LONG Trip report to Australia

Subject: LONG Trip report to Australia
From: Houlem <>
Date: Fri, 17 Apr 1998 10:28:59 EDT
Hi AusBirders:

I was welcomed back to Wisconsin, USA with real trees bare of all leaves, and
with real spring weather, -5C, snow, Yellow-rumped Warblers, American Robins,
several form of Woodpeckers and the Bald Eagle. But on to my dream trip come

I was able to arranged several bird guides thru the AusBirdnet, simply
requesting a quality birding experience, with no specific species on my want
list. Numbers were not the objective, I just wanted to enjoy some of the
unusual birds of Australia, especially the endemics. Each guide complied with
this request, and I was treated to 14 days of varied habitat at a very slow,
quiet pace which allowed me to enjoy most of these birds over and over again.
Despite my request, I was treated to over 300 species, over 200 lifers as well
as a quality, relaxing tour of some of the world's most unusual habitat. I was
puzzled, however, by the trees. There are over 700 variety of Eucalyptus trees
in Australia. The bark falls off some and they all look like wonderful, dried,
but very dead trees. The sparse, but leafy canopy makes you realize they are
not dead. I also puzzled over the many ancient forests which have no soil?
Many of the trees however looked like real trees. They all have a mechanism to
withstand fires. There were palm trees, ferns 20' high and grass trees
centuries old. Despite this strange look to the trees, I always felt right at
home, as though I was not on a trip at all.

Fri13Mar98 On waking in Australia, I was greeted by the Welcome Swallow! What
a good start. Andy Burton, a professional birder guide, picked me up on Friday
the 13th. We drove thru Sidney and Northwest to the Cumberland State Forest in
search of the Tawney Frogmouth, but with no luck. We did see three Lorikeet
there, the Rainbow, Musk and Scaly-breasted. I was fascinated with the colony
of Bell Miner, such a sound of tinkling bells. Andy found a Southern Boobook
Owl standing near the base of some large palm trees, always a good find. We
had a Rufous Fantail do its amazing dance in the full sunlight. We went on to
Mitchell Park (Katai) and had a pair of Laughing Kookaburra land on a wire
near our picnic lunch and carry on their wild laughing. We also had big
lizards in the park. We were entertained by a Grey Fantail which danced within
a few feet of us in a cool forested spot in the park. We traveled further
north and saw a pair of Blue-faced Honeyeaters going into and out of a large
stick nest shaped like and ovenbird nest. Also saw the Eastern Yellow Robin
and the Eastern Whipbird on the day (what a sound!). We traveled North to
Putty Road and I had one of the thrills of the trip when I spotted a pair of
Double-barred Finch, formally known as the Owl faced Finch. They are stunning.
Also saw the Speckled Warbler, like our Waterthrush. We ended up at the
Hungerford Hill Dam just west of New Castle NSW. In all I saw 82 species (Andy
saw nine that I missed), 52 were lifers and 21 were endemics. What a wonderful
very hot day.

Sat 14Mar98 We picked up a friend of Andy and started at Ash/Kooragang Island
of New Castle. Saw lots of raptors and wading birds. At the Shortland Wetland
Center we saw a Sacred Kingfisher, and a Spotless Crake walking the shore in
full sunlight. As I was watching the Crake with a spotting scope at 30' I
picked up a Clamorous Reed Warbler which was resting, closing its eyes now and
then. We then went to Nobby's Head beach where, in addition to topless
bathers, we saw six terns in one little rock shallow (Gull-billed, Caspian,
Great Crested, Common, Little and White-winged). We moved around the corner to
the large, flat rock extending out into the ocean and saw Sooty Oystercatchers
and the first Shearwater of my life, the Wedge-tailed. We went into the Heaton
State Forest and saw the Leaden Flycatcher, the Spotted Quail-Thrush and the
Crested Shrike-tit.  At the Cedar Hill Drive Swamp we saw four Wood Sandpiper
and an old turtle making its way thru the mud. Another wonderfilled day. Saw
88 birds today plus nine more for Andy, including 21 lifers.

