Category Archives: 2011

2011 – a review

What a year… Orange-bellied Parrot, Grey-backed Storm-petrel, Painted Snipe, Mallee Emu-wren, Short-tailed Grasswren, and Mallee Whipbird being some of the more awesome lifers I managed to pick up. I saw 340 species over the 12 month period, which included a few large trips: most notably the big one – Sydney->Wagga Wagga -> Hattah-Kulkyne NP -> Gluepot Reserve -> Flinders Ranges -> Kangaroo Island -> Grampians NP -> Sydney; and a counter-clockwise trip around Tasmania. Visiting 4 states picks up a large amount of different habitat, which in turn equals a large amount of birds. I’m still entering all my old records into the excellent Wildlife Recorder program, so I’m not 100% certain of my current lifer count, but I think I’m at 515 or 516.

Where I birded in 2011

Oh and I got my 300/2.8, which is a sexy beast of a lens. Shame that due to the tsunami delivery was delayed and I didn’t have it in time for the South Australia trip, but it came to Tasmania with me.

Anyway – what does 2012 have in store? First up, a trip to Ash Island tomorrow to get the Yellow Wagtails. Then around mid-year I’m thinking of a 35th birthday present to myself of a week round trip to Bowra Station. End of year will be either Christmas/Cocos-Keeling Islands (a week on each) or Norfolk and Lord Howe Islands (a week on each) – I’m still tossing up which trip to do… I’ll get good numbers (30+) lifers on either trip, but one involves about 18 hours in a plane to get there, the other one about 4… and it’s a couple of grand cheaper, which means I can get a new camera body and buy other new toys that I probably don’t need… ahhh first world problems…

So – the target for next year is a year list of 300, but more importantly, I am hoping to crack the 560 life list tally. If I get out on a few boats, get over to one set of islands and up to Bowra – no worries.

Good birding everyone!

Off to Bruny Island

Given the ordinary state of mobile coverage and appalling state of wireless data outside… well Hobart and Launceston (thanks for being so awesome Optus!) I’m getting in early today. We’re bound for Bruny island where I hope to get onto some Forty Spotted Pardalotes, thereby completing the Tasmanian bird, and SE Australian bird lists. That will take me up to 115 birds for this trip. I’m up to 14 mammals, and hopefully well manage some quolls or somehing on Bruny. Also at 3 frogs, 1 reptile, 6 dragon and damselfly and 2 butterflies. Anyhoo – we’ve got our coffees now, so we’re off! Seeyabye

//edit – just fixed some typos :)

Orange-bellied success!

Wooo! What a day.

Woke up early, as our accommodation is more brightly lit than the the Opera House on NYE, and checked the weather for Maatsukyer Island – it was looking good – not too much wind, but high humidity. Had some breakfast, gathered my gear, and made my way to the airport.

To be told that there was a blanket of fog and nothing was happening today.

I almost cried, but because I’m tough and stuff, I didn’t. Anyway – had a chat with Greg at Par Avion (I’ll put links in here eventually) and explained my situation – id made this trip basically to see OBPs, and this was the 3rd attempt in 9 days to get in to Melaleuca, but with the weather etc etc, I understood it couldn’t happen. Obviously seeing someone as tough as me on the verge of tears wore him down, because he said that as they were having to get someone out (Ken? From the OBP recovery team) they’d try again when/if the fog lifted, and he’d give me a ring if hat happened. I’d only have about 30 minutes there, but it was the best he could do, although he said there was a fair chance it wouldn’t happen. I jumped at the chance.

Anyway – back to Hobart for a coffee, then we headed out to Peter Murrell Reserve to look for 40 Spotted Pardalote – the last bird I need on this trip. We get out of the car, walk down to the lagoon and my phone rings – its on!

I drive through Hobart as quick as I could, got there, paid m money (heavily discounted – I wasn’t doing the tour after all) strapped myself in and off we went! I don’t fly very well, but it went much better than I expected. Stuart the pilot was very good, and the flight was generally smooth.

