Sue's Big Year 2021

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sue818
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Sue's Big Year 2021

Seems I am off to a late start as plenty of domestic things requiring some attention... freezers now well stocked with meals and plenty of home-made soup vacuum packed... the dog clipped (not well!) ... so there was some time for birding. A couple of visits to the olympic park precinct but venturing west next week.

I went out one morning but not as early as desired and the light was awful, plenty of glare and I blew the whites on a number of shots. So I went back a couple of days later , earlier in the morning and beautiful light. Unfortunately, there were not so many birds and a number were quite distant. I'll post them with the hope of replacing them soon.

1   Australasian Darter... young birds still on the nest and awaiting a feed

2   Little Black Cormorant ... nesting nearby.

These are often present on the island in Lake Belverdere and if you are lucky you can get some fantastic flight shots as the birds carry sticks to the nest or fly across the lake. The light was too harsh on this occasion but it is a wonderful location with a variety of birds.

3   Australasian Figbird... another awful shot in the harsh light but hopefully quite identifiable. Not sure why I did not see any others but hope to rectfiy that.

4   Australasian Grebe... always wonderful to see these little ones. There were a number of them on the triangular pond which is another area in the precinct. Impossible to get a park here on work days but Sunday it was empty and there are no longer learners on motor bikes in residence ... this was an issue as they practised on the strip beside the pond disturbing me and everything else.

5   Australian Pelican... harsh light but it took off from the pond in front of the bird hide so no point missing such a large target. The others were just too far away. This is another area wihin the precinct but the hide sits quite a way from the birds. You often do better walking down the path beside the water as you get much closer to the birds and the light can be great.

6   Australian White Ibis... decided to post this shot with the reflections on Lake Belvedere. Usually this little backwater delivers great shots but the prime postion was occupied by another photographer and it was getting very hot so I moved on.

7   Black Swan... another obliging bird on Lake Belvedere. This was from the roadway as it came towards me ... looking for an illegal feed?

8   Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike... an awful shot as it posed briefly so i hope to replace soon. Pretty identifiable and seen from the pathway heading to the birdhide.

9   Chestnut Teal... this male appeared to be coming into colour as the grenn feathers were a bit sporadic. Seen on the lake in front of the birdhide, quite close to the pathway so I was able to get down more to its level. There are usually plenty of these birds on Lake Belverdere as well but not this time.

10   Crested Pigeon... resting in the shade as the temperature rose. This one was around Wentworth Common which is another area within the precinct that produces some good birds.

More to come but out of time.

TommyGee
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Nice way to get off the mark, Sue! Your Crested Pigeon and Australian Grebe photos are just brilliant.

sue818
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Thanks Tom. Now to get a few more loaded as you have all made a great start.

Continuing at the Olympic Park precinct in Sydney as that is the only place that I have been birding this year. My backyard birds are keeping their distance as our tress are still somewhat bare.

11   Dusky Moorhen... from the edge of Lake Belvedere where it meets the paved circuit. This bird was standing on the raised edge (you can just see the wire enclosed blocks) and as I moved off it limped onto the pavement ... could not see any damage so let it be. I wonder if they ever get those large feet caught up?

12   Eastern Koel (or Pacific Koel on E-bird)... this is a young one seen near the triangular pond. Being a type of cuckoo, it is a brood parasite and is typically being raised by a Red Wattlebird.  I saw a young bird on both visits as each time it was quietly calling for for food. The first time it was extremely difficult to get a photo as the Koel stayed amongst heavy foliage so I was quite pleased when this one popped over to a clear branch for feeding... of course, I could not capture the feeding because then the Wattlebird was obscured! The young ones look like the female (as the male Koel is black) and I have included a wattlebird shot for size comparison. I'll post a Red Wattlebird separately as this one has very small wattles which were standing towards the camera and difficult to see.

13   Eurasian Coot...  love the limited colour palette. If everything goes right, then Lake Belvedere delivers some beautiful shots. This pair were hanging out near the Dusky Moorhen and I think this shows those huge feet so well.

14   Great Egret... not a great shot as my favourite spot at lake Belvedere was in use by someone else. The background Ibis are distracting but this photo does show the gape extending behind the eye quite well

15   Hardhead... a handsome bird with that rich mahogany brown and the male's lovely white eye... female has the dark eye. They are are Australia's only true diving ducks and that pale strip at the front of the bill stand out quite well from a distance. This pair were posing nicely on the isalnd with the viewing platform at Lake Belvedere.

16   male Magpie-lark... that white eyebrow distinguishes it from a female. Strutting about the lawn near the carpark at Lake Belvedere.

17   Masked Lapwing... another bird strutting around on a lawn on the opposite side of the road. There are massive grassed areas around the lake and numerous birds to be seen there at times. A more impressive bird than my picture suggests as the light was flat.

18   Pacific Black Duck... another bird from the triangular pond where the light and colour had a greenish tinge. I think it was due to the water quality here as much muddier than the lakes. I hope to get a better shot sometime as the speculum is that glossy green or purple depending on the angle and it is more attractive than this shot indicates.

19   Pied Currawong... with a "cherry nose" cicada for brunch. Great to see some insects about after the drought broke and the cicadas are having a bumper year. It ate quickly whle perched on the fence around the triangular pond, so I only managed a couple of shots.

