This was the first Birdwatching Breaks tour of Australia taking in the Capertee Valley in New South Wales, northern Queensland and O’Reilly’s in the south of the state. An optional extension to Tasmania was also taken by members of the birding group. In total we recorded 361 species and several distinct subspecies during our tour. This was an exceptional total with almost half of Australia’s known bird species being observed. In addition to this a wide range of Australian mammals were also observed. Highlights during the tour included sought after species; Southern Cassowary, Albert’s and Superb Lyrebirds, Golden, Regent, Satin and Great Bowerbirds, almost 40 species of honeyeaters including the scarce Regent and Painted Honeyeaters, 20 species of parrots including the critically endangered Orange-bellied and Swift Parrots, Australian Bustard, the nomadic Australian Pratincole, Powerful Owl, Papuan and Tawny Frogmouths, Australian Owlet Nightjar, Noisy Pitta, Lovely Fairywren, a wide range of hornbills, Gerygones and Scrubwrens, Rockwarbler, Pilotbird, Forty-spotted Pardalote, Spotted Quail Thrush, several species of robins, Victoria’s and Paradise Riflebirds and many others.
The tour was a great success and my thanks to Baz in the Sydney area, Carol in the Capertee Valley, Phil in north Queensland, Duncan at O’Reilly’s and Tonia and Ruth in Tasmania. Without their input and local knowledge the tour would have not been the success it was.
October 20th: Sydney Botanical Gardens, Royal National Park including Wattle Forest, Lady Corrington Drive and Curramoors Track.
Weather: Chilly but calm with hazy sunshine.
We met up after our flights had arrived into Sydney and transferred to North Sydney our base for the night overlooking the world-famous harbour bridge and opera house. After freshening up our first stop was the botanical gardens. Common birds around the hotel included Rainbow Lorikeet and Welcome Swallow. On entering the gardens we quickly located groups of Noisy Miners and best of all a roosting Powerful Owl the largest of its family occurring in Australia. This was a good start as we headed south to Royal National Park. En route we encountered White-faced Heron, Australian White Ibis, Australian Raven, Australian Magpie and Masked Lapwings. Once in the park we entered the wattle forest giving us views of Eastern Yellow Robin, Superb Fairy Wren, Brown Gerygone, Satin Bowerbird (complete with bower) and a Bassian Thrush located by Jean. A walk back along the river added Pacific Black and Australian Wood Ducks, Australian Shoveler, Little Pied and Little Black Cormorants and a stunning Azure Kingfisher. In the grass birds included; Sulphur-crested Cockatoos, Little Corella, Purple Swamphen and Eastern Great Egret. In the eucalyptus trees the group found Dollarbirds, Yellow-faced and Lewin’s Honeyeaters and Grey Fantails. Baz decided to walk down Lady Carrington’s Drive where we located Eastern Whipbird, Eastern Spinetail, Leaden Flycatcher, Green Catbird, Fan-tailed Cuckoo and a very tame Laughing Kookaburra perched on a sign. Lunch picked up at a cafe and then onto Curramoors Track. The first section was quiet apart from New Holland Honeyeaters, White-browed Scrubwren and Little Wattlebird. Once we entered the heath area we scoured this difficult habitat for birds. After a while we managed views of Southern Emu Wren, Chestnut-rumped Heathwren and by the coast the localised Rockwarbler. Offshore waters attracted Humpback Whales, Sooty and Wedge-tailed Shearwaters and in the distance Australian Gannets. A return to the Wattle Forest added Noisy Friarbird and Dusky Moorhen. In the evening we went to Baz’s house for a most enjoyable evening meal and drinks – real and genuine Australian hospitality.
October 21st: Sydney, Cumberland State Forest, Marayala, Newmans Road, Mitchell Park, Pittown Lagoon and Bottoms, Windsor Turf Fields, Lithgow.
Weather: Overcast and cloudy with a south wind 25 C.
