And the bush has friends to meet him, and their kindly voices greet him, In the murmur of the breezes and the river on its bars,
And he sees the vision splendid of the sunlit plains extended, And at night the wonderous glory of the everlasting stars.

Banjo Paterson (1889)

Thursday, September 16, 2010

The Warrumbungles

After doing some wonderful relaxed birding at Capertee, we headed another 3 hours further north-west to the town of Coonabarabran near the Warrumbungles National Park. An interesting note, Coonabarabran is known as the astronomy capital of Australia, with lots of homes having white telescope domes in their yards or on hilltops!

The Warrumbungles is a rugged area of ancient volcanic vent plugs of solid lava, where the original volcano has eroded away. A good area for birding, but again we were a bit unlucky with lots of wind and rain in the area, but we did see 67 bird species.

One of the birds we were after was the Glossy Black-Cockatoo which is fairly common in the she-oak forest area called Pilliga, just to the north-west of the Warrumbungles, but due to the massive overnight rain most roads were flooded and the forest tracks were far too boggy. Oh well, next time.

On a track just out of Capertee, we came across this Eastern Bearded Dragon (Pogona barbata) trying to get warm in the cold conditions.

A great looking lizard and a new reptile species for us.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Capertee Valley NSW

We have just returned from our birding holiday in New South Wales with 119 seen species in total and 15 new life species for me and 14 for Liz. Not bad seeing that the weather turned out to be cold, wet and windy for most of the 8 birding days we had. We heard a lot more bird species, but the rules of our birding trips are that the species must be seen well enough to be IDed.

Our first part of the holiday was going to be spent in the Capertee Valley about 2 hours drive west of Sydney. Due to bad traffic it took 2 hours just to get out of the Sydney area, so it was well after dark on a cold, wet stormy night when we arrived. This was the beautiful, but wet sunrise that greeted us the next day.

It may have been wet, but still a lovely morning to go birding around our cottage.

Oskas Cottage is a wonderful place to stay with great birding just out your back door at the base of Mt Sentinal.

Our hire car is cover by thick layers of mud, after the slippery wet drive into Capertee the night before.

The roads into Capertee are unsealed but generally good when dry, but the night we came in, the pale clay had turned into a slippery sticky mud and a number of times we came close to getting bogged or sliding off the road!

The Capertee is a special place for getting two sort-after NSW bird species, the Regent Honeyeater and Turquoise Parrot. It's a great place for a lot of other birds too, despite the wet weather we managed to see 83 species.

A creek with she-oaks which is a habitat of Glossy Black-Cockatoo. We didn't get them, but saw a beautiful yellow and green Eastern Crested Shrike-Tit.

Cold but happy! A walk at the back of the cottage near the hayshed got us the NSW endemic Rockwarbler and a pair of Turquoise Parrots.

We found no Regent Honeyeaters, as it seems that this season the trees it feeds on aren't flowering yet. The honeyeaters are endangered, in low numbers and nomadic so getting them is always a callenge!

The Capertee Valley is a beautiful place and one we hope to go back to one day, especially for Regent Honeyeater.

Friday, September 3, 2010

NT Birding

We are back from Darwin and the NT after a full on birding holiday, 4 new lifers - Red Goshawk, Hooded Parrot, Large-tailed Nightjar & Masked Finch. We recorded 123 bird species, basically in 5 days.

We first headed for the small old mining town of Pine Creek, about 200 km south of Darwin to look for our main target, Hooded Parrots.

No luck at town, even the local haunt of Copperfield Dam had no
Hooded Parrots.

A lone Yellow-bellied Flycatcher watchs our quest.       

We stay for a few days at Katherine and searched lovely pandanus-lined creeks at Edith Falls for parrots
 and hopefully our other target the Red Goshawk, but no luck.

The wonderful Katherine Gorge also didn't have out targets, but 
at Mataranka we did get our Red Goshawk.                               

The last possible morning for our Hooded Parrot quest found us
up well before dawn to travel the one hour back to Pine Creek.
We scanned the Water Gardens.................and finally got them!

This was our wonderful Hooded Parrots target.            
We saw a beautiful gold-winged male and his female.       

Only hours before our flight home, we stopped at the Darwin Botanic Garden to look for the local Rufous Owl there, but the only owl we found was this metal one!