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)

Monday, January 31, 2011

Black-backed Sibia

This is a short video of the Black-backed Sibia (Heterophasia desgodinsi) found in Thailand. A confusing bird, as it's also called the Dark-backed Sibia (formally also known as the Black-headed Sibia) and it's genus may have changed to Malacias.

This Sibia was filmed near the top of Doi Lang in northern Thailand, at a well known forest spot where people put out some food for the local birds. They seem to like the pawpaw and rice, and especially love any mealy worms put out for the birds.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Mareeba Rock-Wallaby

I keeping with the Australia Day theme, I thought I'd put up a video of some kangaroos. Rock-wallabies to be precise, at the granite gorge at Mareeba, in northern Queensland.

The Rock-wallabies (Petrogale spp.) is the most diverse genus amongst the living macropods with 16 species ranging from 1 to 12 kg in size. They are found across mainland Australia.

All Rock-wallabies favour habitat with rocky outcrops and slopes, cliffs and gorges or are found on boulder piles and escarpments especially in the wet-dry tropics. Their ability to scale precipitous rock faces in leaps that appear to defy gravity comes from adaptations to the feet and tail. The feet are short relative to the majority of macropods that inhabit flat ground. The pads are thick, spongy and highly granulated so that they compress on the rock surface and maximise grip. The tail is long and cylindrical with little taper and great flexibility. The tail acts as a counterbalance and rudder in rapid hopping across uneven surfaces and allows changes of direction in mid-air.

The Mareeba Rock-wallaby seems to prefer more open habitat than some of the other Queensland rock-wallabies. It is most often found in rocky habitat embedded within open forest and grassy woodland and less often in the thicker vine forests.

Rock-wallabies are typically social and live in colonies varying from a few individuals to over 100. The Mareeba Rock-wallaby appears to be at the latter end of the scale with colonies of up to fifty making it amongst the most social of the macropods.

For more information see

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Australia Day

We spent a nice warm morning on the beach yesterday. The Aussie flags were out and on every thing from cars and faces, to bikinis (a personal favourite!). I had my meat pie and a beer (and even read some Banjo Paterson), after all it is Australia Day. I would rather be out bush somewhere though!

The city folk go to and fro, behind a prison's bars,
They never feel the breezes blow, and never see the stars.
They never hear in blossomed trees, the music low and sweet,
Of wild birds making melodies, nor catch the little laughing breeze, that whispers in the wheat.

Our fathers came of roving stock, that could not fixed abide,
And we have followed field and flock, since e'er we learnt to ride.
By miner's camp and shearing shed, in land of heat and drought,
We followed where our fortunes led, with fortune always on ahead, and always further out.

The wind is in the barley grass, the wattles are in bloom,
The breezes greet us as they pass, with honey-sweet perfume.
The parakeets go screaming by, with flash of golden wing,
And from the swamp the wild ducks cry, their long-drawn note of revelry, rejoicing in the spring.

So throw the weary pen aside, and let the papers rest,
For we must saddle up and ride, towards the blue hill's breast.
And we must travel far and fast, across their rugged maze,
To find the Spring of Youth at last, and call back from the buried past, the old Australian ways.

From 'The Old Australian Ways' by Banjo Paterson (1902)

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Whiskered Yuhina

Video of Whiskered Yuhinas (Yuhina flavicolis) taken near the summit of Doi Lang. These birds are so hard to video as most of the time they just keep moving, often in a mixed flock.

The Whiskered Yuhina is distributed along the Himalayas from northern India through Nepal and Bhutan to southern China, Myanmar and northern Thailand and Indochina. In Bhutan one of the most common birds in broadleaf forest in temperate zone. It is found at between 600 and 3,000 metres in the lower storeys of evergreen and deciduous forest.

They feed in low branches and bushes on insects, small snails, nectar, seeds and berries and travel in small flocks including mixed flocks of other yuhinas and fulvettas.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Grey-bellied Squirrel

It's a first! The first video of a Grey-bellied Squirrel (Callosciurus caniceps) on the net, and I must say I'm surprised as they are a beautiful and confiding Asian squirrel species.

The tail pattern is very interesting as the edges appear blurry, especially in the dim light of a forest. Could this be an anti-predator structure, making it harder to focus on the squirrel?

Some more info.

The Grey-bellied Squirrel is a species of rodent in the Sciuridae family. It is found in forest, plantations and gardens in Peninsular Malaysia, Thailand, southern Myanmar, southern China (Yunnan) and possibly western Laos. It has been introduced in the Ryukyu Islands in Japan. As suggested by its name, its belly is usually grey, though sometimes reddish on the sides. Depending on subspecies and season, the upperparts are grey, yellowish-olive or reddish.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Christmas Birding in Thailand - New Year's and Mae Ping

The last photos of the Thailand trip, with New Year's at Chiang Mai, which I think must be one of the best places to be at that time of year. Fantastic temples, fireworks and wonderful people.

