Monday, March 14, 2011

North West-East Victoria birding

I set off on friday afternoon for a long weekend in North Western Victoria mainly toWarby -Ovens State Park.

After a long drive I spent Friday night at Echuca then was up early finally arriving at the Warbys at 7.30am on Saturday. I birded in an area my friend Vik had recommended. He said it was a dead-cert for the elusive Turquoise Parrot.  Well, he was indeed correct. I got my first flock for the day before I even got out the car! I then had another small flock within 10 min. 

Turquoise Parrots

I just could not  get close to them in order to take decent photos. Each time they flew past  I was trying to climb down granite boulders and when I wasn't looking at my footing I was trying not to get a face full of golden orb spiders which seem to be in HUGE numbers (and huge in size) this year!

Eventually as I got near a small dam and was standing quietly, a flock landed reasonably near by and I was able to get great views and took heaps of photos. Sadly I discovered later in the day that the whole mornings photos were all seriously underexposed! Somehow I'd accidently set the camera to underexpose everything by about 4 stops! The photos were almost black!!! AAAGGGGHHH nearly 400 photos that morning were useless!

While at the Warbys great birds were to be had including Leaden Flycatcher, Speckled Warbler, Shining Bronze Cuckoo, Fan tailed Cuckoo, White bellied Cuckooshrike, Crested Shrike tit, Yellow Tufted Honeyeater, Fuscous honeyeater, White Plumed Honeyeater, Scarlet Robin, Hooded robin & White throated & Brown Treecreepers I was pleasantly surprised by flushing a White throated Nightjar!

Crested Shrike Tit

Whitebrowed Scrubwren

Female Rufous Whistler

Restless Flycatcher

Red Capped Robin

After enjoying this area for the morning I moved on to Chiltern. I checked out a variety of locations spending a few hours at Honeyeater Dam and Green Hill Dam.

Green Hill Dam - Chiltern

Honeyeater Dam Chiltern

I got a quick view of Painted Button Quail along with Brown Treecreepers & numerous Honeyeaters but alas none were Regents..

It then started raining so I had breakfast (mid afternoon). I would not waste good birding time with something so trivial as eating!

When the weather cleared I continued searching for Regents but was not lucky so I decided that maybe it is still too early for the migratory honeyeater and that they may not have returned yet. I had to decide what to do. Do I keep searching for the Regent, which would be a Lifer if I found it - but it may not even have returned yet, or do I return to the Warby Ranges and try to repeat the photos I'd taken that morning?  I figured I'd sleep here and return to the Warby's first thing in the morning.
As I was staying in the Chiltern area for the rest of the day I went to check out Bartleys Block. I was entertained by more Scarlet Robins, various Honeyeaters and finally some more Turquoise Parrots. These guys were also very easily spooked so I had to sit for an hour for them to land in a tree near by. While waiting I was entertained by Jacky Winters, Scarlet Robins, Peaceful Dove, White Browed Babblers & Spotted Pardelote. But even when another flock of Turquoise Parrots came in they were just too far off to get decent photos.

As my friend Dave has suggested to me I "need to learn to be able to just enjoy the birds" rather than concentrate on photography. Sadly as it is, I NEED to photograph them and keep improving on the photos!

When I left Bartleys Block I drove to Fishers Lane and had Grey Crowned Babbler & Diamond Firetail but then it started getting dark.

Diamond Firetail

When the sun had almost set I decided I'd better set up camp for the night, so chose a suitable spot and slept soundly.

Set up late - pack up early!

Sunday I was up and out again early - back to the Warby's. This time I saw a Square Tailed Kite flying over the road but was driving at the time! It may have been chasing a Stubble Quail as I'd seen a couple of them crossing the road on my way there! 4 hrs of enjoyable birding where I managed to take some more photos of most species but this time I only got fleeting glimpses of the Turquoise Parrots on a few occasions.

Turquoise Parrot flies past!

Awesome birding at Warby Ranges - this is a hotspot!

Jacky Lizard

Female Rufous Whistler

                                                     Shining Bronze-Cuckoo

I then drove to the Kerang Lakes - although most of the drive between the Warbys and Swan Hill LOOKS like one big lake!! 

Red Necked Acocets, White Necked and White Faced Herons, Ibis, Spoonbills and ducks can be seen while driving!! I found myself slowing down constantly identifying birds on the way. Each time I pulled over I was rewarded with a variety of species including Cormorants, Red kneed Dotteral, Black Fronted Dotteral, Pink Earred Ducks as well as Great and Intermediate Egret.

Straw Necked Ibis

Pink Earred Ducks

I called into the Ibis Rookery and enjoyed searching for Latham Snipe until dark.

I decided I seriously needed a shower so booked into a motel in Swan Hill and was quickly washed and in a clean crisp bed and think I was in a coma within 10 minutes!!  I can recommend the Paddle Steamer Motel who have friendly staff, rooms are inexpensive, clean, comfortable and provide a free breakfast!

This morning I headed to Nyah State Forest but was unable to get very far due to the flooding. So, I did the only thing I could do. I left the 4WD and waded through it to say hi to a family of Grey Crowned Babblers.


Hmmmm don't think I'll be able to drive along this track!!

Grey Crowned Babbler has Miner issues!

Then it it was time to  concede that the weekend is over so back to Lameroo and  then headed back to Adelaide.

I have to say I really do enjoy Northern Victoria. Next time I want to spend more time in the mallee region and then head back to the Warby Ranges - that area really provides some seriously great birding!!