Saturday, December 30, 2006

some wildlife pix, it is a birding blog after all

Shingleback lizard

Sharp tailed sandpiper

Grey fantail

Superb fairy wren

hooded plover

Melbourne pics

Outside the MCG, the second greatest cricket ground in the world (after taunton)
An awesome capacity of 106,000

Christmas morning

The barmy armys main cheerleader, Jimmy, at Adelaide

Yelling abuse at Brett Lee at The MCG

Yelling something at Adelaide

Friday, December 29, 2006

We're 4-0 down, but we're havin' a laugh

Yet again the england cricket team is a total disappointment. I had tickets to days 3 and 4 of the melbourne test and along with day 5 was happy to be able to go to 3 days of the match, i should be so lucky!! i did managed to pick up a ticket for day 2 from a bloke down the pub so managed to get to days 2 and 3 which although the cricket was fucking terrible for most of the time, it was still good fun being in with the barmy army and winning "the verbal ashes" with the aussie fans despite being outnumbered 50,000 to 2000. haven't done any birding since the last post as i haven't left melbourne city centre at all for a week.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Port fairy

After a few days in the rather dull town of Mount gambier (the major tourist attraction is a lake), i'm down in port fairy 2 more days. unfortunately the squally weather is menaing no fishing boats ae going out far enough for pelagic birding but yesterday i managed a short trip out around the bay which provided two lifers in Little Penguin (very cute) and black faced cormorant (very ugly). Last night i went out to Griffith island at dusk to watch the short tailed shearwater colony arriving back at their nest burrows. it was pretty awesome having thousands of these birds swooping around my head with a deafening chorus of their wierd guttural calls. A short seawatch in the rain this morning was very rewarding with a great winged petrel being a long overdue lifer and a Shy albatross, Brown skua and masses of short tailed shears adding very nice indeed in what will probably be my last birding for a while as tomorrow i head for melbourne for christmas and the cricket and then a 10day trip to tasmania before flying home via 12 days on Thailand.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Robe birding

One of my target birds for this leg of the trip was the rare and elusive Rufous Bristlebird. I had heard that they had become easy to see at Airy's inlet on the great ocean road so i had originally planned to look for the bird there. however, the only campsite there wanted to charge a ridiculous $62 for two nights to pitch my tiny tent. aparrently the price hike was due to a long weekend or some rubbish like that. instead i decided to camp in little dip conservation park a few km's south of Robe for the much more appealing $2.50 a night. What the site lacked in facilites (toilets, running water etc.) it more than made up for in its location, set in a wide strip of coastal heathland with pristine wet sclerophyll forest on one side and the magnificent Southern Ocean on the other side of the dunes. it was a superb birding spot and i had decent views of Rufous Bristlebird and Blue winged parrot in the heath on the first day, along with other goodies like Beautiful Firetail, Sooty Oystercatcher and Hooded Plover.
Yesterday was trekking up the beach to a spot where i hoped to photograph hooded plover and I came across two blokes struggling with their 4X4 which was well bogged in the beach. i stopped and gave them a hand and half an hour later the truck was out. In true aussie fashion they wouldnt let me leave without a crate of Carlton Draught as thanks for my time, i was in no hurry to carry it back down the beach to the campsite so hunkered down in the dunes for a seawatch with it. Saw bugger all at first but by the end of the crate i had recorded 1 Humboldts Storm Peterel, 3 Long billed murrelets and 17 Emporer Penguins flying west, and 2 Great Auks, a Bataleur Eagle an African Fish Crow and a juv Spotless Starling east, not bad eh.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Coorong NP and beyond

Back in civilisation again after spending the last 6 nights camping i nthe Cooron National Park, south of Adelaide. It is an excellent NP comprised of a 150km long brackish lagoon seperated from the sea by the long sandy Younghusband Peninsula. The lagoon held large flocks of the endemic Banded Stilt and Red necked avocet, along with of loads of other migratory waders, mainly sharp tailed sandpipers and red necked stints. Also on the lagoon were my first fairy terns and 1000's of whiskered terns. A large flock of white fronted chats on the edge were also a nice lifer. The scrub inland on the lagoon around salt creek, where i camped was also productive, purple gaped honeyeater, scarlet robin and purple crowned lorikeet were all new birds. The small pools at the salt creek fuelo were also good, with Black tailed native hen and australian spotted crake.

