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.

October 2019

9 October

Bob McDonald and I did some drone trials at Hexham Swamp in the morning. There were hardly any birds but we mostly were working on flying fixed routes (to develop a standard survey method)  so that didn't matter too much. There were 30-40 Sharp-tailed Sandpipers on the mudflats but no other shorebirds (that I could see, but I had no telescope). We spent a lot of time down at the Ironbark Creek end of the track and had Mangrove Gerygones and Grey Fantails flitting around usall the time.

4-7 October

Margaret and I went to the HBOC camp at Munghorn Gap Nature Reserve, near Mudgee. On the way there, we stopped for a while in Goulburn River NP, which was quiet (it was hot and windy, in the afternoon). However, I did find a male Hooded Robin and there were some Dusky Woodswallows. At Munghorn there was a drought on, so bird numbers were down a bit but we still found around 100 species. I found a couple of groups of White-browed Babblers and some Emus, and there were plenty of Little Lorikeets in one particular area where there was some blossom. A Channel-billed Cuckoo flew through one night and the next morning a Pallid Cuckoo briefly joined the dawn chorus. I also heard or saw Fan-tailed Cuckoo, Shining Bronze-cuckoo and Horsfield's Bronze-cuckoo (so it was a good cuckoo weekend!). But the highlight was all the White-throated Gerygones, calling all the time and at many locations. We had a couple of silent Rufous Songlarks as well.

September 2019

23-25 September

A group of five of us did the Rufous Scrub-bird surveys this week. The weather was good although chilly (and way too chilly at night; I couldn't stay warm). We found 11 Scrub-birds, despite the fact that they weren’t calling as actively as they do in some other years, perhaps because it has been so dry up there. The other specialists of the Gloucester Tops were well represented. We had Red-browed Treecreepers at many locations, also quite a few Crescent Honeyeaters and several Olive Whistlers.  Flame Robins were seen at 4-5 locations, also there were Scarlet Robins at two locations. Rose Robins were heard constantly and seen sometimes, both at high altitude and around the campsite. Black-faced Monarchs are back (at high altitude and around the campsite) and on Tuesday afternoon we heard a Noisy Pitta near the campsite. Several Russet-tailed Thrush were calling from around the campsite, often. We had Aust. Logrunners a couple of times during our travels, and on Wednesday morning we had fantastic views of a male Paradise Riflebird after I heard it as we drove through its patch. A Bassian Thrush was calling nearby while our cameras were busy clicking. Shortly before encountering the Riflebird, I had flushed a Spotted Quail-thrush from the road. It was the first time I’ve seen one in the Gloucester Tops. We also saw many Superb Lyrebirds and Brown Cuckoo-doves as we moved around.

Our views of the Riflebird were disrupted by an ultra-light circling above us. It did three loops right above us, just as we were trying to listen for the Riflebird to call again!  Later we found out why it was there, when a little bit further on we encountered a cyclist riding up the hill. We chatted to him for a while (I think he was pleased to have an excuse to take a break!) and it turned out that he was doing a 1400km ride from Byron Bay to Canberra, as part of some endurance race. I googled it when I got home, some extra details are here:

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!