Sunday, March 20, 2011

What has a Chestnut Rump and Blue Wings?

Cox Scrub Conservation Park is one of my absolute favourite birding places. I love it due to the habitat and also because I have never encoutered another human there! Now that is my kind of park!! It is near Meadows in the Fleurieu Peninsula is a great little place to go if you like hiking in sandy tracks! You need a reasonable level of fitness if you want to go up one of the tracks which is over 5km uphill in sand! But, you can stay on the border track which, although sandy it is  wider and less steep. Which ever you choose, the park always provides good birding, even in the afternoon when generally things quieten down.

Cox Scrub

Yesterday I did a few hours in the morning along 2 of my usual routes. and was immediately aware of the large number of New Holland Honeyeaters currently around. There were plenty of Adelaide Rosellas, Pardelotes, there were less Woodswallows than usual and only a few Peaceful Doves calling.

A large flock of Musk Lorikeets created a stir for while. One in particular looked very dark and shabby. I expect he may have found somewhere nearby to bath before landing near me to preen himself. His mate gave him a hand and I observed them cuddling for a while.

Musk Lorikeets

A bit further along I came across a Southern Brown Bandicoot foraging with its little bare pink nose. They are lovely little football sized beasties and sadly their numbers are really declining in SA. I am used to seeing them in stringybark habitat so it was nice to see one in a sandy heath mallee environment. 

Southern Brown Bandicoot

Then some nice Elegant Parrots came in and were most obliging!

This was all very nice but was not what I came here for. I was on a mission to stake out a good spot for Chestnut Rumped Heathwren for a friend who needs one for his SA list. He couldnt come with me so I figured I'd find some good spots to bring him back to. I eventually noticed movement in a shrub very close to me and yes, Chestnut Rumped Heathwren - NOICE!!!!! He was not calling at the time. On noticing me grabbing for my camera  he went flying across my path and into bushes a fair way further up the track. BUGGER !

So, for the next hour we played hide and seek. Mainly him hiding and me seeking! At one stage he called and another answered so I had one on each side of me.  Each time I'd get onto one of them with my Bins but they'd move again so no time for photos as they just would not sit still long enough.

This did not stop me trying though!
            Nearlly all the photos are like this.... Yes there is one in this photo. Can you join the dots?

Eventually I got one lousy photo then decided to leave the little blighters to it. I did not want to stress them. I was happy to have spent some time with them and just observe them doing their thing for a while.

It was a fun morning and I will take my friend there soon. Even though there was a lot of hide and seek going on good views were definately had of this lovely little bird. A nice way to spend a Saturday morning!

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!!

Monday, March 7, 2011

Pelagic Adventure

Saturday found me heading back to Port MacDonnell with Stuart and friends. The drive was a rushed affair as we did not leave Stuarts house until after midday so no birding along the way this trip....

We all had an early night. I was glad of that as I have a virus and have been feeling lousy all week, but there was no way I'd miss the Pelagic!!

We were up before 5am, had breaky and coffee at a leisurely pace before heading to the boat ramp, met up with Mark and Jamie who arrived with the tinnie to take us out to the Remarkable – Marks boat and we headed out to sea at 6.30am.

Bottle Nosed Dolphins swam with us part of the way out past the continental shelf.

Albatross were spotted early in the trip along with Gannets and a Diving Petrel.

Aust Gannet

We noticed surprisingly few Shearwaters on this trip. We had 5 species but only a handful of each (if that). A trawler had gone through, heading to Victoria just before we got out past the Shelf so perhaps the Shearwaters were following it?

There were 5 species of Albatross with over 10 Bullers –  very good views of them at the back of the boat.  

Bullers Albatross

Black Browed Albatross - Campbells

Shy Albatross

Wandering Albatross

Bullers Albatross

Yellow nosed Albatross


One interesting find was a Little Penguin swimming at the surface – we were well past the Shelf at the time.  I was surprised that it was hunting that far out to sea!

It was a bit choppy and a couple of people got sea sick. Surprisingly I did not get sick even though I have a virus. I actually felt better out there than I have all week! Birding is obviously a good cure for illness!

Fairy Prion - moulting

Great Winged Petrel - Gouldii variety

We enjoyed a yummy BBQ lunch and cuppa tea – we gulfed it down,  expecting that the moment our cameras were put down and our hands were full of food a rarity would appear! 

We started to head back in and came across a flock of approx 150+ Gannet feeding on fish that had been rounded up by a large pod of Bottle Nosed Dolphins. Dolphins were jumping out of the water as Gannets were diving in. It was magic!


It was an enjoyable trip with a good variety of birds. No lifers but I did bump up my 2011 Year list which sits at  270 as of March 6.

Bullers Albatross

Fairy Prion

Great Winged Petrel

                                                              Yellow Nosed Albatross


Pelagic 6 March 2011

Crested Tern
Little Penguin
Aust Gannet
Wandering Albatross
Shy Albatross
BlackBrowed Albatross – both varieties
Bullers Albatross
Yellow Nosed Albatross
Great Winged Petrel – both races
White Chinned Petrel
Grey Backed Storm Petrel
Wilsons Storm Petrel
White Faced Storm Petrel
Fairy Prion
Huttons Shearwater
Short Tailed Shearwater
Fluttering Shearwater
Fleshy Footed Shearwater
Sooty Shearwater
Common Diving Petrel
Pomarine Skua
Arctic Jaegar
Long Tailed Jaegar

It is interesting that on these trips we always see numerous Cabbage White Moths flying out past the shelf, heading to a watery grave. Imagine how long it must take them to fly all that way!