20   Pied Stilt... these are striking birds with their candy pink legs set off againgst their black and white feathering. This was taken as I sat on the edge of the path near lake with the birdhide. It is tidal here and the tide was coming in so no chance of getting the Striated Heron or Little Egret whicht often perch at the outlet waiting for a fish. A great place if you just keep an eye out for the cyclists who don't use a bell... I thank the ones who do let me know they are coming as I don't want to step out for bird and collect a bike! (Still Black-winged Stilt in the info sheets)

21   Purple (or Australasian Purple) Swamphen... this one was having a nice stretch under shady tree near the carpark. Despite the shade, it is showing some of that lovely bluish purple sheen and nice strong legs.

Some more to come from Olympic Park if I have time.

sue818
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Final few from the Olympic Park precinct and I did not even cover other areas that I usually visit like Haslam's Pier. Mason Park is also worth avist as it is nearby and wquite good fro birds so I'll have to go back!

22   Red Wattlebird... this bird did not want to come out of the shadows but the red wattle is clearly visible in this shot unlike the one feeding the young Eastern Koel. Onece again, from around Lake Belvedere.

23 Red-browed finch... awful shot to demonstrate the difficulty we bird photgraphers face but clearly identifiable. Triangular pond area.

24   Red-necked Avocet... distant but plenty of them to be seen from the birdhide at high tide. Hopefully, I'll have a chance of a better shot to show this bird's beauty and that wonderful upcurved bill.

25   Royal Spoonbill... this bird was in a very small creek area which drains into Lake Belvedere. You can find some nice birds here and they are close. I had a better shot of the bird but the shopping bag behind it spoilt for me!

26   Sharp-tailed Sandpiper... awful distant shot from the birdhide but clearly identifiable. Hoping for a close-up soon!

27   Silver Gull... resting on the lawn near Lake Belvedere. Lovely looking gulls but I have another shot to come that may be more interesting.

28   Superb Fairy-wren...readily seen and great posers on the walk to the birdhide... a lovely male resplendent in blue.

29   Welcome Swallow... not a great shot but I htought the acrobatics with those feathers missing was quite interesting. Taken at the Common as I walked through... they come hrough so fast that this was the best that i could do in this light.

30   White-bellied Sea-eagle... a real treat to see this youngster fly overhead while pursued by a Silver Gull (told you it was interesting). They nest nearby but this is clearly not an adult. Overhead in the daylight makes for a bit washed out but plenty of features visible for ID purposes. Check out that beak! I was on my way to the birdhide and I am not sure why I looked up but glad that I did.

31   White-faced Heron... flew into the triangular pond as I was there.

32   Yellow Thornbill... also found at the triangular pond area and located because it was calling and flitting from branch to branch. Finally managed ashot clear of the leave but light not great. A really beautiful little bird and the last post from the area.

Don't think I'll get out before we head west but hoping I might find something new out that way. Looking forward to everyone's posts and will be interesting see what turns up this year. Stay safe and well.

Devster
Devster's picture

Wow Sue, you have definitely made up for your late start. Some absolute stunners there. I think you have done really well with the Welcome Swallow shot as I know how fast and hard they are to track while in the air, so well done! I think I have ever only seen a Koel out in the open once. hey are always hard t get a decent pic of. I love the Avocets shot. Certainly are plenty of them. I better get off my butt and start putting some up.

sue818
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Thanks Dev, figured you would get a few up soon. I'm hoping for some great birds next week as we head west (into the heat) and might come home via the coast for some shorebirds. I have been busy with domestic stuff and also keeping a low profile while Sydney settled down... a very quiet Christmas. Trust you did OK in Brisbane. 
 

Probably only quick trips for a few months until my husband's cataract surgeries are over and done with... his turn! We were planning to visit Lawn Hill in outback Queensland this year but we shall see what happens. In the meantime, I'll pack as much into a trip as possible... really targeting things like Ground Cuckoo-shrike and Superb Parrot as my bogey birds.

Devster
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Sounds amazing Sue. Looking forward to seeing what you get. I have only done a bit of local birding but not much really.

karentwemlow
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Some beautiful photos Sue! The White-bellied Sea-eagles are so magnificent aren't they? Olympic Park has been on my list for some time, do they still have the Birdlife Discovery Centre there?

Red Wattlebird definitely identifiable and this is our only species so far seen by all (well all who have started their lists anyway). Thanks for updating the sheet too :-).

sue818
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Thanks, Karen. Yes the Discovery centre is in the Armory area of Olympic Park precinct, an part I did not go to as further away. Check opening hours and if the walks are on before you go... COVID has meant some closure. There are so many areas that you can visit and the family would enjoy it. There are numerous picnic areas and cafes. 

No problem updating the stats sheet as you have made it so easy with the drop-down list and auto-filling of the other sheets. 

