Sue's Big Year 2021

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dwatsonbb
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Again yet another set of amazing birds and glorious photos. I like your attitude - doesn't bother you about who gets the most, just having fun! It amazes me the variety we have in this great country.

Dale Huonville, Tasmania

AbbyGrace
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Sue another nice couple of birds there. Isn't that male Red-winged Parrot stunning?!

sue818
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Thank you for the comments, Dev and Abby. Red-wing Parrots are big and the male is a stunning colour. This pair flew in to a tree in front of the bird hide and allowed me to come out for a clearer view. They particularly like those curly seed pods found on one of our native plants (no idea of the name!). I had 5 come down next to me at the Bowra Wildlife Conservancy recently and they just ignored me as I stood in full unobstructed view without much movement bar raising a camera.

Alex Rogers
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Wow Sue, some great shots of some amazing birds. Love the Little Lorikeets, and the Red-winged Parrot is a stunner! And hooray, Turquoise Parrots at last! Congrats on the lifer, you must have been very excited! Aren't they spectacular? 

I saw that lot by the churchyard in Glen Alice was for sale - it sold, $42k for 2000m2 that you can't build on! Hopefully it was to a birder who will leave it as is and allow access, it is a real hotspot right there. I have my eye on another property a little further out near Nullo Mountain, 100ha completely enclosed by the Wollemi - my dream is  to build a little birdwatching retreat / cabin out there one day. 

sue818
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Thanks Alex. I was very excited to see them and just wish that the light had been better or even less road traffic as people travelled home. Wonder who would buy a lot that without building consent!

Apologies for being absent but only been home about 2 weeks and flat out culling and editing photos around busy home life. It was a fantastic trip on a spur of the moment decision as we realised there were a couple of weeks free before life got busy again. Home now until my second Covid shot mid-July. Two lifers and a couple only seen once before made it all worthwhile apart from the refreshing break.

We left Warren for Bourke and I did not ask for the U-turn on a busy road so missed a chance to photograph two Brolgas!  However, with some spare time, we called into the Aboriginal Rock Waterholes near Byrock... often passed but never visited. A beautiful place just off the main road and a pleasant lunch stop without any mice! (Mice flourishing in the rubbish bin sat a couple of other places). We chanced upon a mob of Emus having a drink... there were numerous other birds in the surrounding fields. Definitely worth a revisit... a few pics from my phone of the area.

179   Emu... there was a mob of about 8 and this one came to check me out.

A bird from Bourke for you (on  a water tower) ... could not get a shot of the other side showing the high jump celebrating the first indigenous person, Gundabooka man Percy Hobson, to win a gold medal at the Commonwealth Games.

sue818
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As we were winging it, we were lucky to find a bed in Bourke (no luck on the return trip!) before heading across the border to Cunnamulla and doing day visits to the Bowra Wildlife Conservancy. As usual, Bowra delivered a wonderful selection of birds although some were camera shy... especially the Hall's Babbler and Black-breasted Buzzard. As access was from 7am, I left my bed early. The drive from town to the front gate is about 20 minutes... followed by another 20 minutes from there to check-in at the mandated 30kph. All vehicles require a wash-down on arrival. It was 4 degrees C but soon dropped to 2 degrees C so I was wearing numerous layers for removal as the day warmed up. Birding from a car is not easy... you need to stop and walk to find the source of any activity so I carried an E-trex (mini GPS) and radio as it is very easy to lose sight of the car and become disorientated. There is not always mobile coverage so I am not sure if find my car apps work.

180   Black-faced Woodswallow... everywhere about as were Budgerigars and Zebra Finches. Gorgeous little bird posed very nicely in great light.

181   Bourkes's Parrot... these are beautiful little parrots with understated colours and although not the best, I like the flight shot. I spent 2 hours at the Cottage Dam as so many birds came down for a drink and a bath including these litlle ones.

182   Chestnut-crowned Babbler... for some reason, these were hard to locate and very active so hard to lock on for a photo. The Hall's Babblers were impossible to photograph as they never stopped! However, this one is quite identifiable with that coloured crown and the white on the wings.

183   Collared Sparrowhawk... I returned to a spot that was great for birds the previous day only to find it very quiet... I soon discovered the reason as this bird was perched in a tree overlooking the waterhole and watching intently. To have it then raise a foot for ID confirmation was pretty incredible... check out that elongated middle toe (apart from the rounded tail, overall slender build and lack of a beetle-brow). Every ID feature on display!

184   Crimson Chat... the lovely full coloured male was not very cooperative so I'll offer three shots for interest.. the breeding colour male followed by (I think) non-breeding male and finally a female. There were not as many as on past visits but the reliable area on the clay pan was productive.