Sun 15Mar98 We started at Colliery Dam with a Comb-crested Jacana, at the
Sandy Creek Bridge we saw the Scarlet Honeyeater, up into the Watagan State
Forest including a walk in an ancient forest which is not open to harvesting.
Heard the Wampoo Pigeon and saw a flock of Topknot Pigeon. We enjoyed the
Spotted Pardalote (Red-rumped form) and the Striated Pardalote (South-East
Form). My prize of the day was a small flock of Red-browed Firetail.  At the
Entrance we saw lots of water birds, including 500+ Black Swan in a line out
in the bay. Saw Satin Bowerbirds at a stop along the old Sidney Highway on the
way back to Sidney. We ended this day with 75 species including 12 more
lifers. The varied habitat was almost as fascinating as the birds. What a
perfect three day trip. Most notable was the skill of Andy Burton. As we drove
thru the forests, he would stop, announce the species of bird by sound, step
outside, and find said bird, all day long for three days. Andy is an
Australian Atlaser, and carries a tape recorder, and has a GPS on his dash,
and records every bird seen against the GPS location. This is also used to
make notes and comments to help ID birds later. I think this is a great idea.
The numbers were about 145 species and 85 lifers in three days. We also saw
lots of Kangaroo, Wallabies, spiny lizards, feral fox and a large, but very
dead Wombat.

Wed18Mar Roger Hicks, a birder, took me thru Melbourne and down the West shore
of Port Phillip Bay, Princes Highway, to Point Addis, overlooking the Bass
Strait. We looked for the scarce Rufus Bristlebird. It is a shy bird, living
in very thick heath, in a very limited costal habitat. We finally had this
elusive bird hop right out into an abandoned, dirt parking lot. A real treat!
We also saw the Rufous Sided (Tasmanian) form of the Silvereye and the Superb
Fairy-Wren. The rest of the day we worked our way back towards Geelong.  At
Belmont Common (Geelong) they have a great "hide" where we saw Hornsfelds
Bronze Cuckoo and little grassbird. We stopped in a forest at the Stoney Creek
picnic site where I spotted a wild Kowala high in a tree. The Brown
Treecreepers were very tame and we saw Yellow-tufted, White-naped and Yellow-
faced Honeyeaters, a wonderfully diverse group of birds. Roger keeps a raptor
watch and we saw nine species for his log. My favorite birds were the Yellow
Robin, Golden-headed Cisticola, White-browed Scrub-wren, Thornbill, Spinebill,
Pardalote, Firetail and Goldfinch. As the day drew to a close, Roger entered
the Werribee Sewage farms ( twenty by nine mile area) and said we could get
fifty birds as the day came to an end. We kept track as we slowly moved thru
the ponds and we tallied 53 birds in the last 1.5 hours including the Pink-
eared Duck and Red-kneed Dotterels. A permit is needed to go into the ponds,
which can be obtained easily by visitors. We were checked. We did see dead and
one live Feral Red Fox in the sewage ponds. On the day we posted 100 birds, 53
lifers. Roger was on the road from 5:30am until 9:30pm for this volunteer
assignment. An excellent birder and a quality, relaxed day.

Sat21Mar98 Tom & Marie Tarrant, Birder Guides from Dayboro, picked me up in
Brisbane and we started at the Wynnum Esplanade and then to the Wynnum
Boardwalk. The waders were prolific, the Pale-headed Rosella's were stunning,
and several groups of Collared Kingfisher put on quite a display. I was
intrigued by the Mistletoebird and the Mangrove Gerygone (formerly warblers).
Marie left us to work and we worked our way up to Mt Nebo and was fascinated
by a pair of Tawny Frogmouth quietly sitting on a branch. At Mt Glorious the
King Parrot and Crimson Rosella were stunning but my favorites remain the
Firetail, Robins, Honeyeaters, Gerygone, and Scrubwren. We visited the Samford
Lagoon, Postmans Track,  Samsonvale Cemetary and Woodward Road. Of the many
raptors, the Pacific Baza was outstanding and my favorite little Fairywren and
Whistler. At the Tarrant home just outside Dayboro we saw the Bush Thick-knee
(or Stone-Curlew), Cisticola, Monarch and Grassbirds. We found the White-
throated Gerygone, the former Warbler family which has reverted to its
scientific name. We stopped at the Tarrant's new property to find Marie elbow
deep planting native Australian plants.  I stayed at the Tarrant home Saturday
evening as Marie nursed a Tufted Pigeon back to health. We had an excellent
meal at the Old Dayboro Hotel.

