Alex's Big Year 2020

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Alex Rogers
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162) Mistletoebird - a lifer, and Sue helped me ID the young bird that was my first - but I later got a poor photo (and a good sighting) of a male in full colour too. 

163) Olive-backed Oriole. Lots of them around, and they were very vocal so I have finally learned their call 

164) Turquoise parrot - very exciting, I LOVE seeing new parrots, and this was another lifer. Gorgeous bird, and he gave me precisely one 2-second opportunity for a shot - and for once I got it. 

Alex Rogers
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165) Striated Thornbill - I took a few photos of this little thornbill in poor light, expecting to confirm he was a Brown Thornbill - but on checking him out closely, I'm pretty sure he is another lifer for me, a Striated. Stripy chest is the main pointer, but also buff head with white speckles, and dark subterminal band on his tail. I find Thornbills quite tricky to ID as they are so small and never stop moving - so photos really help. 

166) I've seen but not photographed the Brown Treecreepers this year, so was very pleased to see them too. Lots of White Throated as well, with their lovely calls. 

167) Both Sue and another birder told me that Speckled Warblers were about, and I saw them in a couple of places. Rubbish photos, but some great sightings - such sweet birds, and really quite unusual to see generally, so I was very pleased to capture these. Yet another lifer. 

sue818
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A wonderful set of photos, Alex... so exciting to get new birds! I am pleased you found the Brown Falcon and I also have a soft spot for the Jacky Winter. However, I am envious of the Turquoise Parrot... what a beauty and a great shot. Said parrot still eludes my camera although I did see it in the valley.

Sounds like the trip was a success for all of you and great timing to arrive after they opened the ford. I enjoyed catching up and we'll do it again. My trip was wonderful and I have a number of birds for the Big Year once I have processed the photos.

Alex Rogers
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And that is all the new birds (not bad for a long weekend) - so I'll throw you a few bonus goanna shots to make up for all the dodgy EBC shots above :-) 

Alex Rogers
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Great Sue, looking forward to seeing them :-) 

Devster
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Lovely set Alex. I see what you mean about the Friarburds. lol How cute are those Jacky Winters

karentwemlow
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Great pics Alex. Last year during the bushfires I had dozens of those yellow-tufted honeyeaters at my place, in fact I had a much bigger range of honeyeaters and small  birds last year. I seem to have less variety this year. Love the Lace Monitor too, we had one in our yard last week, I have never seen the tongue, great shot!

dwatsonbb
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Some great photos Alex, thanks for sharing. Must add Capertree to my already loooooooooooong list of places to go.

Dale Huonville, Tasmania

Alex Rogers
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Thanks all. 

Dev - I had the unusual experience of being properly swooped by the Noisy Friarbirds this last weekend - 2 separate birds - and that has never happened before. They had real intent, too, hair-parting attacks, and kept going until I retreated 100m or so. Maybe they didn't like being characterised as skeksis! lol

Dale - Capertee is one of those must-do places, in NSW at least, and the campsite there is worth a visit in its own right. 

Alex Rogers
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I went to Leeton NSW this week on business, building a solar farm near there at Fivebough - in fact, right next to the Fivebough Ramsar Wetlands... As you might imagine, I was excited at the prospect of a bit of birding while I was there. So after work on Monday evening, I nicked off to the wetland with my camera, and met a couple coming out. "No good", they told me. "Swamp is dry. No birds" and off they went, dejectedly. Well, I thought I'd take a walk anyway. And to my delight, I discovered that not only was there plenty opf water - but despite big rains all over this part of the state, there were still plenty of birds. I'm not sure how these people missed them... but miss them they did. Here is a teaser - some 350 of the 5-600 Grey Teal that took flight when I inadvertently startled them. You can play Where's Wally if you like - a few Pacific Blacks and a couple of Shoveller in there - but these are nearly all Teal. I'm still sorting and editing pics, but I have a few to add in my attempt to keep up with the leaders :-) 

karentwemlow
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That's interesting re the Noisy Friarbirds. I had a pair nesting near my house in the last month or so. I watched the nest-building as she seemed to be very particular and the nest looks so well constructed. She had only been sitting on it a couple of weeks and I went away for 2 days. When I came home she's no longer on the nest or having anything to do with it, it seems abandoned. No idea what happened but now either her or a different Noisy Friarbird is making another nest in a branch of the same tree, slightly closer to my house. I have a swooping magpie in my yard (nest not far from my house) who scares me big time, and I have occasionally thought it was him when the NF flies close to my head. I wonder if the NF is swooping me too?

