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Old Monday 10th April 2017, 20:39   #26
pandachris
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03rd April

Not many new species seen today. Quite a lot of driving and we had a bit of a lie-in. Of birding note, this was the day when I was mugged by a Kookaburra.

Sherbrooke Forest, Lyrebird Track
Superb Lyrebird.

Guided birding around Alice Springs today as out holiday draws to a close.
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Old Tuesday 11th April 2017, 22:32   #27
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An early flight from Melbourne to Cairns and after picking up the rental car (an automatic, not the manual we booked) we were birding quite quickly because I drove away from Cairns to get used to driving the vehicle in quiet traffic. We took the turn signed for Machans Beach hoping to find somewhere for an early lunch (the few places were closed) and then returned to Cairns for more choice, after which we drove up to Julatten and the fabulous Kingfisher Park where we arrived with about an hour of daylight left.

05th April

Machan's Beach
Tree Martin
Australasian Figbird
White-breasted Woodswallow
Rainbow Bee-eater

Cairns
Peaceful Dove
Collared Kingfisher
Eastern Curlew
Greater Sandplover
Varied Honeyeater
Bush Stone-Curlew (at the airport Metallic Starling site)

On the road between Cairns and Julatten
Black-necked Stork
Eastern Osprey

Kingfisher Park
Australian Bush Turkey
Orange-Footed Scrub Fowl
Yellow-Eyed Honeyeater
Graceful Honeyeater
Olive-backed Sunbird
Red-necked Crake
Buff-Breasted Paradise Kingfisher
Australian Swiftlet
Emerald Dove
White-throated Needletail (probable - it was nearly dark)
Double-eyed Fig Parrot

Agile Wallaby
Red-legged Pademelon
White-lipped Tree Frog
Barred Tree Frog
Cane Toad
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Old Tuesday 11th April 2017, 22:44   #28
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06th April

Guided birding around Julatten with Carol from Kingfisher Park

NB - unlike in the rest of the 'report' these are not in the order seen, as Carol provided a list.

Brown Cuckoo Dove
Tawny Frogmouth
Square-tailed Kite
Australian Bustard
Red-winged Parrot
Pale-headed Rosella
Pheasant Coucal
Eastern Joel
Little Bronze Cuckoo
Blue_winged Kookaburra
Forest Kingfisher
Spotted Catbird
Satin Bowerbird
Great Bowerbird
Red-necked Fairywren
Brown Gerygone
Fairy Gerygone
Mountain Thornbill
Atherton Scrubwren
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Old Tuesday 11th April 2017, 23:01   #29
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06th April (continued)

Bridled Honeyeater
Yellow Honeyeater
Dusky Honeyeater
Brown Honeyeater
White-throated Honeyeater
Blue-faced Honeyeater
Macleay's Honeyeater
Eastern Whipbird
White-bellied Cuckoo-shrike
Varied Triller
Little Shrike-thrush
Bower's Shrike-thrush
Olive-backed Oriole
Pied Butcherbird
Spangled Drongo
Northern Fantail
Torresian Crow
Spectacled Monarch
Pied Monarch
Yellow-breasted Boatbill
Lemon-bellied Flycatcher
Grey-headed Robin
Horsfield's Bushlark
Tawny Grassbird
Chestnut-breasted Mannikin
Australian Pipit

From memory, all but 3 of the new birds for the trip were also 'lifers'.

The weather on Mount Lewis was appalling (as it is meant to be) which meant that locating birds by ear was often nigh on impossible (we heard Chowchilla and Parrot-finches, for example, but couldn't locate them).

Musky Rat-kangaroo (one jumped over my foot)
Leeches (I got at least 3)
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Old Wednesday 12th April 2017, 09:03   #30
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07th April

Daintree area and Cape Tribulation road.

This was going to be the day when we looked for Cassowary, however yet again the weather was against us. It barely stopped raining for more than 10 minutes at any point and we found it hard to get up much enthusiasm. To add to our frustration we picked up two dripping wet "hitchhikers" (hitching out of desperation, I think) had seen several around thier hostel that morning.

Daintree area
Dollar bird
Metallic Starling

Barramundi farm south of Daintree (entrance fee if you want to walk around)
Radjah Shelduck
Pied Heron
White-bellied Sea Eagle
Brahminy Kite

Julatten
Black Bittern

Estuarine Crocodile
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Old Wednesday 12th April 2017, 09:15   #31
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08th April

Early flight to Darwin. The Travelex ATM ate the main card that we've been using. I called the "assistance line" and they helpfully suggested that I could call my bank to cancel the card. I would not have thought of that. They were unable to offer any advice about what I might do thousands of miles from home with no access to cash.

We don't have a guide in Darwin so we'll have to rely on ourselves. We will be using the suggestions on laurieross.com.au a lot.