Sun22Mar98 We re-visited the sites around Dayboro. I always wanted to see a
Mannikin and a Munia and I saw them both (same bird, different names),  the
striking chestnut breasted in the fields next to the Tarrant home along with
many of those tiny wonders and the Pheasant-Coucal, Yellow-eyed Cuckooshrike
and the dazzling Rainbow Bee-eater. On the way back to Brisbane we stopped at
Tinchi Tamba Wetland Reserve and saw Woodswallow but no Brogla. At Manly
Marina and Port of Brisbane-Lytton and saw 20 waders, White-bellied Sea-Eagle
and Osprey. 158 birds, 40 lifers in two wonder filled days. The Tarrants are
an excellent professional birding couple who found a lot of birds. They worked
with a relaxed, casual rapport, at my request, which allowed ample opportunity
to enjoy the birds over and over.

Wed25Mar98 Nivin McRee, an avid birder volunteered to take me around the
Darwin Area. I arrived mid-afternoon and Nivin picked me up to see some of the
local birds. We went to the Darwin Botanical Gardens.and the Orange-footed
Scrubfowl. We went to Emery Point and saw 16 waders, and then to a boat
landing at Buffalo Creek where we saw the striking Red-headed Honeyeater. We
went our on a long sandy beach and found the prize of this day, a Black-headed
Gull. It had been seen only once in Australia, in Broome, with many sightings
in 1991. Our Black-headed Gull was only the second one seen in Australia. This
second gull had been seen once in Jan, once in Feb and today was the third
sighting. We got within 50' with spotting scopes. What a prize! Nivin said
that others had come out to see it in the next few days. We saw 45 species on
this hot, humid afternoon.

Sat28Mar98 Nivin McRee took me to the Fogg Dam area where it was easy to see
most Herons, Egrets and Ducks with the Black-neck Stork as a trophy. We saw
dozens of Black & Whistling Kite with the Crimson and Long-tailed Finch and
Australian Yellow White-eye being my favorites. We were treated to wonderful
views of the elusive Rose-crowned Fruit-dove on the boardwalk thru one of the
marshes. One very special bird was the Rainbow Pita, an unusual bird I had
hoped to view. We saw three at about 30 meters, then another and another on
the way back. What a treat. We stopped by the sewage ponds and saw the rare
Yellow-wagtail. We were able to observe what may be both the Asian (no breast
band) and the Alaskan (with striped breast band) forms of this elusive little
bird. We saw 82 species on this very hot, humid day, and I was told I was
lucky that the very hot and humid weather had broke just this week.

Sun29Mar98 Nivin McRee took me to Howard Springs where we heard then saw the
Rainbow Pita again on several occasions. We saw the Red-tailed Black-Cockatoo,
the male & female Shining Flycatcher, the Red-headed Honeyeater,  and on the
way back to Darwin saw the Red-winged Parrot and Northern Rosella in the bush
next to the dump and a Bush Thick-Knee (Stone-curlew), what an unusual bird.
On this quick morning we saw 39 more species. Nivin McRee was a very special
surprise treat for these three days. We saw over 110 birds with 37 lifers. 

Mar30/31 In and out of Adelaide without a chance to bird. On the way to and
from the training site I was able to see Galah, Sulphur-crested Cockatoo, Mute
Swan, Rainbow Lorikeet, three all green Parrots?? Red Wattlebird, common Myna,
Noisy Miner, Magpie-Lark, Australian Magpie and European Starlings.

