2011 – a review

5 01 2012

What a year… Orange-bellied Parrot, Grey-backed Storm-petrel, Painted Snipe, Mallee Emu-wren, Short-tailed Grasswren, and Mallee Whipbird being some of the more awesome lifers I managed to pick up. I saw 340 species over the 12 month period, which included a few large trips: most notably the big one – Sydney->Wagga Wagga -> Hattah-Kulkyne NP -> Gluepot Reserve -> Flinders Ranges -> Kangaroo Island -> Grampians NP -> Sydney; and a counter-clockwise trip around Tasmania. Visiting 4 states picks up a large amount of different habitat, which in turn equals a large amount of birds. I’m still entering all my old records into the excellent Wildlife Recorder program, so I’m not 100% certain of my current lifer count, but I think I’m at 515 or 516.

Where I birded in 2011

Oh and I got my 300/2.8, which is a sexy beast of a lens. Shame that due to the tsunami delivery was delayed and I didn’t have it in time for the South Australia trip, but it came to Tasmania with me.

Anyway – what does 2012 have in store? First up, a trip to Ash Island tomorrow to get the Yellow Wagtails. Then around mid-year I’m thinking of a 35th birthday present to myself of a week round trip to Bowra Station. End of year will be either Christmas/Cocos-Keeling Islands (a week on each) or Norfolk and Lord Howe Islands (a week on each) – I’m still tossing up which trip to do… I’ll get good numbers (30+) lifers on either trip, but one involves about 18 hours in a plane to get there, the other one about 4… and it’s a couple of grand cheaper, which means I can get a new camera body and buy other new toys that I probably don’t need… ahhh first world problems…

So – the target for next year is a year list of 300, but more importantly, I am hoping to crack the 560 life list tally. If I get out on a few boats, get over to one set of islands and up to Bowra – no worries.

Good birding everyone!





Day 7, all is well in the world

4 04 2011

Still no interwebs, but jeez the trip has been fun!

Spent most of yesterday at Gluepot, and I can’t wait to get back there. The first 2 birds I saw were lifers, and it doesn’t get much better than that. I managed to get lost in the mallee (again), but I managed to find new birds then, so all is good. Not sure where im at in terms of numbers, it’s either 496 or 497 – I need to check the records to see if I have a record of Little Crow – I don’t recall having seen one, but it seems unusual to have not given where I’ve birded over the years.

Anyway – currently kickin back in Clare, a lovely town in the Clare Valley. Off to a couple of CP’s tomorrow which will hopefully make up for some closed ones we tried to visit today (closed for feral animal control). That said, the birding isn’t the focus for tomorrow, but it’ll be back in a large way in about 36 hours time!

Cheers!





South Australian Adventure Ahoy!

26 03 2011

Howdy all,

As some of you know, we’re about to head off to South Australia for a couple of weeks of intensive birding. I’ll be trying to update this blog whenever I have access to the interwebs, which will be sporadic, but regular.

We head off next week, and after graduating at sunny Wagga Wagga, we head out into western Victoria to try again for Mallee Emu-wren at Hattah, then out to Gluepot via Ned’s Corner to try for everything that you find there. From there, off to Port Augusta and Lake Gilles NP to get a few WA birds on the eastern edge of their range, then up to the Flinders Ranges for a bit. After stooging around there for a week or thereabouts, it’s off to Adelaide for some plastics (well, Barbary Dove) and to check out the Pandas. Then off to Kangaroo Island, and back to Sydney via Mt Gambier and the Grampians. About 4 and a bit weeks and 9000km all up.

We were going to get up to Mt Lyndhurst, but recent rains have seen the road open and closed to 4wd only, and as much as I’d like to take the un-4wd up the Strzlecki, I don’t really want to risk it and the fines. At the moment it’s open to 4wd, but it was closed to all traffic last week. So I figure I’ll go back in a couple of years and spend proper time looking for Chestnut-breasted Whiteface, and instead spend an extra day in the Flinders.

Keryn will be doing a photo blog on my flickr in a new set, and I’ll be doing landscape, birds, flowers and insects as I find them. Not expecting too much in the way of reptiles, but will put anything from those groups up as well.

Anyway – should be a corker of a trip – I’m aiming for 15 lifers on it, and there’s a possibility (albeit slim!) for plenty more than that. Although that requires things to be well out of range, and me to be very lucky.

And for any budding thieves out there, there will be people staying in our house, so don’t bother 🙂

Cheers

Troy

ps: unfortunately due to the earthquake and tsunami, my lens was held up 😦 so no shiny new lens for this trip…





Round Hill NR via Chiltern

15 09 2010

Perhaps not the most direct route, but it had to be done. ~2500 km, probably 100ml of rain, and 152 birds (full list in the comments).

Google Earth with all my survey sites overlayed.

Day 1-4 was Sydney -> Chiltern with some uni work thrown in. It was cold, wet and windy. Not a lot of birding to be done. See earlier posts for the highlights.