Alex Rogers
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Sue, some lovely shots there! That Welcome Swallow capture is impressive, I know how hard they are to catch on the wing, cos I've tried, lots! Love the juvenile sea eagle too - its obviously that time of year, as I caught one down the South Coast, also being pursued (but by a flock of Suphur Crests who were delighting in tormenting him!) But my favourite is the Koel and Wattlebird - what a great find, and good shot in tricky conditions. I've got a Channel Bill being fed by Currawongs in a tree near me, i hear him every day and evening, but I can't access the tree (in a neighbours house) to get a shot - very frustrating!

sue818
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33.  Superb Parrot... rewarded for the effort to find them.... 23 came down to drink this morning! A lifer! Getting very difficult to find lifers now. 
Researched EBird before I left and found a fairly recent sighting of 10 birds in the area of West Wyalong so I went for a recce and saw one as I stopped the car. Coming back this morning after the rain, I had some doubts but parked the car with the dam in sight and... could not even get out of the car as Superb Parrots in the trees. Eventually some came down and I counted 23 drinking! Gorgeous males, plainer females and some youngsters begging for food... not sure I could ask for a better sighting.

Hope this picture works as only using the I pad.

Devster
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Oh wow Sue, what a sighting. That would definitely be a lifer for me too

Alex Rogers
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Oh well done Sue - congrats on the lifer, and what an amazing sighting too. Great pic, I've never seen one either. I was specifically looking for them around the WW WTP as well, and got all excited when I saw green parrots there, but they turned out to be red-rumped. I'm glad your "twitch" was successful :-) 

sue818
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Thanks guys. Look for my sighting on EBird if in the area Alex as I am sure they will be there.

Thought I'd add just a few as so busy out birding that I have not had time to upload pictures! Birding from the car was a comfortable way to bird in the rain and delivered some nice results such as the one below.

34   Brown Falcon... from the car in the rain... near Chat Alley (birder's name for the place which is little more than a culvert surrounded by saltbush). This bird flew off the fence and landed on the road in front of me before taking off again. I must admit to this picture being a favourite as everything seems to work and despite the rain the light was great. Raptors and Songlarks were about but the little ones stayed under cover but I'll load more of those tomorrow.

These next few were taken while on our way west when the weather was quite hot (hitting 40 degrees C) and dry.

35   Long-billed Corella... sitting in the shade out of the heat in Cowra as we passed through. I counted 10 of them (I think) perched quietly so I was pleased to notice the white and choose to investigate. An interesting looking bird with that bill able to shred things quickly and efficiently.

36   Striated Pardalote... Lyndhurst, NSW as we stopped for a rest and a cuppa ... it was calling constantly from across the road so I went to investigate, thinking I know that sound. It allowed me to get very close and I have inclded two photos as one shows that red wing spot (rather than the yellow on Dale's shots) and the second photo because I feel it looks inquisitive.

37   Yellow-rumped Thornbill.... another obliging little bird from Lyndhurst ... a group flew in while I was enjoying a break and foraged around on the ground for a while. A hot day so the light was pretty intense so they stayed in the shade.

That is it for now but plenty more to come when I have some free time... too busy getting out there.

Devster
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I absolutely love that Falcon shot, it's a cracker! I agree I do like the inquisitive look of the Pardalote

TommyGee
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Some beautiful photos Sue, and that brown falcon is simply gorgeous. I am envious! 

Alex Rogers
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Wow, that Brown Falcon shot is a cracker! Love the pardalotes too, one of my favourite species. And the YR Thornbills are so much more obliging than their cousins, aren't they? Bless them for coming out onto the ground where we can see and photograph them. I had such a blast in that West Wyalong / Cargelligo area, I'm looking forward to seeing loads of wonderful birds from you when you get time to post them. Go find those Major Mitchells! 

karentwemlow
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Love your pics Sue, and your 'from the car, in the rain' shot is fantastic! 

dwatsonbb
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I have missed quite a few posts, so will just add a general comment. As usual some lovely photos of some great birds Sue. Looking forward to many more.

Dale Huonville, Tasmania

sue818
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Thanks all for the lovely feedback. I am especially pleased with the Brown Falcon in the rain... barely cropped & unprocessed (just the jpeg version not the Raw file)... it might be my shot of the year.

Alex, I have the Major Mitchells and so many more and will start processing them over next few days; this trip is not over yet but has delivered big time. Hope to start uploading in small batches so as not to overload you. Heading for the coast today so could find a few more birds but I don't plan to try as hard as I did in the west as feeling just a bit tired. 

AbbyGrace
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Wow Sue! Some stunning crisp shots there! 

Alex Rogers
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Oh thats fantastic Sue, looking forward to seeing all these birds when you get around to it. I'm so glad you had a successful trip :-) 

sue818
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Finally home and ready to start processing and uploading the photos. I'll do them in batches as the trip was amazing and there were plenty of birds although I never did find my Ground Cuckoo-shrike. Weather was quite changeable and we arrived in West Wyalong at 40 degrees C, dry and no wind to finish in Nowra with wind and rain and 25 degrees C. Made photography challenging at times as the light was quite variable. However, I am happy and have decided to just post all the birds and work on improved shots in the future.

