Danika's Big Year 2022

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dannyka6
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After lunch it was time to head up to Orford. I love the road to Sorell with the bridges through the bay. I saw a large flock of terns but there's nowhere to turn off, so I had to just enjoy looking. 

I'd looked ahead along the road and found a likely spot to stop for a bird walk on the way: Tasmanian Bushland Gardens, near Buckland. I'd highly recommend this spot too, and if I'd had more time and had been wearing a more sensible outfit I would have tackled more of a hike but as it was I just did the White Gum loop, still awesome!

Apparently this is one of the rare spots off Bruny Island where you can find the Forty-Spotted Pardalote; I wasn't so lucky but enjoyed listening to the Striated species. I ran into the president of the board who manages the gardens when I was there so I enjoyed a talk with him about the place - 22 hectares set aside, a native botanical gardens, walking loops and trails, an old quarry and lots of eating areas with BBQs. 

Again so many thornbills! Still processing. I saw the (130) Grey Shrikethrush ssp strigata, very poor photo though. 

The main achievement here was improvement shots of 2 (168) Eastern Spinebills, in this case ssp dubius which is a funny name, who chased me around the loop. Lots of fun! 

And that concludes a lovely day out in Tassie :)

dannyka6
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Saturday 3rd September

I had grand plans for Saturday morning since the conference didn't start until 10.30am. Did you know that Orford is home to a Bird Sanctuary? A properly looked after, fenced-off section of beach and creek that is home to nesting Hooded Plovers and Fairy Terns?? I didn't until I got there but it seemed like a good place to start. It shows up on ebird as Prosser River Spit so that's a bit confusing but its a beautiful place. Unfortunately I ended up back in Hobart in ED overnight so that plan didn't work out...instead I went straight to the conference on a couple of hours sleep! But I did see a Spotted Quoll crossing the road somewhere around 2am...that was very cool!!

At the end of the day I looked around Triabunna in the golden hour and found 2 different families of (85) Masked Lapwings with chicks!! The first time I've been able to photograph the babies!! Using the car as a hide I photographed these families hanging out on the side of the highway...they never learn to nest in safer places!! It's fascinating to see how early the mask starts to develop. I'll also add in some teeny tiny chicks from the Royal Hobart Botanical Garden, yep, right on the walking path...not smart!

1. A very grown up baby looking quite like the adult - there were at least 2 babies in this family

2. Quite little babies, at least 3 babies - can you see the tiny mask just emerging?

3. From the botanical gardens, very tiny babies, at least 3 - can't see a mask yet, but it brings to mind the question: why did the masked lapwing chick cross the road in front of the lady with the giant camera??

I also enjoyed this (21) Little Wattlebird in a cloud of midgies :)

dannyka6
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Sunday 4th September

I went back to my plan to visit the Orford Bird Sanctuary and started there before the 2nd day of the conference. Set on Spring Bay along Raspins Beach, I could just sit and absorb this place all day! But the birds were literally calling so I walked along the beach to the Prosser River entry into the bay and wow, its very cool. I didn't have as long as I would have liked to explore because today the conference started at 8.30am, but it was still a thrill.

It's always amazing to see (19) Hooded Plovers! I love how they roll along on wheels across the sand! I haven't seen any since the start of the year so I really enjoyed this sighting. There were also Red-capped Plovers, Red-necked Stints (but a long way away), and my first definite sighting of a Pacific Gull this trip. I added Chestnut Teal and Crested Tern to my Tassie list. Nothing new but I have to add the Hoodies! I was hoping for a Fairy Tern, but maybe not the right time, or I didn't spend enough time, and also for a Yellow-throated Honeyeater but that one escaped me this visit. I definitely saw a Little Pied Cormorant here, not a Black-faced that I didn't look at properly!

A good spot to have on your list! 

I would have loved to get to Maria Island, but I'll save that for another trip. I definitely want to come back to this area.