185   Little Eagle (dark morph)... just a quick flight shot as it went over in the distance but the underwing pattern is quite distinctive

186   Little Woodswallow... this one was in present the day before I  found the Collared Sparrowhawk but nowhere in sight the next day. Beautiful little bird wihout the white edge to the wing as seen in the Dusky Woodswallow. A few of them were hawking but not in high numbers.

187   Pallid Cuckoo... I have only photographed these once before although I have seen them in the distance so this was a treat. The shape drew me to work my way across some broken ground to get closer and the light was great. Sitting quietly, the other birds were not giving it much attention which was a bit surprising as generally a cuckoo will drew numerous birds. Overall greyish colour. They are found all over Australia so surprised that I have not seen them more often

188   Plum-headed Finch... saw these in a few places but always difficult to get the light on that plummy head so I was reasonably happy with these... male with dark throat and a female. I discovered a lovely male White-winged Fairy-wren while chasing this lot.

189   Red-backed Kingfisher... seen a number of times and poorly photographed in the past so I was stoked when this one posed in such great light. A fellow birder pointed it out but the next day, I found a pair (all on my own so no-one to tell!). This is a beautiful bird but it can be quite hard to show that red and the lovely blue back. I have had to delete so many photos as I crept in closer taking pictures all the way.

190   Rufous Songlark... you'll have to look for the rufous rump but I really like this shot so chose it over others. However, I can post another if unclear.

191   White-winged Triller... discovered this one after finding the Pallid Cuckoo and was pleased when it moved to better light. Not sure if this is a male in eclipse or a female. All these birds were in trees around the claypan where the Chats were feediing.

192   Yellow-throated Miner... a striking bird when found in good light... that bit of yellow works a treat. took this shot at the Cottage Dam and quiet liked it. You can see that touch of yellow on the throat that gives it the name.

More to come from the trip so stay tuned as I hope to finish posting today... including another lifer!

No info sheets for Little Woodswallow, Plum-headed Finch or Red-backed Kingfisher.

sue818
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We had stayed in Cunnamulla for an extra night as no beds were available in Bourke and Cobar accommodation was also unavailable. Not a problem for me to spend an extra day in Bowra! No new birds were seen in Cobar although I will post a few in Best Pics when I can. We then ended up back in Lake Cargelligo as there were so many people travelling and time was getting short. It turned out to be a great option... a quick shot of sunrise over Lake Cargelligo.

193   Australian Shelduck... not the best pic as I have stitched two shots together to show female (LHS) and male (RHS) well. I also quite liked the flight shots which though distant show the wing patten quite well. These were from the water treatment works at Lake Cargelligo. The site is much improved after recent work and I doubt that Alex would find it smelly now.

A visit to Chat Alley out of Lake Cargelligo revealed that it was even wetter and more swampy so I stayed out of the mud this time. Although the Orange Chats were not in eveidence, plenty of other birds were about in the wet or cruising overhead looking for a meal.

194   Australian Spotted Crake... saw a number in the swampy area between the roadway and the fenceline but I had to wait for one to come out in decent light for a photo. They were keeping to the shade and dense growth most of the time. Eventually, this one appeared along with a Little Grassbird which sat in the sun preening! Will post it later as a better shot.

195   Black Falcon... not a lifer but I have only photographed it once before and this latest shot is much more definitive... dark colour, no tear drop markings, well troused legs, tail folded in flight, pointed wings. It came through a number of times before I finally got this shot of it staring down at me. I also include the second pic showing those features so well.

196   Black-shouldered Kite... another raptor cruising the area... striking looking bird. This first is an adult demonstrating how it gets that name and then a young one from the water treatment works to show the difference. There were three young ones and I managed a shot of one with a mouse despite the awful back light.

197   Black-tailed Native-hen... another bird taking advantage of the swampy conditions but incredibly skittish. As soon as they spotted some movement, they were off so I had to stand on the roadway and wait for one to venture out of cover. So I apologise for these awful shots but the other shots were of its tail end!

198   Painted Button-quail... a lifer! This spot was at Booberie Creek where I ventured for another look one morning after checking the Alley. I initially thought that someone had left rocks on the road but on closer inspection, I realised there were two birds sitting either side of road. Carefully, I pulled across to one side and took some shots before pulling over further to park and gently opening the door for a few more... finally I walked right up to them and took some photos before there was a 'boom, boom' sound and they were off too fast for a decent running or flight shot. In hindsight, I also realised that the strange circular clearings that I had noticed the previous day were platelets formed when they were feeding.

Still more to come as I broke through 200. I was a bit reluctant to post while our Victorian friends were in lockdown but think that everyone might find the birds interesting. I expect someone will soon catch me up and race past! Wonderful.

