Wednesday, 27 April 2016

Wandering Dutchman eats Regent Honey

Or does he?

After our Culburra Beach experience we went searching for Rockwarbler in nearby Bomaderry Creek Reserve with a three kilometre walk through a gorge of beautiful environment but no Rockwarbler. A big dip. But did manage to spot a Brown Cuckoo-Dove on the way out.

Brown Cuckoo-Dove
An overnight stop with my cousin Edwina meant we were refreshed for the next couple of days in Capertee Valley looking for ... Regents Honeyeater. There were some Birdline NSW reports with an exact location where they had been seen in the last two days. We camped for two nights at Glen Davis; in the "village" itself with showers and shelters. Nice spot. Capertee Valley is very well set up for birding with info sheets available from the internet [click here] and locally. They have established 18 birding sites within the valley with advice on what birds are likely to be seen and visible roadside markers at these points. An excellent job indeed. Here are some of the birds we saw on our way in to the valley.
Brown Thornbill
Sacred Kingfisher with a BIG meal
Fan-tailed Cuckoo
The Regents had been seen 1.1 km beyond a locked gate going into the Capertee National Park. So we parked and walked. Lots of bird activity. Yellow-tufted Honeyeaters everywhere, Brown-headed, Yellow-faced, Striped, White-naped, White-plumed, Spinebills, Noisy Miner, Bell Miner but no Regent's. However, in the big tree at the nominated spot we saw Little Lorikeets. Boy, do they move fast. We were able to observe them for many minutes but it was a hard job. Taking photos was even harder.

Little Lorikeet

The next day we went back for another look. No luck again finding Regent's but here is what else was about.

Australian Hobby
Collared Sparrowhawk

Diamond Firetail
Grey-crowned Babbler
Red-rumped Parrot, male

Monday, 25 April 2016

Dutchman twitchy about twitching megas

Pronounced meguz i.e. the plural of mega. In The Netherlands Robert is a bit of a dedicated twitcher chasing rare vagrants [which the Dutch call megas] across the country at the drop of a hat. Remember The Netherlands is not that big so three or four hours will put you from one border to the other.

So after Merimbula we headed north without Heath who had taken the second car to visit mates in Sydney. We wouldn't see him for 4 or 5 days. We went to Cape Jervis to bird the Eastern Bristlebird - a mega although not a vagrant. Just hard to observe due to secretive nature and rarity. We set up our camp then, with not much daylight left went to check out the potential spot for the bird at Cape St George. Well, we hadn't gone 400 metres and had just turned south at a main intersection when we spotted the aforesaid bird on the verge. Instant stop and a great view of the bird with juvenile in tow for about 5 minutes but we were so close [5 metres] that I dared not move to get camera for photo as I had hopped out of the car [Robert had a great view from the passenger seat] and was looking over the bonnet. Hence no image but a mega and life tick x 2 birders.

Next day we moved on to Lake Wollumboola at Culburra Beach near Nowra to twitch the Hudsonian Godwit. Alas, we dipped but there were plenty of other birds there. Highlights were Bar-tailed and Black-tailed Godwits, Fairy and Little Terns, Lesser Sand Plover and Sanderling [2 x life ticks for me but common as Starlings to a European!].

Lesser Sand Plover

Robert in typical pose
White-winged Black Tern, non-breeding
Little Tern, breeding plumage. Black lores goes to bill. 
Little Tern, non-breeding
Rear: Fairy Tern, breeding plumage. Black loves does not extend to bill.
Red-necked Avocet


Saturday, 23 April 2016

Dutchman wanders into NSW

Having exhausted ourselves with Victorian birds [highlights: Long-billed Corella, Cape Gannet, Brush Bronzewing, Wandering Tattler, Southern Emu-wren, Striated Heathwren, Beautiful Firetail, Ground Parrot of 160 species seen in Victoria over 9 days] we ventured over the border to Ben Boyd NP to the south of Eden where we camped for the night. Robert and I went to check for Ground Parrot at a likely spot we had seen earlier in the afternoon near Green Cape Lighthouse. We heard plenty but it was just too dark. We decided a good strategy would be to walk through the metre-high heath and flush them. That would wait for the morning but there were other things to do so ... next time. We camped at Bittangebee Bay. Heath and Robert did some swimming and snorkelling and even spearfishing but the equipment wasn't up to the task so it was chicken stir-fry with lots of vegetables for tea. This diet became a regular evening meal. Easy to prepare and cook with just a wok and three big bowls to wash up and a few items of cutlery.

Birds seen the next morning before we left were Wonga Pigeon [have to push them out of the way in the campground], Brown Thornbills, Superb Fairy-wrens and Golden-headed Cisiticola.

Brown Thornbill
Brown Thornbill
Wonga Pigeon
Wonga Pigeon - what a delightful vent
Superb Fairy-wren, female
Golden-headed Cisticola
We moved on to the boardwalk at Merimbula, well constructed with a couple of nice side gullies. A life tick for me was a Striated Heron. Australian Pied Oystercatchers were resting on oyster beds made from industrial strength car tyres and it was a lovely day.

White-faced Heron
Striated Heron
Striated Heron
Eastern Curlew
Australian Pied Oystercatcher
Sacred Kingfisher
Magic. f8 and be there!

Thursday, 21 April 2016

HBW hits South Gippsland

Today three members of the Heyfield Bird Watchers fled west to meet Gouldiae at Drouin and then spend the dull, dismal but ultimately rain-free day birding three sites around Nyora. Marg, Jim and Jack travelled in Gouldiae's vehicular transport with the first stop being Lang Lang Reserve just a few kilometres out from the town on the Drouin Road. A new path had been constructed and we saw 24 species here. It was the site of an old primary school. Only the shelter shed remained. After stocking up Jim's larder in Lang Lang we moved on to Wuchatsch Reserve near Nyora where we walked a couple of kilometres of bush track with Brown Gerygone, Brown Goshawk, Varied Sitella and a mob of Silvereyes being seen amongst the 23 species there. Gouldiae blogged here.

Onwards to lunch in Nyora in the park by the railway station and a careful perusal of the 50 or so Rainbow Lorikeets and Red and Little Wattlebirds in three profusely flowering eucs revealed ... no Swift Parrots.

Our last port of call was the Henry Littledyke Reserve on the Nyora-Poowong Road. It contains the old railway reservoir that supplied water, powered by gravity, to steam engines at Nyora Station. Here we spotted a pair of Wedge-tailed Eagles, a Brown Goshawk, Crimson Rosellas, Superb Fairy-wrens, White-naped Honeyeaters, Golden Whistlers, Eastern Yellow Robins, Eastern Spinebills and a lone male White-throated Treecreeper. The day was so uninspiring photographically that the only images I took were of a whirly-gig insect making a delightful pattern in the reservoir and the aforesaid WTTc.

That said we had a great day visiting some lesser unknown parts of Victoria, spotting all-in 40 species of bird and having a good laugh too. Thanks Pete.