Sunday, 31 July 2016

Go South 04 -- Still in Cairns

Still haven't left Cairns yet. Just a last minute gaze at the beach. Great Knot, Bar-tailed Godwit, Willie Wagtail and White-breatsed Woodswallow.

Great Knot Calidris tenuirostris

Bar-tailed Godwit Limosa lapponica
Whimbrel Numenius phaeopus
One-legged Great Knot
Willie Wagtail Rhipidura leucophrys
White-Breasted Woodswallow Artamus leucorynchus

Saturday, 30 July 2016

Go South 03

After the RTBCs, a last night spent in Cairns before an early morning to once again go to Centenary Lakes and attempt to catch a glimpse of the resident Black Bittern, allegedly seen first thing in the morning.

First bird seen was a Black Bittern look-a-like, a juvenile Nankeen Night Heron. Then I spied some Magpie Geese goslings [??? sp ???] and finally, I saw a bird fly up high into a euc which I thought was a Striated Heron but subsequent examination of the images reveals a Black Bittern. Lifer. My search was overlooked by a Torresian Imperial-Pigeon

Pied [Torresian] Imperial-Pigeon
Ducula bicolor

Magpie Geese Anseranus semipalmata
and three goslings
The first likely bittern-bird I spotted was sulky and sneaked away quick sharp. It "hid" behind a large tree and checked me out surreptitiously. Well, that is what it thought it was doing. No match for the bird hunter though. This is a juvenile bird. I initially thought Striated Heron but have decided it is a Nankeen Night Heron.

Nankeen Night Heron, juvenile
Nycticorax caledonicus
" I need a better look"
But not a Black Bittern. Then suddenly, that NNH flushed again and flew up into the top of a eucalyptus. Certainly NNH do that. They are often found roosting way up in trees. So took a load of pictures and later examination has showed it to be a Black Bittern.

Black Bittern Ixobrychus flavicollis

Thursday, 28 July 2016

Stop Press: Jack Smith Lake

I ventured there today. No OBP or BWP. Plenty of wind. And after the rain of last week, water. It is full or though "full" means just a few inches across a lot of it. Even swans were walking at times.

Nankeen Kestrel Falco cenchroides

Go South 02 -- Red-tailed Black-cockatoo

I wasn't too sure about what to do next after getting the car back. So I thought, "Go north". Slowly. I had a look at Cattana Wetlands and then went into Yorkey's Knob to check out the lake at the golf course. As I went slowly down a side street, I heard the unmistakable sound of Red-tailed Black-cockatoos. I stopped and looked up and there were 40 or so RTBC in the trees above the community hall. Took some photos. The females have lots of speckles and yellow/orange panels in their tails. The males have no speckles and red panels. Easy!

female left; male right

female, male, female
Quite interesting. On my way back past the hall. most of the cockies were on the ground feasting on the nuts that they had been "harvesting" whilst I was investigating the lake.

Tuesday, 26 July 2016

"Go South, old codger"

There I was in Cairns with just a trip home on the program but with no time constraints although I had booked a bed at the Australian Wildlife Conservancy property, "Bowra", just out of Cunnamulla, for a week before Easter. Today was 13 March so, what to do. First job was to deliver vehicle to a 4WD place in Cairns for a service. Robert and Heath had put on 12.000kms in 7 weeks. They rang me during the afternoon to tell me they had discovered some important work that needed to be done based on some intel I had given them so it was there for 2 days. I walked over to the Esplanade in Cairns to arrive about 4 o'clock at the Seat of Learning under the Tree of Knowledge where a group of local, retired and very knowledgable and enthusiastic birders meet every day. When I had introduced myself, I was informed that my progress up the coast had been noted via eBird lists I had been submitting. In a good way, that was the best introduction you could have. My bona fides were already established. On that basis, one of the dudes offered me a day of birding up in the hinterland whilst the car was out of action. Guided by a local? You bet.

Starting at 6.30, we had seen 36 species by our return at lunchtime. Two lifers: Grey-headed Robin and Spotted Catbird. Good picture of a Pale-yellow Robin. On the way back we diverted to a block of land in an industrial estate subject to tidal vagaries and saw a family of Beach Stone-curlews.

Metallic Starling Aplornis metallica
Beach Stone-curlew Esacus magnirostris

Pale-yellow Robin Tregellasia capito
Later that day I did the Mangrove Boardwalk near the airport [mozzies were amazing] and had another session with the old dudes/seat/tree on the Esplanade.

Olive-backed Sunbird, male Nectarinia jugularis
Pacific Golden Plover Pluvialis fulva
Eastern Curlew Numinous madagasariensis
with dinner

Sunday, 24 July 2016

Dutchman flies home

Finally, the last instalment of the trip of Robert, the vogel-meister. After leaving Heath and Robert on the Sunshine Coast, I drove back home and several weeks later, flew to Cairns to retrieve my vehicle and drive it back home.

Heath had already departed for his new job tour-guiding folk from Broome to Darwin. Robert picked me up at the airport, we chatted and slept at the YHA and arose early for a last blast of birding before his departure at noon. We checked out the Centenary Lakes, the Botanic Gardens, the cafe in the CBG for a most excellent breakfast - it can't be all work and no play - and an area to the north of the Esplanade on the foreshore.

At Centenary Lakes species included ...

Radjah Shelduck, Magpie Geese, Yellow Honeyeater, Brushturkey and Scrub-fowl, Olive-backed Sunbird, Baza, Black Butcherbird, Little Kingfisher, Bush Stone-curlew and Papuan Frogmouth.

Black Butcherbird Cracticus quoyi
Bush Stone-curlew
Burhinus grallarius
Little Kingfisher Ceyx pusilla
Radjah Shelduck Tadorna radjah
Papuan Frogmouth  Podgarus papuensis
There is always something to see on the Esplanade. Our highlights included Grey-tailed Tattler, Bar-tailed Godwits colouring up, Great Knots, Varied Honeyeater, White-bellied Cuckoo-shrike and Chestnut-breasted Mannikin.. We dipped on the Mangrove Robin.

Bar-tailed Godwit Mimosa lapponica
Great Knot Calidris tenuirostris
Varied Honeyeater Lichenostomus versicolor
White-bellied Cuckoo-shrike Coracina papuensis
Chestnut-breasted Mannikin
Lonchura castaneothorax

So, a successful birding trip for both Robert and myself. The exact figure for Robert is over 400 species seen! A pretty good effort. He IS a good birder. Next trip will be the west coast! Will just have to wait.

Magic. f8 and be there.