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|A Report from birdtours.co.uk|
South East Australia and New Caledonia, 21 July and 22 August 1998.,A report by Richard Fairbank
Australia List New Caledonia List
Nick Preston and I had wanted to see Kagu on New Caledonia for many years. The prospect of being able to do so became very much to the fore when, in New Zealand in August 1996, we met a French doctor and his girlfriend who were doing National Service in New Caledonia. Although not birders, they had seen Kagu by the Grand Kaori tree at Riviere Bleu with ease. A trip in 1997 was not a possibility but one in 1998 was and we planned a trip around Kagu, Plains Wanderer (another bird we had wanted to see for some time) and a good selection of SE Australian species (both of us had been to Queensland before). John Cooper was soon recruited and he and Nick decided to stay on for another week after I left (to go to Darwin). Gary Edwards signed up a month before departure, for the whole trip, giving us a full compliment, but disaster struck 4 days before we were due to leave when Nick Preston was taken into hospital.
The following is a personal report of the trip made by John Cooper, Gary Edwards and myself between 21 July and 22 August 1998. The trip cost me approx. £1950 of which £1180 was for flights. I saw 274 species in Australia of which 98 were new and 44 on New Caledonia, of which 24 were new. Best birds were Kagu, Plains Wanderer and Superb Lyrebird.
Special thanks to Nick Preston for helping with the organisation of the trip, we were almost as disappointed as he was that he couldn't make it. Many thanks to those on birding-aus who provided information for various aspects of the trip, either in response to requests for information or through their routine postings. In particular we would like to thank Margaret Cameron, Mike Carter, Yves Letocart, Phil Maher, Gordon McCarthy, Dr P Milburn, Des Quinn and Lindsey Smith with whom we were privileged enough to spend time in the field. Richard Thomas's The complete Guide to finding the Birds of Australia was absolutely invaluable and his unpublished New Caledonia Trip Report was even more so, as was various advice and information he provided. Dave Cooper loaned us several bird tapes, some of which proved to be very useful. Tony Palliser offered much advice on all aspects of the trip and Murray Lord provided helpful information regarding sites around Sydney, we regretted not being able to meet up with either of them. Other useful information, without which we would have struggled to find several species, was received from Lawrie Conole, Stuart Dashper, Terry Gould, Roger Hicks, Jack Krohn, Peter Menkhorst, Michael Norris, Dick Norton, Don Roberson & Trevor Quested. Thanks to all.
Cheap road maps of the relevant states and cities in Australia were sufficient to find all the sites we visited, although we may have struggled to find the Orange-bellied Parrot site at Geelong on our own. They were available in most petrol stations, those produced by BP seeming particularly good. The rough maps in the New Caledonia Lonely Planet guide enabled us to find Riviere Bleu and Mont Koghi, although adequate road signs would have been reassuring at times!
Tuesday 21st July.
Arrived in Sydney mid morning (an hour late), picked up the booked hire-car and drove straight to Royal National Park where it was dull and showery. Car was making loud and very annoying bumping noises from the rear suspension. After seeing the Beach Thick-knee at Bonnievale and a short walk down northern end of Lady Carrrington Drive we returned to Sydney Airport and changed the car (to a larger Ford Station Wagon needed returning to Adelaide). Returned to Royal National Park after a take-away and camped at Bonnievale, somewhat shattered. I saw 38 species seen of which 2 were new for me. Best bird: Beach Thick-knee.
Wednesday 22nd July.
Woken at 1 am by a Powerful Owl calling from nearby, but by the time we'd got out it had stopped. Packed up tents soon after dawn and walked the southern section of Lady Carrington Drive until mid morning where a Superb Lyrebird displaying at a range of 10-15m was absolutely stunning. Drove to Barren Grounds and walked to the Illawarra Lookout and along the ground parrot trail a couple of times (with no success). Had a brief look at Budderoo before returning to the ground parrot trail at Barren Grounds where an obliging Rufous Bristlebird provided some consolation for the lack of Ground Parrots and Emuwrens. Frustratingly three Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoos flew over in silhouette (and at some distance). Drove into Roberton for a take-away and camped near Budderoo. 42 species seen, 2 being new. Best bird: Superb Lyrebird.
Thursday 23rd July.