Nightcliff Foreshore
Laurie Ross suggests this is best between September and November. It must be superb then.
Silver-crowned Friarbird
Common Sandpiper
Ruddy Turnstone
Whimbrel
Great. Knot
Grey-tailed Tattler
Beach Stone Curlew
Striated Heron
Eastern Reef Heron
Pied Imperial Pigeon
Lesser Sand Plover

Plus a few species we'd already seen and a few waders we struggled with including a possible Pacific Golden Plover.
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Old Wednesday 12th April 2017, 20:27   #32
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09th April

Although I've tried mainly to restrict this report to first sightings of species rather than make it a travelogue with details of where we stayed, what the weather was like, where we ate and traffic conditions, worth a quick mention of Nightcliff Foreshore again. I was up early and worrying about some of the waders so set off from Darwin's esplanade at about 06:20. The drive was 19 minutes and it was just light enough to use binoculars when I got there. We have a cheap, lightweight 'scope that we bought for this trip and it really came into its own here. By the time the sun was up, the light conditions were perfect and I was able to confirm the Tattlers with ease. Sadly there was no sign of the possible PGP or a couple of elegant waders that had us puzzled the previous afternoon. Worth an early visit, though.

George Brown Botanical Gardens
Yellow Oriole
White-gaped Honeyeater

Window on the Wetlands
Spotted Harrier
Fork-tailed Swift
Masked Finch

Worth mentioning this place, perched atop a small hill just past the Fogg's Dam turnout. It was covered in birds. Lots that we'd seen before like Lemon-bellied Flycatcher and Rufous Whistler plus a couple that we didn't identify including a small cuckoo. Give it a try if going to Fogg's Dam.

Fogg's Dam
Crimson Finch
Comb-crested Jacana
Whiskered Tern
Nankeen Night Heron
Little Blue Kingfisher
Green Pygmy Goose
Rufous-banded Honeyeater
Bar-breasted Honeyeater

Darwin Esplanade, Deckchair Cinema steps, about 20 steps down
Barking Owl.

Northern Carpet Python - Botanical Gardens, near the pond with the fountains - quite a large individual that might have been hanging around for some time.
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Old Monday 17th April 2017, 07:28   #33
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10th April

Early flight from Darwin to Alice Springs

Reviewing earlier entries,
Cattai NP
Grey Butcherbird

Peaceful Dove counted twice in error.
Eastern Koel is not a close relative of Billy Wagtail.

Alice in the Territory (hotel)
Yellow-throated Miner

Olive Pink Botanical Garden
Grey-headed Babbler
Spiny-cheeked Honeyeater
Weebill

Simpson's Gap
Hooded Robin
Dusky Grasswren

A bonus from last night, on Darwin esplanade, c21:00 on the 9th, Northern Brush-tailed Possum.
Common Wallaroo (Olive Pink)
Black-footed Wallaby (Simpson's Gap)

Last edited by pandachris : Monday 17th April 2017 at 08:01.
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Old Monday 17th April 2017, 07:48   #34
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11th April

A day's guided birding with Mark Carter, shared with Penny from Sydney.

Australian Ringneck
Cockatiel
White-backed Swallow
Budgerigar
Mulga Parrot
Singing Honeyeater
Spinexbird (very brief views)
Rufous-crowned Emu Wren
White-winged Fairy Wren
Splendid Fairy Wren
Southern Whiteface
Banded Whiteface
Pallid Cuckoo
Western Gerygone
Grey Honeyeater (worth mentioning that there's no chance we would have found these without a guide)
Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike
Little Woodswallow
Chestnut-rumped Thornbill
Red-capped Robin
Red-tailed Black Cockatoo
Inland Thornbill
Slaty-backed Thornbill
Major Mitchell's Cockatoo
Banded Lapwing
Orange Chat
Black-tailed Native Hen
Bourke's Parrot

Red Kangaroo
Gould's Wattled Bat

We think we saw a Dingo, too. We got a taxi back to the hotel after dinner and as we approached the hotel, Julie exclaimed "Fox!" (this is a frequent occurrence). I looked where she pointed and it definitely wasn't a fox. Taxi drivers being what they are, he didn't slow down so we walked back (two minutes) after being dropped off, but couldn't relocate the animal.

Last edited by pandachris : Monday 17th April 2017 at 12:25.
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Old Monday 17th April 2017, 08:10   #35
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12th April

Alice Springs (Flying Doctors)
Little Crow

Mount Gillen
No luck in our search for Spinifex Pigeon and Painted Finch. If you're considering this fairly easy walk (stepp in places) starting from John Flynn's Grave, take plenty to drink. We had over a litre each but two might have been better to prolong the visit.
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Old Monday 17th April 2017, 08:27   #36
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13th April

No new species for the day, but midday flight to Sydney limited time available. We visited Standley Chasm early morning (it opens at 08:00 and is less than an hour's drive from AS). Little Woodswallow and Dusky Grasswren seen amongst plenty of other species plus an excellent Irish Stew for breakfast from the kiosk.