Today we met at 0645 and made the journey to Cumberland State Park which is located just outside the city limits in Cumberland County. The city centre was busy due to a cycling event which meant the closure of several roads. On arrival at the state park we were greeted by the beautiful songs of Grey Butcherbirds sitting high in a eucalyptus tree. A short walk into the forest here was an incredible occasion for the sheer numbers of parrots including; Galah, Rainbow, Musk and Scaly-breasted Lorikeets, Little and Long-billed Corellas, Crimson Rosella and Australian King Parrot. Other species present included Bell and Noisy Miners and Satin Bowerbird. Onto the Marayala region where a stop at a remnant patch of forest allowed us close views of Little and Red Wattlebirds, Brown Cuckoo Dove, Common Bronzewing, Lewin’s Honeyeater, Noisy Friarbird and a Eurasian Blackbird. Next stop was a complex of ponds, reeds and grassland. A stand of large trees attracted White-throated Gerygone and Superb Fairy Wrens. In another sector of forest we watched Yellow Thornbill, Silvereye and Eastern Spinetail. On the pools we found White-eyed Duck, Grey Teal and Australasian Grebes. The field edges had Willie Wagtail and Black-faced Cuckooshrikes and Yellow-faced Honeyeaters. The muddy margins were attractive to Red-kneed Dotterel and Latham’s Snipe. Newmans Road was another excellent spot with Red-rumped Parrots and Eastern Rosella’s feeding on the ground. The best was to come with a pair of Spotted Pardalote and Red-browed Finches feeding and perching by the road. Mitchell Park is close by where we caught up with Golden and Rufous Whistlers, Olive-backed Oriole and White-throated Gerygone. On the way to Pittown we found White-winged Choughs foraging in grasses. Lunch taken at the local pie shop and then visiting Pittown Lagoons. Luck was with us as an Australian Hobby perched high in a tree and allowed extensive views. We walked down towards the lake with the reeds holding Australian Reed Warbler and Golden-crowned Cisticola plus a calling Little Grassbird. On the lagoon we located Australian White Pelican, Pink-eared Duck, Australian Shoveler, Black-necked Stilts and hunting Australian Kite. The area around Pittown is used extensively for agriculture with our next birding stop being a lagoon by a golf course. This was an amazing spot for birds as we recorded Pacific Golden Plover, Wood Sandpiper, Buff-banded Rail and the attractive Chestnut Teal. Around the Windsor turf fields displaying White-winged Trillers, Jacky Winter, Australian Zebra Finch and a pair of Black Swans. It was time to move on to Lithgow base for the next two nights.
October 22nd: Lithgow, Capertee Valley.
Weather: Overcast with a cool south wind 24 C.
An earlier departure today as we visited the Capertee Valley an important area for birds within New South Wales. En route to the first birding stop we located a flock of Tree Swallows and brief views of Wonga Pigeon. On the road side a single Swamp Wallaby, Red-necked Wallaby and Eastern Grey Kangaroo. A visit to a closed area of the valley followed (with the owner’s permission) where a singing Rufous Songlark was noted singing from the top of a tree. A small lagoon attracted a pair of Australasian Grebes, Australian Reed Warbler, Welcome Swallow and Red-browed Finches the latter collecting nesting material. A walk around the fields added White-plumed Honeyeater, White-browed Babbler and best of all a male Hooded Robin. Carol then took us to her property within the eucalyptus forest. Before arriving at the entrance road and track attracted Australian Kite, Australian Kestrel, Australian Zebra Finch, Diamond Firetail and Yellow-rumped Thornbills the latter feeding on the ground. We arrived at Carol’s property and immediately located Peaceful Dove, Restless Flycatcher, Yellow-tufted and Fuscous Honeyeaters, Variegated and Superb Fairy Wrens, Speckled Warbler, Eastern Shrike-tit and nesting Dusky Woodswallows. The veranda overlooks an old bath holding water which attracts birds to drink. Interesting species here included the endangered Regent Honeyeater and the very scarce Painted Honeyeater, Double-barred Finch and Noisy Miner. The group then embarked on another walk adding Black-chinned Honeyeater, White-bellied Cuckooshrike, Rainbow Bee-eater and a Grey Shrike Thrush. It was time to head towards Glen Davis a remote community of the area. Vernon located a Brown Falcon in a dead tree and by the entrance gate a pair of Southern Whitefaces. Towards Glen Davis we watched an Australian Pipit on the fence line and at the campground a very tame Brown Treecreeper by the picnic tables. After lunch a short walk added White-winged Choughs, Striated Paradote and a calling Brown Quail. In the afternoon we travelled to a river area which had nesting Striped Honeyeater and Restless Flycatcher. In another sector of private land a party of Buff-rumped Thornbills. The finale was to come when Carol located an Australian Painted Snipe hiding in the grass a scarce bird of the country. Further up the road we were entertained and delighted to study Masked and White-browed Woodswallows perched in dead trees.
