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ZEISS DTI thermal imaging cameras. For more discoveries at night, and during the day.

Exploring Sydney - and further afield. (1 Viewer)

Thanks Ian - I'm really pleased with the Cormorant shot and owe a big thank you to Veeraj for both the Logrunner and the Speckled Warblers, which were among my top targets in Sydney birding. Personally I generally prefer the in-habitat shots to the "bird on a plain bokeh background", but the challenge of achieving that with a small sensor camera is interesting. I feel like the Sooty Oystercatcher pix especially would have benefited from the increased image quality that a larger sensor would offer, and I continue to think about upgrading. Dreams, dreams ...

Kuring-gai Chase National Park - Bobbin Head & Gibberagong Track
27 April 2024

Since then my birding has continued to focus on Willoughby and Long Reef. I did make an abortive visit to Bobbin Head in Kuring-gai Chase National Park to get better pix of Rockwarbler and Yellow-tufted Honeyeater, and despite an enjoyable day out I failed on both counts, which was most eloquently illustrated by the fact that the highlight of the day was a couple of rather tame Cunningham's Skinks. I've seen one here before, on an epic day for herps and my first ever Echidna but this sunny morning I ended up seeing seven of them on the rocky promontory just across the bridge at the beginning of the Gibberagong Track.
DSC04435 Cunningham's Skink @ Bobbin Head bf.jpg DSC04449 Cunningham's Skink @ Bobbin Head bf.jpg

I did also get my best shots so far of Large-billed Scrubwren, which was working hard at finding a way in to some sort of little egg chamber stuck between a couple of leaves. I also got within a few feet of a loudly singing Superb Lyrebird that remained stubbornly incognito in the bush while cycling through his repertoire of local songbirds. The eBird checklist is here.

DSC04530 Large-billed Scrubwren @ Bobbin Head bf.jpg DSC04531 Large-billed Wren Babbler.bf.jpg
DSC04533 LArge-billed Wren Babbler @ Bobbin Head bf.jpg DSC04536 Large-billed Scrubwren @ Bobbin Head bf.jpg

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Dee Why and Long Reef Golf Course
25 April 2024
DSC04348 Pacific Black Duck @ Long Reef GC bf.jpg

Thursday 25th April was a public holiday in Australia, andI took advantage of the midweek break to chase down a Yellow-billed Spoonbill at Dee Why Lagoon, which was just the fifth record of the Northern Beaches. Unfortunately it kept itself to the far side of the lagoon, but I did also pick up a few other good birds, including a pair of Black-fronted Dotterels and a Double-banded Plover ( both my first records for this site), plus Little and Plumed Egrets and the Pied Oystercatcher that had for once come to my side of the lagoon. On a decent morning I managed 41 species (eBird list here), with other highlights including a Brown Goshawk and a couple of Musk Lorikeets, New Holland and White-cheeked Honeyeaters in the trees in the southern corner.

Long Reef Golf Course continued to host my Musk Duck friend on her usual pond, along with a coupe of Little Grassbirds while the highlight was a Great Egret that drifted in from the north and landed in the cormorant roost alongside a couple of White-faced Herons. The Little Corellas were up to their usual mischief - breaking off from foraging on the airways to squabble and wrestle on the grass. Osprey and White-bellied Sea Eagle flew over, but there was again no sign of the Red-tailed Tropicbird I'd been hoping for.

DSC04383 Great White Egret @ Long Reef GC.jpg DSC04407 Great White Egret @ Long Reef GC bf.jpg
DSC04404 Great Egret @ Long Reef GC bf.jpeg

I have a theory that one of the ways to distinguish Plumed from Great Egrets is that the Kees fall level with eh tip of the tail on Great Egret and with the base of the tail on Plumed Egret. Interested to hear any thoughts.

Thanks Owen - I did enjoy them, even if they were mere lizards!

Patch Gold Photospot: Pacific Baza at Mowbray Park
2 May 2024

A Thursday morning dog walk at Mowbray Park last week not only delivered my highest ever single site score in Willoughby , but gave me my best patch tick of the year in the form of a pair of Pacific Bazas that were foraging in the trees above the meadow at the north end of Reid Drive. They were patch tick no. 105 and one of the highest placed birds on my "most wanted" list as my neighbour across the valley sees them every year in Sailor's Bay Creek.

DSC04568 Pacific Baza @Mowbray Park bf.jpg
DSC04582 Pacific Baza @ Mowbray Park bf.jpg DSC04572 Pacific Baza @ Mowbray Park bf.jpg
DSC04575 Pacific Bazas @ Mowbray Park bf.jpg

Other good birds on an eventful day that included losing about a pint of blood to mosquitoes, a briefly lost dog, a suspected Bull Shark in the river and a total of 37 species included a pair of Galahs checking out a nesting hole, just my second Crimson Rosella and third Australasian Darter on the patch.

