Sunday, August 27, 2006


Wollongong, what a great name for a town eh, enough to make anyone from somewhere named as dully as Frome consider topping themselves.
Have had a Rather busy weekend, starting on saturday by taking te ferry from cronulla across to bundeena in the north east corner of the royal national park and walking across the NP to heathcote station, gettign badly lost in the rainforest thanks to a walking trail that looked like a wallaby track and vice versa, and a river with no obvious crossing point, still, i made it to heathcote in time for a train to wollongong. after arriving in wollongong i headed into town to do some shopping and somehow ended up inside the illawarra dragons stadium watching their rugby league game against the cronulla sharks, unfortunately it properly pissed it down for most of the game, so it was quite a scrappy game in difficult conditions, but several cracking fights were very entertainig, one of whic resulted in the sin-binning of three players. great stuff
then today (sunday0 i had my second pelagic off wollongong. it was very similar to my last trip with only 2 new species, wedge tailed and huttons shearwaters but with 8 species of albatross and several solnaders petrels. also had awesoem views of humpback whales breaching alongisde the boat plus bottlenose and common dolphins.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Royal national Park

spent the day exploring the moors area in the north east of the Royal National Park, south of sydney. highlights were two of the three target birds for the area, southern emu-wren and tawny crowned honeyeater, though the lack of chestnut rumped hylacola was annoying. the emu-wrens were much harder to see than the mallee emu wrens at hattah thanks to the much denser vegetation, also a pant soilingly close encounter with a big off snake affected my fieldcraft somewhat (jumping several feet into the air and squealing like a girl), unsurprisingly the emu-wrens were not impressed with my stalking skills and had long since buggered off by the time i regained my composure.
The coastline of the national park is truly stunning with views from sydney down to wollongong. the sanbdstone cliffs had all sorts wierd patterns eroded into them and a group of humpback whales breaching spectaculalrly (albeit distantly) offshore just topped off the views nicely.
unfortunately the weather turned sour this afternoon, tipping down with rain and the wind really got up quite strong, hopefully it will turn nicer for my pelagic on sunday.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

more pics

White winged chough- which together with the apostlebird a few posts ago
makes up the entire corcoracidae family, one of only 5 bird
families endemic to australia (or somethin along those lines)



Sturts Desert Pea

Redback spider on a pumpkin i was trying to pick

Brown treecreeper

Working on the vineyard

a few more pix from broken hill and hattah

Regent Parrot

Mulga Parrot

Spotted Nightjar

Red rumped parrot

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

hattah kulkyne NP

mallee ringneck

grey backed butcherbird


i'm now back from my camping trip to hattah kulkyne NP, a massive patch of mallee scrub and lakes and stuff between mildura and melbourne. avian highlights were excellent views of mallee emu-wren and regent parrot and typically brief (i.e. shit) views of striated grasswren. other new birds were splendid fairy wren, gilberts whistler, crested bellbird, striped and yellow tufted honeyeaters. other more dubious highlights were being chased by a very stroppy emu with several cool stripey chicks, and turning the tables by chasing a kangaroo (dont ask why) and causing it to jump over a 7ft roo fence. camping was much less than comfortable in freezing overnight temperatures in a sleeping bag rated to +10degrees and on hard ground without a rollmat. that'll learn me not to travel light again.

apologies for really shit pics, the net cafe has no editing software at all, i cant even crop the pics!! and they have the cheek to call australia a civilised modern country, pah!
the fact that blogger doesnt seem t oallow me to post pics of rare birds (orange chat, mulga parrot, redthroat, regent parrot) doesnt help either.