October 23rd: Lithgow, Hassans Walls, Lithgow Water Treatment Works, Lake Wallace, Katoomba, Kings Tableland.
Weather: Sunny with a cool southwest wind 16 C.
The morning weather was distinctly cool and overcast as we travelled to a valley which Carol knows well for birdlife. Despite this the birdlife was active and on the move through the forest habitats. A large eucalyptus attracted a pair of Red-browed Treecreepers and a White-eared Honeyeater. In a clearing further along the trail a bonus came in the form of a male Scarlet Robin and a female Rose Robin the latter being joined by a male bird. Above us in the trees we located feeding flocks of Brown and Striated Thornbills, Golden and Rufous Whistlers, Silvereye and a Fan-tailed Cuckoo. A walkabout was productive as the group located at least three Superb Lyrebirds moving around on the ground and then ascending into the trees. By the van the trees had a pair of Satin Flycatchers and a Shining Bronze Cuckoo sitting motionless in a bare tree. After breakfast a visit to Hassans Walls added little of note so we proceeded to Lithgow water treatment works. The three pools had a wide range of birds including Hoary-headed Grebe, Pink-eared Duck, Grey Teal and the commoner wildfowl. A sandy bar had a Black-fronted Dotterel. Lake Wallace was next on the agenda with the extensive waters attracting Southern Great Crested Grebe and the peculiar Musk Duck feeding close to the shore. In the adjacent area the group located the uncommon Little Raven, Pallid Cuckoo, Crested Pigeon and a singing Eurasian Skylark. The remainder of the day was spent birding around the town of Katoomba and the adjacent Kings Tablelands. Birding was a little slow due to the weather conditions and wind. Despite this Carol found us the beautiful Flame Robin, Beautiful Firetail, Bar-shouldered Dove and best of all at least three Pilotbirds.
October 24th: Katoomba including Three Sisters, Sydney, Cairns Esplanade.
Weather: Cool and windy at Katoomba 7c, cloudy with rain showers in Cairns 28 C.
Today was essentially a travel one from New South Wales to Cairns in Northern Queensland via Sydney. Before breakfast we made an excursion to the Three Sisters a scenic area close to the motel. Birding was slow to start with as Pied Currawongs scavenged on the leftovers from the previous day. A walk down towards the Three Sisters allowed us close views of a Superb Lyrebird on the path and a Bassian Thrush looking for food on the forest floor. White-browed Scrubwren and New Holland Honeyeaters were also seen. At 0915 hours we set off for Sydney and the domestic airport, departure point for Cairns. Arrived at Cairns on time where Phil met up with the group. In the airport car park a pair of nesting White-breasted Woodswallows. Cairns Esplanade is a short drive away, and on arrival the tide was high attracting Eastern Black and Bar-tailed Godwits, Curlew and Terek Sandpipers, Ruddy Turnstone, Red-necked Stint and Royal Spoonbills. The trees adjacent to the sea held Peaceful and Bar-shouldered Doves, Pied Imperial Pigeon, Varied Honeyeater and Australian Figbirds. On the way to Cassowary House a stop for Metallic Starlings nesting in palm trees and Australian Swiftlet in the skies above us.
October 25th: Cassowary House, Black Mountain Road, McKenzie’s Pocket, Cattana Marsh, Yorkies Knob, Cairns Esplanade and Cemetery.
Weather: Warm and sunny with a southeast wind 32 C.