Returned to Barren Grounds and after seeing a Pilotbird near the entrance walked the circular trail and the ground parrot trails for most of the morning. Another Bristlebird and a pair of Beautiful Firetails being the highlights. Wandered around Budderoo, flushing an Emuwren which gave good flight views before returning again to Barren Grounds, spending the rest of the afternoon walking the ground parrot trail another four times. John flushed a Ground Parrot at the start of the trail when returning early to look for Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoos but it could not be refound. Even more frustrating, several Ground Parrots were heard at dusk, though none were close. Met Milburn in Roberton and followed him to Wollongong, stopping on the escarpment on the way to try for Sooty Owl. We turned down the track to park and realised we had stumbled into a police stakeout. Somewhat unnerved, despite being reassured by the police that it was OK to carry on, we continued and had a pair of Sooty Owls responding to tape, although unfortunately not close enough to spotlight. Returning up the track we were passed by 3 vehicles, at least one being a police car and near the start of it noticed a number of newish cars that had been dumped down the escarpment, rather spooky in the dark. Continued to Wollongong where spent the night with Lindsay & Janice Smith. Only 23 species seen, 3 being new. Best bird: Beautiful Firetail.
Friday 24th July.
Off Wollongong on the Sandra K returning late afternoon ahead of a band of rain. There was sufficient swell to make the movement of the boat unpleasant at times. Found loads of albtrosses around some trawlers but comparatively few were attracted to our chum, although a very smart White-faced Storm Petrel spent some time with us. The lack of variety was, however, a bit disappointing, though it was not helped by our failure to pick out any differences in prions or our more traditional approach to Wandering Albatross forms (and inability to differentiate between them). A nice group of uncontroversial Sooty Oystercatchers greeted our return to Wollongong and after an excellent meal at Lindsay's we drove north to Dhurag National Park where we camped. 27 species seen, 3 being new. Best bird: White-faced Storm Petrel.
Saturday 25th July.
After a quick look around the camp site and nearby picnic area (which failed to produce Glossy Black Cockatoo) we walked the Old North Road seeing an excellent Spotted Quail Thrush on the way up and a pair of Origmas on our return. We then drove to Mitchell Park, seeing an impressive pair of Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoos on the way. Failing to find the Powerful Owl in a couple of hours at Mitchell Park, we continued to Londonderry, where a quick stop produced excellent views of Swift Parrots between heavy showers. Slowly drove west reaching Bathurst by dusk and continued to Wallendbeen where we camped near the road. 52 species seen of which 3 were new. Best bird: Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoo.
Sunday 26th July.
Up at dawn to witness movement of c150 aptly named Noisy Friarbirds moving north through the line of trees by the tent. Slowly drove along route 94 to Tenora and then on to Leeton, stopping when birds were seen from the car (the best being c50 Bluebonnets and a pair of Banded Lapwings). At Leeton Swamp most of the water birds were distant and we failed to find a way of approaching them despite getting wet feet. I had a frustrating view of a small crake as it dropped into a patch of reeds. Continued on to Deniliquin, arriving just before dark. Camped in town at a site near the river and made contact with Phil Maher to arrange a meet for the next morning. 73 species seen of which 10 were new. Best bird: Bluebonnet.
Monday 27th July.
Phil arrived at 07.30 and immediately took us to see Superb Parrot. They were found relatively easily and more than lived up to their name, but the wind soon picked up with showers making birding a struggle, although a Stubble Quail was flushed twice in this area. A walk through an area of dying woodland produced excellent views of Flame and Red-capped Robins and a few wetland birds were found (although the time of year was wrong for others). Phil dropped us off at lunch time with sombre words about the weather and the possibility of not being able to get into the area for Plains Wanderer. Tension mounted as the drizzle persisted and we set out again mid-afternoon to try our luck. A pair of Bush Thick-knees, in an area they'd deserted 18 months before, was a good start and an angry Owlet-Nightjar, enticed out of its hole by the tapping of a stick, was even better. Phil decided to try and get into the Plains Wanderer area before dark, being particularly concerned about a couple of creek crossings that were required, and with increasing anxiety we entered the property and started to drive across an enormous grassy field. No more than half way across the field, and much to our amazement and great relief, we disturbed a female Plains Wanderer. A very strange bird and not at all as we'd expected - its horizontal, belly on the ground, carriage with large protruding feet made it look like a cross between a small tinamou and a young duckling as it scurried away, occasionally attempting to hide under small tufts of grass. We watched it for several minutes before leaving it and then waited until dark. Spotlighting in the same field for an hour or so produced 2 male Plains Wanderers in the upright (frozen) stance we were expecting. A Stubble Quail were also seen but no Button-Quail (wrong time of year again), although having seen Plains Wanderers so well we were not too bothered. Phil later admitted he'd thought we might break his 3 year run of successes in finding the species; we were very glad we hadn't. 80 species seen, 11 being new. Best bird: Plains Wanderer (no contest really).
Tuesday 28th July.
