RFI December birding NSW

To: David Adams <>
Subject: RFI December birding NSW
From: Bill Stent <>
Date: Sun, 28 Sep 2014 08:01:13 +1000
I gotta say, that's the best response to an RFI ever! Well done.


On 28/09/2014, at 7:37 AM, David Adams <> wrote:

> On Fri, Sep 26, 2014 at 12:15 PM, Jim Rowoth <> wrote:
>> I'm new to this list, so I hope this is an appropriate post.  Can anyone
>> recommend any "must-see" birding locations between Sydney and Orange in
>> early December?  I will be in NSW for one week--first time ever in Oz--then
>> and looking for tips on how to maximize my birding time, while visiting
>> family in the Orange area.  You can respond off-list at
>>   Thanks!
> Hello, I'll leave it to others to give you specifics on Sydney to Orange
> but thought I'd write with some general orientation points.
> I grew up in the US and used to live in Santa Cruz county, so I can
> remember what it's like to encounter the birds of Australia for the first
> time. Wow! The birds here are fantastic and apart from raptors, owls, and
> shorebirds are pretty much *entirely* different to the birds of North
> America. There are lots and lots of families here that you don't have there
> and vice versa. Some names look the same, like "robins" and "babblers", but
> they're not the same. There are more affinities between here and Asia than
> anywhere else, but even there, the families are pretty different a lot of
> the time.
> There's a lot of good news about your first week of birding in Aus:
> * Parrots! Best place on earth for parrots. There are more kinds in South
> America, but good luck seeing them. Here they're everywhere, in huge
> varieties and are often visible.
> * Honeyeaters. Another huge, lovely and highly variable family - one of our
> dominant groups.
> * Abundance and variety. Birds here are pretty much everywhere - they're
> just in the landscape. People in the countryside with no interest in birds
> can still rattle off detailed observations and life histories for dozens of
> species. Just because they see the birds all of the time.
> Yeah, you should have a great time. Fair warning: Heading inland in high
> season summertime is likely to be stinking hot. Coming from Stockton, you
> should already know how to deal with that: dawn and dusk, sheltered places
> and riverine habitats. Ah, here in Aus flowering trees are a much, much,
> much bigger deal for birders than in the US. There are many species
> (perhaps particularly the inland species) that are entirely nomadic. They
> can be anywhere in a huge range, depending on where resources are to be
> found. So, you'll have a thousand birds of one kind because the right gum
> (eucalypt) tree is in blossom, and then not see them again for a year.
> Australia does not have the same regular series of seasons as the countries
> of the northern hemisphere. Backing up for a second, be wary of range maps
> in field guides as they often depict where a species *might* be found.
> There may be a fairly small population somewhere in a huge territory,
> rather than "these birds are distributed within this area evenly." With
> only a week, you'll probably have your hands full just figuring out all of
> the "common" birds you see. (I love "common" birds. They're only common
> when you're in the right place!)
> Hey, keep your eyes peeled for Apostlebirds, one of the all-time great
> Aussie birds. They're pretty exclusively inland/dry-country birds and
> travel around in little gangs. They works as a team to take care of the
> nest and raise the young. Very playful, very smart. Their in a tiny family
> with only one other Australian member, the White-winged Chough (no relation
> to the Choughs of Europe and Asia, they're in with the Crows/Ravens.) Out
> in that country I think you should also get Babblers (the Aussie ones are
> great!) good parrots (they're all good, to be fair) and one of the more
> cryptic Bowerbirds....but I don't know Orange....and bird distributions can
> be remarkably variable over short distances here.
> If you're looking in to field guides, a few suggestions:
> * There are four major general paper guides and people seem to recommend
> the one they start out with. With that said, this one is the best ;-)
> Nothing is as good as, say, your Sibley guides but Pizzey is probably about
> as good as your Nat Geo...although bigger. For an entirely new local with
> new families, I think paper guides are great as they give you something to
> flip through to try and narrow down what you're seeing. If you like digital
> guides, there are two available:
> Pizzey
> Morcombe
> I gave you the iTunes links as these are the versions I use (and because
> you seem to be writing from a Mac), but both apps have Android versions.
> The apps are both good but I end up using Pizzey more often. Still, the
> sound collections are different and either guide is decent. I've never been
> in love with Morcombe's illustrations (others like them fine) and Pizzey
> has decent photos as well as good I guess that's why I use it
> more. In any case with only a week, you may be just as happy with a paper
> guide. Oh, books, etc. are far cheaper in the US than here. For example,
> that Pizzey paper guide that's around $US 25 at Amazon retails here for $AU
> 45 + shipping. Lucky for you, the $A is slipping down, making Australia
> cheaper to travel in with $US. It's anyone's guess, but the pundits say the
> $A has a lot more room to fall. (I've seen the $US buy from .48 $A up to
> 2.02 in 12 years. That's pretty extreme! The $A is something like the
> world's 4th most traded currency as speculators love it. Makes things a bit
> tough at times when you live here.)
> Anyway, there's some background and good wishes. I think Australia is a
> wonderful country for visiting birders and hope that you have a great time.
> Enjoy the Kookaburras! Another communal/nest-helping species with the most
> wonderful call. They're also the world's largest Kingfishers, so you have
> to love them.
> Let me know if you have follow-up questions or want any info on mammal
> guides.
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