And finally at the end of the day I took a drive around the Spring Bay Mill where the conference was hosted and found my 3rd and last macropod :) Forrester's Kangaroo.

dannyka6
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Monday 5th September

This was a bonus day, sort of! I was meant to fly out Sunday afternoon after a quick check up at the hospital, but it didn't go so well and they admitted me overnight. Cancelled flights, extended car rental, upset husband! Anyway, I managed to get discharged Monday lunchtime and had an hour to spare before heading to the airport so I chose the Royal Hobart Botanical Gardens for a relaxing stroll. A beautiful spot overlooking the bay!

Just a few bonus shots of Silvereye ssp lateralis picking buds off a weeping cherry or something similar, my first definite sighting of a Pacific Black Duck x Mallard - the bright orange legs and olive beak suggest the cross - and farewell from another beautiful Crescent Honeyeater!!

dwatsonbb
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Agh Danika, I wish I had been available for your trip, you have photos of my BOGEY BIRD, the Black-headed Honeyeater. It would still be a lifer for me! Even in my pre birding days, I have never seen one. Some great photos of some precious birds. I have often seen photos of the Crimson Rosella (Yellow ssp.) and thought they are Greens for sure. Apparently the colouring is some what age related, it think the more yellow birds are a bit older.

I would struggle to separate a Grey and Pied Currawong on the big island, luckily if you can see the but, it is easy here.

Not heard of any avian diseases around here yet. There are often birds with parasites visible, including ticks.

Glad you enjoyed your trip, and sorry you had to endure a hospital visit, hope all is well.

Dale Huonville, Tasmania

AbbyGrace
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What an amazing outcome for a short trip. Love your shots of the Tasmanian Native Hen, and I would love to see the Yellow Wattlebird. 

sue818
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Fantastic trip, Danika and so many new birds since I last managed to check in. Well done. Tassie is wonderful for different birds and the Waterworks Reserve is great.

Pleased to hear that your hospital trip was brief. My husband was not impressed when once, I arrived back from a trip to Darwin with my son... wearing a moon boot on my left leg and a sling on my right arm. Stay safe. 

dannyka6
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Well Dale from what I could tell, if you park your car outside the the gates of the Waterworks Reserve and look across the road to the eucalyptus trees, that seems to be a good hangout for the Black-headed Honeyeaters. From my very short 2 days there...worth a shot though!

I definitely think the Green and Crimson (Yellow) rosellas side-by-side, and the Pied and Grey (tasmanian) Currawongs side-by-side would be very challenging! 

All is well, just a little holiday drama for fun!

Oh Sue, I imagine my husband and your husband could get together and do some good complaining about wives going off on trips without them, and the things that happen to them!!! Mine was not at all a happy camper when he heard I wasn't coming home Sunday night!! However your appearance was a lot more physically dramatic than mine, you must have had a doozy of a trip!

dannyka6
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Well today Abby and I tried for a unusual migrant, no luck for me, fortunately Abby saw it yesterday and got a nice shot, better luck next time. 

Since it was a BEAUTIFUL day we went from "the tree" where the bird was supposed to be, to Beaconsfield Flora and Fauna Reserve, a gorgeous spot to wander around and even better for birds! 

After a whole year without a woodswallow, which I was just complaining about to Abby on the walk, we bumped into a small group of them hanging around the powerlines! Yay! 

237) So I'm adding Dusky Woodswallow to my list! Hopefully I can find other species as the spring comes in. 

We also saw a bird Abby has been trying to track down, the white morph of the (120) Grey Goshawk! Very briefly, flying from left to right and confused at first for a cockatoo...managed to get one shot only! But was a pretty cool sighting! 

We also had brilliant sightings of a female Satin Bowerbird, a pair of Eastern Whipbirds and plenty of Bell Miners. A really great spot for bird watching! 

dwatsonbb
dwatsonbb's picture

Thanks Danika, will go and look. I often walk the waterworks, but rarely come up with anything new or interesting. Weather permitting, tomorrow might be my day!
 

Dusky Woodswallows are seriously nice birds, and often underrated/overlooked. We usually have them in the reserve a few hundred metres from home. Looks like it was trying to pretend you weren't there.