Before breakfast we met up by the car park to take a walk along the Black Mountain Road. In and around the car park we located Yellow-bellied Sunbird, Yellow-spotted, Dusky, Graceful and Macleay’s Honeyeaters. In a clearing a Grey Goshawk showed well. On the road the group found Little Shrike Thrush, Cicadabird, White-eared and Pied Monarchs, Varied Triller, Double-eyed Fig Parrot, Large-billed Scrubwren and the attractive Yellow-breasted Boatbill. Back for breakfast and flight views of a Noisy Pitta. From the veranda we made sightings of; Australian Brush Turkey, Orange-footed Scrubfowl, Black Butcherbird, Spotted Catbird, Helmeted Friarbird and Macleay’s Honeyeaters. After breakfast a visit to McKenzie’s Pocket. Interesting birds here included the bizarre Topknot Pigeon, Barred Cuckooshrike, Victoria’s Riflebird, Black-faced Monarch, Grey Whistler and Fairy Gerygone. Later in the morning we travelled back towards Cairns via the Cattana Wetlands an impressive new wetland reserve which was opened around four years ago. The trees by the car park had a singing Green Oriole which showed well for all of us. On the pools we located the attractive Green Pygmy Goose, Comb-crested Jacana and a single Intermediate Egret. Raptors using the area included Black and Whistling Kites. On the return walk we had good fortune as a Tawny Grassbird showed in a bunch of reeds, and nearby Red-backed Fairywren and the scarce Crimson Finch. Further along the trail a White-browed Crake showed briefly before flying into cover. By the car park a female Leaden Flycatcher was seen catching insects. Lunch taken in a cafe and then onto Yorkies Knob which is adjacent to a golf club. The trees here held Rainbow Bee-eater, Dollarbird, Brown-backed and Brown Honeyeaters, Australian Figbird, Australian Darter and a pair of Eastern Osprey nesting in a pylon. The tides looked favourable at Cairns esplanade so we headed towards them checking the airport end first. In addition to birds recorded on our first visit we added Eastern Curlew, Common Greenshank, Sharp-tailed Sandpiper, Grey-tailed Tattler, Lesser Sandplover and Eastern Yellow Wagtail the latter being a scarce visitor. We then checked the central and southern end of the esplanade where we located Pacific Reef Heron, Greater Sandplover, Whimbrel, Pacific Golden Plover, Great and Red Knots, Ruddy Turnstone and Gull-billed Terns. Our final stop at Cairns Cemetery produced high numbers of Bush Thick-knees sitting and resting by the gravestones. Back to base after a very enjoyable day spent in the Cairns area.
October 26th: Cassowary House, Cairns, Great Barrier Reef including Michaelmas Cay.
Weather: Warm and sunny with no wind 35 C.
Today was a leisurely one by birding standards as we headed into Cairns to join a boat trip out to the Great Barrier Reef. The pilings outside the harbour had Australian Pelican and Crested Terns. The main birding stop was Michaelmas Cay a small sandy island with little vegetation. On landing we scanned the area recording Great and Lesser Frigatebirds, Brown Booby, Crested, Lesser Crested, Common and Black-naped Terns, Brown Noddy and a scattering of waders in Bar-tailed Godwit and Ruddy Turnstone. Lunch was taken on board whilst travelling to a coral reef where members of the group enjoyed snorkelling or watching marine life from a glass-bottomed boat. Returned to Cairns which took around two hours sailing time. On arrival we returned to Cassowary House recording the commoner lowland birds along the way.
October 27th: Cassowary House, Tinaroo Creek Road, Henry Hamman Drive, Tarzali Lake, Bromfield Swamp, Mount Hypipamee, Hasties Swamp.
Weather: Hot and sunny with no wind 34 C.
Before starting our morning walk a Red-necked Crake was observed below the veranda. At 0700 hours we walked towards the road where we had great views of a Rose-crowned Fruit Dove perched in a tree. Along the roadside we had sightings of (Pacific) Emerald Dove and Pale-yellow Robin. Phil then had a phone call from Sue this only meant one thing. Rushed back to the house where the male Southern Cassowary with three chicks was feeding on fruit. After breakfast we headed to Tinaroo Creek Road an important birding area of Northern Queensland. The first stop added the attractive Yellow Honeyeater, Large-billed and Fairy Gerygone and a Blue-winged Kookaburra perched on a telegraph wire. Further up the road a flock of Red-tailed Black Cockatoos showed well in trees with cones and seeds. The gardens had Little Friarbird, Blue-faced Honeyeater and three flyover Red-winged Parrots the latter being a species of dry country. We turned down Henry Hamman Drive and stopped to observe the huge Channel-billed Cuckoo, Forest Kingfisher, Olive-backed Oriole and a group of Red-backed Fairywrens. Lunch was taken followed by a visit to Tarzali Lake. Along the way flock of Plumed Whistling Ducks and Magpie Geese. On arrival at the lakes we walked towards the main pond which had Australasian Grebe, Scaly-breasted Lorikeet, Purple Swamphen and best of all a feeding Platypus. Bromfield Swamp was quickly looked at producing Sarus Crane and a single Brolga. Mount Hypipamee was the icing on the cake with car park holding several Grey-headed Robins. A walk along the road gave us sightings of Bridled Honeyeater, Bowers Shrike Thrush and the scarce Atherton Scrubwren. The highlight for us was a Golden Bowerbird which showed by the roadside. The last birding stop was at Hastie’s Swamp with a stop en route for Scarlet and White-cheeked Honeyeaters. At the swamp a hide allows close views of waterbirds and migrants. Among these were a few Glossy Ibis, Latham’s Snipe and Sharp-tailed Sandpiper. Back to base with a diversion for the bizarre Pheasant Coucal, and the endearing Marabee Rock Wallabies.
