4 lifers, 2500 km, 500,000,000 locusts

20 04 2010

What a trip. Lots of learning, a fair swathe of birding, a shitload of driving, biblical plagues of locusts, and 4 ticks.

How good is that?!

The ticks were:

Gilbert’s Whistler

Gilbert's Whistler

Bird # 475

White-winged Fairy-wren (no photo)

Plains-wanderer

Plains-wanderer

Bird # 477

And most suprisingly of all – Grey Falcon.

Grey Falcon

Bird # 478 - and easily my bird of the year

The falcon was a bird I seriously doubted ever finding. Stoked.

The Gilbert’s Whistler was at the base of Mt. Terrick in the Terrick Terrick NP. Took me about 45 minutes to find the bastard, then he disappeared. I got a sketchy record shot, and kept looking. No cigar. Then, about an hour later, another bird appeared and it escorted me back to the car. Champion action.

From there, I went Simon Starr’s place to go for a quick pre-Plains-Wanderer trip to try and find some Orange or Yellow Chats (my memory is shot) that had been reported nearby recently. No joy on the chats (we found the much more common and readily found White-fronted Chat) but we did find a small party of White-winged Fairy-wrens. These birds are fantastic, and I can’t wait to get back and see more of them.

The main reason fo the trip to central north Victoria was to go out looking for Plains-wanderer. Simon rightfully boasts a great record of finding them. We picked up the other couple who were coming along – Deborah and Patrick, from sunny Melbourne, and headed out. The night did not disappoint – 5 wanderers were found, including 1 deceased individual, which Simon made sure was dead by standing on it (accidentally!).

Primaries of a deceased Plains-wanderer

Primaries of a deceased Plains-wanderer

Other highlights were finding a Curl Snake, and a Fat-tailed Dunnart. Simon commented that it was one of the better trips he’d done for quite a while. Elated we finished up, had a beer and a chat, and I contemplated what I’d do the next day.

I tossed up going to Fivebough Swamp at Leeton or not, having had mixed results over the previous 10 visits, and wasn’t convinced whether I’d go or not as I pulled out o simons place. I even slowed down at the turnoff to Wagga Wagga but chose to continue on to Narranderra and subsequently Leeton. True to my experiences, it was pretty quiet.

I saw a Brown Goshawk and took some sketchy record shots, and noticed a falcon behind and below it. Took a few photos, then got the bins on it – had no idea what I was looking at, and noted “weird peregrine – check photos”. I did that when I got back to Sydney, and got pretty excited. We had no Internet though, as our modem packed it in while I was away, so confirmation had to wait until tuesday. I have had it confirmed by Jonny Schoenjahn, THE Grey Falcon expert in – well, probably the world – so I’m ultra stoked. Bird number 478.

Anyway – happy Troy. Only 22 to get to 500, which is nothing to sneeze at. If we end up heading inland later in the year, I should get pretty close to that.

Locusts. Jesus H. Corbett. They were everywhere. I’ve never seen anything like it. Seriously madness. It was almost like driving through mist with bits of hail. The front if the car looked like a monster had sneezed on it. That sounds terrible, but it was.

Happy birding everyone!





New birds! Wooo

17 04 2010

I’m knackered so this will be short. I’ve added 3 new birds with Gilberts whistler, White-winged Fairy-wren and Plainswanderer today. Photos to come when I get back to Sydney. Also saw Curl Snake and a Fat-tailed Dunnart, and have the filthiest car ever, courtesy of a locust plague.

I think that has me at 477 now. I need to work it all out.

Goodnight!





Residential school is OVAR!!

16 04 2010

Well. That was full on. 3 days of 8 hour labs with an exam. Didn’t leave much time for birding (had about an hour in the mornings, and it was dark by the time I got back) but that all changes tomorrow.

I’m heading off to Pyramid Hill to go spotlighting for Plainswanderer with Simon Starr and will be birding for about 6 hours on the way there, with 4 hours of guided birding after that. Should be champion.