Firstly a few replacements

2    Little Black Cormorants... numerous ones perched on a wall of the water treatment pond in West Wyalong in NSW

8    Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike... a number of them were calling and flapping their wings (as opposed to the wing shuffle they do on landing) at West Wyalong

16   Magpie-lark... a pair (male at top) hanging on in the wind as the storm approaches at Lake Cargelligo in NSW

17   Masked Lapwing... an immature one foraging in front of our cabin in Lake Cargelligo

23   Red-browed Finch... one of a number near the river in Yass... with that annoying stick!

26   Sharp-tailed Sandpiper... one of a number at Lake Wollumboola near Culburra Beach in NSW... difficult light in windy conditions

27   Silver Gull... on Lake Wollumboola ... I like the colouring of the water with the white bird.

32   Yellow Thornbill... at West Wyalong... a group were calling from the surroundings trees and came down to check me out. I really like these little ones

sue818
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So now for some new birds with hopes to avoid overload... starting with West Wyalong where it was very hot. I spent a lot of time at the wetlands and the rest area across from there, so I can attest to the conditions being uncomfortable. It was hottest at about 3pm with no relieving breeze so I tried to go out after that or very early. Certainly not as many birds as on previous visits.

38   Apostlebird... a bird which travels in company and overturns everything looking for a snack while chattering away. I can watch them for ages (like the Babblers which I failed to photgraph despite seeing them).

39   Australian Ringneck... this is the mallee variety , appropriate since I was in mallee country. I used to think malle meant a particular tree but it is rather the type of growth with multiple stems of certail eucalypts.There were many of these birds around but in the conditiond they were staying in the leaves.

40   Australian Wood Duck... a lovely female in good light who seemed to be on her own... easy to locate by their interesting call

41   Blue-faced Honeyeater... I am posting 3 pictures as the two young ones seem to be of varying ages. The adult has the blue facial skin abd the immature one is green-yellow but one of these looks very young and shows little hint of green or blue.

42   Cockatiel... seen in the ironbark forest when we ventured out to the SW Forest Reserves looking for the Superb parrots. Male on the right with more yellow than the female. Distant and in poor light but stayed and posed for me while I fiddled with the settings.

43   Eastern Rosella... stayed in the shade and would not come into the hot sun for a picture which was a pity as the colours on their backs are beautiful... could be moulting as a bit patchy.

44   Grey Butcherbird... a young one which came down to drink at the dam in the forest as I waited for the parrots but it was distant. I did not see another Grey but should find one around home to replace this one sometime. Note it has a dark cap not a hood.

45   Hoary-headed Grebe... very skittish and likely to dive as soon as I approached so the best I could manage this time and too hot to wait around for them to relax in my presence

46   Little Pied Cormorant ...just the one sitting amongst a lot of Little Black Cormorants at the water treatment ponds.

47   Little Friarbird... a pair of pictures, adult and a young one which has the yellow throat and lack of blue on the facial skin

48   Magpie Goose... this time there was just the one adult with this immature one which apparently did not fly all that well. I hope a few more survived.

49   Major Mitchell's Cockatoo... the LH one fed the Rh one while I watched. We had a shower of rain and next thing heard this unusual noise outside the cabin. On investigating, I realised there was a pink bird in the tree and then heard a number more. They came in to feed on the pines and stayed as the rain became a downpour trapping me in the BBQ shelter with my camera and no wet weather gear. Could not get one with the comb up probably as they were wet. A delightful bird to see and it really made my day having seen my lifer Superb parrot that afternoon!

50   Musk Duck... a pair of females were still on the ponds and this put on a bit of a display for the camera. An interesting little duck with that shortish bill and spiky tail.

51   Noisy Miner... hard to get an interesting shot but I liked this one as this particular bird was very dark

52   Peaceful Dove... a delicate beuatiflluy paterned little bird with that touch of blue around the eye

53   Pied Butcherbird... a striking bird with its dark hood and seemed more common in these parts than the Grey. Theya have a beautiful song which should make it easy to locate but this lot stopped singing when the sun went behind the clouds and did not start again until it reappeared!

54   Pink-eared Duck... took off from the pond as I approached and showed that lovely pattern which saw it called a Zebra Duck at one stage. That little touch of pink shows well and I quite like this shot although I should take the time to blur the background.

55   Red-rumped Parrot... a male and a little parrot that you see in a lot of places quietly feeding on the grasses. I just sat in the car and waited for a bit of sunlight to take the shot... the car makes for a great hide. It is only when you get out do they spook.

56   Rock Dove... I tliked the little bit of purple irridesence sitting on this rusty structure

57   Spiny-cheeked Honeyeater... saw and heard these birds everywhere inland. I think their song sounds like practice chords rather than the real song but it makes them easy to locate and identify. A striking looking bird with that pink lipstick!

58  White-winged Chough... another bird that travels in company. I liked this shot as it shows a dash of that white and thta red eye.

59   Yellow-billed Spoonbill... a disant shot of the pair with a Royal Spoonbill for company but I think you can see the brighter facial marking and white eye on the rear one where the front one has a dark eye suggesting a young bird.

That is it for now and West Wyalong --- plenty more to come. My personal favurite is the Major Mitchell's, of course. Need to stop as I just uploaded all the text and forgot the pictures!

Alex Rogers
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Great to see all these inland birds, making me want to go back to Cargelligo! I so wanted to see the Major Mitchells and dipped out - lovely to see your photos :-) Very cool to see the 3 different looks the Blue-faced Honeyeaters can have as well. 