14th April

Bowral
Gibbergunyah Reserve
Jacky Winter

Long-nosed Bandicoot
Common Brush-tailed Possum

Jacky Winter was our last new bird for the trip. I've probably missed a few and there were several that we didn't identify. Might get a few more when we inspect the photos.

Our last night was at Q Station in Manly and this is perhaps worth a mention for anyone wanting to stay north of the CBD, perhaps for visits to parks north of Sydney. It's really nice. It's an historical monument from the time that quarantine was imposed on people migrating to Australia and it has certain melancholy connotations but we would consider staying there again. It's a good site for Long-nosed Bandicoot, which seemed easy to find around the reception/car park area and was the only place were we saw Common Brush-tailed Possum which seemed numerous.

Our flight back on the 15th wasn't until 15:20 so we had a notion to find somewhere close to Q Station for a seawatch, even though our 'scope was packed. On reflection, we might have been better heading for somewhere like Mistral point, much closer to the airport.

Last edited by pandachris : Monday 17th April 2017 at 12:22.
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Old Monday 17th April 2017, 12:17   #37
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Two more to add
26th March
Laughing Kookaburra (another reason not to write up the first day after a days work followed by 27 hours of travel)

08th April
Pale-headed Rosella

And a mammal
02nd April
Rakali (Water Rat)

Last edited by pandachris : Monday 17th April 2017 at 12:32.
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Old Tuesday 18th April 2017, 18:45   #38
Larry Sweetland
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Ooo, Grey Honeyeater and Rufous-crowned Emu-Wren...that's me gripped
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Old Wednesday 19th April 2017, 09:14   #39
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LOL. Your visit and mine were a bit different, Larry.

I was going to do an 'in conclusion' post anyway, so now's as good a time as any.

We spent what most people would describe as quite a lot of money on guiding - certainly more than we've ever spent on any other birding trip. We debated the expenditure for quite a while, particularly as we quite enjoy finding our own birds, but as we were only in Australia for three weeks and have no particular plans to return, we decided that we would maximise our chances of seeing plenty of new species by paying for local expertise. I think it paid off.

We had 4 guides, in Sydney, Melbourne, Julatten and Alice Springs. The benefits that guides bring are obvious. They know the local conditions, calls and where certain more difficult birds can be found. In the case of the Werribee Treatement Plant they also have access which could be problematic to arrange from a distance and around Alice Springs, where birds can often appear thin on the ground they know places that a visiting birder could spend years trying to locate. We might have identified Grey Honeyeater had we found one ourselves but it's really unlikely that we would have found one.

We didn't find a guide for Darwin and in a sense I'm pleased about that because it meant that we were left to our own resources and even with a limited time (an afternoon and a whole day) I think we did alright. We felt somewhat limited because renting a car with unlimited mileage was way too expensive so we restricted ourselves to places close to the city. Fogg Dam and the Window on the Wetlands hill were magnificent - I was only listing new species for the trip but the hill and the nearby ponds and marshes were swarming with birds and we regretted not having more time there. However it was a bit of a side trip, mainly to buy drinks because we forgot to get any on the way and there was nothing at all after Humpty Doo. Nightcliff Foreshore was also better than expected, with 10+ wader species present, albeit in small numbers. There were definitely a couple that we didn't identify on the first afternoon and of course some of those were the ones that I couldn't locate when I went back early morning with the scope).

We had one day that was a complete washout (the last day in Sydney) and with the benefit of hindsight, we had one day to many in the city. So it goes. The "Daintree" day was also a near washout. The rain was intense and almost continuous. We stopped the car in several places and wound the windows down to listen for birds but they were presumably taking cover as well. Even the walk around the Barramundi farm was conducted in either drizzle or proper rain. Ironically when we got back to Julatten it was dry and hadn't rained much. We added a Black Bittern to the list whilst undertaking another fruitless search for Duck-billed Platypus. I might post a photo of that one if I can shrink it down enough.

If we return, then western Australia and Tasmania will be on the cards, though it will be difficult to resist another visit to Kingfisher Park. I'd still like to see a few more of those wet tropic endemics.
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Old Thursday 20th April 2017, 08:44   #40
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Thanks for that report - that makes me even more determined to go to Australia for my big "retirement holiday". Unfortunately, the way things are going the retirement age will have increased to 85 and we'll need wheelchairs and nurses to push us around - grrrr.
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Old Friday 21st April 2017, 12:34   #41
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Hopefully you will still be able to struggle around, Stuart.

If I was replanning I would probably try to time it better to get a pelagic in and I would definitely go with the professional guiding option. There are probably better times of year to visit but we enjoyed the Melbourne Comedy Festival and unlike most of the British festivals, shows are mainly in the evening so can coexist with birding.
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