October 28th: Cassowary House, Lake Berrine, Granite Gorge, Brady’s Lagoon, Big Mitchell Creek, Kingfisher Park.
Weather: Warm and sunny with no wind 29 C.
We met up at 0700 hours for a walk along the road and down a forest trail. Usual birds around the garden with the addition of a perched Wompoo Fruit Dove. At 0920 hours we checked out of Cassowary House and made our way to Lake Berrine. On the way sightings of Red-tailed Black Cockatoo, Forest Kingfisher, and Barred Cuckooshrike. At Lake Berrine we joined a trail through the forest and quickly located the scarce and localised Tooth-billed Bowerbird. By the lake the trees had Grey-headed Robin, Black-faced Monarch and Brown Gerygone. On the lake a selection of the commoner waterbirds. Back to the bus with Eastern Spinetails feeding on flowers. Lunch taken and onto Granite Gorge which is a campground with trees and rocks. On arrival we located several of the specialities including; Pale-headed Rosella, Squatter Pigeon, Grey-crowned Babbler and Great Bowerbird. A bonus here was hand-feeding Marabee Rock Wallabies. Back to the main highway with a stop at Brady’s Lagoon. The water here held several species of ducks, Red-kneed Dotterel and Sharp-tailed Sandpipers. Further along the road another wetland attracted Latham’s Snipe and a vagrant Common Starling. The last wetland by the road had Eastern Osprey, Black Swan and Royal Spoonbill. A walk along Big Mitchell Creek had little apart from Fairy Gerygones. Checked in at Kingfisher Park where an evening excursion provided us with views of Eastern Barn Owl.
October 29th: Kingfisher Park, Maryfarms, Mt Carbine Campground, Mt Malloy, Abattoir Swamp, Sides Road.
Weather: Sunny and warm 29 C.
We started the day with a walk around the extensive grounds of Kingfisher Lodge. The feeder attracting Red-browed Finch, Macleay’s Honeyeater, Rainbow and Scaly-breasted Lorikeets, Pale Yellow Robin, Emerald Dove and best of all a singing Noisy Pitta perched high in a tree. After breakfast we travelled north to Maryfarms an extensive area used for cattle production. A bonus by the road was the unpredictable and nomadic Australian Pratincole. Driving along the roads here eventually produced the scarce Australian Bustard, Straw-necked Ibis, Masked Lapwing, Dollarbird and Torresian Crow. Parked up to make a short walk when a Pied Butcherbird appeared by the roadside. Luck was with us when Suzanne located a party of the nomadic Diamond Dove resting in a leafy tree. Next on our agenda was Mt Carbine campground a rather rundown establishment which attracts good numbers of birds. We quickly located a party of Apostlebirds flying from bush to bush. A walk around the camp added Great Bowerbird, Little Friarbird, White-bellied Cuckooshrike, Olive-backed Oriole, Pale-headed Rosella and Red-winged Parrot. Refreshments taken at Mt Carbine and then back-tracking our journey to the town of Mt Malloy. A walk by the cricket ground had a pair of Forest Kingfishers. In the larger trees a calling Australian Koel plus sightings of Collared Sparrowhawk, White-throated Honeyeater, Lemon-bellied and Leaden Flycatchers, Yellow-bellied Sunbird and Australian Figbirds. Lunch taken in Mt Malloy followed by a visit to Abattoir Swamp. Over the marsh Australian Swiftlet and Fairy Martins and a Brown Falcon perched in a dead tree. An unidentified harrier was also present. The trees before the hide attracted White-cheeked Honeyeater and Yellow-bellied Sunbird. At the hide views of White-browed Crake, Red-backed Fairywren, Golden-headed Cisticola, Mistletoebird and four Intermediate Egrets perched in a dead tree. Our last birding stop was at Sides Road where a party of White-headed Pigeons flew overhead. Grey-headed Robin was also seen in the forest undergrowth. Back to Kingfisher Park and a walk in the grounds.