Seeing the Bazas also provoked my to explore on eBird what my prospects for new birds in Willoughby are. Only one - Bell Miner has a more than 1% probability. I tried unsuccessfully in the most regular site yesterday, which also holds Nankeen Night Herons, and Peregrine is next ...

They are indeed Pete. It was odd watching a raptor scrambling about in the upper foliage looking for katydids and stick insects!

Other good patch birds recently have included a fine male Rose Robin in a flock of foraging passerines at Scott's Creek (below the north edge of Middle Cove) that also included a Grey Fantail. I have high hopes that the extensive mangroves here (or indeed at Mowbray Park) might one day produce a Mangrove Gerygone or a Nankeen Night Heron.

Northern Beaches: Manly Reservoir
5 May 2024

Manly Reservoir.png tempImageUn18ty.jpg

This was a long wet walk around the largest body of fresh water on the Northern Beaches. The reservoir runs roughly southeast to northwest away from the dam (1) tapering into a creek bed. It's surrounded by the typical sandstone bushland that's found all over Sydney. Coming right in the middle of a period of daily rain meant that the path on the southern side was more watercourse than track for most of the way and as the video clip shows the waterfalls were on good form.

Birds out on the lake included (in descending size) a pair of Black Swans, an adult Australasian Darter on the waterskiing ramp, 4 Pacific Black Ducks and 3 Maned Ducks plus a dozen or so Coots and a couple of Dusky Moorhens were hanging around the picnic site, where we also found a Swamp Wallaby , which contemplated us for a while with its mouth full of grass, before thumping off into the bush. A White-faced Heron, Australian Swamphen and Australasian Grebe foraged in a small lily-filled inlet (2). The only other water-dependent species - an Azure Kingfisher that perched briefly a short way up the creek (3) was the best bird of the day for being my first on the Northern Beaches, or indeed anywhere in eastern Sydney.

Woodland birds seemed thin on the ground so I'm honestly surprised I finished with 40 species (eBird list), but I did pish in groups of Brown Thornbills, Grey Fantail, White-browed Scrubwren and Eastern Yellow Robin, Red-browed Firetail, and a couple of Golden Whistlers, while there was a smattering of Little and Red Wattlebirds plus New Holland and White-cheeked Honeyeaters. A stop at the top of the trail on the northern side (4) was well timed as a family party of Black-faced Cuckooshrikes dropped into the trees above me.

My personal highlight was the pair of wonderfully confiding White-cheeked Honeyeaters that I think were feeding young in a concealed nest low down by th path in a grassy creek bed (5). They seemed very amped up, calling vigorously from a couple of metres as we passed, and then pishing in to within my minimum focusing distance. Right now they are leading the pack as my favourite honeyeater as I see them all round Sydney and they are both showy and cheerful.

DSC04795 White-cheeked Honeyeater @ Manly Dam bf.jpg

DSC04797 White-cheeked Honeyeater @ Manly Dam bf.jpg

The outstanding lowlight of the day was discovering that my dogs were not at all happy about the gaps in the metal walkway across the dam (6). While the larger one, Poncho was just about willing to walk across, three legged Tilly was having none of it and I ended up having to carry all her 20-plus kilos across the 250m length of the dam while dragging a less than thrilled Poncho behind us without letting go of the lead. Next time we come there will be a different plan.

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Seawatching: Shelly Beach Carpark, Manly
1 May 2024


In a period with lots of new patch I somehow managed to miss out on a seawatching session at Manly when I added an Aussie and NSW tick, as well as an additional seawatching patch tick. In ideal late afternoon conditions with fresh southerlies, light showers and after sorting out the size of the default Australian Gannets the light behind I picked up four Black-browed Albatrosses, my first land-based Campbell Albatross, an adult bird which I was happy to confirm from my dodgy digiscoped video by the 'hairy armpit' dark underwings.

