Tuesday, 3 October 2017

Mallee Birding with Ethan_04

Our last day was essentially driving back to Melbourne via some good birding spots. First we checked out the railway line again [still 1/3] then off to Lake Tyrell and its Asian tourists. Rufous Fieldwren was seen from the car, a flock of a dozen Orange Chats flew past and we saw 5 Blue-winged Parrots on a fence line. Breakfast in Sea Lake then further east to Goschen where Pied Honeyeaters had been seen reliably over the previous few days. Goschen is a great place. Black Honeyeaters, a mixed flock of over >100 White-browed and Masked Woodswallows hawking overhead then landing in a flowering etc to gorge on nectar, Hooded robins ... but no Pied HE. It was still pretty windy; we moved on, visited Lake Tutchewop [1,400 Grey Teal and a few Sharp-tailed and Curlew Sandpipers], had a look in at the Ibis Rookery at Middle Lake [1,400 Straw-necked Ibis and some Grey-crowned Babblers] and our final destination in the Inglewood Nature Conservation Reserve. A Shy Heathwren wasn't, a Little Eagle was seen, yet another Pallid Cuckoo and a smattering of thornbill species.

The total number of species for the trip exceeded 160. Ethan saw 17 of the potential 23 parrot species, Andrew saw almost everything he wanted to except a Crested Bellbird and I had a great time.

I can't speak too highly about our guide Simon Starr. He knows his birds and localities and geography just oh so well. We had a great time.

Pallid Cuckoo Cocomantis pallidus

Rufous Fieldwren Calamanthus campestris

Striated Pardalote Pardalotus striatus

White-backed Swallow Cheramoeca leucosterna

White-browed Woodswallow Artamus superciliosus

Mallee Birding with Ethan_03

The third day was north of Ouyen at Hattah and eastwards towards Annuello. A Black Falcon on the Old Calder Highway south of HAttah was a great start and then a Malleefowl was spotted on the road. It gave excellent views as it ambled off. A walk on open plain got us Orange Chat and Ethan managed to inveigle an Australian Owlet-nightjar out of a tree hollow but it scampered back in another on a different tree before we could see it properly. Next was a terrific view of a Mallee Emu-wren. I didn't take my camera with me on that particular walk so as to entice him out. And it worked. But there is a downside relating to the discussion we had in the car whilst travelling regarding birding, twitching, rabid twitching and Chuckles. More later.

On to Lake Mournpall by which time the wind had become ferocious so we moved back to Ouyen for lunch then a drive south along the railway line looking for White-backed Swallows, Rainbow Bee-eaters and Red-backed Kingfishers [only WbS to be seen] then on to Wemmen with its Regent Parrots, Little Friarbird, Red-rumped Parrots, Blue-faced Honeyeater and other delectables before ending the day at the Annuello FFR where we were able to see a female Gilbert's Whistler, Grey-crowned Babbler, great views of Mulga Parrots and Red-capped Robins, no Pied Honeyeaters and just "audio" of a Crested Bellbird. We finished the day at a tank west of Ouyen to successfully spotlight Spotted Nightjars.

Great Crested Grebe Podiceps cristatus

Blue-faced Honeyeater Entomyzon cyanotis

Yellow Rosella Platycercus elegans flaveolus The yellow race of the Crimson Rosella.

 Gilbert's Whistler Pachycephala inornata  female of the species.

Little Friarbird Philemon citreogularis

Mulga Parrot  Psephotus varius

Red-capped Robin Petroica goodenovii male

Red-rumped Parrot Psephotus haematonotus male

White-browed Woodswallow Artamus superciliosus

White-winged Triller Lalage tricolour

Saturday, 30 September 2017

Mallee Birding with Ethan_02

The plan for Day 2 was a gentle curve on the map from Hopetoun via northern Wyperfeld and Pink Lakes to Ouyen. All mornings were a 6am start in dawn dimness.

Heading north to Patchewollock we stopped at a roadside wetland which was buzzing. Australian Spotted Crakes all over the shop, Australian Shelduck and Grey Teal, Stubble Quail clinking in the background, "thousands" of Black-tailed Nativehens, and Red-kneed Dotterels.

After breakfast in Wyperfeld and a Striped Honeyeater chase, we went bush successfully finding an active Malleefowl mound and occupant although only the first two in the line, Simon and Ethan, saw him. Andrew and I dipped. Here we picked up two more cuckoos; Shining Bronze and Black-eared. Excellent views of the latter. More parrots for Ethan: Galah, Little Corella, Mallee Ringneck, Bluebonnet and Mulga. More Honeyeaters [Ye-t M, Si, Str*].

A quick check of the Eremophilia in Underbool main street was uneventful apart from a Wh-p Honeyeater ** and then on to the Pink Lakes for most of the afternoon. Here we finally saw a Striated Grasswren and on the way "out" flushed a Chestnut (-backed) Quail-thrush which sat up for good viewing. Three species of Woodswallow were seen [Masked, White-browed and Black-faced] and a mega ... Black Honeyeater. Towards dusk we finished up at Wymlet Tank where the others flushed a Barn Owl and we had vigorous discussion about a Crow/Raven which sounded like a Little Crow but was in the company of Australian Ravens. Case remains open.

