday afternoon, mainly so as to be able to take part in the monthly waterbirds survey the next morning. Unfortunately, because of heavy rain all Friday including through most of the night, the survey was called off at nearly the last minute (at about 11pm!). But then, Andrea, Ross and I had a gorgeous couple of hours on Ash Island on Saturday morning. The sun was shining, there was no wind, it was close on perfect!  A highlight was 7 Pacific Golden Plovers on Phoenix Flat, with two of those being well coloured up birds. We also saw elsewhere some Black-fronted Dotterels (4 birds) and a group of 62 Pied Stilts. And there were 3 Caspian Terns, the first record of these on Ash Island for the year.

On Friday afternoon, Bob Stewart and I met the uni work placement student that HBOC is taking on, Emily, and discussed with her the project we've asked her to do. And on Saturday before I drove back, Andrea and I had a chat about strategic activities which HBOC and the university could undertake together (with other organisations potentially involved).

2-4 April

I was over in Perth for a short visit (for a family funeral). Margaret and I stayed with my sister in Osborne Park. I got in a couple of walks around some nearby lakes, where I was delighted to see a some Nankeen Night-Herons still hunting early in the morning, and also a couple of Yellow-billed Spoonbills foraging. There were plenty of New Holland Honeyeaters, Singing Honeyeaters and Brown Honeyeaters. Although Spotted Doves were in greater numbers, i did also see a few Laughing Doves in the area.