An undulating line of 56 Red-tailed Black Cockatoos flowed across the garden
in front of us the other day. Everything about the experience was laid-back.
The wing-beats were lazy, they just seemed to be on a social 'stroll' around
the countryside. The calls amounted to no more than relaxed chatting as they
swam through the clear blue sky, just above the tree-tops. And the birders -
we were very relaxed, sitting spellbound on the verandah.
Richard and Diana Nowotny called in recently and we spent a day wandering
the back roads together, though before we could get out of the gate we had
to pause as four Speckled Warblers worked their leisurely way across the
gravel driveway, Still hundreds of Plum-headed Finches around nearby, with
much courtship going on. Later, a group of 6 Ground Cuckoo-shrikes in one
paddock, with two more a few kilometres further on, and 19 Banded Lapwings
nearby. Richard and Diana dropped into Ravensbourne National Park the next
day, where their sightings included "Noisy Pitta, Russet-tailed Thrush
(marvellous close, lengthy views), Green Catbird, Paradise Riflebird (male
and two females), Eastern Whipbird, Crested Shrike-tit, Yellow-throated
Scrubwren, Large-billed Scrubwren."
Black Kites have been around for a month or so now, often tantalisingly
close, but the other day one at last passed overhead while I was in the
garden! Bird #197 on the Abberton list - with all but four of them seen from
the verandahs (initially or subsequently, that is).
Just now, Peter Carnall and I are buzzing around the valley for a few days.
On Monday he was convinced that his bird of the trip was, and would remain,
the Tawny Frogmouth that roosts outside his room every day, with Rose Robin,
Azure Kingfisher, Red-necked Avocet, Red-capped Robin and Australian Spotted
Crake pushing hard. Yesterday, Wedge-tailed Eagle climbed into the chart
with three or four good sightings, just edging out Red-backed Fairy-wren and
Speckled Warbler. But all bets were off when a Noisy Pitta walked into a
shaft of sunlight in the rain-forest at Ravensbourne! I didn't manage a
photo of the pitta, but I did get a shot of a literally open-mouthed South
African birder with his binoculars glued to it! Nonetheless, I suspect
there could have still been a dilemma for Peter if hadn't been unlucky
enough to miss out on three male Regent Bowerbirds which appeared and
disappeared in a flash while we were there. He has seen Red-tailed Black
Cockatoos every day, and two Glossy Black Cockies at Abberton this-morning,
and they will certainly figure in his top ten, but we don't know just where
Tomorrow, I hope to show him Australia's northernmost Banded Stilt, and just
a few kilometres away what could well be Australia's southernmost
Lockyer Valley, Queensland.
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