October 30th: Wonga Beach, Daintree River, Redden Island, Cairns Botanical Gardens and Esplanade.
Weather: Hot and sunny 31 C.
We left Kingfisher Park to travel towards the Daintree River area. Our first birding stop was the fish farm near Wonga Beach. In the surrounding fields Great and Intermediate Egrets, Black-necked Storks and a party of Scaly-breasted Munias. The fish ponds near Wonga Beach are a major attraction for birds and we recorded Radjah Shelduck, Rufous Night Heron, Common and Sharp-tailed Sandpipers, Pacific Golden Plover, Pied Stilt, Caspian Tern, White-bellied Sea Eagle and Brahminy Kite. At 0630 we joined the boat trip along the Daintree River complex an excellent birding spot. In the first section of river flight views of Black Bittern and a pair of nesting Shining Flycatchers a super little bird of waterside edges. Down river we visited the main flow and several backwaters in search of birds. Overhanging branches allowed us views of the peculiar Papuan Frogmouth whilst the higher branches attracted the scarce Australian Koel. A bonus came when a Double-eyed Fig Parrot showed in a nest hole. Back to the quay and to the restaurant for breakfast. Afterwards we headed back towards Cairns and visited Redden Island. Birding here was rather slow although we added Little Tern to the trip list. A run down area of fields attracted Crimson Finch and Australasian Pipits. Lunch was taken at Yorkies Knob followed by a visit to Cairns Botanical Gardens. A walk along the paths yielded a few of the commoner birds. By the river a Collared Kingfisher perched on ‘a no fishing sign’. In the undergrowth brief views of the skulking Lovely Fairywren. We ended the day along the Cairns Esplanade with views of Mangrove Robins and waders on the mudflats.
October 31st: Cairns, Brisbane, Minnippi, Wynnum, O’Reilly’s.
Weather: Sunny although cooler in Brisbane 26 C.
A later start today as we headed towards Cairns Airport for the flight down to Brisbane. On arrival we picked up the hire van and made the short journey to Minnippi Wetlands. This was an extraordinary place for wetland species and we were quickly looking at Baillon’s and Spotless Crakes two very difficult Australian birds. Also present on the lily-covered lake were Great, Little and Intermediate Egrets, Purple Swamphen, Dusky Moorhen, Latham’s Snipe, Australian Wood and Pacific Black Ducks and Hardheads. A bonus came when a pair of Channel-billed Cuckoos was mobbed by Torresian Crows. Wynnum was next on the agenda which is an area of mudflats and mangroves. On arrival the tide was ebbing allowing us to observe a wide variety of waders including Pied Oystercatcher. Striated Heron was also present with the commoner herons and gulls. Out in the bay high numbers of Black Swans and fishing Gull-billed Terns. Time was getting on a bit as we travelled towards Lamington National Park and the world-famous O’Reilly’s. The countryside here is attractive and rolling and consequently attracts equine related industries. In a small town we stopped for refreshments. Trees and bushes here attracted Eastern Rosella, Galah, Bar-shouldered Dove, Crested Pigeon, Australian Figbird and Noisy Miner. The road up to O’Reilly’s is narrow and windy in places making progress rather slow at times, this is more than made up with the spectacular scenery the area has to offer. On the way a Wedge-tailed Eagle flew overhead whilst Wonga Pigeons showed on the road itself. Checked in at O’Reilly’s a wonderful retreat in rural Queensland with Crimson Rosella’s visiting us on the balcony.
November 1st: O’Reilly’s.
Weather: Warm and sunny 28 C.
