Friday, February 26, 2010

150 and Counting

Such is life! The first 140+ during January but what with work and study commitments the tally had to slow down and will continue at a lesser pace until the Easter vacation period when no doubt Fay and I will manage a visit somewhere that should include different species. I'm scheduled to attend a residential weekend workshop [Charles Sturt University] in the Albury/Wodonga region [border New South Wales & Victoria border] mid-April and that may provide a few more for the Year List.

On the other hand, each passing month brings the Staffordshire trip a little closer and we still have a few preperations afoot.

Not that any of the above prevented us reaching 150 for the 2010 Year List. And what a corker to reach that milestone with, the elusive Australian Owlet-nightjar! The reward for diligence in being up at my Graduate Certificate in Ornithology books at 0400 hours. Even Fay didn't object to being awoken this early so she too could hear it. Or rather, them; one called from the east, a second responded from the west.

Not having my own photo, I've "borrowed" this one from via google images.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Breakfast at Maidenwell

Our backyard dam as it was before the drought set in.

St Valentine's Day but Fay and I have long since ceased to succumb to the commercial pressures of chocolate/flower/card vendors. Instead, we took each other out for an early [Sunday] morning jaunt around Tarong National Park, ending the session at the old Maidenwell Trading Post which now also doubles up as a cafe with quite stunning views from their al fresco verandah dinning room.

The road [dirt with the exception of one 50m section of tarmac -erosion prevention] more or less circumnavigates the entire National Park. Our usual strategy is to make several stops along the first section of dirt road [from the main junction], recording birds seen and/or heard. We then stop at the first "corner" for a little longer. The process is repeated to the next "corner" - several stops to check out birds spotted flitting across the road or roosting atop roadside trees; a longer stop at the "corner" itself. And again, from this point to JANEVILLE, an isolated farmhouse only a couple kilometers from where the dirt road rejoins the tarmac [the main road]. In effect we stop birding here as thereon in it becomes steadily more "domesticated."

This morning we made only one stop along the initial section [some 50m off the main road] and then raced on to the first "corner". We were forced to make two stops en route to the second "corner" [one producing a new addition to the Year List]. The second "corner", which had proved so fruitful only a month ago, came as something of a disappointment- but then the fig tree on the edge of the vine scrub had ceased fruiting.

To dampen our birding spirits even more, the again usually productive JANEVILLE [good flycatcher country in the past] failed to produce anything more sensational than one Little Lorikeet flying by overhead.

For all that, we added Rainbow Bee-eater and Spangled Drongo to the Year List.

Breakfast at Maidenwell, on the other hand, was up to its expected high standards.

Year List: 146

Friday, February 12, 2010

Early One Morning

Well, it certainly has been a long spell between drinks. Only to be expected. Fay returned to work in early January; Queensland schools went back at the end of January. A new school year [unlike the September/July UK timetable], a new class, a new year level, a new [and heavier] teaching load and to boot, I'm the Senior Teacher [for which read unpaid Deputy Principal -Headmaster].

Not that we haven't put in some birding, or at least added to the 2010 Year List. We had good views of one of my favourite little birds, the Rufous Fantail and while up in the early hours of the morning [studying for that Graduate Certificate in Ornithology] my diligence was rewarded with the unmistakeable call of the White-throated Nightjar. Somewhere along the line we also managed to add the White-throated Honeyeater.

That put the year's tally at 142 [with no changes to the top five].

We've managed one survey of the nearby Tarong Power Station and no doubt I'll get around to spelling out exactly what that entails anon. We took out a pair of novice birders around the also nearby Tarong National Park- their first birding experience other than listing their own backyard species [one of which is admittedly the very rare lutinistic Brown Honeyeater].

This morning however, Fay and I managed an early morning trip to Mt Wooroolin, accompanied by members of the loosely formed "South Burnett Birders", minus Robert but with new addition, Heather.

Fay and I had visited Mt Wooroolin once before, during one of Fay's lunch breaks when I was on holiday but only birded the "top". On this occasion we walked around the "bottom", a mixture of vine scrub edge and open woodland.

The list [in order of seeing them] and with new additions to the Year List in block capitals includes:

Bar-shouldered Dove
Australian Magpie
White-throated Treecreeper
Torresian Crow
Grey Butcherbird
Eastern Whipbird
Lewin's Honeyeater
Sulphur-crested cockatoo
Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike
Golden Whistler
White-throated Honeyeater
Double-barred Finch
Pied Currawong
Rainbow Lorikeet
Eastern Yellow Robin
Pied Butcherbird
Sacred Kingfisher
Brown Honeyeater
Weebill [Australia's smallest bird]
Laughing Kookaburra
Restless Flycatcher
Brown Quail
Noisy Friarbird
Peaceful Dove
Australasian Figbird
Scarlet Honeyeater
Pheasant Coucal
Variegated Fairy-wren
Brown Thornbill

35 species; 2 additions to Year List

Current Tally: 144 species