A smattering of one Hutton's/Fluttering Shearwater, three Short-tailed one Wedge-tailed Shearwater gave me the confidence to claim my first Sooty Shearwater (Aussie tick no 372 and NSW tick no 263), which looked different - larger and longer-winged and as big an underwing flash as I've ever seen, as well as a subtle, but distinctive flex at the top of the shear. This was my first time to see Sooty Shearwaters since my first - from the Scillonian in September 1989. For a relatively common bird it's been a long time coming. It was nice to add a Pacific Ocean record, where the ID challenge is much more interesting.

tempImageKpvFqs.jpg tempImageARp0Sy.jpg
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Dee Why & Long Reef Golf Course and Aquatic Reserve
4 May 2024

DSC04617 Common Coot @ Dee Why Lagoon bf.jpg

The last report to catch up on the mess of out of order posts of the last few weeks. I've also experimented with the trip report function in eBird to bring the lists for Dee Why Lagoon and Long Reef Golf Course and Reserve all together in a single list.

On a blustery day Dee Why Lagoon was most notable for the gathering of 800-odd Silver Gulls, which is presumably a factor of the changing seasons, and a record count for me of 193 Eurasian Coot. The Yellow-billed Spoonbill had been replaced by a Royal Spoonbill that had the good manners to be loafing in the nearest corner of the lagoon close to the pod of Coot in the picture above. Coming in the midst of a rainy period the lawns next to the lagoon had several large pools of standing water and the Pacific Black Ducks, Laughing Kookaburras and Australian Ibises had come off the lagoon to take full advantage and three White-faced Herons stalked the shallows. I was delighted to find a Buff-banded Rail cautiously emerge behind them and work its way along the pool closest to the undergrowth.

DSC04594 White-faced Heron @ Dee Why  bf.jpg DSC04601 Pacific Black Ducks @ Dee Why Lagoon bf.jpg

Moving on to Long Reef a Grey Butcherbird posed on the fence as I walked up along the edge of the golf course as I arrived at Long Reef. On the way out I enjoyed this unlikely couple a sharing a puddle on one of the waterlogged fairways. Nearby the latter the Musk Duck was still present in its usual pond, as were the pair of Little Grassbirds that responded well to my pishing, bouncing in close without ever offering an open shot.

DSC04647 Grey Butcherbird @ Long Reef bf .jpg DSC04765 Little Corella  and Silver Gull @ Long Reef bf.jpg

I was surprised to find a gang of Red-browed Firetails zooming around the bushes below the watchpoint, strongly suggesting a migrant flock. it would be interesting to know if they are seasonal or weather based migrants.

DSC04731 Red-browed Firetail @ Long Reef bf.jpg DSC04735 Crimson-browed Finch @ Long Reef bf.jpg

Out on the rock platform a Ruddy Turnstone perched on a rock showed nicely, one of the diminishing flock of Red-necked Stint came close, and two of my personal record of seven Double-banded Plovers followed close behind.

DSC04714 Ruddy Turnstone @ Long Reef bf.jpg DSC04667 Red-necked Stint @ Long Reef bf.jpg
DSC04661 Double-banded Plovers @ Long Reef bf.jpeg

A trio of Great, Pied and Little Black Cormorants allowed an unusually close approach and I filled my boots, particularly with this young Great Cormorant. Being common and globally widespread they don't get much attention, but I have plenty of appreciation for any bird I that will give me the chance for frame-filling shots.

DSC04674 Great, Pied  & Little Black Cormorants @ Long Reef bf.jpeg
DSC04686 Pied Cormorant @ Long Reef bf.jpg DSC04675 Little Black Cormorant bf.jpg
DSC04699 Great Cormorant @ Long Reef bf.JPG DSC04705 Great Cormorant @ Long Reef bf.jpg
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Now I've caught up for early May I can continue with my next posts for Long Reef and Willoughby. I'll do Long Reef first.

Top bird was the uvenile Kelp Gull that flew in from the north, dropped onto the rocks above the gull and tern roost and then headed of to loiter offshore with a flock of Silver Gulls that was foraging a kilometre or so to the southeast.
Long Reef continued
12 May 2024

Apologies for the curtailed post ... Old school user error 100% to blame.

Anyway, here's the Kelp Gull lording it over the roosting Silver Gulls, Crested Terns and the usual flavours of Cormorant. I missed the tide so was only able to scan from the beach, but still managed to pick up the same group of waders that was here on my last visit: 4 Grey-tailed Tattlers, 2 Ruddy Turnstones, 7 Double-banded Plovers and a dozen or so Red-necked Stints, which, having stayed this long are likely to over-summer rather than migrate north. I was delighted to be visited by a trio of Sooty Oystercatchers, who came right up to me as they foraged along the tideline where the rock platform meets the beach.

