Australia and New Zealand 2003-2004
By John and Pauline Moore.
Unlike our previous visit to New Zealand this trip was more of a social affair rather than specifically for birds. Consequently only two days were spent birding, but on both occasions we were able to spot those birds we really wanted to see.
The first visit was to the Mangere Sewage works near to Auckland, a place we had visited previously but which usually produces some good birds. On our first visit, mid afternoon, the tide was out and consequently there were very few birds to be seen. Additionally we found entrance to be far more difficult than previously as there had been many alterations since 1999 and security was very tight. We were lucky enough to have someone to take us around in their lunch hour but apart from a few Pied Stilts and an Australian Harrier there was nothing to get excited about. If anyone is thinking of going to the Sewage Works in the future they should be aware it is not as easy as it used to be.
However, later in the day, we made our way down the public road that leads to the quarry and a private island, and as the tide was in, we were rewarded with more birds. Whole flocks of Pied Stilts, a couple of Caspian terns, a Paradise Shelduck and half a dozen Royal Spoonbills, the birds that were our main target. Additionally we were able to get some good views of the New Zealand Kingfisher which was a new bird for us in New Zealand.
After various social calls and a visit to “The Hole in the Rock” at Pahia in the North Island, which yielded Dolphins and a huge Sunfish, but few birds, our last day in New Zealand saw us at Miranda Nature Reserve. Here our main target was the Wrybill and we were not disappointed as we found about 30 birds on the shingle bank within about 10 metres of us. In addition we had the New Zealand Dotterel appearing, several Little Terns, two Caspian Terns and hundreds, if not thousands of Bar-tailed Godwits mixed with large flocks of Knot.
We now left for Australia to stay with our son in Adelaide. Whilst waiting at Sydney Airport for our internal flight to Adelaide we had a good view of a Nankeen Kestrel. Arriving in Adelaide mid-afternoon there were not many birds to be seen as it was quite warm, but in the evening they began to appear, the first to take our eye being The New Holland Honeyeater, which was to become as common as the starling is in the UK. Spotted Doves also made an appearance and were to wake us up regularly for the remainder of our stay at about 6am! Over the course of 4 weeks we were to see many species in the garden, the most spectacular being the Rainbow Lorikeets and Crimson Rosellas that came to feed on the pear tree. Magpie-larks were regular visitors as were the Australian Magpies and we also had Noisy Miners and infrequent visits from the White-plumed Honeyeater. The Red Wattlebird made several visits and we also had House Sparrows, Starlings and Backbirds.
Visiting some of our son’s friends on the banks of the River Torrens we were able to add Pacific Black Duck to our ever growing list.
Through the Birdsforum group on the internet I was able to contact the South Australian Ornithological Society and arranged to attend one of their field trips to the Penrice Salt Fields one Saturday morning. My contact was Trevor Cowie, field trip co-ordinator who offered to take us around in his Pajero rather than my son’s three week old Mazda 6 as the tracks were quite rough. One request rather baffled me as everyone was requested to bring their 2-way radios with them. It soon became apparent how useful these were as the majority of the birding was done from cars, not surprising when you saw the huge area covered by the salt flats and apparently more than 18 kilometres all the way round. As people drove along they were reporting what they could see and drawing the rest of the group’s attention to it.
This trip was excellent and we were made very welcome and anyone contemplating a trip in this area would be well advised to contact Trevor Cowie through the SA Ornithological society’s website whose address appears at the end. Trevor proved an invaluable source of information and was good enough to draw our attention to anything that was of interest, identifying the bird and pointing out what to look for in the identification. Also, of course, he knew where we were likely to find various birds in the very different habits found at Penrice, varying from salt water lagoons, to freshwater lagoons, to bush habitats to very arid areas of scrub.
In all we saw 55 species of which 35 were “lifers”. A list would take too long so the highlights were the Red-necked Avocets, The White-bellied Sea Eagle, the Red-kneed Dotterel, the White-fronted Chat and inevitably the Superb Fairy-wren in its spectacular electric blue breeding colours. Please see the list at the end for a full list of birds at this venue.
A couple of days later we travelled south from Adelaide for a three day stay on Kangaroo Island. On the way we called in at the Wetlands reserve at Okaparinga but were disappointed in that apart from one lagoon everything had dried up. The one lagoon, however, held another target species, the Yellow –billed Spoonbill, along with Cape Barren Geese and Little Terns with the inevitable Black-winged Stilt, Shelduck and Willie Wagtail also apparent. We also had a distant view of two juvenile Black-shouldered Kites and close-up views of a Superb Fairy-wren.
