The year's highlights if I may, from an Australasian perspective:
Cassowaries visiting the gardens, and the Spotted Catbirds and Victoria
Riflebirds who do the same, with a particular mention for Scruffy, an
old and now almost bald male Victoria's Riflebird who figured in the
ABC's Quantum program about cassowaries too (of all the ones the
The garden Red-necked Crakes who now have at least one youngster.
The pair of Square-tailed Kites that spent the summer quite near the
White-eared Monarchs, I still like to see and hear these above all the
others as they are so elusive.
A huge Masked Owl on the Tablelands, thanks to Jonathan Munro.
Lesser Sooty Owl at Kingfisher Park, thanks Ron.
Grass Owls on the tablelands with a Field Guides group, quite by chance
as I'd tried three times before without success.
Baillon's Crake at Lake Tinaroo, my first since February 1973 in the UK
and long overdue for a repeat.
Regent Honeyeaters and Plum-headed Finches in the Capertee valley last
month. What a magnificent area this is.
The "roding" male Magnificent Riflebird at Iron Range, plus the
Frill-necked Monarchs, Green-backed Honeyeaters and Yellow-legged
Flycatchers, and the bonus Black-winged Monarch.
Wandering Tattler at Chili Beach, Iron Range.
Moving across the Torres Strait to PNG:
Getting tape recordings of Little Paradise-Kingfisher at long last and
sorting out how to tell it by call from Common Paradise.
Bismarck Kingfisher on a wooded stream on New Britain, and the wonderful
pair of White-mantled Kingfishers near Hoskins.
Rufous-faced Thicket-warbler that came in to a highly speculative burst
of tape in soon to be logged hill forest on New Britain.
Beach Kingfisher, Sclater's Myzomela and Nicobar Pigeon on a tiny island
off New Britain.
Atoll Starling and Nicobar Pigeons on Tench Island, New Ireland.
Discovering a brilliant new track on New Ireland that gave us Forbes
Mannikin, New Ireland Myzomela, Pied Cuckoo-Dove, White-naped Lory and
the still undescribed Bismarck Microeca.
Finding Buff-bellied Mannikin on New Ireland, an addition to the
avifauna of the island.
Superb Pitta on Manus, called in by my local wantok, and then the
incredible daylight views of the Manus Boobook.
The New Guinea Harpy-Eagle that floated silently in as we were
concentrating on a Painted Quail-thrush.
Joseph Tano finding us Yellowish-streaked Honeyeater (on call!) at
Ambua, in the midst of a full-scale tribal war.
The New Guinea Log-runners that showed brilliantly for a small group,
and the arboreal Lesser Melampitta that was the 5000 th bird for one
The male Chestnut Forest-Rail that gave such great looks below the Tari
The absurdly tame Obscure Berrypecker that allowed us to photograph it
at Tabubil, the first ever pictures as far as I know.
The Hook-billed Kingfisher that clipped my head at Kiunga, then sat
posing for us.
The male Flame Bowerbird that let us scope it for once.
Getting tape of the seldom seen Plain Honeyeater.
The astonishing Spotted Jewel-babblers that came to have a look at us
near Ambua, normally the most skulking and unco-operative of the group
The male Black Sicklebill that could be heard over a kilometre way as he
sat calling "whik whik whik" atop a dead tree near Ambua.
Late one afternoon against a stormy sky up at the Tari Gap, we watched 5
fully plumed male Ribbon-tailed Astrapias forming a sort of lek and
shaking their tail feathers in a dead tree, one of the most incredible
sights I've seen in many visits to Ambua. A male Crested Bird of
Paradise then came up to sit beside them too, with a nearby Brown
Sicklebill and Short-tailed Paradigalla for good measure,
Hearing New Britain Bronzewing, and having superb looks at a NG
Bronzewing that burst out of a thicket at Kiunga. Next year we shall get
sightings of the former I hope........
Finally seeing a Spotted Catbird in PNG, after 9 years, when I get them
daily here at Cassowary House. They are unbelievably elusive further
Other highlights have been meeting so many interesting birders and
naturalists both on tours and at Cassowary House over the year. My
thanks and best wishes to all the many birders who have helped us, and
to the excellent local guides and operators in the Far North Queensland
area who have been so supportive. Particular thanks to Russell at
birding-aus for the great service he has set up.
Compliments of the season to all birding-aus readers, and great birding
in 2000. Keep those sightings coming!
Phil Gregory, Cassowary House, Kuranda, Queensland.
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