Black-eared Cuckoo Chalcites osculans

Black Honeyeater Sugamel nigrum

Chestnut Quail-thrush Cinclosoma castanotum

Greater Blue Bonnet Northiella haematogaster ssp haematogaster

Striped Honeyeater Plectorhyncha lanceolata

White-browed Treecreeper Climacteris affinis

* Yellow-throated Miner, Singing, Striped
** White-plumed

Thursday, 28 September 2017

Mallee Birding with Ethan_01

Last weekend Ethan, my grandson, Andrew, from UK via Warsaw, and I went on a 4D/3N Firetail Birding Tour tour to the Mallee with guide Simon Starr. Ethan was keen to see all of the 23 parrot species we could possibly see, Andrew had a big shopping list and I was along to keep the job in order. We had a fantastic time. Andrew got 40 or so life ticks and Ethan ticked about 60! I got 2 and Simon got nil!

After picking Andrew up at Tullamarine at 7am straight off his Warsaw to Melbourne flight, we headed to the southern section of Wyperfeld NP via ...

1. Castlemaine Botanic Gardens where Powerful Owl was almost the first official bird of the trip. It was spotted by Ethan within 30 seconds and he had never seen an owl before! This instantly elevated him to the position of "Chief Spotter" which he fulfilled admirably over the trip with some difficult birds. I was still starting an eBird list so I was assigned the position of Administrator to keep a tab on the birds we saw.
2. Mia Mia Track in the Muckleford State Forest where we heard and saw the first of many Pallid Cuckoos plus Horsfield's Bronze-cuckoo, saw a Weebill nest in action, closeups of Buff-rumped Thornbills, seven species of Honeyeater [Ye-f, Ye-t, ReW, Fus, Wh-n, Br-h and Bl-ch*] and Grey Currawong.
3. Wedderburn where we viewed Musk Lorikeets, and
4. Hopetoun which appeared to have no residents at all on a Thursday afternoon. It was surmised an alien invasion had occurred.

Along the way we saw several Spotted Harriers and between Hopetoun and Yapeet, Ethan spotted one on a fence post by the road. Wyperfeld was excellent with Emu, one Major Mitchell Cockatoo, four more Honeyeaters [W-f C, Ta-c, Sp-c, Wh-e**]. The other three also saw a Shy Heathwren. On the way out at dusk we saw Spotted Nightjar and a Tawny Frogmouth.

We stayed overnight was in the motel units behind the Hopetoun Hotel. Andrew stayed vibrant until the end of the meal then crashed. It was a sterling effort to avoid jetlag. We ticked 88 species for the day. The trip was a bird WATCHING trip, not one for hunting down birds for photos so not that many photos were taken. Ethan is a bit of a keen bird photographer too so he had a spare 70-300 lens on his Canon 1100D. Here are some of our efforts.

Buff-rumped Thornbill Acanthiza reguloides

Long-billed Corella Cacatua tenuirostris

Musk Lorikeet Glossopsitta concinna

Powerful Owl Ninox strenua

Spotted Harrier Circus assimilis

Tawny Grogmouth Podargus strigoides  This is a headlight shot. He has something in his mouth. A mouse?

* Yellow-faced, Yellow-tufted, Red Wattlebird, Fuscous, White-naped, Brown-headed, Black-chinned

** White-faced Chat, Tawny-crowned, Spiny-cheeked, White-eared

Wednesday, 20 September 2017

Broome 2017 _ Wave The Waders Goodbye _ Day 07

Day 07

My flight back to Melbourne via Perth left at 6pm so I had the day around the BBO ...

... to lounge in the newly constructed Kitchen, walk a track or two and then do some serious wader watching on an incoming tide. My only bird image of the morning walk was a White-throated Gerygone.

White-throated Gerygone Gerygone olivacea

The plan for the wader watching was simple. Take a low chair, sit a hundred metres out from shore, in the mud, and wait for the tide to “drive” the waders towards me. Nigel Jackett, BBO Warden, has some fabulous images of birds obtained with a similar but way more serious technique of lying on a boogie board in the mud. Being at eye-level with the birds is best but I didn’t have a wetsuit so decided a low chair was the nearest I wanted to manage. Here are the results in Christian Name alphabetical order.

Bar-tailed Godwit Limosa lapponica

This Barwit has GGT and GrK friends with him.

Great Knot Calidris tenuirostris

Grey-tailed Tattler Tringa brevipes

Lesser Crested Tern Sterna Thalasseus bengalensis

Little Tern Sternula albifrons 

Marsh Sandpiper Tringa stagnatilis

Ruddy Turnstone Arenaria interpres

Terek Sandpiper Xenus cinereus

Whiskered Tern Chlidonias hybrida Non-breeding adult.

So now that you have seen heaps of waders, here are two wide-angle shots. See if you can identify the birds. My answers in the next post.