Monday, December 31, 2012

NSW roadtrip

For Christmas this year I took a road trip to Sydney. I departed Adelaide at 4am Christmas morning and was surprised to find I could still pull into a servo and get a Jumbo Centro Coffee for the road!

11 hours later I was in Wagga Wagga and before checking into a motel to catch up on some much needed sleep I went searching for the local Superb Parrots! Happily I found  a flock of over 20 birds around sundown.

The next day I found a dog on a tuckerbox on the road to Gundagai.

Later in the afternoon  I went to Royal National Park, Australia's oldest National Park which is 16,000 ha. The visitor centre in Audley is worth a look, to pay your entry fee, collect a map but they also sell a useful book on birding in Royal National Park by Steve Anyon-Smith at a very reasonable cost.

After buying my visitors pass at Audley I hiked along the northern end of Lady Carrington Drive. Here I found a very animated Male Superb Lyrebird.  He was in fine form calling continuously while feeding just off the side of the track with his friend quietly ignoring him. I have been advised that the other bird with him was likely to be a young male.


 After watching him for a while I decided to continue on my way. As I was leaving I heard his call change direction so I turned back and saw that he had comeout onto the track and was literally running towards me!

 When he had almost caught up with me he stopped and went into display mode, calling continuously.



Other birds observed along this walk included Green Catbird, Eastern Whipbird, Yellow-throated Scrubwren, White-browed Scrubwren, Yellow-faced Honeyeater, Eastern Yellow Robin, King Parrot, Azure Kingfisher, Rufous Fantail and White-throated Treecreeper.



During my time at Royal NP I met up with my birding mates Iain and Paul. Iain generously offered to show me a good location to try for Rockwarbler.

We hiked for an hour and it was a stunning location along the coast, thankfully with shady caves. We were entertained by a variety of dragons and skinks while waiting for the birds to appear.

Finally they appeared and came in to drink nearby. They were certainly worth waiting for! Thanks Iain!!






A visit  to a small reserve near the Sydney airport located Red-whiskered Bulbul and Nutmeg Mannikin.

After this birding became difficult as I injured my back. A quick trip to a local pharmacy for some strong anti-inflammatories was required as I found it difficult to move let alone carry camera gear. A very frustrating situation with 2 more target species left to find.  But, it is best to keep a sore back moving so I explored the Mt Annan Australian Botanical Gardens, Australia's largest botanic garden. I didnt do any serious birding here but the place is definately worth  visit if you have the time.

I realised that I was going to struggle to find my last 2 species without help due to my back injury. I was unable to hike or carry my gear for more than a few minutes at a time. I either had to give up  & head back to Adelaide or I'd have to get some help.

There was no way I was going to give up so I contacted local birder Carol Proberts. Thankfully she was happy to assist.

I met her in the Blue Mountains after I checked out the Three Sisters.

Carol kindly drove me all the way to the Capertee Valley and after searching for a while we got great views of Plum-headed Finch only a few minutes from the car!

                                                     Plum-headed Finch

Rufous Songlark

That evening went to spot near Katoomba and searched for Sooty Owl. We had one bird silently fly directly over our head before landing nearby.  We also had excellent views of 4 Greater Gliders.

What an excellent day, thank you Carol for assisting me. I can honestly say I could not have done it without you! There is no better way to forget about back pain than to be so well distracted with Lifers!!

All five target birds have been found! Mission accomplished!

The trip back to Adelaide was broken up with a night at Grong Grong (Grongy). The name is derived from the Aboriginal word Garrongoorung which means "bad camping ground" referring to the area being too far away from the river. However, I found it to be a great place to stay! This little town has a population of 150 and has an excellent little Motor Inn (10 rooms) with very friendly staff & it is exceptional value for money. They even provided a free drink on arrival.  There were plenty of birds around the rodeo grounds and cemetary to keep me amused for the afternoon.

The next morning birding at Narrandera. Apart from having the Big Guitar it is also famous for the Murrumbidgee River.

There is an excellent wetland equipt with bird hides, along with plenty of waterfowl. Nankeen Night Heron was had this morning. It is a short flat walk, 1 km loop.

There is a walking trail along Lake Talbot which is good for birding, or you can drive into the Narrandera Common, a riverine Red Gum forest with wetlands and understorey. There are a serious of dry weather only tracks along the river. Sacred Kingfisher, Brown Treecreeper, Noisy Friarbird, Little Friarbird, Yellow Rosella, Grey-crowned Babbler, White-winged Chough, Reed Warbler, Olive-backed Oriole, Darter, Dollarbird and Superb Parrot are just some of the birds I had here.




Well this year I managed to increase my Australia Life list to 658.

Happy new year and happy birding to you all!!


Sunday, December 16, 2012

Buff-breasted Sandpiper at Price, SA

Well, the siren sounded  – mega rarity at Price – Buff-breasted Sandpiper found by the Colonel. Then I received an sms from him with directions and the birder-mobile was on the road…

To get into Price you need to have passed the safety induction so be sure to contact Birds SA if you plan on twitching this bird!! Note that all visitors need to have done this - no-one can gain entry without producing there induction card. You will need carry your induction card and have to wear your safety clothing including Hi Vis vest, safety eyewear and steel-capped boots.

This bird hangs out on the side of the track so knowing where to look made it reasonably simple to find and seeing it it is immediately obvious with its long yellowish legs and small head.

I was surprised at the beauty of this bird, the images in the field guide do not do it justice. It stood tall on the track directly in front of the car giving a crippling view through the windscreen before flying down into the samphire and mud feeding on insects.

It was flighty so only distant photos were possible.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Owls this for a night out!

This week the nights have been warm. Well actually they have been hot! With  overnight minimums of 27C it has been too hot to sleep.
My friends and I decided last night that the warm weather may as well be enjoyed so we headed out into the darkness to photograph birds!!

It was great fun, flying around in the paddocks in the back of Mikes ute with the spotlight flushing quails!

Trying to photograph them through the stubble is a challenge!

There were plenty of night birds to be found along with plenty of foxes in the stubble fields.

Here are some of the highlights!
Southern Boobook

Stubble Quail

Juvenile Tawny Frogmouths

 Eastern Barn Owl

Boobook bum....