birding down under 5.

Subject: birding down under 5.
From: "Wim Vader" <>
Date: Sun, 05 Aug 2001 10:47:17 +0200


After the Bronte meeting (and I have just noted that I inadvertently forgot
the most common endemic honeyeater of all in Tazzie, the cheerful and
confident Yellow-throated Honeyeater, in my last note) Robin and John
Bradbury very kindly offered my coleague Traudl Krapp and myself to join
them in their car on a 4 days sightseeing tour along the coast route from
Melbourne to their home in Adelaide. Although none of the other three are
birders, they were all extremely lenient with my aberrations in that
direction, so we experienced a very nice mixture (for me, at least) of
'sightseeing with field glasses ever ready' and with extra stops at bird
rich areas.

To give an example, we duly admired the Twelve Apostles and all the other
wonderful coastscapes around Port Campbell, But I also gazed out at sea and
discovered gannets and far-away Mollymawks, we got throughly acquainted
with the Singing Honeyeaters of the coastal heathland, shouting out their
short loud phrases from the tops of bushes, and we had the most wonderful
meeting with a Rufous Bristlebird ("much more often heard than seen", acc.
to all fieldguides), that nervously ventures out on the path, swiveling its
long tail almost like a Willie Wagtail, and came closer and closer, finally
almost too close to focus. It is a beautiful bird, warm brown, with a clear
eye-ring and a definite personality. At the last moment some
tourist-tourists tramped past and chased the bird---not even noticing it, I
guess-- so we just missed out on the portrait without a telelens that John
almost got.

The next evening friends at Kingston took us out in the Coorong, that
wonderland of steep sand-dunes, beaches and lagoons east of the mouth of
the Murray; there we picnicked, roamed the beaches (not that many birds
there, mostly Silver gulls and Crested terns), clawed our way up the steep
sand-slopes with their many Emu-prints (We had watched Emus the day before
at Tower Hill), finally discovered Brush Bronzewings--a pigeon that has
somehow eluded me all those years---, admired the droll antics of a group
of White-browed Babblers, and were completely and somewhat stupidly
mystified by a 'shrike-headed' bird on a bush that I first late in the
evening suddenly recognized as a Black-eared Cuckoo---if your thoughts are
locked on the song birds, they are blocked for the alternatives; I have
noticed that before.
Also here twilight yielded many Grey Kangaroos, some Emus and a massive
Wombat, but by then I was already glowing after the most unexpected
sighting of a pair of the extreme rarity Orange-bellied Parrot (There may
even have been two pairs, but only one stayed behind long enough innthe
she-oaks along the lagoon for a trustworthy ID.

 Also after arrival in Adelaide Robin and John continued to show us (and
after Traudl flew home, me) around; they even organized wonderful weather.
On Traudl's last day we picnicked at the Murray-barrage at Goolwa, where
many pelicans and various cormorants could be watched close-up catching the
fish that were stunned by the sudden change in salinity. A few Caspian
Gulls here joined the many Silver Gulls and Crested terns in the bonanza. A
lone Little Raven tried to do the same, by constantly flying straight at
gulls or small cormorants, that had found a fish, from a vantage point in
the cypresses over our head, and trying to rob them; as far as I could see,
totally without success; the crow nonetheless kept it up all the time we
were there.
Three magpies came to beg at our picnic. They took food almost, though not
quite, from the hand, and more interestingly, they " sang for their lunch".
Every so often they broke out in a sotto voce rendering of their
incomparable 'organ-yodeling' ; most endearing!

The last snapshot from these wonderful touristy days is from our very last
walk, in Morindi Gorge in the late afternoon  on Sunday (The last two bird
pieces will report separately on the days at the Saltworks and in Gluepot).
A lone New Holland Honeyeater hawked for insects silhouetted against the
evening sun in front of a waterfall, a perfect vignette for all the great,
strange and interesting birds, landscapes and friends I got to see and
experience rthese weeks down under. I saw ca 170 species of birds ' without
really trying', thanks mostly to all the people who went out of their way
to help me and show me their birds and country. I am very grateful indeed!!

                                                        Gardermoen airport, 
Oslo, 31 July 2001
                                                        Wim Vader, Tromsø Museum
                                                        9037 Tromsø, Norway

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