Before our departure by ferry to Kangaroo Island we stayed at Cape Jervis overnight in a house belonging to a friend of my son. This was a spectacular place being on the hillside overlooking the sea with uninterrupted views of Kangaroo Island. We added another Honeyeater species here, the Singing Honeyeater, most inappropriately named considering its song and also had very close views of Crimson Rosellas as they came in to feed on the birdtable situated on the verandah.
Our trip across to the island was only a short one but quite bumpy as the wind had changed direction and was creating quite large white horses. Our cabin was situated on the edge of the Flinders Chase National Park and was a wildlife hot spot. We had Wallabies, Kangaroos grazing outside the cabin and an evening walk found several Koalas that were just beginning to wake up. Cape Barren Geese were everywhere as also were the noisy Galahs, constantly flying from tree to tree, the Rosellas and Lorikeets. Magpies were there in numbers and we also were lucky enough to see the Grey Currawong. The elusive and threatened Glossy Black Cockatoos were just a few hours away but we were always too late to see them. We added another Honeyeater to our list, the Crescent Honeyeater, and on our way back to the ferry we saw a very bright, beautifully coloured Striated Pardelote.
Our wine-tasting tour took us to the McLaren Vale where we had the pleasure of tasting various wines and noting those that would be of interest when we got back to the UK. We were still sober enough to see a flock of Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoos fly by very noisily plus all the usual birds we were now regarding as very common.
An evening visit to the Worrawong Reserve for a night walk gave us another tick, the Red-browed Finch, spectacular with its dashes of red through the eye and in the wing. However, it was not the birds we had really come to see here, but the wildlife such as Wallaby, Kangaroo, Ring-tailed Possum, Platypus, Bilbies, Koalas, Bettongs and Bandicoot. We were not disappointed as apart from the Platypus we saw everything.
The following day took us to Victor Harbour where we hoped to see the Little Blue Penguins coming ashore in the evening. Prior to this, however, we had good views of two Black-shouldered Kites as they hunted over Granite Island and what we at first thought were two dolphins turned out to be a very large electric ray flapping its way through the shallow water.
As it grew dark we waited for the penguins to arrive after their day at sea. We thought we were going to be disappointed but as it grew quite dark they started to appear over the rocks, climbing the quite steep harbour wall to get to their burrows. We were lucky enough to find two youngsters that were obviously eagerly awaiting the arrival of the parents who, when they did appear were overwhelmed by the starving youngsters. No wonder the female stayed out of the way until the male had managed to satisfy most of their hunger whereupon she appeared and finished off the feeding.
Apart from contacting the SA Ornithological Society through the Birdsforum group we also managed to make an individual contact with John Seymour who lives in Adelaide and who offered to show us around the local patch. Our first meeting was at the Penrice Salt Fields as John held a key to allow entry. We met early in the morning to utilise the very good light at that hour. We saw most of the birds we had seen on our first visit but were able to add several new birds including Common Sandpiper, Grey and Chestnut Teal, Grey Butcherbird and magnificent views of five Darters as they flew overhead for several minutes.
A walk through the Belair Nature Park near Adelaide was enlightened by an encounter with two Emus who casually grazed along the path before disappearing off into the bush.
A further meeting with John Seymour took place at Morialta National Park where again we made an early morning start. This venue was very different from the Penrice Salt Fields as it was bush country and so many woodland birds were expected. It was a huge advantage to have John with us as his local knowledge and expertise at recognising various bird calls enabled us to see several birds that we would never have located by ourselves. Our first tick was a Peregrine flying around the cliff face on the side of the valley. What I assumed to be a Crimson Rosella turned out to be an Eastern Rosella, distinguished by the white patch on its cheeks. Climbing the side of the valley allowed us to have a better view of the tree canopy where we located Pardalotes, Striated and Spotted, plus another new bird, the White-naped Honeyeater. A local birder put us on to a frogmouth that we had missed on our way up the valley. It was a Tawny Frogmouth that was sitting on a nest with at least two youngsters poking their heads out. We were also looking for a Golden Whistler, that John had heard in the canopy but only the female appeared which, although a really good bird, was not as brightly marked as the male which remained elusive for the whole morning. Five White-throated Treecreepers were a good find, exactly where John said they would be and finally we added a Rufous Whistler to our list.
