Alex's Small Year 2019

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sue818
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Seems like Werribee would be a wonderful place to visit so I must get there sometime. Shorebirds get easier as you see more of them so persist with it. Wonderful to see your collection growing. I think perhaps Capertee Valley, NSW might be within your reach as well.

Alex Rogers
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Thanks Sue. Yep, Werribee is quite amazing - at 1650 individual birds estimated, it was the most I've ever seen in a day. 42 species including 3 lifers and a number of "rarities" (for me), and a few reasonable photos - and all that on a very windy day when many birds were hiding. I think an experienced birder like yourself will identify way more, and perhaps pick up a new bird or two as well. 

I've been to Capertee a few times, but not on specific birding weekends (rock climbing & hiking) but I'm planning a camping trip either to Coorongooba or Newnes (Wolgan valley next door) soon, and very much looking forward to birding this time :-) 

Alex Rogers
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Just reconciled my Small Year List on a spreadsheet to ensure I'm keeping proper track, and discoverd that 114 was duplicated - so I'll replace it here with an appalling EBC shot on the same day of a Glossy Ibis. I was pulling my hair out, no matter what I did I couldn't get focus lock, the backlighting on the water and dark bird combined to fool my AF and I couldn;'t manually focus in time. To be replaced with a better photo soon I hope :-) 

Alex Rogers
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And found a couple that I'd missed from a trip late Aug to Torquay, Vic. 

117) Crested Tern. Had a raft of them on a rocky headland near Torquay, including some juveniles. Quite like these pics. 

dwatsonbb
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Very Nice, I like the one which is preening it's self. I also like the wave action in the second pic.

Dale Huonville, Tasmania

sue818
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Nice Crested Terns, Alex & I agree with Dale about the wave action.
Getting a good focus can be a pain as I find the long lens amplifies my slightest movement so I use auto-focus on spot for the Nikon & keep a finger on the fine focus ring. When I have an opportunity 'live view' & 100% amplification really does the trick.

However, none of that helps if you don't get out & about so on with the challenge. 

Alex Rogers
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Thanks Dale & Sue - I took a lot of photos of the juvenile trying to show the water moving, and this shot captured it best. 

The P900 doesn't have a fine focus ring, but it does allow you to assign MF to a button on the zoom itself, then electronically adjust / manual focus. I have not properly explored this, but given the frequent focus issues I'm experiencing, think I need to spend a weekend working on that to see if it is useful. 

dwatsonbb
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Given what I now know, my P900 will be my travel camera, I'm still happy with it, but am keen to pursue more serious photography.

Dale Huonville, Tasmania

Alex Rogers
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Had a really good weekend - did a morning walk at Lane Cove National Park, and was blown away by the dawn chorus there, completely deafening. Saw lots of familiar birds. most obviously the suphur crests who were up to their usual mischief and racket, up to and including chopping down trees. There were also a lot of bell miners, not my favourite bird to hear since I believe they are associated with sick forests and actively harm trees in their farming of lerp. They also irritate me by tink-tink-tinking away up in the treetops where I can't observe them! But with some persistence and a bit of luck I eventually got a photo 

118) Bell Miner

Alex Rogers
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And all of a suddent the forest suddenly exploded with alarm calls and the miners all stopped irritating the other birds, and hid, as a goshawk came tearing through. He caused mayhem for 15 minutes, perching up high and every so often launching strafing raids to the vocal consternation of about 200 birds. Amazing, seems every bird in a cubic volume of 150mx150mx150m was keeping a beady eye on him, and as soon as he launched, they would all sound the alarm to each other. Eventually he flew off to somewhere more secretive, but not before giving me a great sighting and a couple of photo opportunities at long range. 

119) Brown Goshawk. By amazing coincidence, I'd just bought a book on raptor ID (Stephen Debus - Birds Of Prey)  'cos I'm useless at them, and it shouldn't be so hard. Just last night I'd been shaking my head over how similar the Brown Goshawk and the Collared Sparrowhawk are - and then I spot one! So please correct me if you think I'm wrong, but I'm going with Brown Goshawk as it was bigger than I think the Sparrowhawks get, has pronounced beetle brows, and tail tips are more rounded than squared off. 