Its a lot of work editing and posting all the pics - but its fun going through them all and seeing what treasures you have too - I'm looking forward to seeing more. 

sue818
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Thanks, Alex, it is a worthwhile place offering a wonderful variety of birds and habitat. As Chat Alley is quite close, I went a few times from Lake Cargelligo in different weather conditions as the road leading up to the Alley area is rich in birdlife as well. This was where I found the Brown Falcon in the earlier post.

The area does not stand out being just a culvert and the initial wet conditions made life interesting... wet clay that clings and builds up on the boots making them heavy and slippery... and I had to dodge the rabbit holes which resulted in much deeper softer clay and the huge puddles! However, it dries off quickly and the birds enjoyed all the insects which rose up in clouds. My goretex boots were washed so many times but my feet were dry and they have had a thorough cleaning on my return home! (Apologies for the sloping horizon!)

60   Australasian Pipit... classic pose, much smaller than the Brown Songlark, lacks the rufous rump of the Rufous Songlark, bobs its tail while standing. This one allowed me to walk along the ditch beside the road and to get quite close at eye level.

61   Banded Lapwing ... looked hard for the Ground Cuckoo-shrike when these turned up after the rain. They were in the fields but kept coming back to the road in large numbers and ignored me as I stood in the ditch... being at eye level makes for great photos and does not produce a huge shadow or shape to scare off the bird.

62   Brown Songlark... numerous birds seemed to be rejoicing in the rain, a lot of song-flights before posing on a fence post with erect tail. Birding from the car in the lane leading to the alley.

63   Horsfield's Bushlark... a much smaller bird sitting more quietly on the wire whle the Songlarks sounded off. Great to see especially from the car again.Surprised I did not see a Rufous Songlark which would have completed the set for the area.

64  Orange Chat... so many of these birds on show on most of my visits, sometimes 3 in one bush although distant. After the rain eased and the insects came out, various Chats were feasting and singing. I could almost have birded from the car but light was difficult on that side of the road.  Some brightly coloured and others paler as if in moult and I think these are all males with the black throat. A pleasure to see even if I was walking through mucky clay and placing my rubber seatpad on top of it!

65   Spotted Harrier... totally unprepared for this fly-over so all the camera settings were wrong and I was madly pulling back the zoom as it passed overhead. Quite identifiable as a Harrier --- the strong barring of the tail, dark wingtips and lack of a white rump distinguishes it from the Swamp Harrier.

66   White-fronted Chat... a female with that grey head from Chat Alley and a male with the white face from Lake Cargelligo. These little birds were everywhere --- in the saltbushes along with Zebra Finches and numerous Australian Pipits.

67   White-necked Heron... did a slow flyover as I stood in the ditch and circled a numer of times before landing in one of the many puddles amongst the salt bush.

68   White-winged Fairy-wren.. the only shot that I could get of a male in full colour but it shows the bushes that they were in and how small they are. They were singing a lot and flying from bush to bush with little rest for the photo.

A number of birds still to come but I hope you enjoy these ones from the area around Chat Alley. No info sheet for Orange Chat.

Devster
Devster's picture

Wow, just wow! A great variety of amazing birds Sue. So many I am jealous of and probably won't get to see unless I go interstate. Hard to pick a favourite. I do love the colours of the Rosella and RR Parrot. The blue in the WWFW is stiking as well!

sue818
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Thanks Dev. You should try to visit sometime as well worth it. You do however, have some amazing birds up in Queensland and Dale has some great endemics in Tassie and we are seeing some beauties from Victoria but Tom will spoil us with his travelling. I still have plenty to come but I am on a mission tomorrow morning so fingers crossed for a surprise.

Alex Rogers
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Some great birds again Sue. Yes, Chat Alley was a really unpreposessing place - but surprisingly productive in terms of birds - its cool to see how different habitats, even dull ones, can appeal to specific birds. Great catch on the Harrier - but I really love the Banded Lapwing shot - I've been looking for one of those for a long time, and you've got a cracking shot there. I SO want a good shot of the WW Fairywren, but I only saw them in the distance, and they were shy / wouldn't let me anywhere near them - a project for the future. And I wonder how many Horsfield's bushlarks I've overlooked thinking they were yet another pipit lol - I need to pay more attention ...

dannyka6
dannyka6's picture

Sue, what can I say? I'm late to review all of your posts but the quality of your photos is very impressive! And what an adventure you're having/have had in NSW with some really top notch birds, the Major Mitchells, that Banded Lapwing, the White-Winged Fairy Wren and so much more. Although you're braver than I am in those 40 degree conditions!!

I really enjoyed all of your photos from Olympic Park too, it gives me an idea for the future once things have settled and I loved the baby darters! Keep showing us those photos, I'm looking forward to more.

sue818
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Thanks evryone for the kind comments, I had a ball. However, today I was on a mission and it paid off, so I present from Sydney's northern suburbs:

69   Barking Owl.... how cute is that? Three of them in the tree, not barking but being curious about us. These are just the one individual as the tree branches and back lighting made photography difficult. The breast has streaking rather than chevrons which distinguishes them from the Powerful Owl. Their 'woof, woof' is a pleasure to hear except when one perches on your tent post late at night as happened in Arnhem Land a few years ago... fortunately I was the tent next door but still woke me up!