I'm currently in Robe, a nice little seaside town in the centre of the "Limestone Coast", the YHA i'm staying i is great, its probably the oldest building i've seen in australia so far (which isn't difficult, they dont know the meaning of the word 'historic' over here). the town is surrounded by some superb coastlines, the limestone cliffs have been eroded into some spectacular formations, and brilliant golden beaches. West beach a kilometre out of town had 4 hooded plover on it earlier today, another superb endemic aussie shorebird.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

What the fookin hell happened there

ahem, obiously i know shit all about cricket, as you can see from comparing my comments yesterday about the likely result of the match to what actually happened. Still i sung my heart out to the very end and felt proud to be english and all that crap. the only birds seen at the ground were silver gull, magpie lark, rainbow lorikeet, crested bronzewing and willie wagtail, as if anyone gives a shit.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Ticket: $30, beer: $4 (X7). Getting sunburnt in December: priceless

I havnt done any birding at all for the last few days for a very good reason, THE ASHES. After wathing the first day of the Adelaide test in a pub in Brisbane i caught a red eye flight to Adleaide for the rest of the game, couldnt get into the ground for the 2nd or 3rd days but watching on the big screen in the town centre was quite nice, then i was lucky enough to meet a bloke in the pub who had a spare ticket for the 4th day (today) so i finally got to see my first day of test match cricket in australia, a lifetime ambition realised. It was spigging awesome, to be prefectly honest i wasnt paying that much attention to the cricket as it was a bit slow and i got caught up in the middle of the barmy army singing and generally acting like an idiot, even getting a warning from security (another lifetime ambition). i've also got a ticket for tomorrow but a result is unlikely thanks to a shitty slow pitch that even my gran could bat on but it should be an entertaining day nonetheless.

heres a couple of gems that we belted out around the ground today:

I shagged matilda, i shagged matila,
i shagged matilda and so did me mate
and she moaned and she groaned
and she took it up the billabong
i shagged matilda and so did me mates

Shane warne is a bowler
he likes to play around
he's got a different girlfriend
at every cricket ground
he's always in some trouble, he's always in some strife
and now he's lost his hair, he's also lost his wife

Thursday, November 30, 2006

More pics from up north

Squatter Pigeon

Peter, the praying mantis, resdident in our motel in Marreba

Blue triangle butterfly

smart little damselfly, i.d anyone?

Cool lizard dragon thing ,again, anyone have an i.d?

Goulds Monitor lizard (sand goanna)

Buff breasted Paradise Kingfisher, one with a shorter tail

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

North Queensland

Phew! 10 days and 4500km later and we're back in brisbane after a monster trip around Queensland. The trip was absoultely superb with 37 lifers for me, plus loads more good birds.
heres a brief listing of what happened

20th Nov

Spent alll day travelling from Brisbane to Rockhampton, no sign of Yellow Chats at Port Alma, saw sod all

21st Nov

Travelled from Rocky to Bowen, A quick stop at Eungella NP failed to produce Eungella Honeyeater but an Oriental Cuckoo was an unexpected lifer for me and Duncan, also it's possible that the birda in OZ are actually Horsfields Cuckoos, this bird certainly seemd to be more liek one, i'll leave it to the DNA people to sort out in due time though. Superb fruit dove was also a lifer for me.

22nd Nov

This was far and away the best day of the trip. After leavign the absoulte shithole that is Bowen, we drove up to Townsville common, which despite being very dry produced Yellow Bellied Sunbird, Austrlian Bustard (a houbabra like thing), Australian and Oriental Pratincole and Brown backed honeyeater, along with Goulds monitor lizard and a snake seen briefly in the grass that looked disturbingly like a taipan, the most venomous in the world.

After townsville we headed up to the high misty Paluma range where we stayed the night at Forestmist B&B. The palce was superb, by far the best accomodation i've stayed in all trip, and incredible value for money to boot. This may seem liek a terrible blatant piece fo advertising but if your plannign on staying in Paluma, and you really should if your in aus contact them at or give them a ring on (07)47708578

The birdign here was excellent ,within minutes of arriving the expletives were flying through the mist as we saw such goodies as tooth billed catbird, victorias riflebird, spotted catbird, grey headed robin, bowers shriek thrush, mcleays honeyeater, bridled honeyeater, shning bronze cuckoo and Noisy pitta i nquick succession.