Alex Rogers
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I got another lifer for me with this little guy - one of several popping in and out of the undergrowth to forage on open ground. 

120 - White-browed scrubwren

Alex Rogers
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And in fact my day had started perfectly - I stopped by the Cooks River on my way out from home, specifically to have a look at a particular mud-bank for a striated heron. I'd heard they were on the Cooks River but had never seen one - and figured if they were anyway, this particular mudbank might be attractive at low tide. Sure enough, in the pre-dawn gloom was a stubby little heron - success! It was very low light indeed, the attached is the best I could do. 

121) Striated Heron

sue818
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Well done, Alex.  It is always wonderful to see something new. I hope to get out again now we are home & the rain is great.

Devster
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Wow 121 birds Alex. How am I supposed to compete with that lol. Great photos by the way and I love the stories that accompany them.I better get cracking with some more photos

Alex Rogers
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I think you got 20+ birds yesterday alone - at that rate you'll be caught up by Sunday!  :-) And then there is still 6 weeks to go, 2 or 3 a day would also do it.

But 121 isn't the target, I'm not done yet and have a few field trips planned... I suspect Sue has a whole slew of birds in hand (so to speak) with pics still to post and will roar into the lead soon - and Pip and Dale are getting in some great birds too and I doubt they are done yet...

Thanks for the nice comments on the pics :-) 

pip-lb
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Great shots, i'm amazed at how everyone in this challenge is getting out and taking such fanatstic shots. I wonder how many species we have collectively now? I'm going to try to get down to Werribee next week and i'll have at least one more trip to the north of Victoria before the years out. My 'big' year challenge this year was to see as many Victorian birds as possible so i'm not leaving the state this year, which i guess puts me at a small disadvantage but summer is good for birding in Victoria, so hopefully i've got a good few to go yet.  

Alex Rogers
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Thanks Pip. Yes, restricting it to Victoria does add another level to your challenge - but Werribee has the most extraordinary possible bird list (268 on eBird!) so I reckon you have a great opportunity there. I'd love to visit it again over a few days. 

Devster
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Well I won't be going interstate so that's another disadvantage I face. Wow 268 species on ebird that's huge!

I too though of how many different species we would have collectively

Alex Rogers
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Looking back through my spreadsheet I see there are a couple of common birds I haven't photographed for this challenge - so I went out looking for this guy last night. They are common near me, but I think I took some really bad photos early on, then thought I had them covered but had been ashamed to post such an EBC!

122) Red Wattlebird

Alex Rogers
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Went for a walk in the Warriewood wetlands today with sue818 - she was kind enough to show me around one of her regular spots. Great to meet another BIBY'er and talk birds with someone who gets it :-) Sue felt it was a bit quiet on the bird front, but I was well happy with 31 species including 3 completely new to me. I managed to get (very poor) photos of all 3 as well as a couple of others I've seen but not photographed for this challenge, so it was a very productive walk for me. I even learned how to pronounce "gerygone"!

123) Galah - another bird that for some reason I haven't yet phtographed. These guys were high up in a tree, but I got an EBC shot that will do for now. 

Alex Rogers
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124) G is for Je-ri-go-nee, Brown in this case. Lovely little songster, I'm sure I've seen them before but never been able to ID them, thanks for identifying the call and singing them in Sue :-) Between my camera and I we were too slow / poor at focus to get anything but EBC shots of these very sweet little birds. 

Alex Rogers
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125) Lewin's Honeyeater - this was my second new bird of the day. Locally common apparently, but they don't seem to hang out in my neck of the woods. Saw a good few of them through the day, but again none of them hung around in the sunlight posing for me, so a snatched EBC it is. 

