Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Norfolk Island birding

Norfolk Island is approximately a 2 hours  flight from Brisbane. It is 8 km by 5 km in size.

With world heritage listed buildings, a rich cultural history with links to the mutiny on the Bounty, incredible coral reefs for snorkelling and stunning national parks sporting endemic bird life this island has something for everyone.

I stayed at the Pines Apartment just on the edge of Burt Pine. $700 for 7 nights and this included a car – insurance $140 extra for the week. It was good value even though the car did not have air conditioning which I missed as the days were over 30C and very humid.
The island has wonderful rainforest with well marked tracks in the national Park and the botanical gardens is amazing with a brilliant board walk making it accessible to pretty much every fitness level.








I managed to see all the endemics within 24 hours of arriving so was then able to relax and re-find them to improve on photos over the rest of the week whilst also enjoying some snorkelling off Emily Bay in Kingston.










Birding highlights for me was definitely the Green Parakeet also called the Norfolk Parakeet. They had declined to less than 30 birds. Efforts had increased the population to over 200 but now their  numbers have declined again. This is due to the massive problem with Cats and Rats on the island along with competition from the huge population of Crimson Rosellas who steal their burrows and will actually throw the young out!










I wondered if I’d have trouble identifying the Slender-billed White-eye but the yellow throat and cream belly was immediately obvious.


Families of California Quail were observed on the grass all over the island but are very nervous and disappear as soon as I arrived so I struggled to photograph them. They were introduced on the island with the first settlers as a food source.

Norfolk Gerygone have a beautiful call and I woke to their singing each morning.




Pacific Robin were fairly reliable in the National Park, especially at Palm Glen, which was great for most of the other island endemics.



A lone Wandering Tattler enjoyed eating crabs at low tide in Kingston.





The airstrip was good for Pacific Golden Plover


The Masked Booby colony on Nepean Island allows for great views of the nesting birds but some also nest on the mainland thanks to Margaret Christian assisting to deal with the feral cats. Margaret runs a great bird tour which is a must do for all birders. She is a wealth of knowledge and funds conservation efforts on the island to assist the Green Parrots and other endemic species.

White Terns are busy feeding their chicks balanced carefully on branches of the Norfolk Pines.








The parent does not get to rest, immediately flying off to get more food....

Black-winged Petrels, Black Noddy's, Sooty Terns, Frigatebirds and Red-tailed Tropicbirds are flying above me as I type this.

Tonight I’ll see the new year in here on Norfolk Island. My 2013 Year list ends on 491 and my Aussie Life List currently sits on 699!! I wonder what bird will become 700?

Thursday, December 26, 2013

2013 in review

Well there is only one week left of 2013.

My friend Richard asked me yesterday how many Lifers I got for 2013? 

So far during 2013 I’ve seen 22 Lifers and my year list is currently on 480.  I aim to increase my year list by about another 10 or so species and would like to see another 8 Lifers if possible!

 Highlighted birding 2013 trips included Christmas Island, Darwin NT to Kununurra and Mitchell River NP in WA, Alice Springs NT, Inskip Point Qld, Julatten Qld, Jervis Bay NSW, Werribee and Portland Vic, a few trips into Gluepot Reserve SA, Lake Gilles SA and a quick trip across the Nullarbor SA

The rest of this year will be spent birding interstate so I hope to increase these totals even further. My life list currently sits on 691 …. Watch this space where I will post the final stats for 2013 in the next week or so….

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Plains Wanderer - Spotlighting at it's best!

There is a wonderful and very unusual bird in Australia that is called a Plains Wanderer. The magnificent little ball of feathers is highly elusive, it's habitat and ground dwelling behaviour resembles a quail but is in a family on it's own which is actually more closely related to a wader. 
The Plains Wanderer lives in the Riverina of NSW and Vic and in a few locations in SA. It likes the native open grasslands and the grass needs to be short so the little bird is able to walk freely and find the grass seeds that it feeds on.
The best way to find these birds is to go spotlighting. Unusually it is the female that is remarkably coloured with her distinct neck pattern. I was STOKED to have a close encounter with this little beauty in 2010 when I went spotlighting with my friend Simon Starr. After initially flushing she actually walked up to us and posed for photos before getting bored and wandering off into the night.