RFI: SE Austrlia (long)

Subject: RFI: SE Austrlia (long)
From: (Daan Sandee - Sun High Performance Computing)
Date: Sat, 31 Oct 1998 13:07:54 -0500
Hi people,
You must be used to getting this kind of inquiry, because the Internet
is full of people from the US and inevitably all of them will want to
come to Australia.  So yes, we (two of us) are coming.  Three weeks in
the Southeast in December followed by three weeks in New Zealand.
Now three weeks is not enough, of course, but actually it makes things
easier.  As we can't possibly chase all the available birds, we chase
none of them.  We will wander from place to place and identify birds as
we see them.
I am not going to put the question to this list "what is the best place
to see birds."  I have Thomas&Thomas and a number of trip reports and
I am sure we have enough spots to take us three weeks.
This RFI has a number of specific questions and maybe some of you will
be able to provide an answer.

One thing to take into account is that although I used to be a good
observer, things have happened and I can no longer easily see small
birds in trees.  And I understand that trees in Australia can be very 
tall.  And full of small birds.  So there are several hundred species 
of Australian passerines that I don't have to try.  Which is good 
because I don't have to tell them apart.  And there will be plenty 
of other species left.
So, I will be concentrating on birds of open spaces: water, marshes, dry
areas.  And I'll try the shrubbery birds like in the mallee.

We will be in Sydney, Melbourne, Hobart and points in between.

Now for the specific questions.

1, Species that are particularly desirable, so much that I would make a special
effort, and I am unsure of the probability.  I expect that the answer will 
vary from "no chance at all " to "you'll see plenty of those."

 Cape Barren Goose (other than those introduced in Tasmania)
 Black-necked Stork
 Australian Brush-Turkey
 Australian Bustard
 Australian [Common] Koel      
 Channel-billed Cuckoo         

2. Marshy areas can be very good for birds, and therefore always turn up
 in the guides.  But they are unreliable.  So, can someone give me an
 idea of what the water level will be like in December in (in the order 
 in which we will visit them):
      Lake Bathurst
      Lake George
      Avalon Road (Deniliquin)
      Bool Lagoon
-Is Lake Bathurst still basically inaccessible, as T&T suggests?
-I just read on this list that access to Werribee is very difficult for
 strangers, and I wasn't thinking of trying, but if anyone is thinking
 of going on 12, 13, or 14 December we'd be glad to come along.
-Any other areas would be great - someone posted here about Banded Stilts
 at a lake in Victoria that I've never heard of.

3.  I know about the wildfires in 1994 or thereabouts.  Which areas have
 been hit?  I know both Royal NP and Dharug were hit, but is there
 anything left?

4.  Any staked-out owls (by day, unless someone wants to take us along
   for spotlighting.)

5.  Any pelagic.  This is not likely, as I already know the dates for the
  Sydney and Wollongong ones and we won't make it.

6.  Any local birding trip that we could join.  Here in the Boston area, we
  have the most active birding club in the country with over a hundred
  trips per year, and I average about one per weekend.
  Suitable weekends would be
    Dec 5    Riverina
    Dec 12   Melbourne
    Dec 19   Tasmania

7.  Finally, how do you pronounce
      cisticola (no, really)
   not to mention a lot of other placenames.

Time is getting to be a factor - I leave here on Nov 19.  (As I sit typing 
this, it is still October, but it is already November in Australia.)  I 
should have written earlier, of course.

Many thanks,

Daan Sandee                            
Burlington, MA                                        

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