DSC04850 Kelp Gull @ Long Reef bf.jpg
DSC04829 Sooty Oystercatcher @ Long Reef bf.jpg DSC04831 Sooty Oystercatcher @ Long Reef bf.jpg

As I walked back up to the watchpoint an unexpected flock of passerines turned out to be 40-odd Yellow-faced Honeyeaters, obviously migrating up the cost and pausing for a brief rest. More impressive was the squadron of six Ospreys that hung together in a small tight group above the watchpoint. One of these made a few passes along the cliff face allowing me fabulous close views as it drifted past no more than ten metres away. if only all BiF were this photographer-friendly!

DSC04862 Osprey @ Long Reef bf (1).jpeg
DSC04888 Osprey @ Long Reef bf .jpg

My usual friends - the Musk Duck and the pair of Little Grassbirds were on their usual pond on the golf course. They were responsive today, pishing in and not quite allowing the opportunity for a decent photo, but they're my best so far.

DSC04927 Little Grassbird @ Long Reef bf.jpg DSC04926 Little Grassbird @ Long Reef bf.jpg

This rather handsome Australian Ibis looking decorative in a palm tree was one of a group feeding on the waterlogged grass of the cricket pitch, and a Noisy Miner was maintaining tis species reputation as a royal pain in the arse by mobbing a Nankeen Kestrel perched one of the pinnacles of the cricket pavilion/golf club pro shop.

DSC04930 Australian Ibis @ Long Reef bf.jpg DSC04931 Australian Ibis @ Long Reef bf.jpg
DSC04936 Nankeen Kestrel and Noisy Miner @ Long Reef.jpeg DSC04937 Nankeen Kestrel & Noisy Miner @ Long Reef bf.jpeg

Patch Birding May 2024

At long last I've managed an addition to my Northbridge list which had stalled since early March in the mid-90s, and provoked me to explore the boundaries of the Willoughby bird reporting area of which Northbridge is a small portion. This morning a Pacific Baza drifted over from the southwest, putting up the various Feral Pigeons, Sulphur-crested Cockatoos, Rainbow Lorikeets and Noisy Miners that hang about my neighbour's house waiting to be fed. It was a bit less exciting for being preceded three weeks earlier by the pair at Mowbray Park on the far western edge of Willoughby on 2nd May, but still felt like a grip-back as one of my neighbours who lives almost directly opposite me above Sailors Bay Creek has seen them a couple of times and claims they're annual.

Thankfully I responded to the commotion by running downstairs with my camera and securing a couple of pix that confirm the massive yellow eye, broad bands on the remiges and breast/flanks and the orange-tinged undertail coverts. They're not great pix, but they most they do confirm the record.

DSC05009 Pacific Baza @ Sailors Bay Creek bf.jpg DSC05016 Pacific Baza @ Sailors Bay Creek bf.jpg

While this was the highlight, other recent action has included a Brown Goshawk this afternoon and even better a lovely pale Grey Goshawk that similarly flew in with an unappreciative retinue and flew back out an hour later having made no new friends at all. I've also been blessed by the return of flocks of 13 and 12 wistfully wailing Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoos. Yesterday they stopped briefly again on the far side of the creek, but today they simply kept going. Less exciting, but nonetheless worth noting is the continuing presence of small numbers of Musk Lorikeets, even though the grey gums that attracted them have long since stopped flowering.

The other highlight was hearing what was almost certainly a Lewin's Rail in the riverside mangroves at Mowbray Park. The call sounded almost exactly like the second half of a recording on the Stewart Sounds app, and Lewin's has been recorded here before, so its definitely one to be looking out for, despite the marginally better than 1000-1 odds bird suggests (based on the number of lists for Willoughby (926) and the number of times its been seen (once). A male and a female Satin Bowerbird at either end of my walk were new for that site, and its a while since I've seen them in Sailor's Bay Creek.

Peak counts have included 16 Australian Ravens over the golf course on 13th May, 40 Maned Ducks on 6th and seven Little Black Cormorants in Wreck Bay on 19th with just my third or fourth Pied Cormorant here. Four Tree Martins over the golf course yesterday were also my first for a good while, and my evening dog walks have delivered singing Powerful Owls at the golf course, while one of the birds below my house was in full voice last night as I headed to bed.

DSC04968 Little Blck Cormorants @ Wreck Bay Northbridge bf.jpg

This is also the month that the Grey Fantails have returned - there were two playing yesterday along the Wreck Bay tracking as mentioned in previous posts I've had male Rose Robins at Mowbray Park and Scott's Creek, but not yet in Northbridge itself. The other migrant of note has been the occasional Yellow-cheeked Honeyeaters, except for one day at the beginning of the month when a flock of forty-odd birds zoomed over the house and landed in the trees opposite.

In closing I was pleased to have an opportunity to photograph a couple of Silvereyes scrambling around on the lantana at the golf course yesterday, and this thoughtful-looking male Variegated Fairywren that pished in to the edge of a brush pile just as I was enjoying the Tree Martins.