I was roped in to act as caddy for my son as he played a round of golf with his friend. The course was well up into the Adelaide Hills so caddying was no easy matter in 30 degrees of heat, up hill and down dale. However, I was rewarded with an excellent view of an Australian Grebe that was paddling in one of the water hazards.
Finally we spent four days in Cairns in Queensland and hoped to pick up some Tropical forest birds. We were not disappointed. We had a very nice room overlooking the tropical pool at the Cairns Colonial Club, and looking from our balcony on our first morning we saw a male and female Sunbird feeding on the nectar from the flowers only a matter of five feet away! A constant bird flying around the grounds was the Pied Imperial Pigeon, a brilliant white bird with a black band across its tail feathers. Still not quite knowing our way around Cairns we took a wrong turning when going back to the hotel, but luck was with us as we spotted a Rainbow Bee-eater on the electric wires, our only sighting of this bird.
The Cairns promenade is well known for views of the mud flats which attract many waders. Our first visit coincided with the tide being in but nevertheless there were still many birds close to the promenade including a Lesser Golden Plover and a Whimbrel amongst many other species and in the trees lining the promenade we saw Yellow-spotted Honeyeater and Peaceful Dove.
Anyone going to Cairns has to go to the Kingfisher Caravan Park in the Atherton Tablelands and we were no exception. We met an English guide there who told us what to look for and where to go. Just sitting on the verandah chatting gave us wonderful views of Metallic Starling,
Red-browed Finch and Spectacled Monarch. Following our guides directions we quickly ticked Macleay Honeyeater, Spangled Drongo, Sulphur-crested Cockatoo and three spectacular Olive-backed Orioles.
The final day in Cairns we decided to take a river trip on the Daintree River to see crocodiles and any birds that happened to be around. We only saw one female crocodile but were able to add Shining Flycatcher, Striated Heron and Azure Kingfisher to our list.
Over the space of about six weeks in New Zealand and Australia we had a list of twelve New Zealand birds and 125 Australian birds of which approximately 100 were lifers.
For a holiday we thought we had not done too badly on the bird front as the object was to spend time with my son and his wife in Adelaide with the few birding trips thrown in as a bonus.
NEW ZEALAND and AUSTRALIA 2003-04 Sites and Species
Rainbow Lorikeet* Red Wattlebird* Noisy Miner
White-plumed Honeyeater*New Holland Honeyeater* Magpie Lark*
House Sparrow* Blackbird* Starling* Silvereye*
Australian Magpie* Crimson Rosella* Galah* Spotted Turtle Dove*
Penrice Salt Fields 18.12.03
Musk Duck* Black Swan* Australian Shelduck* Australian Woodduck*
Mallard* Pacific Black Duck* Hoary-headed Grebe* Great Crested Grebe*
Little Pied Cormorant* Little Black Cormorant* Australian Pelican*
White-faced Heron* Little Egret* Great Egret* Australian White Ibis* Royal Spoonbill* White-bellied Sea Eagle* Swamp Harrier*
Black-tailed native Hen* Coot* Dusky Moorhen*
Black-tailedGodwit* Greenshank Red-necked Stint*
Sharp-tailed Sandpiper* Curlew Sandpiper* Black-winged Stilt* Banded Stilt*
Red-necked Avocet* Grey Plover Red-capped Plover*
Red-kneedDotterel* Masked Lapwing* Silver Gull* Caspian Tern*
Whiskered Tern* Spotted Turtle Dove Galah Rainbow Lorikeet
Superb Fairy-wren* White-winged Fairy-wren*Red Wattlebird
New Holland Honeyeater White-fronted Chat* Willie Wagtail*
Australian Magpie Australian Raven* Skylark* Richard’s Pipit*
Welcome Swallow* Tree Martin* Silvereye Starling Blackbird
Black Swan Cape Barren Goose* Australian Shelduck Mallard
Pacific Black Duck White-faced Heron Little Egret Australian White Ibis
