Dear fellow birders,
As promised a quick report on some of the birding highlights on a 6 week trip
from our trip from Perth to Brisbane by car. This trip was to celebrate my
wife's PhD and make up for a long absence of holiday. Since my wife is
non-birding, I tried to maximise my chances in finding the birds that I missed
on a previous trip 5 yrs ago. I found birding in australia difficult as
compared to 5yrs ago. All birders I met had similar experience and pointed to
the enormous drought Australia is experiencing. Having said that, we could
hardly believe the copious amounts of rain we had! The weather in Stirling
range and Albany, WA was rain only, same around Melbourne and in Wodonga, NSW
we were treated on some serious hail, that made us run out of our tent to the
car for cover and left our car top and bonnet full of dents! Coastal NSW
unfortunately received some much needed rains right when we were there so we
left a week ahead of schedule.
Despite this, I managed some real quality birding and saw some really
I didn't do much planning but used several sources of information; the Thomas
and Thomas site-finding guide (still excellent after 11yrs!!), the Frank
O'Conner website for WA and I sought assistance on the birding-aus web. Many of
you replied and without your assistance, my trip success would be much lower. I
would like to single out Frank Rheindt, whose assistance and previous postings
on birding-aus turned out to be an essential guide throughout my trip! Many
thanks also to the following people: Glen Threlfo, Rob Goldbach, David Geering,
Tom Tarrant, Carol Probets (many thanks for keeping me posted Carol!!), Justin
jansen, Paul Walbridge, Graeme Mee, Philip Veerman, Peter Waanders, Phil Maher,
Jon hornbuckle, Mat Gilfedder, Penny Brockman and anyone else I met I the field.
Stirling range retreat, WA 7-9 oct.
Lots and lots of parrots on the campground with Regents (20+), Elegants
(15+), Red-cappeds and Port Lincolns, many SB Black Cockatoos and
Purple-crowned Lorrikeets. Furthermore, a nice light phase little Eagle, A pair
of Tawny Frogmouths, Western Thornbill, both Splendid and Blue-breasted
Fairywrens in good numbers and best of all, a male Western Shrike-tit, still
(apparently like last year) in front of the reception building despite much
rain throughout the day.
Two Peoples Bay, WA, 10 oct
On the drive in a Spotted Nightjar collided onto my car but since I drove
really slow it fortunately continued hawking. It was easy to hear the famous
skulking trio but despite much effort and much rain, I drew a complete blank in
glimpsing one. I did find S Emuwrens and my personal all-time favourite
Australian Honeyeater: the striking Western Spinebill.
Albany-Esperance drive, WA
A short break at Fitzgerald River gave Western Whipbird (heard only) and a
fine Red-eared Firetail.
Esperance, WA 11 oct,
2 rock Parrots on the Esplanade and my first ever Little Wattlebirds on the
campground, a bird I never managed before in WA and which must be local in its
occurrence at best or very good in avoiding me.
Also 2 Cape Barren Geese, close to Pink lake, as predicted by Frank O'Conner.
Across the Nullarbor 11-13 oct
Highlights were a Malleefowl that crossed the road east of Norseman. Just
after we saw it, a road sign warning for them was seen. Furthermore, 2 Spotted
Harriers, a female plus chick Australian Bustard and no less than 6 Ground
Cuckoo-shrikes (incuding a nest with two chicks just besides the road) all
close to Madura. At Nullarbor Roadhouse I experienced some amazing birding: a
brilliant male Nullarbor Quail-Thrush flew across the road and started singing
atop a bush, SB Thornbills were common, as were S whitefaces and Rufous
Fieldwrens (3) and I had excellent views of a female Little Buttonquail. At
nearby bay of Wright a female and calf Southern Right Whale were seen close to
Pt Augusta bot Gardens, SA 14 oct
The flowers at the centre had attracted a number of Honeyeaters with many
White-fronteds and Spiny-cheeckeds. Also Redthroat found easily near the
birdhide, an Elegant Parrot and Chirruping Wedgebill was common.
Stokes Hill lookout, Flinders Ranges, SA 16 oct
A stroke of luck here with a beautiful Stort-tailed Grasswren within 5 min.
close to the car park, without even going in.
Gluepot, SA, 18 oct.
I had booked a morning trip here with Peter Waanders. Another birder had also
signed up which turned out to be number two worldlister jon Hornbuckle,
excellent company!. After three hours we had seen literally nothing and had
only heard Red-lored Whistler calling quite far from its usual stakeout,
leading Peter to believe that they had finished breeding. Very frustrating
since it was getting really hot by 8am and bird activity was dropping quickly.
A quick bash to a site from last year however was an excellent move as within
10 min we were watching a stunning male carrying food, Nice! With only 6-8
pairs in Gluepot, I bet your chances of finding one yourself are close to zero.
The whistler was quickly followed by a large flock of Miners, containing at
least 5 pure bred individuals, including one juvenile. Other highlights
included Striated Grasswren (1), Chestnut Quailthrush (5+), Crested bellbird,
Masked and White-browed Woodswallows, a pair of Gilbers Whistlers and Southern
Scrub Robins, White-browed Treecreepers, Hooded Robins and many striking Mugla
On the way back, we checked one of the Murray river overflow areas where Jon
had found Freckled Duck the day before and found a nice male.
Later that day, a stroll along the sewage ponds gave Blue-faced HE, which
must be at the most westernly point of its distribution and 3juv, 1 ad Aust
Eremophila Park (close to Waikerie), SA 19 oct.
Malleefowl. and Chestnut-crowned babblers
Brookfield Conservation Park, Close to Waikerie, SA 20 oct:
A tip-off from Peter paid off big time (many thanks Peter!): Shy Heathwren,
Bluebonnets, S. Whiteface, more Chestnut-cr Babblers and Brown Treecreepers.