Dale Huonville, Tasmania

michaelrt71_1
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Nice timing on the woodswallow; perhaps regular complaining encourages the species in question? I will give it a try. I really liked the crescent honeyeater belting out a tune - inspired me to check out the song/calls on 'merlin', quite a squeaky little thing!

sue818
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Lovely sightings, Danika... isn't the white morph Grey Goshawk beautiful? Unfortunately, you already have Dusky Woodswallow as 101 according to the spreadsheet so it was not counted. A good excuse to go out and find another bird.

dannyka6
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Thanks for the comments everyone :)

Wow, how did I miss that Sue? I even searched my spreadsheet before posting - was sure I didn't have any woodswallows. Oh well, will try for some others :)

sue818
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So easy to miss one, I was lucky that Karen has set the sheet to notify of double-ups & not count them. You'll have to find that Channel-billed Cuckoo.

dannyka6
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Well I tried...might have to take another trip and look a bit harder into those fig trees!!

Alex Rogers
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Just finished catching up on all your adventures Danika - you've been having some great explorations, and some super birds! Lovely to see all those Tassie birds again - and some new ones for me too. 

karentwemlow
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Sounds like a great trip Danika, and you made the most of it. I love all your pics, the Goshawk is awesome, would be a lifer for me. 

sue818
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Listen for that incredible call and they might fly right over your head. Good luck.

dannyka6
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Thanks everyone, and I'll keep an ear out Sue :)

In the meantime, I did take another trip, on which I also hoped to find the Channel-billed Cuckoo because it's more of a local, but no such luck...so back to Berwick!!

Firstly, my apologies to you Michael for visiting Wollongong without getting in touch!!

Months ago when I asked about birding spots up there I had hoped to catch up with you on this trip and do some birdwatching together.

But as it happened our trip was only 4.5 days; it was heavily peppered with the UCI road cycling world championship races (our "main" reason for heading up there in September); it rained flat out for the first 2 days and sporadically after that, and...something I haven't mentioned so far but which has started to take its toll on my activity levels...I am now 8 months pregnant!!

So my birding was fairly confined in the few days that I had!

But Wollongong is a beautiful place despite the pouring rain so every chance I had I got out and about, slow though I was! And thanks to your previous intel Michael, I found some lovely spots :)

In particular I can highly recommend Jerrara Creek and Dam which was from your list - probably one of the most stunning places I've visited in a long time! It was so beautiful wandering along the creek in the drizzle, and later in the tropical rain!! Hiding under the rainforest waiting out the storm was surreal, and I got thoroughly wet feet afterwards traipsing down the the dam but it was so well worth it for this wonderful bird! The surrounding countryside out the back of Kiama is also just lovely, I really enjoyed the drive down from Wollongong, as well as back up along the coast.

237) Tawny Grassbird

I thought this was a lifer, but ebird tells me otherwise...my previous sightings were way back in 2016-2017, actually on my previous visit to Wollongong (heard only), and on an outing on the Gold Coast with Birdlife (back in my early photography days). So I'll call these lifer photos :)

This was pretty epic, as I walked down to the lake I heard the calling of a bird I didn't recognise and managed to catch a glimpse of it moving and just zoomed in as far as I could and started shooting! Then I gradually moved closer and closer to get better shots of this beautiful bird calling and calling for 10-15min at the top of the grass. Amazing! As you can see it was still spitting at this point but the birds were calling!

This was one location where I could definitely hear Brown Cuckoo-Dove calling, which WOULD have been a lifer if I could have put eyes on them but no such luck!! Very sad about that one!

238) But I finally tracked down some Red-Whiskered Bulbuls!! I've only ever seen them in Wollongong once before so I was hoping to see them again, but couldn't find any around town. I bumped into 7 together here so that was fun!

I can't say I improved my 184) Fan-tailed Cuckoo shots, but I did manage to photograph 2 separate birds flying around together at Jerrara which was cool, don't think I've ever seen 2 of them together.