Alex Rogers
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126) And just about the first bird we saw was also new to me. In the South of Sydney, the New Holland Honeyeaters dominate, they are everywhere - so I was super pleased to see instead these White-cheeked Honeyeaters. There were lots of them feeding on several different flowering bushes, and if I'd been patient enough I should have got a good shot - but we were on a walking mission, and when I went back later to try to improve the photo, they were gone. Ah well, another EBC shot. 

Alex Rogers
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127) Olive-backed Oriole was kind enough to find a patch of sunlight in the forest for me. 

Devster
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Great set Alex. Love the Red Wattlebird as we only get the Little Wattlebird up here. Again you are pulling away from me. I'll have to see what other photos I can dig up. lol

Alex Rogers
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Devster wrote:

Great set Alex. Love the Red Wattlebird as we only get the Little Wattlebird up here. Again you are pulling away from me. I'll have to see what other photos I can dig up. lol

Thanks Dev. But pulling up old photos is not the idea, getting out and taking more photos is! :P

Devster
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Alex Rogers wrote:
Devster wrote:

Thanks Dev. But pulling up old photos is not the idea, getting out and taking more photos is! :P

Oh don't worry I have been and will continue doing that, but remember I am two months behind. 

sue818
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Great to see your captures from Warriewood, Alex. Bird numbers were quite down so I was pleased we still managed to find 3 new ones for you. I’ll let you know how I go on my next visit. Thanks for the company.

You are on a roll so with cooler weather and less wind, you may find a few more birds around... and maybe the fires will ease.

dwatsonbb
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Alex, your cruisin. Got some more fantastic photos. Are all you mainlanders holding back on the Indian Myna? If I get over your way, it will be in my list, mainly because there are so many, and I reckon would make good target paractice (with the camera). Thanks again, hope there more soon.

Dale Huonville, Tasmania

Alex Rogers
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Thanks Dale. Yep, the Mynah was my bird #6 - I got it in early :-) For the Big Year next year, as we have so much more time, I'm going to up my own personal challenge to improving the quality of photos of all the common birds, and make a special effort to get high quality interesting photos of the particularly common ones like the Myna - should make it more more challenging (and I can still reserve the right to post an EBC/boring shot if I fail!) 

And long may you be myna-free in Tassie! Between the Mynas and Noisy Miners they totally dominate my garden - I get other birds that can stand up for themselves (Rainbow Lorikeets, Kookaburra, Grey Butcherbirds, Red Wattlebirds etc) but we used to get fairy wrens, New Holland Honeyeaters etc and they are all gone :-) and I blame the Myna/Miner Axis of Evil 

dwatsonbb
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Sorry Alex 6. Was so long ago, maybe need to scroll through them all, just to refresh my memory. Think we are all striving to improve the quality of photos. Keep up the good work.

Dale Huonville, Tasmania

Alex Rogers
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OK - here are some replacement birds for previously shot EBCs

116) Little Corella - had 300+ fly down to my local playgrounds today to eat the grass seeds - absolutley spectacular, and what a racket. I tried crawling up to them to get a lower perspective, and it really worked (I think). Afterwards a little girl on a scooter came up to me and asked "Mister, are those your birds?" I said yes, and they were hers too. 

Alex Rogers
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No real stories to these, but they were all birds I photographed over this weekend that were real improvements over the previous shots that I submitted here, so here goes. 

Alex Rogers
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Aaaand - back to the program - time to add some new birds to my list, I've been comprehensively overtaken by Sue, and I feel Dev is about to climb over me on the way to catching her up - so here are a couple more birds :-) 

128) Satin Bowerbird - see at Mt Annan Botanical Gardens yesterday. 

Alex Rogers
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129) Grey Fantail - somehow overlooked getting a photo of this common and appealing bird. Saw this guy today in Lane Cove NP

Alex Rogers
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130) Eastern Yellow Robin. This one is entitled "Eastern Yellow Robin with Dev's Stick". :-)  Such a nic ephoto - such a horrible stick. Oh well, saw 4 or 5 of these in Lane Cove NP this afternoon, I know where to look for them now .