We had a tip that there were 3 young ones around but it took a bit to locate them. I had seen one some years ago in this spot so worth checking it out... and there they were... not the fluffy white ones we expected but more mature. Who can't love an owl?

sue818
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Now for a few more from the trip west.

This lot are from Euabalong which was a little place with a pub and not much else. Awful light.

70   Brown Treecreeper... really skittich little bird which was unusual fro them so the best I could manage as on our return visit they were not in residence

71   Grey Shrike-thrush... the rufous eyebrow and toning with the streaking indicate a young bird with the grasshopper brunch

72   Little Corella... skittish so flew as I approached. Huge flocks seen around the area and very noisy as usual

73   Straw-necked Ibis... huge number of birds resting on this bare area before they headed for the grassy fields to feed

74   Variegated Fairy-wren... a lovely coloured male from here and one from Lake Cargelligo with the female. They are the Purple-backed variety.

Now we have a couple from Ungarrie where I looked for Painted Honeyeaters without success. I have never seen one but this town is supposed to be a great spot for them.

75   House Sparrow... a male typically perched on an old building --- the grey crown not brown and lack of a dark ear spot differentiate it from the Tree Sparrow.

76   Jacky Winter... a lovely little robin with a diagnostic white-sided dark tail... the white stands out very well when it flies. They were taking shelter in the hedge around the lawn bowls club or feeding on the surrounding bare ground.

Devster
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Wow, you are getting some amazing shots with a fantastic variety Sue. Those Barking Owls are just adorable!

karentwemlow
karentwemlow's picture

Your trips have definitely paid off Sue, well done! And wow aren't those Barking Owls just gorgeous :-)

TommyGee
TommyGee's picture

Sue, SO many birds since I last commented; I don't know where to start! The Barking Owls are just wonderful :) but I really liked the Sharp-Tailed Sandpiper replacement and the Banded Lapwing. Wonderful pics.

Alex Rogers
Alex Rogers's picture

Oh well done on the owls, very exciting :-) And some more great birds from your trip too. I think you are going to have a very Big Year at this rate!

sue818
sue818's picture

Thanks all, yes it was a very successful trip and I was very lucky to see and photograph some amazing birds.

So enjoying other's birding outings as we are getting to see some unusual birds and I can share your excitement especially at seeing lifers.

I trying to add more information about the places and the birds to explain the circumstances and clarify the ID for everyone to make it more interesting but it takes time. Still have loads of pictures to post but still processing them. Who would have thought 12 days would be so productive?

A couple of other things which may be of interest were seen near the Barking Owls:

Diamond Python

male Eucalyptus Hawk Moth (Coequosa australasiae)... a very large and beautiful moth with a12cm wingspan

sue818
sue818's picture

Continuing on with my 12 days away, we ventured into Whoeys Tanks in the Round Hill Nature Reserve, in mallee country so had to wait for it to dry out a little after the rain or we may have become stuck in the slippery mud. There were large amounts of water still laying or even running beside the road but the tank area was good and dry and we could manage the muddy bits of track with the Landcruiser.

First up is something non-birdy but which I found interesting... I think these are Honey (or Honeypot) Ants.

77   Black Honeyeater... an interesting bird which I have seen a number of times foraging in old campfires. Apparently they ingest the charcoal and ash for the calcium content. They were feeding on the eremophila as were other birds. Difficult light as overcast but I think it has worked and I have removed a number of sticks. First the male with that central black stripe, then female who is much browner and lacks that stripe followed by (I think) a young one as the bill seems to be pale yellow at the base rather than the gape and overall it less marked.

78   Diamond Dove... a beautiful bird with a striking red eye ring and spots. This one was quite obliging as the light briefly improved and it posed nicley.

79   Mistletoebird... not nearly so obliging as the male stayed up high and was backlit but I include a juvenile which I found at Lake Cargelligo for comparison ... pale undertail and orange base to the bill.

80   Mulga Parrot... these are like jewels; their feathers seem to glisten and glow in the sun which was absent for these shots as more rain threatened. Nice the see the bright coloured male with the red pants and spot on top of his head followed by the greener female with the red shoulder. Only saw this one pair as we drove a little way down Round Hill Road which is all dirt or rather mud!

81   Rainbow Bee-eater... a strikingly beautiful bird, in awful light so I had to lighten the picture consdierably. Still it is a beauty although this appears to be a younger one --- paler, lacks the long tail streamers, the black gorget is virtually absent and the eye does not appear to be red. There were numerous birds hawking along the dirt road but we had to pick a safe spot on the mud to pull over.

82   Rufous Whistler... only saw the females so a couple of shots to indicate the features and show how different a wet bird can look. One is holding fruit from the eremophila bush.

83   Southern Whiteface... another small bird that is pleasure to see. I have included a shot of one foraging on the ground as that is more typical of them and shows the colours of the mallee country.

84   Splendid Fairy-wren...it was a very pleasant surprise when a male with colour hopped into view as there plenty of brown ones around. This one was not as colourful as those I have seen in WA so not sure if it is a sub-species difference or not, the breast was intensely bue with a black band but that shot was out of focus. ook some time to get a shot of him as he appeared suddenly and kept deep in the bushes. A beautiful Fairy-wren with all that brilliant blue.