And I have to say about the whole Wollongong area, but particularly Jerrara Dam - I have never seen so many 177) Lewin's Honeyeaters in my life!! I counted at least 15 at Jerrara, but probably underestimated by at least the same amount!! I have to go searching the Dandenong Ranges to find one in Victoria, but they are super prolific up there! They were especially loving what I think is the Illawarra Flame Tree, buzzing in and out and feeding. 

dannyka6
dannyka6's picture

We actually stayed in Mt Keira, in the end, and the lady who used to live in the house we stayed at evidently used to feed the birds...she had a freezer drawer labelled "bird meat"! So we had some confiding visits with the 178) King-Parrots, and a lot of other birds used the backyard pretty freely - it was an ideal place to stay! My favourite was the 91) Satin Bowerbirds, although they make some pretty unearthly noises! It was a thrill to see the male come down to the Hill's Hoist!!

I did hear a Pacific Koel on the last morning...but again no luck seeing it, so that lifer is also on hold!

Wollongong is definitely the domain of the Little Wattlebird, here in Melbourne we have both Little and Red but I'd say probably more Red Wattlebirds. Although I thought I heard the Red a couple of times, I never actually saw one, but there were Little Wattlebirds everywhere!!

I didn't do the Mt Keira Ring Track Michael, I thought it was a bit beyond my capabilities this time around but I would have loved to have visited the Scout Camp had it been open. But I didn't fancy the 2km round trip walking in from the road and back so I decided not to do that one.

Instead for a walk on the mountains I tried Stafford Farm track on the Mt Kembla side, really beautiful! But very dark, challenging for photos. I did pick up a lifer, but the photos are so bad I don't know if you'll all agree to let me count it or not!!! I think I flushed a Wonga Pigeon here but either way, no photo.

239) Green Catbird - what a horrid unmistakeable call!! Like tomcats fighting in the backyard at 3am! You just want to throw water at it out of instinct!! 

These shots were taken pointing the camera vertically upwards, under a huge canopy tree, at 5.47pm on a very overcast day in the middle of the rainforest! SO yes, they are the worst! But hopefully there's something identifiable in there - the prosecution rests and awaits the jury! 

240) Speaking of unrecognisable lifers...I finally tracked down the White-throated Gerygone!! Now that is a beautiful call!! Unfortunately a Grey Fantail objected to its presence and chased it off, the only time I haven't been happy to see a Fantail!!! Again, jury, I leave it to you to decide! 

This was taken at another lovely spot to wander around, Integral Park in West Dapto. Lots of scope for birds, with plenty of rambling blackberries on one side, the creek running through the bush on the other and a nice grass park. Loads of Eastern Spinebills, New Hollands and thornbills, plus I saw a few Eastern Rosellas, a couple of Grey Butcherbirds and a Yellow-faced Honeyeater.

241) Bar-shouldered Dove - not the only place I saw these but the best shots in the morning light! A beautiful bird!

sue818
sue818's picture

Congratulations, what wonderful news. Birding might have to take second stage for a bit. Glad you considered the conditions before tackling some of the tracks as they can be slippery but I am impressed with your birding treks so late in your pregnancy. 

Sounds like a wonderful place to stay as that area is rich in birds and habitat offering coast, rainforest and tableland areas. Some lovely birds especially the Tawny Grassbird and Red-whiskered Bulbul. However, my favourites are the King Parrot and male Satin Bowerbird. I understand the issue with the Catbird and Gerygone but I think they are identifiable when location is considered. Next visit, you can improve on them. 

Thanks again for sharing the news with us.

dwatsonbb
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Congratulations and best wishes for your expected arrival. Some lovely photos, most would be lifers for me. Can't comment on the IDs, but I'd be happy with Sue's opinions.

Dale Huonville, Tasmania

dannyka6
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Thanks very much Sue and Dale - yes I don't expect to do too much birding next year but we'll see :)

AbbyGrace
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Looks like you had a fantastic time away! Love the Red-Whiskered Bulbuls. 

dannyka6
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Thanks Abby, it was fun despite the rain :) 

A few more to go that I've been working on...

One of my favourite sites to visit while I was in Wollongong was the Illawarra Grevillea Park.