Alex Rogers
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karentwemlow wrote:

I wonder if the NF is swooping me too?

I had no doubt whatsoever that I was being swooped! 

Alex Rogers
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OK. Fivebough birds. 

169) Sulphur-crested Cockatoo - I've photographed a few badly this year, was waiting for a shot I liked before posting. I finally got one that I like from Narrandera

170) Australian Spotted Crake. Love these shy little birds, and this one ducked out of cover a few times, so I managed to get a shot. The reeds at Fivebough were FULL of birds, but also big Brown Snakes, so I was careful not to go into them. 

171) Red-kneed Dotterel. Bless his little red knees.... so cute! I noticed them standing on one leg, and paddling the mud with the other, then dipping down to catch whatever little organism they had disturbed. They were happy to let me watch them hunting for a long time  

Alex Rogers
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172) Swamp Harrier - very exciting, he swooped down among much waterbird panic and pounced - but failed to kill anything in front of us. I was happy the crakes survived - but surely a grey teal wouldn't be missed? lol. I missed the opportunity somewhat, but got some ID pics - note the white rump. A new bird for me :-) 

173) Straw-necked Ibis. I saw a trio of ibis species, although only one very backlit Glossy, which I'll put below as an EBC shot, and make up for the quality of that with a better bonus Australian White Ibis on the wing., 

174) Glossy Ibis EBC

Bonus) Australian White Ibis

Alex Rogers
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175) Black-tailed Nativehen - also pretty exciting as these were new to me. A long way away and up-sun, so a horrible EBC shot, sorry. 

Bonus) "Yellow Rosella" (spp. flaveolus of the Crimson Rosella) These guys drove me mad, as they were SO familiar, but different?! Eventually I worked out I was seing a regional subspecies, and then I got there. They are actually Crimson Rosella, which have totally different colouring in my part of the world. I like the yellow version too :-) but of course I can't count it again for the year. 

176) Sandpipers..... there were hundreds of Sharp-tailed Sandpipers, on the wing and on an island far far away...I never got any great shots, snookered by distance. 

177) But careful inspection of various ponds turned up two Sandpipers I've never managed to ID before. The next two shots are Marsh Sandpipers, solo and in company with the tern. 

178) And another lifer for me - a Wood Sandpiper, who gave me some great looks at his subtle colouring at reasonable range. Thanks mate. 

Alex Rogers
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179) Australian Shelduck. Lots of them around, but never came close to me. And I wasn't game to go off the paths :-) 

180) Royal Spoonbill - my favourite of the AU spoonbills, with that lovely eye liner and eye colour. I want to get a closer portrait showing those off better, but this is as close as I got

181) Yellow-billed Spoonbill - I did get a bit closer to this guy, and they are lovely in their own peculiar way too. 

And they flocked together, which I hadn't realised - this is a mixed flock of Royals and Yellows

182) Last new bird - Whiskered Tern. I've seen them before but not managed to photographe them - quite fast on the wing :-) 

Alex Rogers
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I saw many other birds on the trip - can't wait to go back! There are not too many places I know where the sky is literally black with birds at times. I can't recommend it more highly, and Leeton itself is a pretty, trhiving country town - well worth a visit. 

Devster
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Wow, what a great set. Looks like it was a very successful trip. I love the Wood Sandpiper and the Spotted Crake in particular and those Shelducks are very colourful

sue818
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Wonderful set of birds, Alex. You are getting some experience differentiating the Sandpipers in this lot. Looks to have been a great trip. 

karentwemlow
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Great photos Alex. Love the sulphur-crested cockatoo shot. I have one that visits my bird bath regularly and has that dirty chest. Would that be from nesting?

