Birding off the patch! We have just arrived home from another great holiday, a tour of Australia, courtesy of Riviera Travel. We were over there for 21 days and clocked up around 6000 miles on internal travel. Add that to the 21,500 mile return trip to Aus and I have some serious carbon offset to address. Our trip, shown below, included the Darwin loop.
I have to say though, a great holiday. A small group, well organised, nice people and best of all cheap(ish). I couldn't get anywhere near the price when I looked at doing a similar independent tour.
OK there were some downsides. I didn't get as long for birding as I would have liked and sometimes we were moving on before I had even got the camera out. However, for us, holidays will always be a compromise. That is between my wish for birds, butterflies and all things nature and Sue's belief, strange as it is, that there are other things in life worth doing and to be fair that doesn't just mean shopping as I may have suggested in the past.
So, onto the birds. There are about 850+ different species in Australia with around 45% of those being endemic. I managed to see and photograph around 130 in the time I was there although some of the photographs are (a lot) less than perfect.
We arrived in Melbourne late evening and I was out in Fitzroy Gardens next to the hotel in the predawn light looking for my first exotic.
Not exactly what I had expected but I could at least hear some unusual bird calls from the surrounding trees.
Common Myna, better but still not a new bird. I could see assorted crow and Raven type birds but in the early morning light I couldn't really be sure of an identification. Then my first new bird Australian Wood Duck.
|Australian Wood Duck|
With the light starting to improve a few more birds appeared from the shadows. Rainbow Lorikeets, colourful in the low light but stunning once the sun comes up.
It wasn't until a few days later that we realised that the Magpie was the source of the flute like calls that we could hear as a constant background to our time out birding.
|Little Pied Cormorant|
Later that day I took a walk through the Yarra Park for a look at the Melbourne Cricket Ground. Lots more of the birds we had already seen but a few new ones as well.
The next day was a bit disappointing. We had a trip organised out into the Dandenongs with a ride on the Puffing Billy steam railway up to Emerald Lake, a noted birding location. We saw a good few birds from the railway including Crimson Rosella, Sulphur-crested Cockatoo, and Laughing Kookaburra but with a lot of people around they were keeping their distance and picture opportunities were limited. By the time we got to Emerald lake we had heavy rain but I managed a few shots of some rather wet birds and the steam railway was some consolation.
|Grey Curawong - I think!|
grey throat, less defined bill hook and white tipped flight feathers
Pleased to get the Bell Miner. We could hear a few of them ringing away in the bushes but they were hard to locate, very territorial and aggressive and always on the move.
|Pacific Black Duck|
|Long-billed Corella "Cut Throats"|