23rd Nov

The morning was spent doing more birding at Paluma. Chowchila, grey whistler and yellow spotted honeyeater were all around the cottage. The hosts of the B&B told us of a good site for Golden Bowerbird where we heaed off to and had brilliant views of a fabulous male attending heis bower, an awesoem bird for my 400th aus bird.
After tearign ourselves away from paluma we drove up to mission beach where we had good views of a young cassowary(like a fat ostrich)but no sign of any adults which was lucky, them things are huge and probably wouldnt have been to impressed to see me stalking their babby trying to photograph it. The drive up to cairns and a quick bit of birsding in the evening produced Metallic Starling, Varied and Yellow Honeyaters and White rumped swiftlet.

24th Nov

A quick look around cairns botanical gardens fianlly added silver crowned friarbird and black butcherbird which had proved elusive so far, and Double eyed fig parrot (mcleayana race).
A quick stop at Newell beach, just north of mossman and we found 2 Barn Swallows with the local Welcome Swallows.
Kingfisher park, near Julatten seemd rather dead considering its reputation but i got brief views of Buff breasted paradise kingfisher, a wonderful little bird with long white tail streamers that were as long as its body. Graceful honeyeater was a much less exciting lifer.

25th Nov

Another excellent day based in Mareeba on the edge of the Atherton Tablelands. A quick drive down Tinaroo creek road at dawn was well worth the early start with c20 Squatter pigeon around the paddocks about 5km down the road and a male Spotted Harrier (the best harrier in the world?) quartered the fields alongside the road. we then headed up to Mount lewis, north of julatten where we had a Glossy swiftlet with the white rupmed swiftlets at the bottom of the mountain, and a pied monarch about halfway up. Frustratingly Duncan had very brief views of what may have been a red goshawk over the canopy whilr i was having a slash around the corner. Much better views of Buff breasted Paradise kingfisher were had at the bottom of the mountain near the creek. Sides Road, south of Jualtten was an excellent little spot, with a nice Noisy Pitta and then one of the birds of the trip, a stunning male Yellow Breasted Boatbill, also one of the more boring birds of the trip Atherton Scrubwren.

26th Nov

Hasties Swamp, near atherton held 13 Sarus Cranes and plenty of other waterbird but not much interesting stuff despite looking promising.
Mount Hypipamee added Montain Thornbill, horribly dull things and a male golden bowerbird flew over the road about 1km north of the Crater NPcar park. Later that afternoon Townsville common was even dryer than before and had lost a few birds but White browed crake was a nice lifer.

27th Nov

Driving south to Rocky all day, saw nothing

28th Nov

Again driving all daybu we had a quick look at Port Alma for the Yellow Chats, again no joy. We stopped at a promising looking pool along the Port Alma road where i found a Wood Sandpiper while Duncan was throwing up in the car park, old people just cant handle their booze these days!

29th Nov

We arrived in Tin Can Bay (wasnt he a Viet Cong general?) with jsut enough light left for a quick look at Cooloola Way which was a great patch of heathland, walking along the pylon track we saw at leat 10 Ground Parrots, (like big green budgies) and Satin Flycatcher was also a new bird for me. Southern Emu wren, spotted harrier and brush bronzewing were also nice.

Townsville Common Pics

Red necked Stint

Rainbow Bee eater

Tree Martin

Australian Bustard

Paluma Pics

Spotted Catbird

grey headed Robin

Mcleays Honeyeater

Noisy Pitta

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Southport Pelagic and More

had the final pelagic of the trip off Southport (near brisbane) yesterday. The trip started off well with a near adult Maked Booby, only the 2nd recorded on these trips, which was an excellent unexpected lifer, the rest of the trip was pretty dull with waves up to 5m making birding difficult and the only other good bird was a pom skua that came in close on the slick. Other birds seen were Fleshy footed, Short tailed, Huttons and Wedge Tailed Shearwaters and a few wilsons petrels. Also seen were a few small pods of Offshore Bottlenose Doplhins (as opposed to Onshore Bottlenose Dolphins?) Pantropical Spotted Dolphins which were a nice cetacean tick There was no more excitement until the boat nearedland on the steam back and we caught the side of a huge wave that came pant soilingly close to tipping the boat wave.
The days before the trip were spent on Bribie Island which produced some nice waders in Greater and Lesser Sand Plover, Terek Sandpiper and Beach Stone Curlew, and Wandering Tattler and Sooty Oystercatcher just up the coast at Caloundra.
I'm heading off tomorrow on a 10 day trip to North Queensland with Duncan and Mish which should produce some good birding, then after that its down to South Australia and Victoria for the rest of the year.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Queensland birding.

the last week has been spent birdign in inland queensland, starting near Samsonvale where i fianlly got to grips with Spotted Quail Thrush, having excellent views of this truly superb bird, near Dayboro. Then i joined Duncan and Mish Walbridge for a trip down to the National parks near the NSW border. Girraween NP produced Yellow Tufted Hoenyeater ,Little Eagle and Little Woodswallow but no lifers. The next day at Sundown NP was truly superb with White Browed Wooslswallow, Turquoise Parrot and Diamond Firetail being excellent new birds, the Collmunda Lake added Musk and Pink Eared Ducks, along with stackloads of Whiskered Tern, Black Winged Stilt, Glossy Ibis and a White WInged fary wren. The area around Dalby the next day produced my first Cockatiel and Inland Thronbill but sod all else thanks to the majot dorught that left all the lakes empty and no tress in flower.