Woko
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Oh gosh, Sue. These photos are stunning & so educational - as is your text.

sue818
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The final few come from the South West Forest Reserves near West Wyalong where some Ironbarks were still flowering. Superb Parrots were still present in Little Blow Clear area but so were a number of sheep... as most had twins and one was a still bloody newborn, I left as indications were another was on the way and mum looked nervous. These final few birds are from the Hiawatha area where I spent some time before coming back with a pretty muddy car after slip-sliding along the tracks. It was quite interesting when a Harrier came through over the farmland, all the birds took cover and I was standing beside a small bush in which 5 birds were sheltering. They eventually came out and headed into deeper forest as this was the second fly pass.

199   Brown-headed Honeyeater... took a while to get this shot as the birds were high up but patience paid off as they ventured down to lower blossoms. Quite shady so a bit washed out but great to see one so close.

200   Dusky Woodswallow... love the way they gather together. They were landing on blossom quite high up in the trees and also hawking in large numbers before the Harrier came through. I don't know whether they were feeding on insects or nectar from the blossom but quite interesting behaviour. Notice the white edge to the wings.

201   Inland Thornbill... really hard to get a shot clear of twigs but demonstraing the necessary characteristics... streaked breast, whitish scalloping on the head and rufous rump. I have a soft spot for the little birds so it was pleasing to spot these ones in the bush.

Devster
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Oh my Gosh Sue. So many wonderful shots. I love your painted Buttonquail and you RB Kingfisher shots the most. Absoluteyly stunning variety of birds there. I had the offer to go to Bowra and I was all excited when I checked the dates and they clashed with a work event. NOOOOOOOO. I was gutted.

sue818
sue818's picture

Thanks Woko, so pleased that you are following our posts. I thought it might be interesting to explain my IDs rather than just post a picture. I like to hear about other's adventures and there are some fantastic birds being seen. 
 

Thank you, Dev... so sorry you missed out on a visit to Bowra. It is always rewarding so grab the next chance if you can. I feel a bit guilty on our quest as I have the advantage of being retired. I think the Red-backed KF shots are one of my favourites as well. The Painted BQ was pure luck as I  would not expect them to be out in the open like that and stationary as I came closer. Looking forward to some more stunning birds from you.

dwatsonbb
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What a great trip. Nice to get some background as well. 200 and not even half way, well done. Thanks for sharing.

Dale Huonville, Tasmania

TommyGee
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My goodness Sue! Congrats on so many wonderful birds, and on breaking through 200 :) Too many to choose a favourite, but that Painted Button Quail is quite spectacular.

Alex Rogers
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Oh wow Sue, what an amazing lot of photos! I havent had time to look until now, and I'm blown away, what a great trip. Bowra looks amazing, I'll add it to my list of places to go for sure. 

The Button Quail! Awesome sighting, and great pics. Loved so many of the shots, the raptors, the kingfisher, Bourkes Parrot etc - so many great shots and cool birds :-) 

karentwemlow
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Sue your photos are amazing! That Collared Sparrowhawk photo should be used in field guide, what an obliging individual :-).

Love the Painted Button-quail, and so many I have never seen before - gorgeous little Kingfisher and the Bourke's Parrot....  plus those beautiful big eyes on the Inland Thornbill, hard to pick a favourite out of that lot!

karentwemlow
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And wow congrats on the double century Sue!!

AbbyGrace
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Oh my goodness Sue! What an amazing set of birds and photos! Love the Bourkes Parrot, understated but pretty cool! Congratulations on getting to 200. :)

sue818
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Thanks all for the kind comments. We were lucky to get that window of opportunity considering all that is currently happening around the country.

I have posted all the new birds but have so many other pictures to edit and upload now I have some free time. The Major Mitchells were especially photogenic!

sue818
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A number of replacement pictures from our recent travels before the lockdown.

1:     Australasian Darter... a mature female from Lake Cargelligo

14:   Great Egret... just liked the clear background of this shot and the lovely folds in the long neck

39:   Australian Ringneck... still not the best shot but a little clearer showing the Mallee variety again (on the way to Bourke)

43:   Eastern Rosella... showing those lovely colours in the sunlight at Little Blow Clear (SW forest reserve) near West Wyalong

44:   Grey Butcherbird...  still an immature bird but seeking food at Lake Cargelligo

59:   Yellow-billed Spoonbill... a posing bird from Warren and a flight shot from Trangie

68:   White-winged Fairy-wren... from Bowra Wildlife Conservancy, Cunnamulla, QLD... happy to see a fully coloured male

70:   Brown Treecreeper... doing its thing going up a tree while constantly pinking which drew my attention

72:   Little Corella... enjoying  a close cuddle (before the lockdown) at the Goan Waterhole near Trangie

73:   Straw-necked Ibis...at Warren, this flight shot shows the irridescence so well even if the head is a bit blurred

80:   Mulga Parrot... a beautiful female showing off her the sheen at Bowra near Cunnamulla

102: Little Grassbird... at Chat Alley out of Lake Cargelligo... extremely happy when this very co-operative bird came out and preened in clear view.