85   White-fronted Honeyeater... I find this an attractive bird with that little red spot of bare skin and silvery-grey ear-coverts. I even like the colour of the back and find it strange that the Australian Bird Guide should describe it as having a distinctive "untidy" look! It look me a while to get these shots until the bird landed above my head ... I did remove a number of sticks from the photos as they distracted the eye. There were plenty to dodge for a photo!

That is it for now but still have plenty to come. Hope it is not too much of an information overload. No info sheet for the Southern Whiteface.

Alex Rogers
Alex Rogers's picture

Ah, so many cool birds, and some great shots in difficult conditions. I saw most of those in the same area last year, but have never seen the Whitefaces, and the White-fronted Honeyeaters are very cool. Love your Splendid Fairywren and Mulga Parrots too :-) 

AbbyGrace
AbbyGrace's picture

Wow Sue! Looks like an amazing trip. Love the Banded Lapwing, and the Orange Chat and of course the Barking Owl!! Actually like the whole lot! 

Devster
Devster's picture

You know how you were jealous of me last year when I did my trip Sue, well it's my turn to be jealous of you. I've never seen a White-fronted Honeyeater. They do look a bit dishevelled. Only saw my first Black Honeyeater and Mulga Parrots last year but no where near as good as photos as these. I like how you have put both male and female and in some instances the juv, helps for ID'ing purposes

sue818
sue818's picture

Thanks all, it is appreciated. I thought you might pick the Splendid fairy-wren as a favourite, Abby sonsidering your ID pic.You never can tell what species will be there on the day, Alex, we were lucky. I can understand your envy, Dev, good luck and the breaking of a drought seems to have brought all the birds out. We only went ot a few places in those 12 days but they were firing!

Apologies for the overload but here are a few more from the Rankin Springs area out of Lake Cargelligo... I thought I saw aTree Sparrow but by the time I reached the car for the camera, it was gone and not seen again!

86   Chestnut-rumped Thornbill... this little spot promised nothing on a hot afternoon as the dam was dry but suddenly little birds appeared in the trees around me. I did try for a flight shot to show that beautiful russet rump but no hope in the tightly packed trees so a few shots to demonstrate its ID features... white iris, scalloped forehead, pale underneath and that lovely chestnut rump. Got myself confused with location of these Thornbill shots which were actually at Lake Cargelligo so late posting of the first one from Rankin Springs. All Chestnut-rumped Thornbills.

87   Crested Bellbird... this is a female or a young one (not game to call it as colour is a bit off after lightening). It jumped around above me but terribly backlit and no chance of getting it from the other direction. Then just as suddenly gone and all the while, it did not raise its crest or make a sound unlike the males who can be heard from a great distance. A wonderful surprise as I have not photgraphed a female before now.

88   Eastern Yellow Robin... I confess to loving this photo. The background is beautiful although I removed a bit of stick and that cocked tail is unusual. I'm sure all of you can identify this one as we see them so often and they pose so well for the camera.

89   Striped Honeyeater... I could not see this bird well at first and wondered what was working its way through the trees and burying its head in the leaves. Then I got a clear shot and that striped head is so recognisable. A beautiful plumpish bird which ignored me completely... not screaming at me in the second shot but seeking insects in the leaves.

I'll leave it there for the evening but plenty more to come. I include a local for you... i could not get all of it in the frame as quite large. No Iinfo sheet for Chestnut-rumped Thornbill

karentwemlow
karentwemlow's picture

Great pics Sue, love the Python and the Monitor too. The female Rufous Whistler is one of my favourites - just a little brown bird to some but I think it is gorgeous - those big brown eyes. Eastern Yellow Robin working the camera as usual too :-).

I was doing a uni exam yesterday and the subject was Brain Biology and Behaviour. One of the topics was on vision and they used the example of owls and how they tilt their heads - apparently they have the majority of their visual receptors on the top of their eyes which gives them better vision from above, so when looking at something at their level or below they tilt their head to get a better look.

sue818
sue818's picture

Thanks Karen, how interesting about the Owls and their vision, explains a lot. 

Devster
Devster's picture

Does explain a lot and make them look cute at the same time. Again Lovely set Sue. I lobe the Crested Bellbirds call, so perculiar and unmistakeable. I do like the Stripped Honeyeaters and that Monitor looks like he's not impressed

TommyGee
TommyGee's picture

I second Karen's call on the Rufous Whistler, those eyes are something else. And your honeyeaters are gorgeous Sue, all of them (untidy or otherwise!).

sue818
sue818's picture

Yes, those eyes are quite a feature. Almost through all the photos so here are a few more which I hope you enjoy. Most of these are from Lake Cargelligo and the wetlands plus some local roads such as the road to the weir and the weir area itself.

90   Australian Magpie... accidental shot while photographing the Nankeen Kestrels and one from Chat Alley as the fence post is so typical

91   Black Kite... on my way to the weir there were numerous raptors and this one posed nicley untilI left the car. I include the flight shot for the underwing pattern.