Also, I can't see your #168, is there one missing?

Alex Rogers
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Thanks all :-) Yes, the sandpipers took some work - I knew the sharpies, and knew I had two new ones in there - but IDing them isn't that straightforward. I checked on ABID FB page, and after some controversy amongst the experts there, they confirmed my IDs, so I'm learning slowly :-) 

Karen - yes, the white cockies often get dirty like this from excavating tree hollows, rooting out grubs etc. This guy was investigating potential nest sites I think . 

Thanks for catching my numbering issue. Seems I missed 168 - so I'll embarrass myself and post a horrible EBC I'd rejected earlier in order to fix the hole. Please excuse this poor (but recognisable) White-browed Scrubwren taken at Capertee this month, and accept him as #168

Alex Rogers
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I took a drive up to the Hunter on Saturday, to visit Ash Island and the Hunter Wetland Centre. Mostly hoping to see migratory waders, and dipped out on that - not a curlew, sandpiper, whimbrel or godwit to be seen. Strange, and a bit disheartening - this area is a Ramsar wetland and the birds are normally there at this time of the year in their thousands 

But it is a beautiful place anyway, and a great spot for general birding. Ash Island is huge, and you can easily spend a day wandering the paths, forests, mangroves and ponds. And the Wetland Centre is exceptional, a lovely place for lunch and a couple of hours of exploring their lovely grounds and ponds - and even checking out their Freckled Duck breeding program. I snuck a poor shot of the Freckled Duck through the fence - I can't count this captive bird, but I'd never seen one before, so I'll show it here. 

Alex Rogers
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But I did see a few birds that DO count... : 

183) Horsfield's Bronze-cuckoo, fiercely slaying a caterpillar. I think he is a young one as his colours were not very distinct. 

184) A Pied Butcherbird (I now clearly see the difference, thanks Sue!) also giving a caterpillar a hard time

Alex Rogers
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185) The sighting of the day - actually of the year so far - was a pair of Tawny Frogmouths .Everyone seems to see there regularly, but its been 10 years+ for me - I was super excited to find this adult and juvenile. And tell me that the juveniles aren't even cuter than kittens! :-) 

Devster
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Glad you managed to get out and snag a couple of new birds Alex, even if it wasn't as good as you had hoped. I have never photographed a young Tawny and yes they are cute and fluffy. Well captured

Alex Rogers
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186) Tawny Grassbird - a new bird for me. He was in and out of the casuarina - I HATE casuarinas for photography, always some stick or needles in the way - but he was quite obliging, and eventually I got a few shots. Had to identify him later from the photos, but I've got a bit of a feel for him now - slowly chipping away at my LBJs. 

187) Yellow-faced Honeyeater - sorry about the rubbish EBC shot, but I haven't seen them this year, so I'm not sure I'll get a chance of a better shot .

188) Yellow Thornbill - I've sene these before this year, but never managed to get a shot - finally I was quick enough to catch one of these ever-moving little guys. I think they are so appealing. 

189) Buff-banded Rail - he ducked out a long way up the road from me, and quickly scooted off - so  big crop - but I was happy to see him, its been a while

190) Brown Quail - a lifer for me - I thnk I've seen them before, but at a sprint, in the distance, for a second - this is the first time I've positively ID'd them, and happy to get a photo too. 

Alex Rogers
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191) Wandering Whistling-duck - very cool, they flew in to the ponds whistling as they came :-) Another new bird for me. 

192) White-breasted Woodswallows - the 10 year old guide to Ash Island said "check the wires for WBWS when you drive over the bridge" - so I did, and they were there :-) 

And I'll throw in a bonus Swamphen just because I love these purple dinosaurs

sue818
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Wonderful sightings, Alex. Love the little Tawny Frogmouth but the Bronze-cuckoo is a great shot as are the Wandering Whistling-ducks... that dark head stands out when you see a mixed group. A wonderful trip to the Hunter!