Wed01Apr98 Bill & Karen McRoberts took me to Wungong Gorge where we spent the
most quiet, relaxing morning of the trip. We saw the Scarlet and White-
breasted Robins, Golden and Rufous Whistlers, Red-eared Firetail and Yellow-
rumped Thornbill. We did not see a single person in this park. In the
afternoon we went to Herdsman Lake to see the waders, ibis and ducks, Black-
faced Cuckoo-shrike and my favorite Striated Pardalote. Bill is a keen birder
and Karen has an excellent ear for birds. 58 species on the day.

Sat 04Apr98 Bill & Karen McRoberts took me to Dryanda State Forest where we
saw the striking Western Spinebill, White-browed Babbler, Rufous Treecreeper
and at an ancient water hole where the old steam engines used to stop for
water, we had a Collared Sparrowhawk dive out of the blue with the sound of a
jet engine into the scrub on side the water hole and catch one of the
Honeyeaters for lunch. The Purple-crowned Lorikeet was a treat with my
favorite being the Blue-breasted Fairy-wren. This was the second park in which
we did not see a single person. We did see 34 species on the day. We stayed in
Narrogin overnight.

Sun05Apr98 Bill & Karen took me to the Stirling Ranges National Forest where
we saw the Regent Parrot, Western Rosella, Southern Scrub-robin, Western
Yellow-robin, with my favorite being the Crested Bellbird and the non-mating
slow whistle of the Tawny-crowned Honeyeater. We stopped at a small pool of
water and watch all my little favorites come in to drink and bathe. We came in
on the Red Gum Pass Road and traversed the center of the park on dirt road. We
had one car pass us on the Day. We did see 46 species on the day. We stayed at
the Sterling Ranges Caravan Park.

Mon06Apr98 Bill & Karen took me to Waychinicup National Park, a 4wd only park.
We stopped at a picnic spot and the Western Bristlebird was ten feet away
singing up a storm, but we did not see the elusive bird. We did see the Red-
winged Fairy-wren, two monster King Skink and a Bandicoot, all within 5 feet.
We heard several Western Whipbirds but did not see them, but were rewarded
with a flock of Varied Sittella and Red-eared Firetail. On the day we saw one
family hiking and one car pass for the day. We saw 44 species on the day and
then journeyed to Albany, the old Whaling town. It is remarkable that there
were virtually no people in these four major parks. Wonderfully quiet,
especially after my trips into China.

Tue07Apr98 Bill & Karen took me to Lake Seppings in the wonderfully welcomed
driving rain where we saw all the water-birds and to the Gap where we saw the
Short-tailed Shearwater and Sea Lions in the driving cold rain and flushed a
flock of five Rock Parrots out in these rocks. 46 species on the day. We also
tallied more than ten birds endemic to Western Australia. Bill and Karen
conducted wonderful, relaxing tours. 

It is difficult to thank each of these guides for all their courtesies and to
all the AusBirders who responded with helpful tips and to those guides who
offered wonderful advice, but I could not schedule.

It is great to be home, but did get to see a wonderful world down under, a
fascinating world of diversity beyond imagination. I was treated by wonderful
guides and volunteer birders to over two hundred lifers which brings my
Australian total to more than 340 species. The biggest treat was being there,
the second treat were the trips into the never ending variety of habitats, and
the third treat was seeing those elusive "little birds" in a casual way where
they could be enjoyed over and over again. The bird which gave me the best
feeling on this trip was the Double-barred Finch while Willie Wagtail remains
my all time favorite Australia Bird. 

Thirty four waders, 20 Honeyeaters, 17 Raptors, 8 Kingfisher, 6 Fairywren, 6
Gerygone (former warblers), but not a single Mallard, & only a few House
Sparrows and Starlings. I will return next year and my request will be to see
most of these birds again to get to know them a little better. And I will look
for another relaxing, quality birding experience. I will also try to better
understand the habitat.