We met up at 0630 hours for a pre-breakfast walk along the forest trails. By the resort entrance we were greeted by some very tame and approachable Crimson Rosella’s, Australian King Parrots and the spectacular Regent Bowerbird. Along the first trail the group encountered Wonga Pigeon, Eastern Whipbird, White-throated and Large-billed Scrubwrens and Eastern Spinebills. Further down the trail our local guide located Paradise Riflebird calling and searching for food along decaying tree trunks. Also in the vicinity were Brown Cuckoo Dove, Grey Shrike Thrush, Golden Whistler, Eastern Yellow Robin, Lewin’s Honeyeater and Silvereye. Returned to the restaurant for breakfast and out again at 0930 hours to explore another trail. This trail was quiet to start with until we located a pair of Logrunners scratching around for food on the forest floor. Nearby birds included a female Green Catbird, Grey and Rufous Fantails, Red-browed Treecreeper and Brown Thornbill. Luck was on our side when Duncan found a young male Albert’s Lyrebird feeding and walking along the forest floor; great views of this scarce Australian endemic. In the background the distinctive calls of Noisy Pitta. An Australian Owlet Nightjar was located roosting in an old hole. Next on the agenda was a short drive in a 4x4 bus to a farm area. On arrival a pair of Grey Butcherbirds, Noisy Miner, Torresian Crow and Australian Magpie in the eucalyptus trees. Baz then found our main target bird a male Tawny Frogmouth sitting on a nest high in a tree. A very successful morning’s birding and back to base for lunch. At 1430 we set off again to visit another area for birds. Our main interest was Duck Creek Road which is only accessible by 4x4. A stop in an area of tall eucalyptus provided us with sightings of Superb and Variegated Fairywrens, White-naped Honeyeaters, Black-faced Monarch, a calling Sacred Kingfisher and Spotted Pardalote. Further down the track Black-faced Cuckooshrike, Striated Thornbill, Yellow-faced Honeyeater and Noisy Friarbird. The best bird was undoubtedly a female Spotted Quail Thrush which posed for us on the side of the track allowing long and prolonged views. We ended the day by visiting another area of O’Reilly’s where we heard the distinctive calls of the very secretive Lewin’s Rail. This ultimate skulker decided to stay in cover so we went back to base.
November 2nd: O’Reilly’s.
Weather: Warm and sunny with an intermittent north wind 23 C.
We met up at 0630 hours and travelled by road down the mountainside. Birding was unusually quiet with the commoner species being present. Wedge-tailed Eagle and Australian Hobby were noted plus a party of Australian Wood Ducks on a farm pond. Back for breakfast and out again at 0930 hours to walk the forest trail, canopy boardwalk and adjacent birding spots. The forest floor attracted several pairs of Logrunners which allowed a close and prolonged viewing session. A bonus came when three Russet-tailed Thrushes were found quietly feeding on the leaf litter. Great views of Golden Whistler and Rufous Fantail catching insects the latter from a fallen log. Back at the centre I fed the Crimson Rosella’s and Australian King Parrots near the cafe. At 1530 hours we walked towards the resort area searching for birds. Near the entrance a male Satin Bowerbird was collecting blue items for his bower. A slow walk followed through the new resort area where we had sightings of Brown Gerygone and Grey Shrike Thrush. Tomorrow we travel to Tasmania via Brisbane and Melbourne for the penultimate leg of our Australian birding tour.
November 3rd: O’Reilly’s, Brisbane, Melbourne, Hobart.
Weather: Warm and sunny 27 C.
Today was mainly a travel one as we left O’Reilly’s and went onto Brisbane and flights south to Melbourne and Hobart. The usual birds were around the resort and the journey down produced the commoner birds of Australian farmland plus a pair of Common Bronzewings. We dropped Vernon and Theresa off near Wynnum in order to visit relatives close by. Arrived in Hobart on time where we transferred to the city centre for two nights.
November 4th: Hobart, Cambridge, Melaleuca, Mt Wellington, Domain.
Weather: Overcast with sunny spells and a east wind 23 C.
Ruth our local Tasmanian guide arrived to pick us up at 0800 hours. We then travelled towards Cambridge with a stop for the endemic Tasmanian Native Hen and Forest Raven. Several introduced species were also observed including European Greenfinch, European Goldfinch, Eurasian Blackbirds and several Skylarks singing from grasses at the airport. At 0900 hours we set off by light aircraft to visit the sparsely populated and rarely visited west of Tasmania. The vista and views from the air were quite stunning with forest, heath and shore prevailing. Arrived at Melaleuca airstrip and walked towards the bird hide. Tree Martins, Crescent, New Holland and Yellow-throated Honeyeaters with the latter being endemic to Tasmania. After a few minutes we were rewarded with views of the critically endangered Orange-bellied Parrot of which fewer than 100 individuals remain. A walk towards the old tin mine added Striated Fieldwrens singing from posts and brief views of Southern Emu Wrens. At the house a feeding table attracted a Beautiful Firetail. At 1230 hours we returned to Cambridge where on arrival a Swamp Harrier was hunting over the fields. Lunch picked up in Hobart and then up to Mt Wellington which was busy with people today. Birding was very slow in the forest and adjacent area with sightings of Grey Shrike Thrush and the two nights common honeyeaters of Tasmania. A visit to another area of forest had calling Fan-tailed Cuckoos and Tasmanian Scrubwrens feeding on logs and the forest floor. We ended the days birding at Domain with; Eastern Rosella, Musk Lorikeet, Laughing Kookaburra and the endemic Yellow Wattlebird.