I also just saw on ABC news Victoria that there’s a plague of locusts in the area I’m heading too. Should be lots of fun. There was a shot of the highway, and you couldn’t see the road for the locusts!! I’ll put something up here or on flickr when I get back to Sydney.

So yeah – there’ll be a report on some actual birds tomorrow. I promise.





Day one

13 04 2010

Howdy. 620km travelled, nearly ran out of petrol, and now I’m nearly asleep and looking forward to labs and what not tomorrow.

Not much birding done, but I did manage to see 7 species of raptor on the way down, which is pretty alright. Depending on how cold it is in the morning, I’ll be heading out to Bartley’s Block in the morning.

And Facebook has decided I’m trying to hack myself, and I’ve been barred, so yeah – that’s weird. I’ll try to get in via a uni compoota tomorrow and sort that out. I also forgot my card reader, so no photos until I get to officeworks or something.

cheers!





Residential School

12 04 2010

Being the early 30’s, stylish, trendsetting kinda guy that I am, people are frequently surprised to hear I’m at uni. Not that I work at one, but that I’m studying… still.

What they don’t realise is that one of the things that made me go back to uni and actually complete (not that I have, but only 2 subjects to go) is the promise of Residential School. This is time that work pays me to go and attend university off in rural NSW, and it almost always butts up next to a weekend. Add a bit of rec leave here and there, and you have a 6 day paid holiday in the bush someplace (Wagga Wagga or Albury, in my case) and you only actually lose 1-2 days of rec leave.

This time it’s paid off even better, and I don’t actually use up any rec. leave, and I’m going to see a Plainswanderer. Woohoo. That said, I will be driving significantly more than the RTA, or any normal person would consider safe in a very short period of time, but I’m going to see a plainswanderer, so I don’t care.

I also get to do some birding every morning around Chiltern, Vic, which is a seriously nice place that everyone should visit at least once, and conditions appear to be the goods at the moment as well, so I’m very much looking forward to that.

Anyway – I’ll post here when I can with updates to the excitement. I’m in labs from 9-6 each day as of Wednesday, with an exam Friday arvo, so I’ll only be able to bird in the early morning, but I should hopefully see some good things. I’m also heading out spotlighting each night looking for Barking Owl, so yeah… I’m gonna be a zombie when I get back to work on Tuesday the 20th… looking forward to that meeting with teh MacQuarie Uni librarians…!





Residential School

12 04 2010

Being the early 30’s, stylish, trendsetting kinda guy that I am, people are frequently surprised to hear I’m at uni. Not that I work at one, but that I’m studying… still.

What they don’t realise is that one of the things that made me go back to uni and actually complete (not that I have, but only 2 subjects to go) is the promise of Residential School. This is time that work pays me to go and attend university off in rural NSW, and it almost always butts up next to a weekend. Add a bit of rec leave here and there, and you have a 6 day paid holiday in the bush someplace (Wagga Wagga or Albury, in my case) and you only actually lose 1-2 days of rec leave.

This time it’s paid off even better, and I don’t actually use up any rec. leave, and I’m going to see a Plainswanderer. Woohoo. That said, I will be driving significantly more than the RTA, or any normal person would consider safe in a very short period of time, but I’m going to see a plainswanderer, so I don’t care.

I also get to do some birding every morning around Chiltern, Vic, which is a seriously nice place that everyone should visit at least once, and conditions appear to be the goods at the moment as well, so I’m very much looking forward to that.

Anyway – I’ll post here when I can with updates to the excitement. I’m in labs from 9-6 each day as of Wednesday, with an exam Friday arvo, so I’ll only be able to bird in the early morning, but I should hopefully see some good things. I’m also heading out spotlighting each night looking for Barking Owl, so yeah… I’m gonna be a zombie when I get back to work on Tuesday the 20th… looking forward to that meeting with teh MacQuarie Uni librarians…!