Monday, 18 June 2018

Daytime tawny frogmouth and spotted pardalote

I've spent hours almost everyday from dawn until well past sunset for the past two weeks searching for koalas and echidnas with no success what so ever. It's not been completely wasted time though, I've picked up a lot of decent birds in the process, and none better than the pair I found today. First off I spotted these two daytime roosting tawny frogmouths apparently sunbathing, and then later a stunning male spotted pardalote.

Sunday, 17 June 2018

"Eastern" great egret

Everything is so much tamer here. This great egret was walking along on the edge of one of the Noosa canals with lots of people around. I sat and watched it and it came within 3m of me and just walked past. Why aren't they like this in the UK? Like osprey and cattle egret, great egret is called eastern great egret in my book, but I think that there is less of a case for this being a separate species.

Saturday, 16 June 2018

1770 to Noosa

Today I traveled from 1770 to Noosa. It's a 370km drive and it would have been easy for me to pick out a few scenically beautiful places to stop on the way, but instead I decided to stop off at places which might provide me with birds which I might not otherwise have seen on the holiday. For example, a stop in an area of farmland turned up this Australian pipit. It's a very common bird in Australia, but only if you go to the right habitat, no point in looking for this in tropical rain forest.

At another stop I managed seven species of raptor in 15 minutes, including bird of the day two swamp harriers which unfortunately I was unable to photograph.  Other new species for the holiday were azure kingfisher and white-headed pigeon.

Thursday, 14 June 2018

More Tawny frogmouth

With the exception perhaps of the beach stone curlew on Fraser Island, it's hard to imagine a more enigmatic bird than tawny frogmouth, and this bird on my campsite at 1770 shows exceptionally well. What a great bird!

A mob of whiptail wallabies

I was delighted to stumble across a mob of whiptail wallabies this morning on a walk along the coast from 1770. Compared to most other kangeroos and wallabies, they were very approachable and consisted of a male with several females and juveniles. As you can see in the photos below, one of the females has a large joey in her pouch, though the animal itself is not visible.

Tuesday, 12 June 2018

Frogmouth and thick-knees on the 1770 campsite

I've moved onto the town of 1770 in Queensland, staying in a cabin right in the middle of a eucalyptus woodland, offering lots of nocturnal possibilities! I've heard that there are possums, sugar gliders and echidnas on the site, but tonight I had to be content with a tawny frogmouth. The frogmouths belong to the same family as the nightjars and like their cousins they are always extra special birds to find, not least because of their nocturnal habits.  On my last visit to Australia in 2015 I was shown a Papuan frogmouth sitting on a nest, and those are even larger than tawny, but this bird was impressive enough, at least twice the size of a nightjar I would guess. A stunning bird.

Monday, 11 June 2018

Nankeen night-herons and the ubiquitous swanphens

Nankeen night-herons are always nice to see, especially when they show as well as this. Like all night herons they are most active and dusk or at night, so this is a really special sighting.

Sunday, 10 June 2018

A day in the eucalyptus forest

Pacific baza, a major target species for me on this trip to Australia. Now I really do feel like I'm in the tropics! This species feeds often in small groups on insects, nestlings and even frogs high up in the canopy.  There were two birds in this tree.

Saturday, 9 June 2018

Parrots and Pelicans at Burrum Heads

If you like parrots Australia is the place to be! There's loads of them. Today I had some nice views of some really special birds. First off this is a galah, a fairly common bird  but it's not often I see them this well.

The March of the Sand Bubblers

Yesterday I mentioned the sand bubblers, small blue crabs which create the aboriginal style patterns in the sand on tropical beaches. Today as the tide came in at Burrum Heads near Hervey Bay, I watched as millions of these crabs made their way across the beach in close rank, almost like columns of ants. A really incredible spectacle. The remarkable thing was, if I approached too close the crabs just disappeared! Inside a couple of seconds they just sank themselves into the sand and it was as if they had never been there, just a flat sandy beach remained! I don't know where these crabs were going or what they were doing, were they retreating from the tide or does this mass movement signify something else? I don't know, but great to be there and witness it.

Friday, 8 June 2018

Fraser Island

Someone once said that real birds eat fish, and that's something I can really relate to. Fish eating birds are generally something special. However in Australia I'd have too beg to differ and say that real birds eat crabs!

I was walking along the beach on Fraser Island today when this stonking beach thick-knee walked out from the vegetation calling. This is a species which in my experience is quite timid and will not allow close approach, however this bird walked towards me and was obviously quite agitated.  I assume that it must have had a nest or chicks nearby, but I didn't dwell too long in the area. Like all beach birds, beach thick-knee is under threat due to its preference for nice sandy beaches which unfortunately also attract people.