November 5th: Hobart, Kettering/Bruny Island Ferry, Roberts Point, Great Bay, Cape Queen Elizabeth, Inala, Cloudy Bay, Little Taylors Bay.
Weather: Overcast with a light north wind 20 C.
We left Hobart at 0800 hours and made the short journey down to Kettering the departure point for Bruny Island. Whilst waiting for the ferry Green Rosella’s were located feeding on flowers in a garden. In the port we found Great, Little Black and Black-faced Cormorants. Once on Bruny we stopped at Roberts Point where several Striated Pardalotes were present in the tall trees plus Brown and Yellow-rumped Thornbills, Noisy Miner and Tree Martin. At Great Bay a sandy peninsula added Pied and Sooty Oystercatchers and a Bar-tailed Godwit. Further down the road we stopped again and walked down a path searching for birds. This was hard work as we located Dusky Woodswallow, Black-faced Cuckooshrike, Flame Robin, Silvereye, White-fronted Chat and two hunting Swamp Harriers. Next on the agenda was Inala our base on Bruny. Before arriving we had brief views of Grey Currawong, Brown Falcon, Brown Goshawk, Eastern Cattle Egret and Pacific Gull. At Inala a stop for lunch provided us with views of the rare Forty-spotted Pardalote, Dusky Robin and Black-headed Honeyeater. After lunch we embarked on a walk around the grounds which are c500 acres in area. This was particularly good for Crescent, Strong-billed and New Holland Honeyeaters, Scarlet Robin and Golden Whistler. Cloudy Bay is reached by a dirt road where we had flying views of Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoo. At the bay we found the rare and localised Hooded Plover and hordes of Silver Gulls. Our final stop at Little Taylors Bay provided us with Red-capped Plovers. Back to base and out for lunch at the local pub. Afterwards we headed back to the isthmus for the spectacle of Little Penguins coming ashore and Short-tailed Shearwaters coming back to their burrows. On the roadside we located Eastern Quolls and Brush-tailed Possums.
November 6th: Cape Bruny, Little Taylors Bay, Adventure Bay, Mavista.
Weather: Overcast with rain showers 18 C.
Our last full day of the tour started with a visit to Cape Bruny and the lighthouse area. On the entrance roads we found Common and Brush Bronzewings the latter being a scarce Australian bird. At the cape Jean located a pair of adult Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoos with a young bird feeding on cones by the car park. The heath like habitat attracted good numbers of New Holland Honeyeaters and Superb Fairywrens. Offshore seabirds passing the cape included huge numbers of Short-tailed Shearwaters, Australasian Gannet and a single White-capped Albatross. On returning to the van a White-bellied Sea Eagle with prey and a female Swamp Harrier were noted. Next were Adventure Bay and the campground which had a wide range of flowering trees. The latter was particularly good for Swift Parrots which are an endangered species which breeds on Bruny Island. The usual species were present along the coast. At Mavista we stopped to observe the scarce Black Currawong and Tasmanian Thornbills feeding in flowering trees. The weather had started to worsen as lunch was taken in the cover of a forest shelter. For around two hours we had to wait for the rain to ease off. A walk along the road and a track provided us with Olive Whistler, Strong-billed and Yellow-throated Honeyeaters, Grey Shrike Thrush and Fan-tailed Cuckoo.
November 7th: Bruny Island, Hobart, Melbourne, London.
Final species total: 361.
Weather: Sunny with light northerly winds 24 C.
Our last day in Australia started with breakfast at 0700 hours. The birds around Inala were the same as previous days with nothing of note to report. At 0900 hours we set off towards the ferry point and the crossing back into mainland Tasmania. A few birds were noted along the route including Grey Currawong and Grey Butcherbird. We reached the airport on time where Jean and I set off on the long journey back to Europe. The remainder of the group spent time around Hobart searching for birds.
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