Yellow-billed Spoonbill* Black-shouldered Kite* Black-tailed NativeHen Coot Black-winged Stilt Fairy Tern* Superb Fairy-wren Magpie Lark Willie Wagtail Australian Magpie
Cape Jervis 20.12.03
Pied Cormorant* Little Pied Cormorant Little Black Cormorant
Nankeen Kestrel* Pacific Gull* Silver Gull Spotted Turtle Dove
Crested Pigeon* Galah Crimson Rosella Red Wattlebird
Singing Honeyeater* New Holland Honeyeater Australian Magpie
House Sparrow Starling Goldfinch* Blackbird
Kangaroo Island 21-24.12.03
Black Swan Cape Barren Goose Australian Shelduck Mallard
Pacific Black Duck Little Pied Cormorant Little Black Cormorant
White-faced Heron Little Egret Australian White Ibis Dusky Moorhen
Black-tailed Native Hen Eurasian Coot Pied Oystercatcher*
Black-fronted Dotterel Masked Lapwing Pacific Gull Silver Gull
Crested Tern* Spotted Turtle Dove Galah Rainbow Lorikeet Crimson Rosella Superb Fairy-wren Striated Pardalote*
Red Wattlebird Noisy Miner New Holland Honeyeater
Crescent Honeyeater* Scarlet Robin* Magpie Lark Grey Fantail*
Willie Wagtail Grey Currawong* Australian Magpie Australian Raven
Welcome Swallow Tree Martin Silvereye Blackbird Starling
Mclaren Vale 27.12.03
Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoo*
Victor Harbour 29.12.03
Little Penguin* Great Cormorant* Pacific Gull Silver Gull
Little Corella* Noisy Miner Greenfinch* Black-winged Kite
Penrice Salt Fields 31.12.03
Musk Duck Black Swan Australian Shelduck Australian Woodduck
Mallard Pacific Black Duck Grey Teal* Chestnut Teal*
Hoary-headed Grebe Great-crested Grebe Darter*
Little Pied Cormorant Little Black Cormorant Australian Pelican
White-faced Heron Little Egret Great Egret Australian White Ibis
Royal Spoonbill Swamp Harrier Australian Spotted Crake*
Dusky Moorhen Black-tailed Native Hen Coot Greenshank
Common Sandpiper* Red-necked Stint Sharp-tailed Sandpiper
Black-winged Stilt Banded Stilt Red-necked Avocet Grey Plover
Red-capped Plover Red-kneed Dotterel Masked Lapwing
Silver Gull Caspian tern Whiskered Tern Rock Dove*
Spotted Turtle Dove Galah Rainbow Lorikeet Crimson Rosella
Superb Fairy-wren Red Wattlebird Singing Honeyeater
New Holland Honeyeater Magpie Lark Grey Fantail Willie Wagtail
Grey Butcherbird* Australian Magpie Welcome Swallow Tree Martin
Silvereye Blackbird Starling
Belair National Park 1.1.04
Emu* Spotted Turtle Dove Crested Pigeon Rainbow Lorikeet
Crimson Rosella Red Wattlebird Noisy Miner
New Holland Honeyeater Grey Fantail
Morialta National Park 3.1.04
Peregrine Falcon* Spotted Turtle Dove Crested Pigeon
Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoo Rainbow Lorikeet Crimson Rosella
Eastern Rosella* Tawny Frogmouth* Kookaburra* Superb Fairywren
Spotted Pardalote* White-throated Treecreeper* Striated Pardalote
Red Wattlebird Noisy Miner White-naped Honeyeater*
New Holland Honeyeater Golden Whistler(f)* Rufous Whistler*
Grey Shrike-thrush* Grey Fantail Willie Wagtail Australian Raven
Silvereye Blackbird Starling
Mount Osmond Golf Club 4.1.04
Cairns Colonial Club 11.1.04
Sunbird* Rainbow Bee-eater* Pied Imperial-Pigeon*
Cairns Promenade 11.1.04
Yellow-spotted Honeyeater* Lesser Golden Plover* Bar-tailed Godwit
Black-tailed Godwit Knot* Great Knot* Whimbrel Greenshank
Sharp-tailed sandpiper Little Egret Australian Pelican Peaceful Dove*
Cairns Colonial Club 12.1.04
Yellow Honeyeater* Sunbird Little Egret
Kingfisher Caravan Park 12.1.04
Macleay Honeyeater* Metallic Starling* Bar-shouldered Dove*
Orange-footed Scrubfowl* Kookaburra Wild Turkey*
Sulphur-crested Cockatoo* Olive-backed Oriole* Emerald Dove*
Spangled Drongo* Red-browed Finch Yellow-spotted Honeyeater
Daintree River Cruise 13.1.04
Darter Shining Flycatcher* Striated Heron* Pied Pigeon
Azure Kingfisher* Olive-backed Oriole Common Sandpiper
Metallic Starling Whimbrel