Wednesday, 6 June 2018

Along the Brisbane River

A day spent along the Brisbane river, from Teneriffe in the east to Fig Tree Pocket in the west. I started off having a sail along the river on the Brisbane CityCat, much too fast moving for any serious birding but a quick, cheap and easy way for me to see the city without spending all day at it. Even so I added a few species to my trip list so far, Australian darter, gull-billed tern, lesser crested tern and white-face heron.

On returning to the city centre I caught the bus to Fig Tree Pocket and the Lone pine koala sanctuary.  I'm not really one for spending a lot of time in zoos, captive animals don't do a lot for me, but in this case it seemed worth a visit. Quite apart from the fact that the grounds and gardens attract many wild species, I don't think that it's possible to see some of these Australian specialities even in zoos outside of Australia. For example I don't know how many platypus there are in zoos across the world, but I bet it's not many, if any. The aussies seem as keen to keep Australian things in the country as they are to keep foreign things out. Pity they didn't think of that 250 years ago.....

Tuesday, 5 June 2018

A walk along Breakfast Creek

Day one of my latest Australian adventure saw me start off at Banks Street Reserve in Brisbane, about three kilometers north of my accommodation at Redhills. This is a small area of remnant rainforest and it holds some interesting species. From here I then followed Breakfast Creek for a few miles, before dropping down into the city for a visit to the Gabba followed by a quick schooner of ale.

When they were giving out names, the name glossy ibis had already been allocated to the "European" (actually cosmopolitan) ibis, so what to call this bird? Straw-necked ibis hardly seems to do it justice.....

Friday, 25 May 2018

Temminck's stint, Pennington Flash

The past 15 Temminck's stints that I have seen have all been between 12th May and 25th May, so no great surprise to see one this week, though it was nice to get it at Pennington Flash where it was a site tick for me. Although not particularly elusive it's tiny size and the long viewing distance, combined with heat haze, the sun often in the wrong place and a myriad of boulders for it to disappear behind, to say nothing of the aggressive locals made it quite a challenge at times, and on more than one occasion this week I have arrived in the hide to be told that the bird hadn't been seen for hours, only for me to almost immediately relocate it (simply because I knew it's favoured spot and had my eye in for it). I also think that often people forget how small it is, little larger than a house sparrow. The supporting cast on Tuesday included two smart black terns.

Tuesday, 15 May 2018

Iberian Chiffchaff, Thurstaston

I seem to be putting a lot of video on here at the moment, but it's justified. It's hard to fully appreciate yesterdays dawn chorus at Pennington Flash without hearing it and seeing the wonderful blue skies, and today if I just posted a photo of the Iberian chiffchaff at Thurstaston on Wirral it would be difficult to truly appreciate how different it is to our more familiar chiffchaff.

At one time Iberian chiffchaff was a real bogey bird for me, but in recent years I've seen several, and each one seems to show better than the last. The Thurstaston bird is a beauty, constantly singing and showing very well.

Birkenhead Docks

I've heard a lot about Birkenhead docks recently, so called in for a look today. It's quite an impressive place with a decent common tern colony. My maximum count today was 44 birds.

Sunday, 13 May 2018

Dawn Chorus at Pennington Flash

It was a breathtaking dawn chorus this morning at Pennington Flash, I stood in one spot and could hear at least nine species of warbler singing and managed to get this video of a garden warbler. How many other species can you hear in the background? I've managed to hear at least four other species of warbler. Also today a drake wigeon on the flash, at least four Cetti's warblers singing and seven common terns.

Wednesday, 9 May 2018

Glossy Ibis, Pennington Flash

There was a glossy ibis in front of the Teal hide at Pennington Flash this afternoon. It's one of those very cosmopolitan species, along with the likes of osprey and cattle egret, which I've seen all over the World including Florida and Australia. Back in December last year I also saw an amazing flock of 10,000 in Donana, Spain. Still, it's always special to see a new bird at the patch.

Thursday, 3 May 2018

Draycote Water

I'm working in Warwickshire at the moment, and staying in a hotel near Draycote water. Up until about two weeks ago I'd never been to the place, but with work being mainly at dawn and dusk, I've started having a walk around it most days. It's a 5.5 mile walk and takes about three hours at birding speed. Highlights so far have been nice views of a few migrants, including yellow wagtail, Arctic tern, garden warbler and lesser whitethroat, as well as juvenile Iceland gull in the roost one evening.

Arctic tern
There was a huge passage of Arctic terns yesterday, with 100+ at Draycote and lots more at other midlands reservoirs, including an incredible 250+ at Carsington in Derbyshire, but apart from a few stragglers such as this, they seem to have largely moved on now.

Cherry red bill, nice short legs, white cheeks contrasting with grey underparts, pale primaries and tail extending beyond wing tips. What more could you ask for in an Arctic tern?

Male yellow wagtail

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