I did look at going to the Rhododendron Gardens as per Michael's suggestion, but there were so many road closures over the weekend when the bike races were going up Mt Keira and the highway that I just couldn't work out how I would get there and back! As it was, when I went out on Saturday and Sunday mornings I got trapped both times and had to do a long run around just to get back home! Google Maps was good on Saturday and gave me a good route back, not so much on Sunday!

So I went over to the Grevillea Park...so sad that it wasn't open, the open day was the weekend prior. I really feel like this park should be open all the time, but I think they rely on volunteers. It's a stunning garden of grevilleas (obviously), camellias, waratahs and other beautiful flowering plants; a delight in the spring and a mecca for honeyeaters, small buzzing birds and in general a hugh abundance of birds.

I'd seen that people regularly bird here (on ebird) despite the actual park not being open, so I followed the "track" around the outside of the park between the fence and the rainforest. This was a bit more of a scramble than I had bargained on, and I thought about going back a bunch of times but in the end there were so many birds that it probably took me an hour to cover a couple of hundred metres :) and that wasn't just me being slow, there were so many birds!!!

Finally I got to the top of the park and the path opened up onto a lovely wide track through the forest. I just love the rainforest up here! So beautiful! But challenging to photograph in! I really need help photographing in the dark forest - I wound out the exposure, slowed down the shutter speed...forgot about the f stop!! So forgive the graininess...I still haven't invested in DXO/similar...

242) Yellow-throated Scrubwren!!! This was a real highlight for me. It was one of my targets when I headed to Wollongong and I was so excited to find a pair running around the forest floor. As I said the photography was difficult but I really enjoyed watching these cute little birds racing around and doing their business. I've edited the photos within my limited capabilities in iIghtroom but they could still benefit from further work. I've only seen these birds once before at O'Reilly's up in QLD.

In February up near Narooma I came across 114) Brown Gerygone for the first time ever - I was really pleased this trip to come across many more of them and much closer and at eye level, not in the canopy! So a few replacement shots.

I was also thrilled to see a male Eastern Whipbird out in the open performing his call!!

And to be able to improve on my February lifer shot of the male Variegated Fairy-wren...I forgot to look for these guys to start with, Melbourne and Tassie have lulled me again to only think about Superb Fairy-wrens! 

I was able to get brilliant shots of male Golden Whistler, Spotted Pardalote, Eastern Spinebill, Lewin's Honeyeater, New Holland Honeyeater, thornbills of brown, striated and yellow persuasion and it was just a delightful afternoon! I can't resist this image of the Striated Thornbill, its such hard work being a tiny bird in the big forest!!

dannyka6
dannyka6's picture

One site I haven't talked about is the Wollongong Botanic Gardens. This is a really beautiful place to wander around, very therapeutic! I adore the rainforest section, I had great views of a Brush-Turkey diligently building the most enormous mound!! Carefully scraping leaves from the forest floor onto his pile then doubling back to organise them! Fascinating! 

There was one bird I was trying to track down over a couple of sites, and I couldn't find it at the first site I tried. I had nearly given up at the gardens too and was on my way back to the car when overhead I heard a big *crash*, looked up and there it was! I'd carefully learnt its call, but it wasn't calling, just busily feeding on figs. This is only my second time seeing this impressive bird, and I was thrilled. The views were neck and back breaking, and the angle is not a good one but I'm just so happy I got to see this big bird.

243) Topknot Pigeon!!

I really enjoyed this Magpie with a lizard, I usually only see them with worms or tidbits that my hubby can't resist throwing out when they come and knock on our kitchen window!! He's become very good friends with a family of 3 while he's been working from home...they actually hear him walk towards the kitchen and come flying in from wherever they are! Anyway the lizard was delivered back to this nest, right on the walking track.

I also enjoyed the cute factor of this family of 6 ducks :) I saw them early in my visit but was appalled by a daft woman chasing them around and shoving an iphone literally in their faces! They were pretty calm about it, but I determined to stay away. Anyway, I ran across them later and they were spread out across the grass, feeding. But even though I gave them a wide berth, probably due to their previous experience the parents called them all in together and they sat down away from the path. It reminded me strongly of the nursery rhyme: mother duck said quack quack quack quack, and all the little ducks came running back!!