92   Black-fronted Dotterel... horrible light and no colour with the overcsat sky so I hope to replace it sometime.

93   Bluebonnet... a beautiful parrot so a number of shots to show the colours and that intense blue in the morning light.

94   Budgerigar... such noisy but sute little birds and I was luckty that a pair ignored me as I crept closer and closer and sought the best lighting. The flock was drinking and feeding beside the road and resting in the surrounding trees. The wild ones are green and yellow.

95   Common Bronzewing... flushed these so many times beofre I managed a distant shot... they always saw me coming so this time I considered the terrain and that they might be there and trod carefully

96  and 97  a lone Fairy Martin amongst the Tree Martins... dreadful light late in the day with an overcast sky so hope to replace sometime

98   Galah ... just for Valentine's Day, cuddling close and enjoying the preening... from the cabin

99   Great Cormorant... flushed a flock of these as I walked along the bank of a channel on the road to the weir. I have some great shots of these birds from Lake Wollumboola as well but will post elsewhere on another day.

100   Great Crested Grebe...a distant bird in bad light as a storm was coming but quite identifiable... seen at Frog Hollow on the lake

101   Grey Teal... a number of these at the wetlands which were lesss productive than on previous visits.

102   Little Grassbird... hopefully enough to be identifiable with the heavy streaking, pale eyebrow and cocked tail apart from the location in the reed bed around the water tretament ponds. It came out and popped back before I got a better shot. I also saw one along the road to Chat Alley where the rain had brought the ephemeral swamp back to life.

103   Nankeen Kestrel... stopped the car and stood for some time watching three of these birds working the fields. They are so beautiful to watch hovering and diving and at one point, the three were all hovering in a line. Interesting that nankeen means rufous.

104   Red-kneed Dotterel... same problem inlate afternoon in poor light so hoping for a better shot sometime.

105   Sacred Kingfisher... this is a young bird with those buff edges to the feathers and the dark scalloping. .. all taken from the car as I drove up very slowly... I ended a phone call with "got to go, Kingfisher in sight!"

106   Spotted Bowerbird...no info sheet... a shot to show the pink crest and others to show the buff spots. I was sitting on a low stool in the forest when this bird came in to study me. Obviously, I moved the camera very slowly to get some photos but it kept coming back. as i got up to leave, i noticed that behind me was a possible bower... not decorated but shaped about right.

107   Sulphur-crested Cockatoo... lovely cheeky birds

108   Singing Honeyeater... an obliging bird that came out of the bush as I stood quietly waiting for this shot; at the wetlands

109   Whsitling Kite... the spots indicate  ayoung bird and I have included a flight shot for the underwing pattern

110   White-breasted Woodswallow...  at the lake and also at West Wyalong where there was a juvenile bird waiting for a feed

111   White-browed Woodswallow... these are beautiful birds if you can get a close look; the colours are wonderful and they look so intense. There were so many of them hawking the skies and feeding young ones. I have include the adult which is dark grey and chestnut with the white eyebrow; then two young ones which have not coloured up yet including a very downy youngster.

112   Willie Wagtail... not much to say about these cheeky ones except i oftne have them following me to get the insects that i disturb.

113   Zebra Finch... a group with a preening male folowed by a cute female. These little ones are everywhere.

That is it for tonight but probably about 20 more to come if I can decide on some of the shorebird shots. I hope that those in lcokdown enjoy some vicarious birding from these posts. Stay safe.

sue818
sue818's picture

Decided to push on and do a few more and just leave Lake Wollumboola until last. So a couple from Yass as we headed for the coast and a few from the Beecroft Peninsula (including Currarong) which we visited from Nowra. We went for a drive to the lighthouse at Point Perpendicular where it was blowing a gale so any hope of Bristlebirds vanished.

114   White-plumed Honeyeater... a common bird in many places but I quite liked this shot of it eating lerp

115   Australian Reed-warbler... a number of them obligingly posing on clear branches at Yass and on a reed at West Wyalong

116   Brown Quail... a covey of about 8-10 were hurrying along beside the road and my husband spotted them... so we reversed back and took a shot from the car.

117   Crested Tern... posing nicely at Currarong

118 Lewins Honeyeater... in the reserve again as we had a cuppa

119   Pied Cormorant... at the jetty in Currarong alongside some Great Cormorants

120   Sooty Oystercatcher... one I was hoping to see at Currarong after hearing a couple were there. They were sheltering out of the strong wind.

The only ones left now are from Lake Wollumboola where it was less than ideal conditions.

AbbyGrace
AbbyGrace's picture

Wow Sue! Just a little envious of all the birds you have seen! Some very awesome shots there! Love the White-browed Woodswallow, and the Zebra Finch's are just adorable! 

TommyGee
TommyGee's picture

Stunning, Sue. So many amazing birds! Those Bluebonnets are gorgeous, and the Nankeen Kestrel, and the Zebra Finches... you really had a great trip :) 

sue818
sue818's picture

Thanks, Abby and Tom. Considering it was just 12 days, it was a very well-timed and lucky trip as recent change in conditions seemed to bring all the birds out. There were even more but I did not manage a picture of everything. I do want to go back when things are flowering. I reccomend a trip out west if you can mangae it.

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