The results of a nightime spotlighting session, no birds tho

Purple Tree frog

Green Tree frog


Inland Queensland

Duncan gets friendly with the locals

Lake Broadwater: empty

Spotlighting after getting back from the pub

White browed woodswallow, cracking birds

Bush Stone Curlew

To Mr Menzie, re. your comments about the "approachability" of australian birds

Friday, November 03, 2006

More brisbane stuff

city birding rocks! Over the last few days in brisbane i've picked up another 10 lifers, mainly in little parks surrounded by orrible urban stuff.
highlight were a pair of plum headed finches in sherwood aboretum, a pair of very confiding bush stone curlews in mowbray park, cicadabird and nesting square tailed kite at daisy hill, and lathams snipe and red kneed dotterel at oxley creek common and loads of waders like marsh sand, sharp tailed sand, great knot, red headed (or is it red knecked, i forget) avocet, red necked stint and grey tailed tattler at brisbane port and manly beach.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Brisbane area

Yesterday i went to The Gabba, brisbanes cricket ground to watch the Queensland Bulls playing The New South Wales Blues, was a decent days cricket with 350 runs and 11 wickets during the day, didnt think much of the ground tho, it was more sterile than Hampshire Cricket clubs "Stone Bowl" there wasnt even a pavilion, a cricket gorund without a pavilion!!!!! As outrageous as a drunk fox crapping in a church!
Today i joined up with Duncan and Paul Walbridge for a days birding near Brisbane, we started off at a Powerful Owl roost in the outskirts of the city but unforunately the only sign of the owls was a discarded primary feather, which was about as long as a tawny owl is high, that is one fucking big owl, cant wait to see one. Also saw my first Little Lorikeet. then we headed up to Samsonvale where we met up with Tom Tarrant for a days birding around his place, dipped on Spotted Quail Thrush but there were plenty of other good birds like Pallid Cuckoo, Olive backed Oriole, White Winged Triller, Leaden Flycatcher and Tawny Frogmouth. As well as the birds themselves it was great to spend a day in the field with other birders, something i've not done much of out in aus thanks to the dearth of "birdos" as they seem to call us out here.

Saturday, October 28, 2006


More Indy 300 pics, as requested by several people

Swimmwear comp- this travelling lark is so shit sometimes, i dont know why i put up with it!!

Miss Indy Volleyall player

V8 Ute- loud!!

More volleyball players

One for the traffic cops! the porsche was doing about 250kph at that point

Friday, October 27, 2006

more lamington pix

Crimson rosella

Wonga Pigeon


Russet tailed thrush

topknot pigeon

Lamington National Park

i'm back in brisbane now after spending the last few days camping in Lamington National Park, near the famous O' reilllys guesthouse. at over 700m above sea level it was far and away the highest i've ever camped, but it was a truly excellent site with a tent list including 2 bowerbird species, wonga pigeon, and several nocturnal mammals, including apossum that kepy trying to get into my tent at night to nick my food.
The birding was also great with 16 lifers. Star bird was Rufous Scrub bird, one of the hardest of australias resident birds to see, thanks to its skulking habits and the fact that it can only be found in the cool, damp Antarctic Beech nothofagus moorei forests above 1000m above sea level, that were an 18km trek from the nearest road. other great birds seen were noisy pitta, alberts lyrebird ,topknot pigeon, paradise riflebird,logrunner, australain owlet nightjar, black faced monarch and red browed treecreeper.

also, i've managed to get to a computer that allows me to upload photos, so theres plenty of new ones fro mrecent trips.

Lamingotn NP pics

Theiving gypsy possum bastard

Male Regent bowerbird, what a stunner

Lewins Honeyeater

Female satin bowerbird

Male satin bowerbird

Southport Pelagic Pics

THE BOY!! Tahiti Petrel

Wedge tailed shearwater

Crested Tern

Fleshy footed shearwater

Tahiti Petrel