Devster
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Love the Yellow Thornbill and Brown Quail shots. You're catching up fast

dwatsonbb
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Nice work Alex, going well.

Dale Huonville, Tasmania

Alex Rogers
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Thanks all :-) Dev, I don't know, I'm pondering heroic measures to try to catch up to you! I have a couple of NSW country projects starting soon whcih might help - but I think QLD opening up before Xmas is my only realistic chance...

Alex Rogers
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A couple of local birds, just so I don't forget!

193) Common Myna. I reckon they are all robots surveilling us in our daily lives. Its obvious the eyes are cheap LEDs. 

194) Noisy Miner. Less robotic, and I actually quite like them for their irrepressible nature - despite being little thugs. 

Anyway, for anyone who ever confuses their Miners and Mynas - here they are back to back. 

Devster
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I know what you mean about the Mynas Alex. Even their call sounds a bit robotic. You are flirting with the 200 mark, won't be long now

karentwemlow
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Great pics Alex, and more inspiration for me to get out, the Hunter is possibly another day trip option for us.

dwatsonbb
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Lucky enough not to have the Common Myna down here. It is always a hot topic on some pages with people confusing which is the native one, with many showing a dislike for them both. 
Great photos to highlight the difference.
I like the Nosiy Miner, and have seen them here, although not in my local patch. Funny I had an hour or 2 to kill earlier this year in Manly, and I couldn't find the Common Myna anywhere (previous pre birding trips, would almost trip over them). I do have a couple of photos of them, but unfortunately not in Australia.

Dale Huonville, Tasmania

karentwemlow
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We don't have the Common Myna here either (though I often see them further up the street, just haven't seen at my place), and I've only seen Noisy Miners once or twice. There is not a whole lot of scientific evidence to support the hatred toward the Common Myna. In fact it is more likely the human destruction of local habitat for development and agriculture that threatens native birdlife and the Common Myna just happens to be able to adapt to that. Even without them, most of our native birds would struggle simply with the actions humans take. I find it ironic that many of the people who complain and hate the Common Myna have exotic grass lawns and rose gardens etc and prefer to remove trees to have a view etc. Also many believe the Noisy Miner to be more damaging to biodiversity than the Common Myna. But yes it is definitely a hot topic! I have nesting Noisy Friarbirds at the moment TOTALLY ruining the biodiversity here! Oh well, maybe they will fledge and move on and all the little honeyeaters will come back. I am going to prune the big grevillea trees after Spring, and we have dozens if not hundreds of smaller flowering natives coming up, so should get it back to normal soon.

Alex Rogers
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Yes, Karen, the Common Mynah is just doing what creatures do, and as such an adaptable bird it does it very well! I don't really blame the bird - its largely a result of human intervention (bringing them here, then creating a landscape hostile to most naties and perfect for these guys) - but I'd still like to automagically vanish them. And look at this crop and tell me they aren't robots lol. 

Alex Rogers
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195) Great Egret. I posted this photo on eBird as a Little Egret and was contacted by one of the quality-control specialists and asked to review it as he beleived it was a Great Egret. I'd been thinking Little Egret because of the black legs and bill, but on reviewing it, I agree with him, the gape extends well behind the eye, and the bird is bigger/heavier than the Little. Photographed last week flying over Ash Island. 

karentwemlow
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Oh great pic, I love the eyes!

Devster
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Yep, thats a camera lens hidden in the eyes all right. In breeding season their bill turns black and thie gape turns that green. Makes it challenging when IDing if just going by the bill alone.

sue818
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As Dev points out, Egrets require a few features for ID just to challenge us.

love the Common Myna's eyes, they are amazing, aren't they? Love the idea of a camera lens being there, Dev.

dwatsonbb
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Alex your getting some cracking shots. Agree re the minor, the eyes look like LED lights. Thanks again for sharing.

Dale Huonville, Tasmania

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