Birds seen on this trip included;

Emu                                             Glossy Ibis
Australian Bush Turkey                          Australian Ibis
Orange-footed Scrubfowl                 Straw-necked Ibis
Magpie Goose                                    Royal Spoonbill
Wandering Whistling Duck                        Yellow-billed Spoonbill
Blue-billed Duck                                Australian Pelican
Musk Duck                                       Black-necked Stork
Black Swan                                      Wedge-tailed Shearwater
Australian Shellduck                            Short-tailed Shearwater
Radjah Shellduck                                Rainbow Pitta
Green Pygmy-Goose                               White-throated Treecreeper
Maned Duck                                      Brown Treecreeper
Pacific Black Duck                              Rufous Treecreeper
Australian Shovler                              Green Catbird
Grey Teal                                       Satin Bowerbird
Chestnut Teal                                   Red-backed Fairywren
Hardhead                                        Superb Fairywren
Dollarbird                                      Splendig Fairywren
Azure Kingfisher                                Variegated Fairywren
Little Kingfisher                               Red-winged Fairywren
Laughing Kookaburra                             Blue-brested Fairywren
Blue-winged Kookaburra                  Dusky Myzomela
Forest Kingfisher                               Red-headed Myzomela
Red-backed Kingfisher                           Brown Honeyeater
Collared Kingfisher                             Lewin's Honeyeater
Sacred Kingfisher                               Yellow-faced Honeyeater
Rainbow Bee-eater                               Mangrove Honeyeater
Asian Koel                                      Singing Honeyeater
Pheasant Coucal                         White-gaped Honeyeater
Short-billed Black-Cockatoo                     Yellow-tufted Honeyeater
Yellow-tailed Black-Cockatoo                    Yellow-plumed Honeyeater
Red-tailed Black-Cockatoo                       White-naped Honeyeater
Gang-gang Cockatoo                              White-throated Honeyeater
Galah                                           Little Friarbird
Sulphur-crested Cockatoo                        Noisy Friarbird
Little Cockatoo                                 New Holland Honeyeater
Rainbow Lorikeet                                White-cheeked Honeyeater
Scaly-breasted Lorikeet                 Tawny-crowned Honeyeater
Varied Lorikeet                                 Bar-breasted Honeyeater
Musk Lorikeet                                   Rufous-banded Honeyeater
Purple-crowned Lorikeet                 Eastern Spinebill
Australian King Parrot                          Western Spinebill
Red-winged Parrot                               Blue-faced Honeyeater
Regent Parrot                                   Bell Miner
Red-capped Parrot                               Noisy Miner
Australian Ringneck                             Yellow-throated Miner
Crimson Rosella                         Little Wattlebird
Pale-headed Rosella                             Red Wattlebird
Eastern Rosella                         White-fronted Chat
Western Rosella                         Spotted Pardalote
Red-rumped Parrot                               Striated Pardalote
Rock Parrot                                     Western Bristlebird (Heard only)
White-throated Needletail                       Yellow-throated Scrubwren
Southern Boobook                                White-browed Scrubwren
Tawny Frogmouth                         Large-billed Scrubwren
Rock Dove                                       Speckled Warbler
Laughing Dove                                   Brown Thornbill
Spotted Dove                                    Buff-rumped Thornbill
Brown Cuckoo-Dove                               Western Thornbill
Common Bronzewing                               Yellow-rumped Thornbill
Crested Pigeon                                  Yellow Thornbill
Peaceful Dove                                   Weebill
Bar-shouldered Dove                             Green-backed Gerygone (Heard 
Wonga Pigeon                                    White-throated Gerygone
Wompoo Fruit-Dove (Heard only)          Large-billed Gerygone   
Rose-crowned Fruit-Dove                 Mangrove Gerygone
Torresian Inperial-Pigeon                       Western Gerygone
Topknot Pigeon                          Brown Gerygone
Spotless Crake                                  Jacky-winter
Purple Swamphen                         Lemon-bellied Flyrobin
Dusky Moorhen                           Scarlet Robin
Common Coot                                     Pale-yellow Robin
Black-tailed Godwit                             Yellow Robin
Bar-tailed Godwit                               White-breasted Robin
Hudsonian Curlew                                Southern Scrub-Robin