Anyway – once at Melaleuca, I headed out to the hide down in the old mine site, and Stuart pointed out a male OBP in a tree – took my record shots, but expecting to see more at the feeding table, I didn’t put as much effort in as I should’ve. (I’ll post the shot when I get back to Sydney in a couple of days). Down at the feeding table, we’re told there’s been 1 around, and low and behold one flies over the top, but doesn’t land. The pilot, volunteer and Recovery team dude all walk back, and I’m given 25 minutes to have a look around. Got some shots of beautiful firetails and dusky robin at the table, and another (or the same) OBP fly over, but not much else shows. Then my times up, an I have to go back to the aircraft. Not too soon either – the clouds were rolling in and the predicted change was starting to make its presence felt.

the flight back was a bit bumpier, due to the wind picking up, but I’d got to visit, albeit much, much too briefly, a place not many people have been too, or know exists.

Oh yeah, and I saw and photographed Orange-bellied Parrot :)

Next stop, Bruny Island!

Belting rain at Strahan! Oh noes!

Well into the home stretch now, and plans are starting to go awry. Spotlighting last night turned up a solitary Brush-tailed Possum, with no hint of devil, wombat or owl, whether masked or boobook. Then I was going to head out predawn this morning to find ground parrots and emu-wrens at the airport, only to wake up at about 2 am to the gentle pitter patter of a solid stream of rain. It has been getting heavier since then. I do have a black-headed honeyeater serenading me right now – small consolation. We’ll head out to the heads & airport on the way out, and I’ll have a quick, damp look for parrots anyways. Fortunately I’ve seen both birds before, but as the parrots are common here, I was hoping to get that Australian Geographic cover shot of a group of them playing poker or something… Or, you know, just a photo. Ah well.

Apart from that, today we’ll go to (or should that be “today we went to”?) Lake St Clair and do a short walk or two, and then into Hobart. Tomorrow I’ll hopefully be going to Melaleuca, but the weather people are saying that the front is due in the early afternoon, so I’m not particularly hopeful – we’d probably arrive, only to have to turn around again to get back to Hobart before the front. I’ll give ’em a ring and see what the airplane people say – who knows what can happen in a crazy big city like Hobart? Then it’s Bruny Island for the last of the Tasmanian endemics I need to find – 40 Spotted Pardalaote – before heading back to Sydney for some red hot shed demolition work on Saturday. Hooray. then back to work Monday :(

So – who’s up for spending a week at Werribee STW in May/June 2012, looking for OBPs? Craig – can I crash at your place?

Halfway there…

Last time I wrote, I was hopeful of getting to Melaleuca. That was before we headed up the east coast to the Bay of Fires, across the top, and over to Stanley. Lookin at the synoptic charts, there’s a pair of cold fronts that are looking like hitting Tasmania on Wednesday/Thursday, which were my backup backup days!! Still, I’m ever the optimist and hopefully the fronts won’t get here until Thursday/Friday, and I’ll manage to see an OBP or 16!

In other news, I’m now up to about 104 birds for the trip, with the latest being Little Penguin last night. Also at about 10-11 mammals, 1 frog seen, 1 id’ed from call, 1 butterfly and 5 dragon and damselflies. Strangest bird sighting so far is a musk duck (female) getting some “me time” in the ocean, and another one (male) that seemed to spend an inordinate amount of time on its back. Most disappointing sighting would be the 4 common (Indian) mynas seen 11km out of Stanley yesterday – ill be reporting that one to the authorities as there’s work being done to stop them gaining a foothold here.

Anyway the Internet is patchy as, so who knows when this will actually get loaded. Today we head down to Strahan, where I’ve got a hot date lined up with Ground Parrots and emu-wrens, and a bit of spotlighting tonight to hopefully find me a devil and/or masked owl.

Toodlepip!

No OBP for me. Yet

Well, yesterday’s flight got blown out, and it’s looking even worse for today. Just waiting for the phone call. Damn. Will try again for next week, otherwise it’s off to Werribee STW in the middle of winter to freeze to death and hopefully see one there.