Black hills, Adelaide, SA, 21 oct
A nice hike gave many Crescent HE, and a nice male Flame and Scarlet Robins
Tower Hill, close to Port Fairy and Great Ocean Road, Vic 23 oct
A surprise pair Satin Flycatchers actively looking around for a place to breed
at tower Hill. Many Long-billed Corella's here as well. We arrived at noon at
The Arch but despite this time of day were soon rewarded with excellent views
of Rufous Bristlebirds.
The Grampians, Vic, 24 oct
A cracking pair of Gang Gang at the parking lot to the McKenzy (spelling?)
Falls and hundreds of Long-billed Corella's at the Gap.
Chiltern NP, Vic 28 oct
A stunning pair of Painted Honeyeaters on the north side of the village (many
thanks to the Immunologist from Melbourne who shared this site with me!!!). My
first Fuscous and Black-chinned Honeyeaters and many White-browed Woodswallows.
Deniliquin, NSW 30 oct
I was fortunate to join a Canadian birder to go on a tour with legendary Phil
Maher. We had a truly fantastic time and scored some really great birds. This
was the first time I experienced the upsides and downsides of the nomadic
behaviour of some of Australia's finest birds. It had rained 4-5 days before I
arrived. Exactly that day I arrived Black HE (2m, 1f) had moved in to feast on
the flowers, which definitely weren't there the day before according to Phil.
On the downside Inland Dotterel had apparently moved out. Among the very best
birds: 2 Australasian Bitterns, 2 Orange Chats, including a cracking male
amongst White-fronteds, 6 amazing WB Swallows, Spotless and Austr. Spotted
Crakes, Brolga, Yellow Thornbills, Striped HE on the nest, A Pratincole, Banded
lapwings (35+), Brown Songlarks, Singing Bushlark, Boobook, Tawny Frogmouth,
Little Eagle on the nest, Bluebonnets, grey-crowned babblers etc etc and best
of all a female Plains Wanderer after quite some
searching. Phil truly is an outstanding birder and great company in the field!
Gulpa, NSW 31 oct
30+ Supurb parrots. More of them also in flight close to Wagga Wagga and even
downtown here we found several! Also 2 Cockatiels just north of Deniliquin.
Sydney Area, NSW 3-6 nov
We had a brilliant sunny day downtown Sydney but were rained out completely
the days before and after. With the same forecast for the next week and the
absence of Regent HE at Capertee Valley, we decided to move on to Queensland. I
did visit barren grounds though in heavy rain, heard a few E bristlebirds and
saw 2 gang gang but not a sniff of the resident Pilotbird unfortunately. Also
Morton NP drew a blank on this bird but gave a pair of Rose Robins on the short
hike to the falls.
Lamington NP, QLD 8-9 nov.
We hiked to the antarctic Beech forest one morning and upon arrival after
3hrs, rain set in and spoiled any chance for Rufous Scubbird. Fortunately we
met Glen Threlfo, the resident guide and filmmaker of the O'reilly guesthouse
with a group of birders. While the rain did easy a bit, we could join his
group. It turned out to be the first time in his 27 yrs of guiding he did not
hear a single scrubbird up there! So he took all of us to a site much lower
down but in very thick ferns where he knew a bird was always singing.
Fortunately, he was right indeed and we came close to this amazing songster,
but without catching a glimpse. Later on Glen treated us with an amazing piece
of footage at O'reillies. In 9months time he managed to capture a scrubbird
singing its heart out on film. Wow, truly amazing stuff!
Other birds during our stay: Alberts lyrebirds were fairly asy with 4 seen.
We witnessed the amazing display of a male Riflebird, putting his wings around
his mate as he danced at point blank range, amazing stuff! Furthermore, Noisy
pitta, both Thrushes and Grey Goshwak. On Duck creek Road, we found a family
party of three Glossy Black Cockatoos, Painted buttonquail, Alberts Lyrebird,
Red-browed Treecreeper but I missed out on Spotted QT, which was seen two days
Best bird at Lamington was definitely an immaculate White-eared Monarch at
eye-level, a few hundred meters before Duck Creek road and further down two
marbled Frogmouths were seen after dusk.
Rainbow Beach, Coloola, inskip Point, QLD11 nov
A diligent search mostly guided by Frank Rheindt and Graham Etheringtons
notes gave 2 male Black-br Button quails after 2hrs searching. While
celebrating this success another female crossed the trail! Further gooddies
included Beach thick-knee (a pair seen once out of 5 times I checked the beach
at the tip.) and Fairy Gerygone.
That afternoon we checked out Coloola NP at the well-known ground parrot
stake-out. The first three km along coloola way are fine by 2WD, but the last
1.7km are a disaster and unless you're a Duke of hazard, it cannot be done with
low clearance vehicles. My advise would be to walk this last stretch which only
Birdwise, I was desperate to find the parrot after dipping big time on them
in Strahan, Tasmania 5 yrs ago. I walked the trail from the gate 200m past the
"lookout point' where everyone is waiting for the parrots to start singing and
flushed 2 birds after only 100m. I had repeated views of them and found that
the habitat here is much sparser and the grass is lower than around the
lookout. At the lookout itself a Lewins rail started calling, quickly followed
by a second one. A little taping made the bird cross the creek?! (sorry frank!)
giving some, although not great views. White-throated needletails flew low in
resonse to the uncoming thunderstorm (yes, more rain) as did a Swamp harrier.
Our last days were spend around Brisbane. I drew a complete blank at Mt
Glorious, except for S Boobook and a carpet Python my wife almost stepped on!
No joy at the Slaughter falls either, which was very disappointing with no WT
nightjar for some reason and a powerful owl silhouette in flight only.
Good birding and please don't hesitate if you want more info!
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