Far Eastern Curlew                              White-browed Babbler
Marsh Sandpiper                         Eastern Whipbird
Common Greenshank                               Western Whipbird (heard only)
Wood Sandpiper                          Spotted Quail-thrush
Terek Sandpiper                         White-winged Chough
Common Sandpiper                                Varied Sittella
Grey-tailed Tattler                             Crested Shrike-tit
Ruddy Turnstone                         Crested Bellbird
Great Knot                                      Grey-headed Whistler
Red Knot                                        Golden Whistler
Sanderling                                      Rufous Whistler
Red-necked Stint                                Grey Shrike-Thrush
Sharp-tailed Sandpiper                          Torresian Crow
Curlew Sandpiper                                Australian Raven
Red-necked Phalarope                            Grey Butcherbird
Comb-crested Jacana                             Pied Butcherbird
Bush Thick-Knee                         Australian Magpie
Pied Oystercatcher                              Pied Currawong
Sooty Oystercatcher                             Grey Currawong
Black-winged Stilt                              White-breasted Woodswallow
Pacific Golden-Plover                           Black-faced Woodswallow
American Golden-Plover                  Dusky Woodswallow
Grey Plover                                     Olive-backed Oriole
Red-capped Plover                               Green Oriole (former Yellow 
Double-banded Plover                            Timor Figbird
Mongolian Plover                                Green Figbird
Greater Sand Plover                             Black-faced Cuckooshrike
Red-kneed Dotterel                              Barred Cuckooshrike
Black-fronted Dotterel                          White-bellied Cuckooshrike
Masked Lapwing                          Slender-billed Cicadabird
Silver Gull                                     Varied Triller
Black-headed Gull                               Willie-wagtail
Gull-billed Tern                                        Northern Fantail
Caspian Tern                                    Grey Fantail
Great Crested-Tern                              Rufous Fantail
Common Tern                                     Spangled Drongo
Little Tern                                     Black-faced Monarch
Whiskered Tern                          Leaden Flycatcher
White-winged Tern                               Broad-billed Flycatcher
Osprey                                          Restless Flycatcher
Pacific Baza                                    Shining Flycatcher
Black-winged Kite                               Magpie-lark
Black-shouldered Kite                           Russet-tailed Thrush
Black Kite                                      Eurasian Blackbird
Whistling Kite                                  Common Starling
Brahminy Kite                                   Common Myna
White-bellied Sea-eagle                 Barn Swallow
Swamp Harrier                                   Welcome Swallow
Brown Goshawk                           Tree Martin
Collared Sparrowhawk                            Golden-headed Cisticola
Wedge-tailed Eagle                              Australian Yellow White-eye
Brown Falcon                                    Silvereye
Australian Kesteril                             Great Reed-Warbler
Australian Hobby                                Clamouous Reed-Warbler
Grey Falcon                                     Tawny Grassbird
Peregrine Falcon                                Little Grassbird
Australasian Grebe                              Rufous Songlark
Hoary-headed Grebe                              Mistletoebird
Australasian Darter                             House Sparrow
Little Pied Cormorant                           Yellow Wagtail
Pied Cormorant                          Grey Wagtail
Little Black Cormorant                          Richard's Pipit
Great Cormorant                         Australasian Pipit
Rufous Night-Heron                              Red-eared Firetail
White-faced Heron                               Red-browed Firetail
Little Egret                                    Crimson Finch
Pacific Reef-Egret                              Double-barred Finch
Pied Heron                                      Long-tailed Finch
Great Egret                                     Cestnut-breasted Munia
Intermediate Egret
Cattle Egret
Striated Heron

It's a great time to be alive enjoying fins, ferns, feathers, flight, flora,
forests, fauna, fossils, fur, fermentation, freedom, fun, friends, faith &

* Mike Houle *  * La Crosse Wi * USA * Living on Hiawatha Island
in the Black River, located just one mile upstream from the Mississippi River
698 (Riverside Park, LaCrosse) where the legendary three rivers meet and the
birds of spring gather to enjoy the bounty of the Coulee Region.

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