Only a little private party of a few drinks in our hotel room. As much as we wanted to go out, it was an early 4 am birding start on New Year's day.

The fireworks all over Chiang Mai were fantastic, including thousands of these paper laterns floating all over the city. It looked like thousands of UFOs had filled the sky!

An early morning with our new guide Nick Upton, hunting for Ashy-throated Warblers on Doi Inthanon. A long hard search, mainly due to hundreds of noisy Chiang Mai residents who go up there at this time of year, but we got it.

One of the lesser known but great birding locations is Mae Ping National Park.

Great birding with Silver-breasted Broadbills (lucky find for this time of year), Black-headed and Grey-headed Woodpeckers, as well as Blossom-headed and Grey-headed Parakeets.

A nice woodland where we got onto a rather hard bird to find in Thailand, White-rumped Falcon.

One last stop at a interesting temple complex north of Mae Ping and it was back to Chiang Mai for our long series of flights to get us back to Perth. Little did we know of the new adventure waiting for us, such as running across the huge Bangkok airport with our bags to make the next flight!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Greater Necklaced Laughingthrush

This is video of a group of Greater Necklaced Laughingthrushes feeding at Baan Song Nok in Thailand. They can be identified by the silvery streaked ear coverts encircled by a black band. A Lesser Necklaced Laughingthrush, which is pale and has none of the ear covert markings, jumps up on a branch as the video title fades away.

The Greater Necklaced Laughingthrush (Garrulax pectoralis) is a species of bird in the Timaliidae family.
It is found in Bangladesh, Bhutan, China, India, Laos, Myanmar, Nepal, Thailand and Vietnam. Its natural habitats are subtropical or tropical moist lowland forests and subtropical or tropical moist montane forests.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Christmas Birding in Thailand - Northern Mountains

The birding in Perth has been quiet lately with 35+ C summer temperatures every day and strong winds. A lot of the lakes are dry or totally full (due to road inflows from a recent rainstorm), so many birds have moved to better locations.

Here are some pictures of the northern mountains section of our birding in Thailand, with Liz pleased to be birding in the cool air of Doi Ang Kang.

Peter our guide is also happy to be out birding.

An interesting sign in our bathroom. I was told it said not to throw rubbish in the toilet, but I think the little guy in the pic needs to see a doctor or at least eat more fibre!

The best place to see a number local thrush species (White's, Dark-sided and Black-breasted Thrush), the back of the kitchen at 'The King's Royal Project'.

Some of the good birding trails, which have a very European feel due to the pines and cool air. Also birds such as Grey Tit, treecreeper, warblers etc.

A Burmese outpost. The Thai/Burmese border has a lot of the landscape looking like a war zone.

No man's land, but with some good birds such as Yellow-streaked Warbler.

Ready for any trouble.

Interesting trees.

Doi Ang Kang area.

Interesting place with lots of conifers, but also banana trees underneath.

The river area near Tha Ton had some good birding, mostly in the fields.

Nice afternoon's birding.

The area is covered with these wonderful old offering shrines, each one different.

The wonderful view from Doi Lang, our next birding location.

Some of the interesting wind-swept and lichen covered trees on Doi Lang.

An early morning hunt on the way to Doi Lang summit for the rare Jerdon's Bushchat.......finally we got it!

It's back south to Chiang Mai. The crush at Chiang Mai on New Year's Eve.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Northern Treeshrew

This is a video of a Northern Treeshrew (Tupaia belangeri) that was coming in from the forest to steal some food put out for the birds at Baan Song Nok, in Thailand. He would often leap and chase away the smaller birds, such as  laughingthrushes and partridges.

The treeshrews are small mammals native to the tropical forests of Southeast Asia. There are 20 species in 5 genera. Tupaia comes from the Malay word "tupai" which means squirrel.

Northern Tree Shrews are squirrel-like and they have a long bushy tail and a pointed snout.  Northern Tree Shrews mainly feed on fruit, seeds and insects, and rely on their well developed senses of vision, smell and hearing to detect prey.

Tree Shrews have the highest brain to body mass ratio of any animal, even higher than humans.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

My Morning Mountain Bike Ride

This one's for the poms and others freezing in the north. Ah, a nice mountain bike ride on a warm sunny morning in Western Australia.

Hmmmmmmm......nice ride.

So warm and sunny!

This track's a bit dusty.

That's better, some smooth road.

Hmmmm......nice she-oak forest.

Must watch out for that log, don't want that crash again!

Time for a little break.

Ok on we's a little rough now!

Narrow little forest track.....great.

Am I going to fit through that stump?.........wooo just.

Hey someone's built a

Shit it's steep!

Holy crap..................

Am I dead?

'Hey buddy are you dead?'  'Can I start to eat you?'

I'm getting too old for this!!!!!!