Left Deniliquin soon after dawn and drove steadily to Chiltern State Forest, arriving mid morning. Weather a slight improvement but very cold and showery. Quickly saw 2 Regent Honeyeaters near Frog's Hollow. The rest of the day was spent along Greenhill Road (where a superb male Rose Robin was found in a nearby paddock) and near Cyanide Dam although generally few birds were in evidence. After dark drove to Victorian Alps and camped on lower slopes of Mount Buffalo. 57 species seen of which 2 were new. Best bird: Rose Robin.
Wednesday 29th July.
Awoke to find tent covered in snow and Mount Buffalo closed to vehicles without chains. As obviously not conclusive to birding we decided to return to Chiltern. Stopping on the edge of the Alps at Eurobin, near Porepunkah, to check some parrots flying over (not the hoped for Gang-Gangs) we were accosted by the owner of an adjacent caravan park who thought we were taking photos of his property on behalf of an unfriendly rival neighbour! Realising immediately that we were not, he invited us look round his park where we were surprised to see up to 70 non-breeding plumaged Satin Bowerbirds feeding on the grass. Continued to Chiltern and revisited the areas we'd been to the previous day. After a few false starts with dark-chinned juvenile Brown-headed Honeyeaters we finally saw a good Black-chinned but despite much searching Chestnut-rumped Hylacola could not be found, though a perched Collared Sparrowhawk near Cyanide Dam was some consolation as were a field full of Flame Robins at Brown's Road. After dark we phoned Mike Carter and arranged to meet him the following morning on the outskirts of Melbourne. We then drove to Toolangi (Kinglake National Park) and after failing to find any picnic areas despite driving round for almost an hour we camped behind the forest centre. 49 species seen, 2 being new. Best bird: Satin Bowerbird.
Thursday 30th July.
Spend a couple of hours walking in impressive forest at Toolangi but low cloud obscured the tops of the (admittedly very tall) trees and the birds were disappointing, though Bassian Ground Thrush and a Lyrebird were nice. Drove to Melbourne via Maroondah Reservoir hoping for Gang-Gangs but one of the workers there told us they'd not seen any for some months. Met Mike Carter and Des Quinn and after a brief and unsuccessful look at Ferntree Gulley headed for Lysterfield where Des showed us a superb roosting Powerful Owl that he kept a regular eye on. We left Des and moved on to Edithvale where an Australian Bittern was flushed, Balnaring for a pair of Cape Barren Geese with 4 small goslings and finally, in a rush to beat the fading light, Rosebud where 3 breeding plumaged Double-banded Plovers were on the beach. We returned to Mike's house in Mount Eliza where he and his wife were perfect hosts. 62 species seen of which 5 were new. Best bird: Powerful Owl.
Friday 31st July.
Left Mount Eliza after an early breakfast and drove around Melbourne to arrive at Werribee at 9 am, the time we had arranged to meet Margaret Cameron. She arrived with Gordon McCarthy and after getting reasonable views of Purple-crowned Lorikeets by the entrance we were taken on a whistle-stop tour of Werribee. Keeping up with Margaret along the sometimes slippery dirt tracks around Werribee was an effort at the best of times so her telling us at one point that we would be heading back the way we'd come in a 'fairly determined manner' raised a smile, it was hard to imagine her doing anything any other way! Birds abounded at Werribee, the best for us being a very obliging pair of Australian Spotted Crakes. We then moved on to a flooded area south of Geelong where a small wintering flock of Orange-bellied Parrots had been seen regularly. We found them after a good bit of wandering around, although not before Margaret had to go (having other commitments), leaving us in Gordon's capable hands. We then had a quick stop at Laverton Saltworks (some distant Banded Stilts), Geelong botanical gardens in Eastern Park (a spectacular flock of Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoos, but still no Gang-Gangs) and finally a marshy pool and very scenic beach west of Barwon Heads. A pair of Hooded Plovers on the beach were superb, but about a hundred dead Fluttering Shearwaters on the tide line rather depressing. We said goodbye to Gordon and made for a nearby campsite at Barwon. A phone call to Mike Carter confirmed the Portland pelagic, scheduled for the 2nd, had been cancelled due to anticipated bad weather. We had mixed feelings about this! 73 species seen, 6 being new. Best bird: Hooded Plover.
Saturday 1st August.
Up at dawn, but wasted nearly two hours trying, unsuccessfully, to track down a couple of parrots seen badly in flight. A quick walk along the beach then failed to produce the Hooded Plovers seen the previous day. Returned to Geelong via Drysdale (where 3 Blue-billed Duck were seen). Walked along by the river in Queen's Park where we found the female Pink Robin Gordon had told us about (but still no Gang-Gangs). We then drove inland to Brisbane Ranges (8 cute Koalas, but few birds) before returning to the coast where we immediately saw a Rufous Bristlebird at Airey's Inlet Lighthouse. Drove a short way inland to Distillery Creek where 2 pairs of Gang-gangs came in to drink at a pool by the car park. They were brilliant (their amazing red floppy crests were far better than expected) as was an immature male Pink Robin in the same area. Camped in a campsite near Airey's Inlet. 76 species seen of which 5 were new. Best bird: Gang-Gang Cockatoo.
