Tuesday, 19 September 2017

Eastern Australia Highlights

I'm currently about to fly from Adelaide to Brisbane to head off on another Outback adventure, this time through Queensland (and probably dropping into northeastern South Australia again, maybe even New South Wales!). Got a few specific targets in mind and looking forward to seeing some more of this wonderful country.

However, I'm still playing catch-up on my blog so here is a brief summary of my Australia trip from late last year - the trip report that I wrote for this Birding Ecotours trip can be found here: http://birdingecotours.com/trip-reports/australia (October-November 2016).

On this trip I visited Victoria, a brief stop in New South Wales, Queensland (north and south), and then finished up in Tasmania. I've covered these areas a few times now and it's nice to go back to places I'm familiar with and to see the same birds again, as well as get the odd different and new one (be that a lifer, year tick, or even a state bird - keeps it interesting!)... There are so many incredible birds in Australia it's difficult to know where to start.

Below I've included some some photos and notes on some of my highlights (that I managed photos of), of course there were many more I didn't get chance to photograph (refer to the actual trip report for more detail). Hopefully the below will give a good selection of Aussie birds and birding.

Beautiful Firetail is just that, beautiful, and more. A really stunning birds and this year I got my best ever views and photos of it whilst in Tasmania.

Orange-bellied Parrot - one of the rarest birds in the world. Unfortunately as each year passes this species falls closer and closer to extinction (at least as a viable wild population). There are projects underway to help save this species, and I really hope they are a success. I really love this gorgeous little parrot.

Plains-wanderer is one strange bird. Its closest relatives are the Seedsnipes of South America (I'll mention those again when I get round to writing my Peru report!). It's always a very satisfying moment when we see the Plains-wanderer as there is a lot of habitat and not that many birds about, and it's night time too! Think needle in a dark haystack!

Blue-faced Parrotfinch is one of the most-difficult of the Atherton Tablelands/Mount Lewis birds and finally we caught up with some - this was the highlight of my birthday - my third in a row in Australia, this year I'll be somewhere else for my birthday (hint somewhere below!). 

Australian Golden Whistler is a common bird, but it looks stunning and it has a very nice song so it's always nice to re-familiarize myself with this one.  

The Willie Wagtail is a very common bird found throughout most of Australia, here it shows its don't-mess-with-me attitude in mobbing and Australian Hobby!

Black-eared Cuckoo can sometimes be a pain to catch up with so I was very pleased when we got this bird very early on in the tour, and it actually probably ended up being my best views yet.

Buff-breasted Paradise-Kingfisher is a must-see bird when birding in tropical north Queensland and we did not leave disappointed with some great views of several birds just arrived from New Guinea (Hint my birthday this year will be spent hopefully enjoying some different Paradise-Kingfishers). 

The odd-looking (I think) Cape Barren Goose is an interesting bird and one I enjoy finding whist in southern Australia.

My favourite of the many sub-species of Crimson Rosella this one was down in Victoria and showed remarkably well - a phone-scoped photo taken on my IPhone 5 and Swarovski ATX-95 scope.

Endemic to Tasmania, with a tiny global distribution, the cute little Forty-spotted Pardalote is always a great bird to find.

Not a great photo I know, but this is Glossy Black Cockatoo which is actually very rare and was a lifer for me.

This beast is one of the largest herons in the world, is fairly rare and is best seen in tropical north Queensland, Great-billed Heron.

The Hooded Plover or Hooded Dotterel is an Endangered endemic shorebird found around Australia's coasts. Unfortunately, due to their breeding habitat requirements this puts them in direct competition with many thousands of Australians who also spend a lot of time enjoying the beaches right at the time the plover is nesting.... this species needs more protection. 

Laughing Kookaburra - THE sound of Australia. I love these giant kingfishers!

It is always nice to see a buttonquail and on this day I saw at least three of these Little Buttonquails!

Found this one in Queensland, I'm gradually getting to a place where I'm happy with this photo, but just too much 'stuff' in the way - maybe tomorrow...

Russet-tailed Thrush is one great bird, especially when I found the nest of one (below). We got insane close-up views of this bird feeding away, totally not bothered with us looking at it!

Russet-tailed Thrush on nest in Queensland

Satin Bowerbird - always delivers great views

Often considered one of the most difficult of the Tasmanian endemics to catch up with we again had fantastic views of them (difficult to photograph though in the dark forested gullies they live in!).

Sooty Oystercatcher - a really smart shorebird!

This Spotted Harrier was hunting along a sidetrack off a main road in Queensland, great timing allowed me to pull off and then it dropped down to the ground right near the vehicle. Took this pic through the window as didn't want to flush it/waste time!  

Spotted Pardalotes are common birds and very photogenic, one of my favourite birds in Australia.

Superb Fairywrens are very common birds but I've never got a decent picture of them, I'm getting pleased with this one, but still got a long way to go until I'll be totally happy...

AND FINALLY..... Australian Robins are gorgeous birds, here's a few to end this post but look back soon for my Western Australia post (so many cool birds there!):

Pink Robin from Tasmania where this species showed well. 

Eastern Yellow Robin

Flame Robin

Red-capped Robin

Scarlet Robin

Monday, 18 September 2017

South Australian Pelagic - FINALLY GOT ON ONE

I'm currently in South Australia with my very good friends Dave and Sue Harper who are 3/4 of their way through a Big Year across the huge state of South Australia. I've spent the last two weeks and a bit here and we did an awesome Outback trip - will post on that soon, we got some MEGA birds!

This weekend just gone I was meant to be on a Pelagic trip, but as fate would have it for the 3rd time in the last 4 years it got cancelled, not because of the wind, or the swell (as in the two previous cancellations), but due to the boat getting 'broken' when it was having its boat-MOT-type-thing.... so no pelagic trip for me this year AGAIN....

BUT, as I'm still playing catch-up from the back end of 2016 on my blog I can finally share some photos with you of my November 2016 South Australia Pelagic out from Port Macdonnell. This is the only time I've managed to get out here and it was incredible! We saw so many birds and got photos of most of them too.

The birds seen during this awesome pelagic trip (voted as in the Top 2/3 trips of all time off here by people on the boat who had done c50+ trips over the years....) included the following...

Albatrosses: Shy, Salvin's, Black-browed, Campbell's, Indian Yellow-nosed, Antipodean Wandering, Gibson's Wandering, and Grey-headed.

Petrels: Gould's, White-headed, Soft-plumaged, Grey-faced, Great-winged, and White-chinned (unidentified Giant Petrel was too distant to confirm unfortunately).

Shearwaters: Short-tailed and Sooty.

Storm Petrels: Grey-backed and Wilson's.

Other species: Australasian Gannet, Greater Crested Tern, Silver Gull, Australian Pelican, and Black-faced Cormorant.

Here are the pics...

Black-browed Albatross

Black-browed Albatross

Campbell's Albatross

Campbell's Albatross

Grey-headed Albatross

Grey-headed Albatross

Indian Yellow-nosed Albatross

Salvin's Albatross

Salvin's Albatross

Shy Albatross

Shy Albatross

Wandering Albatross

Wandering Albatross

Wandering Albatross

Wandering Albatross and Blue Shark

Great-winged Petrel

Grey-faced Petrel

Soft-plumaged Petrel

White-chinned Petrel

White-headed Petrel

White-headed Petrel

Grey-backed Storm Petrel

Wilson's Storm Petrel

Huge thank you to Dave and Sue for getting my on to this trip, and for driving me all the way there and back. Hopefully I'll get on another one of these trips someday... maybe next year...!