Alex Rogers
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131) Spotless Crake - a lifer for me. Saw 3 or 4 individuals in a little pond in Bicentennial Park with Sue this morning. They weren't especially shy, and gave us a great look at them, but it was a fair way away, and a very grey dull morning, so my photo is a marginal EBC, but I reckon Sue will have got something worth looking at. Very pleased to have seen them though. 

Devster
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Nice shots Alex. So jealous of you male Koel shot. They are a rediculously hard bird to photograph. I also liked your Striated Heron and Starling shots. I got a big laugh with Dev's stick comment. I see your crake has it as well. lol

dwatsonbb
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Some nice upgrades Alex, and some good shots of new birds to. Maybe Dev can update his spread sheet for the end of the month tally?

Dale Huonville, Tasmania

sue818
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Lovely variety, Alex and numbers climbing nicely. It goes to show what is around if we just get out and about. Most locals would not have noticed many of these birds. I really must explore Lane Cove NP again... silly of me not to considering it is local! I’ll post a few later today; the Spotless Crake is a young one with that white throat. Good work.

Alex Rogers
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Thanks all.

Dev, I was very pleased with that koel, he was a very long way away but actually in the sunlight in plain view for once, and I could take a lot of photos until I got one with that pink gape :-) I have soent a lot of hours chasing invisible koels!

Sue, I went for a walk with my wife from Vimiera Rd down to Brown's Waterhole and then along the Great Northern Road track. So not strictly birding (just happened to have my camera with me :-) but managed a few opportunistic shots. Would be very happy to go back there, or anywhere else in the Park, the birdlife was great. Even at Browns Waterhole itself, where the bell miners dominated, there wre plenty of gerygones, scrubwrens, whipbirds, yellow robins etc, and further along the track it just got better. So if you are keen, I'd like to explore more of the park too. 

Alex Rogers
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Had a nice walk along the cliffs at Cape Solander today. Not a lot of activity, but had a great sighting of two sea eagles cruising the cliffs, and a couple of Nankeen Kestrel hawking on the updrafts. It is just about impossible to get BIF with my camera, but I tried, and got a shot that will do as an EBC for now. Very poor photo, but the rufous back, black wing tips, long tail with a black terminal bar are distinctive. I was very happy to see them, as I haven't identified them before (and am slowly working through my Birds of Prey book :-) I've psoted a sea eagle shot before, this one isn't any improvement, but who doesn't like to see an eagle? 

132) Nankeen kestrel

Alex Rogers
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133) Rufous fantail. Played hide and seek at my local ponds with this guy through the casuarinas, got this EBC (but quite distinctive) shot through a tiny gap and then he was gone. Will have to go back for him, and the kingfisher that I totally missed. 

dwatsonbb
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You may not be happy with your BIF shots, but practice makes perfect. I would be happy to with both of those! The Rufous Fantail and the Nankeen Kestrel would both be new to me. 
The world would b e a happier place IMHO if we could all see an eagle every day. Well

done.

Dale Huonville, Tasmania

sue818
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Quite identifiable shots so great to have them. It just makes you try a bit more next time; I generally find my second sighting much better because I know what to expect. You are certainly putting in the effort with 133 birds, well done.

Devster
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I hear yu with BIF shots. I find them so difficult.As Dale said, it's all about getting out there and practicing.

pip-lb
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Rufous fantail is a common bird for you? Wow, i love their little flashes of orange but they don't get down to Victoria very often and they're tricky models. Happt to see one here, is that the first for the challenge, i wonder?

Alex Rogers
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No Pip, I've only seen one or two before, and this was the first time I've ever seen it in our little local reserve - hence the EBC :-) I hope he hangs around to give me another chance. 

sue818
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You should get more chances, Alex, as they hang around until it starts getting cool and then head north. They are notoriously difficult to photograph well as they like the shade and those notorious sticks. If you can get a ray of light on them it is spectacular as is their checkerboard chest. They do get to Victoria, Pip but I don't know the best places. Ebird would be a good source to check for recent sightings.

pip-lb
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I've seen them in wet sclerophyll forests in late summer down here but not often. My favourite of our fantails.

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