Day 5 involved driving to Lake Cargelligo, which was to be my HQ for the following 3ish days. I firstly tried to re-create my last trip to Leeton and crossed fingers hoping for another Grey Falcon, but it wasn’t to be. I did manage to get photos of a Hobby eating a White-breasted Woodswallow though, so that’s pretty cool. The lake was super full! Last time we were there it was probably 60% full, and earlier in the year, there was footage on ABC news of the lake totally empty, so it was good to see it with some water in there.

A view of the lake

Between Chiltern and Lake Cargelligo, the first inland birds started to make an appearance – Blue Bonnet being my marker bird – when I start seeing them, I know I’m inland. There were more Blue Bonnets on this trip than any previous.

Blue Bonnet. This was taken at Whoey Tank, Round Hill NR, but you get the idea 🙂

Day 6 was a trip to Round Hill and Nombinnie NR’s, and a visit to Lake Cargelligo STW. First up was “Chat Alley”, which was devoid of Chats, but did produce White-winged Fairy-wren and Rufous Songlark. Whoey Tank at Round Hill was fantastic. The usual suspects were there (Spotted Bowerbird, Hooded Robin etc). Unfortunately the rain meant that I couldn’t get in to Nombinnie, although as the day was looking sunny and windy, so I had hopes that it would dry out a bit over the afternoon. The STW was, as always, fantastic. I ended up with about 30 species in 30 minutes, including Yellow-billed Spoonbill and Red-necked Avocet, both birds I’ve struggled with this year. They’re now safely on the year list. I also managed to see a pair of Major Mitchell’s Cockatoos and got a dodgy record shot of them.

Day 7 – had a planned trip again to Round Hill and Nombinnie, as well as going out to Mt. Hope. Unfortunately there was no power into Lake Cargelligo until 1 pm, so I had my half tank of petrol and around a 200km round trip… I decided to risk it, but as soon as the fuel meter got below 1/4 full, I would turn around. Fortunately the trip passed without event, and I was able to get into Nombinnie and the fabled “Old Wheat Paddock”. There was, however, a lake in the middle of the road, so I couldn’t get very far along the track, so no Red-lored Whistler for me, but I did manage Southern Scrub-robin, Shy Heathwren, Grey-fronted, White-fronted, Brown-headed and Black-chinned Honeyeaters, and a pair of Splendid Fairy-wren! Not a bad morning. At Whoey Tank I seemed to spend more time taking photos of plants than birds, although the highlight would have to be an obliging Mulga Parrot.

Mulga Parrot - this male had me running around trying to get a clear shot.

Day 8 – Up early for sunrise, and an uneventful trip home via Grenfell. I was going to camp at Weddin Mountains on the way home, but I’d ran out of food and was making good time, so home it was.

The Lake at freezing oclock

All of the images are being a bit cropped on the right – I’ll try to sort that out tonight on the late shift at work.





Needs less rain

26 08 2010

Rain. The locals love it, the bush needs it, and generally I don’t mind it, unless it’s coupled with <10C temps that become ~3C when you factor in wind-chill. Then I'm not so keen. And then when you have to be in the bush doing transects counting trees and ground cover for uni, I get seriously pissed off about it. Anyway – that's over now. Woohoo!

For the last 4 days I've been in Chiltern, the birding Mecca of northern Victoria, but I haven't been able to do anywhere near as much birding as I'd like to. I've managed to find Turquoise Parrot, and some sort of native marsupial (photo of it to come – I need help with identifying this one) at the Honeyeater Picnic area, an apparently resident group of Diamond Firetails on Lancashire Gap Road, King Parrot at Bartleys Block (apparently rare in the area – they responded to pishing!), and Australasian Shoveler at Chiltern Dam #1 (also unusual for the area).

Anyway, I'm off to Lake Cargellico shortly, heading up via Leeton and Cocoparra NP. Should be cracking.





Sydney – Chiltern – 23AUG2010

23 08 2010

Howdy.

Shirking electoral shenanigans, I embrace my inner nerd and go birding. Well, I have to come here for uni. Actually, Albury – well Thurgoona is where the uni is, although I don’t rate either place, so I’m writing from Chiltern, Vic. And there’s no embracing my inner nerd – I love it.

Aaaanyway, mostly travel today – around 600km worth. Still managed to pick up 33 birds, inc 9 raptors! Stupid amounts of Black-shouldered Kites around Albury. Makes it tricky to look for the Letter-winged Kite reported here around a month ago – particularly at 110km/h, but anyways.

Probable highlight was Turquoise Parrots at the Honeyeater picnic area at Chiltern – I usually have to go to the nearby Bartley’s Block for that. Was going to go spotlighting for owls tonight, but decided to drink goon instead. WOO.

Uni fires up tomorrow, so birding becomes limited, but stay tuned- the next 8 days should see some gold!

NOTE:
Updates are via phone, so no photos until I get back to Sydney, or hi-jack someones wireless.





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!