Anyway – its not all bad. Mt Field NP is awesome! Some of the biggest trees I’ve ever seen, and some cracking birds – Pink Robin and more Tasmanian thornbills than you can shake a stick at. Trip total is 40 species, with 4 lifers thus far. There’s only 3 more endemics I need to see, and then I’ve got the taswegian bag. Except for OBP, but … Let’s not talk about that anymore…

Today we’re heading down to Recherch√© Bay, unless I get a phone call that says “hey Troy, even though there’s 60+ kmh winds, we’re going in – keen?”

Not likely eh?

Hooray for Tasmania

Hello everyone, it’s been a while! Since I last wrote, I have been on another pelagic, but nothing else interesting. 2 new birds on that trip – white-capped albatross (which I have seen, distantly while sea-watching) and Grey-backed Storm-petrel.

Anyway – I’m currently in Tasmania for 2 weeks, with the main reason being to see Orange-bellied Parrot. I was actually meant to be driving to the airport right now. But they called and the flight is postponed until tomorrow due to a cold front. The current wind at Melaleuca according to the BOM is ~60km/h, so I’m kinda glad that it isn’t going ahead today. Instead we’re heading out to Mt Field NP.

Anyway , yesterday we swung by Richmond, and I’ve added 2 new birds to my Tasmania list, so it can’t be that bad. I also got shat on by a Blackbird, and although that’s meant to bring you luck, it obviously doesn’t apply to luck with the weather!

I’m writing this post on my phone, but I have got my laptop with me, so the next post (probably tonight) will have some pictures, and possibly less typos!

Bird 507

Just a quick note to say that bird 507 has been seen and photographed – a party of 12 Australian Painted Snipe at the location posted on the NSW birdline earlier in the week by Matt Weeks.

Best start to an Easter long weekend ever!

Back in Sydney tomorrow arvo, so more details and pictures then. I’ll also post something to birdline when I get back.

Bird 505 & 506

Comrades… Writing to you from Kangaroo Island, which is simultaneously one of the more expensive, and awesome places I’ve been to. Overly touristy in some places, yet secluded and isolated in others, it’s an exercise in contrast. It’s also given me birds 505 (Purple-gaped Honeyeater) and 506 (Mallee Whipbird – or Western Whipbird depending on your taxonomy). The other super awesome part of KI is that there’s Hooded Plover everywhere – I’ve got photos (I’m gonna stop saying “as soon ad I get Internet access” and just say “when I get back to Sydney”) of adult and juvenile birds – something I’ve struggled with with the only nearby birds bein at Ulladulla and below for me.

Th PgH is quite common – we’ve seen dozens of them, although I’ve only managed to get photos at Sandy Creek within Flinders Chase NP. The whipbird involved far, far more effort. I had 4 sites to look at initially, with a couple more backup sites, and even still didn’t expect to nail it. Driving down Cape de Coudiec road towards Admiral Arch, I’ve seen reports of people seeing them flying across the road early in the morning (I’ve seen similar behavior wig the much more readily observable Eastern Whipbird), and th first few Brush Bronzewing that flushed got the heart going. And then I saw something that was pretty bloody good for one. It was a very different shape, and scuttled rather than flew across the road. Not tickable, but exciting nonetheless. Anyway – I spent the next 3 and a bit hours walkin through the Heath from Cape de Coudiec to Remarkable Rocks without any joy whatsoever, and was walking back to the car at Remarkable Rocks planning an afternoon assault on Cape Borda, when I heard a whipbird call, right behind he toilet block at Remarkable Rocks. The I saw one as it saw me, and for 0.25 seconds, our eyes locked, and I felt the joy of bird 506 as it dropped down from the exposed(ish) branch, into the dense Heath and then it called again, off and on, for the next 4 minutes before getting the shits with me trying to get him/her to pop back out. Happy days!

Anyway – currently in American River, off to Murray Lagoon to look for Indian Peafowl early tomorrow, and then the next day we start our trek through SE SA, where I’ll be looking for Orange-bellied Parrots for a few days (they’ve been reported in the area – first OBPs of the season apparently!). Although before all that we’re still trying for the local race of Glossy Black-cockatoo – no joy so far though.

Anyhoo – happy birding,and I’ll see some of you in about 9 days time when we get half to

Chairs!