Sunday 31 May 2009

Gray Catbird, NYC

I went for a run along the Hudson early this morning and found a couple of Gray Catbirds. One was singing beautifully, the other was making cat noises.

Back to Sydney now.

Monday 25 May 2009

New York

The view from The Standard hotel
I'm in New York for the first time on a last minute 'business' trip. My only free time was this Memorial Day morning so I got out early in search of lifers.

From the hotel I took a walk along the Hudson towards Central Park. It turned out to be a who's who of British scarcities.

The first species in the book was Brant with six birds loafing around within spitting distance of the West Side Highway. Others along the way included 3 Mocking Birds (great singers), 3 Ring-billed Gull (nice to see sub-adults for the first time), 6 Mourning Dove, Double-crested Cormorant, 5 Common Grackle, Blackpoll Warbler and numerous American Robins.

It was hard to know where to focus and God knows how many I didn't identify, especially as my only reference was an old book for the Western region.

That amused my new friend Irvin who took pity on me in Central Park. Irvin is 89 years old and the self–proclaimed 'oldest birder in Central Park'. He has been patrolling the patch since the Great Depression (1932) and boosted my list with consummate ease.

Here's what we found during a charming hour together. Baltimore Oriole, Common Yellow throat, Black-crowned Night Heron, Tufted Titmouse (heard), Blue Jay, Red–bellied Woodpecker (3 heard), Red-eyed Vireo, Northern Cardinal, Warbling Vireo (heard).

Can't wait to come back.

Sunday 24 May 2009

Blue tit news

This time last week I was convinced that my Blue Tits had abandoned their box, but I was wrong and here's the tatty looking evidence.

Saturday 23 May 2009

Black-browed Albatross

I saw my first albatross species today. A black-browed albatross swept past South Head just before we went to the shops. Magic.

Monday 18 May 2009

misc spring photos

Here's a selection of photos that I've taken over the last month that haven't warranted a post by themselves but thought I'd share them as a collective. The flower is a Yellow Archangel and the Bluebells are at Shipwrights Woods in Benfleet.

Sunday 17 May 2009

Rock Warbler, Royal National Park

Third time lucky! After a couple of attempts at finding the only endemic to New South Wales, today's efforts turned up a pair. Two Origma, or Rock Warblers, came hopping down the Curra Brook as we took a breather from our loop around the beautiful Curra Moors track. Great birds and a much wanted tick.

Origma or Rock Warbler  Origma solitaria

Curra Brook meets the South Pacific. Apparently a good spot for Rock Warblers. Thanks to Steve Anyon-Smith's guide, 'Birdwatching in Royal Heathcoat & National Park'.

Silvereye  Zosterops lateralis
Others seen today included three brown quails, two flushed and one showing well at Garie Beach; three White-bellied Sea-eagles, two juvs and an adult together; a cracking Peregrine Falcon and a Bush Rat (we think).

Sunday 10 May 2009

Royal National Park, Sydney

Topknot Pigeon

I added Topknot Pigeon, Brown Gerygone and Large-billed Scrubwren to my list today. But the highlight was a male Lyrebird in full display. I can make out Kookaburra, Pied Currawong and Red Wattlebird in the mimicry.

Saturday 9 May 2009

Three Lifers, Zero effort

I didn't go birding today and picked up three lifers.

After a big breakfast at La Perouse the stroll back to the car was obstructed by two Australian Pipit (Richard's Pipit) feeding around the grassy banks. They're lovely things and showed down to three meters at times.

I improvised a few shots with my bins and Tamara's camera phone. Photo of The Week is surely in the bag.

Australian Pipit

After another few minutes I looked up to see a pair of Kelp Gulls loafing around the shoreline. I've been keen to secure the third resident Aussie gull (with Pacific and Silver) for ages. It was a relief to engage the Larus part of my brain again and with P10s, orbital rings and weird short legs duly noted I took a couple more record shots.

Kelp Gulls (right)

Later, at Centennial Park, we bumped into Greg who was photographing a flock of twenty Yellow-rumped Thornbills: lifer number three. Check out his flickr page for shots.

Tuesday 5 May 2009

Star Lane Cuckoo

Sunday 3 May 2009

Treachery Beach, NSW

We always seem to do well for mammalia around Australia's sand dunes (blonde Wombat, Wilson's Prom, 2006; Echidna, Turos Head, 2009). Today, before heading back from our weekend away, we took a quick walk to Treachery Beach where we encountered our first wild dog. It wasn't quite a pedigree dingo but still pretty exciting to see.

Wild Dog

Nankeen Kestrel

Seal Rocks, NSW

Seal Rocks is about one tank of gasoline north of Sydney and worth every ironic emission it took to reach our eco-cabin get-away.

The plot was surrounded with flowering gum and alive with Noisy Friarbirds, the odd Little Friarbird (lifer), Red Wattlebirds and Rainbow Lorikeets. That night about 150 Friarbirds flew north, over our cabin, to roost.

Noisy Friarbird or Leatherhead Philemon corniculatus

Grey Butcherbird Cracticus torquatus

One of many Kookaburras Dacelo novaeguineae

Rainbow Lorikeet roost, Forster
Other noteworthy birds seen around Seal Rocks and the Myall Lakes National Park this weekend included 2 Cattle Egret, 1 Great Egret, 6 White Ibis, 1 Straw-necked Ibis, 5 Whistling Kite, Black-shouldered Kite, 1 Wedge-tailed Eagle, 5 White-bellied Sea Eagle, Goshawk sp., 2 Bar-shouldered Dove (lifer), 2 Tawny Frogmouth, Rose Robin (lifer), 3 Eastern Whipbird, 2 Satin Bowerbird, 3 Grey Shrike-thrush, fem Satin Flycatcher (lifer), and a cracking Golden-headed Cisticola, yeah!

Tawny Frogmouth