Then there was a weird sound coming from the creek - turned out to be a very wet Little Wattlebird taking a wash in the creek and crowing every time it came up for air! What a sight!!

I got an improvement shot of a female/immature Satin Bowerbird, and then this interesting transition shot - from a long way away.

This was a great spot for White-browed Scrubwren, and I tracked down an Olive-backed Oriole as well.

dwatsonbb
dwatsonbb's picture

Again some nice birds, your doing well. Let the adventures continue!

Dale Huonville, Tasmania

sue818
sue818's picture

What a wonderful trip, Danika. Love the Topknot Pigeons shots and the Brown Gerygone is so hard to catch in the open. Well done!

michaelrt71_1
michaelrt71_1's picture

Great to see you made it up to the 'Gong'! And special congrats at being able to do anything within the UCI. Yes the Jerrara Dam is such a quiet little gem; I have only ever seen a maximum of 2 people in the whole place at a time. The wetlands/farmlands on the way in are good too, so long as you can pullover and poke the lens out the car window.

Looks like you still found some Illawarra classics, the hilarious catbird and ridiculous looking topknot pigeon. And I agree they are noisy - can't believe they haven't been eaten out of existence yet. I should of mentioned the Stafford track being often dark, as it sits so close to the escarpment and then bordered by tall rainforest. It is hard to get the timing right.

All the best for your future 'nesting' experience! :-)

AbbyGrace
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Some more great birds! The Top-knot Pigeon looks a tad hilarious. Love your shots of the Variegated Fairy-wren.

dannyka6
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Just tidying up my bird list for 2022, super happy to have made it well over 200 birds photographed this year!

Chances are I'm not going to improve on these couple of birds before the baby/end of the year so I'll throw them in now and whatever else eventuates is a bonus!

Still chasing the Glossy Black-cockatoo at The Pines, and keeping an eye on the rare sightings, but not moving too far now.

244) Whiskered Tern - this is from way back when at the start of the year at Western Treatment Plant, was hoping to get another shot but they moved on early this year

245) And a total EBC - Pacific Golden Plover, really beyond the scope of my camera but its recognisable I think, if you put it in the category of the Green Catbird and White-throated Gerygone! Had hoped to get out to Reef Island when they were there but another year!

dannyka6
dannyka6's picture

Just tidying up my bird list for 2022, super happy to have made it well over 200 birds photographed this year!

Chances are I'm not going to improve on these couple of birds before the baby/end of the year so I'll throw them in now and whatever else eventuates is a bonus!

Still chasing the Glossy Black-cockatoo at The Pines, and keeping an eye on the rare sightings, but not moving too far now.

244) Whiskered Tern - this is from way back when at the start of the year at Western Treatment Plant, was hoping to get another shot but they moved on early this year

245) And a total EBC - Pacific Golden Plover, really beyond the scope of my camera but its recognisable I think, if you put it in the category of the Green Catbird and White-throated Gerygone! Had hoped to get out to Reef Island when they were there but another year!

dwatsonbb
dwatsonbb's picture

Good work Danika, best of luck with your impending arrival.

Dale Huonville, Tasmania

sue818
sue818's picture

Best of luck, Danika. What an exciting time ahead.

Definitely a Pacific Golden Plover as I also took that shot with a slightly longer lens and had it confirmed on ABID at the time. It was lurking right at the back.

245 is a very healthy number of different species for a year and you are well past the previous year! Well done and hope you find a few more if you can manage it.

Alex Rogers
Alex Rogers's picture

Great expedition to the Gong, you came up with some good birds! 

And best of luck and happiness to you - what lovely news. I expect it may be bird mobiles rather than real birds for a little - but you'll be surrounded by the real things where you live anyway :- ) Looking forward to hearing your news!

karentwemlow
karentwemlow's picture

Congrats Danika, so exciting for you :-). And good luck hunting the Glossy....

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