146: Grey Fantail... from Warren... I thought it interesting to see the bird face on

151: Common Starling... from Warren, showing the beautiful irridesence of aging plumage as opposed to fresh as posted earlier

154: Yellow-tailed Black-cockatoo... from Karen's garden at Kurrajong but still room for improvement

155: Double-barred Finch... from Hiawatha (SW forest reserve) out of West Wyalong... slightly improved shot

156: Grey-crowned Babbler... on the way to Bourke; gathering nesting material  and posing nicely

161: White-eared Honeyeater... came in to check me out at the Floral Reserve near Gilgandra

171: Olive-backed Oriole... awful backlight but posing well at Hiawatha (SW Forest Reserve) near West Wyalong

And a few extras for various reasons

8:   immature Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike seen on the road to Cobat

33:   Superb Parrot... at Little Blow Clear (SW Forest Forest Reserve); thrilled to see this male posing in much better light followed by a female in shadows where she was feeding on the quandong

36: Striated Pardlote... because they had been not seen recently at Bowra

57:   Spiny-cheeked Honeyeater... seen at West Wyalong

67:   White-necked Heron... from Trangie, NSW... young ones I think but could be wrong

71:   Grey Shrike-thrush... a mature bird posing in Hiawatha (SW Forest Reserve) near West Wyalong

74:   Variegated Fairy-wren... Chat Alley near Lake Cargelligo, NSW

82:   Rufous Whistler... gorgeous male at West Wyalong

83:   Southern Whiteface... from Bowra WC near Cunnamulla in QLD because I like the bokeh

84:   Splendid Fairy-wren... from Byrock showing eclipse plumage

89:   Striped Honeyeater...from Warren as I like these chubby honeyeaters

93:   Bluebonnet... from Bowra WC near Cunnamulla because I like the colour intensity when wet

94: Budgerigar... from Bowra WC near Cunnamulla where there were hundreds in residence

105:  Sacred Kingfisher... a couple of shots from Warren to show how light affects the colour

106: Spotted Bowerbird... at Bowra Wildlife Conservancy near Cunnamulla because I love the reflection and the clarity!

108:   Singing Honeyeater... from lake Cargelligo in nice light

109:   Whistling Kite... from Warren

114:   White-plumed Honeyeater... from Capertee Valley because I like the surroundings

and a bonus butterfly

I'll post a few new ones soon and a number in Best Photos forum.

sue818
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So for a couple of new ones seen when Alex and I visited Karen at Kurrajong. Room for improvement on both birds but great to see them... thanks Karen for a lovely time.

202   Yellow-faced Honeyeater... of course, it posed without all the twigs after I had packed up the camera! Love the grevillia flowers colour matching the bird.

203   Yellow-tufted Honeyeater... awful backlight and shadow but features quite definitive... hope for a better shot some time when we can move around again.

dwatsonbb
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Another great set, and some great upgrades.

Dale Huonville, Tasmania

Devster
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Wow Sue, you have been busy. Some great upgrades

sue818
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Thanks, guys. Sorry it so long to get them uploaded but so many birds seen on our trip, it was time consuming to edit and choose my favourites.

karentwemlow
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Beautiful pics Sue, I love the Spotted Bowerbird with the reflection in the water! Perhaps you can visit again after lockdown, there's plenty of action around my place at the moment and I think will be even more in Spring.

Alex Rogers
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Some lovely photos Sue. I love the Swift Parrot, Spotted Bowerbird, White-necked Herons etc - you've been having a great bird year :-)

sue818
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Thank you for commenting. Love to revisit sometime, Karen, and I also loved that reflection.
I wish I had seen a Swift Parrot, Alex ... assume you meant the Superb Parrot. It has been successful birding in short bursts with the lockdowns. Trust the boys were good company.

Stay safe ... wish I was in your backyard at present, Karen!

AbbyGrace
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Wow Sue, what a lovely set of photos! I do love your Superb Parrot shot and your bonus butterfly shot. Hope you are keeping well there.

sue818
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Thanks Abby, there are a few more in Best Photos. Sometimes the butterfly is as challenging to photograph as a bird but there some beautiful ones out there and this one was quite obliging.

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