DSC05048 Silvereyes @ Northbridge Golf Course bf.jpg DSC05090 Variegated Fairywren @ Northbridge GC bf.jpg

There are still today and tomorrow to go, but it will take something very special to oust the Pacific Bazas as top patch birds of the month.

Patch challenge birding in The Hills
Sunday 2 May 2024

DSC05103 Spotted Quail Thrush @ Sackville bf.jpg

Last Sunday I joined Veeraj and Raghav Sharma to go birding through The Hills Shire, which held a bunch of potential new birds for me and was the battle ground for their big year patch challenge with a bunch of other Hills-based birders. We started Baulkham Hills and immediately scored one for the Hills challenge as a Cattle Egret flew across the road right on the SW corner of the Shire. With that my contribution to the day was pretty much done, but we nonetheless headed north towards and then along the Hawkesbury River up to Wiseman's Ferry.

Our first stop was at a small lake that went down on eBird as Kangaroo Swamp, where a flock of what eventually turned out to be ten Wandering Whistling Ducks. These were my first NSW lifer of the day, and interesting first for being a new high count, and second because the tenth bird was diving like a Hardhead, which was something we didn't know Whistling Ducks did.

Screenshot 2024-06-07 Kangaroo Marsh @ The Hills.png

The lake hosted what turned out to be 19 species of waterfowl that included three Australasian Shovelers, over a dozen Hardheads, Maned Duck, Pacific Black Ducks, flyovers of Australasian Darter, Australasian Pelican and two Straw-necked Ibises and a White-faced Heron, plus Dusky Moorhens, Coots, and an Australasian Grebe. There was more quality in the shape of a Yellow-billed Spoonbill and a solitary Black-fronted Dotterel that added one more to the Sharmas' list. I really enjoyed this spot as the waterbirds were supplemented by a range of passerines that included 16 Yellow Thornbills, and the distinctive rasp of a calling Restless Flycatcher. The birds were pretty distant, so I didn't manage any pix, except for some dodgy phonescoped video of the Wandering Whistling Ducks.

Our next stop was up on the hills where Veeraj had staked out a group of Spotted Quail Thrushes. Veeraj picked them up almost as soon as we left the car and we spend the next hour enjoying terrific views of one of my most wanted species in the Sydney area and my only full fat lifer of the day. These beautifully patterned birds are widespread in low numbers across the drier parts of western and southern Sydney, but are notoriously shy and flighty, so it was a real privilege to watch this pair in plain sight for an extended period, and to hear another male calling nearby.

The same spot also held another NSW tick - this one a female Scarlet Robin that had taken up residence for the winter. It performed even better that the Quail Thrushes as it perched and foraged from the fence line. I'd seen a wonderful male Scarlet Robin some nine years earlier in Tasmania, but despite lacking the brightness of the male the soft plumage tones of this female perfectly suited the sort morning light.

From here we continued through the sam sort of country - farm paddocks interspersed with the typical sandstone ridges before dropping down onto the road that winds northwards along the Hawkesbury River to Wiseman's Ferry, where the river turns back south before entering Sydney harbour just below my Mowbray Park site. We stopped on the way for a pair of Jacky Winters and a riverside holiday village where a male Rose Robin headlined a mixed flock of passerines that also included Silvereyes, Red and Little Wattlebirds, Yellow-faced, White eared, Lewin's and White-naped Honeyeaters. We also had a flyover immature White-bellied Sea Eagle, but sadly not the Osprey that Raghav needed for his Hills list.

Our. final stop was at Wiseman's Ferry where just myself second Misteltoebird in two years perched and sag right above us in the carpark at the riverside park. Staring up into some flowering trees din not produce much , but the cafe where we sopped for lunch delivered a Pied Butcherbird, a Whistling Kite and best of all a superb adult Blue-faced Honeyeater. Vera picked it up in a flowering roadside hedge about 40 metres away, and to our amazement it promptly took off and flew directly towards us, passing within a metre or so of our seat on the corner of the verandah before rounding the corner and disappearing out of sight! Obviously used to such antics the Common Mynas perched in the bush right next to the verandahdidn't bat an eyelid.

IMG_2241 Scarlet Robin @ The Hills bf.JPG DSC05100 Spotted Quail Thrush @ Sackville bf.jpg

Thanks to Veeraj and Raghav for an enjoyable and highly productive morning's birding - and of course for the various ticks!
We finished with a combined total of 80 species, which puts me straight into the top ten for The Hills ... should I decide to take up the challenge!

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