Friday, August 18, 2006

broken hill

i'm now back from my a short trip to broken hill. it really is the arse end of beyond, 300km from any other settlement. the town itself was a bit of a dump with horrific scars from its mining heritage which created the wealth to build the town, one huge open cast mine splits the place in two. apparently the "line of lode" the metal seam that runs through it is the richest in the world for zinc, silver and another one that i cant remember.
as for the birds, i really had no idea where to look, i just knew that there were loads of rare desert goodies "within 150km of Broken Hill", that would be fun without a car. i decided that the best bet would be to hire a bike and try heading as far out of the town as i could physically manage. On the first day i rode 20km north east on the silver city highway to Stephens Creek, a river that had long dried up. this area was very productive with mulga parrot, redthroat, chestnut crowned babbler and pink cockatoo. cycling slowly back to town produced loads of chirruping wedgebill and several orange chat, really smart birds. also new for me were australasian pipit and brown songlark. riding back was really tough, the wind had picked up while i was birding stephens creek and i was heading straight back into it, along with several small sandstorms.
The next day (today) i couldnt go so far as i had a bus back to mildura (where i'm writing this from) in the early afternoon. i headed out towards the "living desert'" sculpture symposiom, 12km north west of broken hill. roughly halfway there i stopped at a site that i thought looked promising and was rewarded with a superb male crimson chat, rufous songlark, shy hylacola (heathwren) and a spotted nightjar roosting on the ground.
overall not a bad few days considering i had no real gen.
am catching the bus down to hattah kulkyne NP in a few hours to camp for a 3 nights and to try and see some of the rarer mallee specialists. unfortunately the bus doesnt arrive at hattah til 10:45pm and then its 5 km to the campsite, not sure what i'll do but i hope to work something out pretty soon, my first bit of "going bush" required methinks.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

leaving mildura

apologies for not updating this for ages, havnt really had much to update it with.
i've mqanaged only one days birding since the last update, on sunday i looked around ranfurly lakes. the highlight was a large hirundine flock which contained my first fairy martins and a cracking trio of white backed swallows.
tommorrow morning i'm off to broken hill, in the new south wales outback for a few days, then down camping at hattah kulkyne NP, then back to the east coast for a wollongong pelagic and then its off to fiji for two weeks, its a hard life eh!

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Vineyard work

i have started new work in a vineyard now, pruning the vines, which is quite easy work but obviously a little boring.
we get picked up at 6:30am which is bit naff when you work hard all day and drink hard all night, its pretty impressive to see the sun rising over the frosty outback on the daily commute though. the vineyard really is in the middle of nowhere, its an hours drive from mildura. plenty of wildlife around the site, have seen plenty of kangaroos and emus on the way to work. yesterday on the way back from the work, a lad from manchester who was riding his motorbike back had a full on collission with an emu that ran out in front of him, he was very lucky to get away with only a coupe, of ratehr savage grazes to his knees, the emu was not so lucky and was scrambling around on the side of the road, luckily a local farmer was driving behind our bus and had a rifle handy to finish it off, though his .243 was hardly the ideal weapon for such a dispatch.

i have mangaged to pick up my forst injury from native wildlife. some obnoxious little bastard of a mosquito has bitten me on the left elbow causing it to swell up to the size of a small zepplin, its impeding ym work slightly but hopefully will go down soon enough.

i've managed to get out doing a bit of birding around mildura in the evenings after work. Lake ranfurly has been the most productive site with white winged fairy wren, bluebonnet parrots, zebra finches, masses of caspian terns and plenty of ducks and waders.
other sites nearby have produced red capped and hooded robin, southern whiteface, apostlebird and brown treecreeper.

also apologies for all the shitty spam comments being left, i have now had to enable comment moderation to stop this. Does anyone know if is possible to delete existing commenst?

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Pumpkin Picking, Exciting stuff

have spent the last few days picking pumpkins just over the border into New South Wales fro mMildura, now that may seem like a very dull job, most of the time it was, but the presence of Red backed spiders hiding underneath quite a few of the pumpkins was rather alarming, these spiders can kill a human quite easily with a single bite, not so boring after all
also managed to see Malle Ringneck ( a parrot) in the vineyards adjacent to the pumpkin fields whilst working, which took the trip list to 300, not bad for a month of not very intensive birding.