Sunday 2nd August.
Left campsite and tried to find an area of heathland inland from an open cast mine. Gave up when the dirt track became increasingly muddy, but a very tame male Brush Bronzewing beside the road made the effort very worthwhile. Returned briefly to Distillery Creek, where 2 more Gang-gangs were seen and a small, but noisy, flock of Forest Ravens flew over, before continuing along the Great Ocean Road. Despite showery and dull weather, the scenery was impressive, particularly the 12 Apostles, Loch Ard Gorge and Bay of Islands. Birds were not very evident, 6 breeding Black-faced Cormorants being an exception, and those that were did not always perform as one would like - particularly 2 presumed Blue-winged Parrots which flew over at cliff top height just at we'd climbed down to the beach at the head of Loch Ard Gorge! We then hurried along to Warrnambool in time to see 3 or 4 Southern Right Whales offshore before the light went. Drove steadily north to Little Desert National Park where we camped. 50 species seen, 3 being new. Best bird: Brush Bronzewing.
Monday 3rd August.
Had a quick look around the campsite at dawn then moved on to a nearby picnic area in a small block of mallee. Lots of honeyeaters were in evidence (although some took a while to get to grips with) and some superb male Variegated Fairywrens were seen although there was no sign of any Mallefowl despite there being a mound near the main track. It was just as well it was a small block of forest as, despite having a compass, I managed to get confused and disoriented for some time before emerging from a completely unexpected side of the Mallee! We left late morning and drove to Wyperfield National Park, arriving mid afternoon. Emus were common, but little was seen along the Lake Brambruk Track despite a distinct improvement in the weather. Spotlighting along the Eastern Lookout Nature Drive produced a single Brush-tailed Possum. 49 species seen, 5 being new. Best bird: Variegated Fairywren.
Tuesday 4th August.
All day in Wyperfield National Park, most on the trail to the Malleefowl mound and the first few kms of the Lowan Track. An excellent day, lots of good birds (though not a huge number of species) and pleasant weather with highlights being Chestnut Quail-Thrush, Shy Hylacola, Southern Scrub-Robin, Pink Cockatoo and Mulga Parrot. The only disappointment was no Malleefowl despite my watching a mound for over 3 hours (we later learned that they may only visit the mounds once or twice a week at this time of year)! Left Wyperfield as the light was fading, stopping for food en route to Hattah-Kulkyne National Park where we camped by Lake Hattah. 37 species seen, 7 being new. Best bird: Chestnut Quail-Thrush.
Wednesday 5th August.
Quite cold by the lake at dawn (following a clear night) although a flock of Regent Parrots soon got the blood racing. All day in Hattah-Kulkyne National Park, concentrating on the Mallee adjoining the start of the Nowingi Track. Here Mallee Emuwrens were readily found, along with Chestnut Quail-Thrush, Crested Bellbird and a distant view of a Striated Grasswren bouncing away from me. A drive to Lake Mournpoll produced a superb pair of Pink Cockatoos in roadside conifers but little else. Grasswren type calls were heard during a final walk down the Nowingi Track, but the light was starting to go and nothing could be seen. Returned to camp at Lake Hattah. A Southern Boobook calling near the campsite shut up as soon as we approached it (a clear moonlit night). 49 species seen, 4 being new. Best bird: Malee Emuwren.
Thursday 6th August.
Out along the Murray Valley Highway at dawn but no Malleefowl. Returned to the Nowingi Track seeing similar birds, although only one Emuwren and no more Grasswrens. John failed to reappear at the car and after some time a very faint shout for help was heard in the opposite direction from that to which he appeared to have gone. Gary took a compass bearing and 'rescued' a much relieved John. It transpired he'd been 'lost' for about an hour, at which stage he'd stayed in the same area periodically shouting in different directions. The lack of landmarks in the Mallee clearly required a greater degree of care than we were taking! We returned to Lake Mournpoll early afternoon, where a distant White-backed Swallow was seen, and then concentrated on the track past it to the kangaroo fence. We'd been told this was a good area for Chestnut-crowned Babblers and after a couple of hours of searching eventually found a superb group of 4. Undaunted by his earlier adventure, John and I decided to have a final try for the Grasswrens and had brilliant views of a pair along the Nowingi Track. Returned to camp at Lake Hattah. The moon was so bright the Southern Boobook didn't even start calling. 65 species seen, 2 being new. Best bird: Striated Grasswren.
Friday 7th August.
Packed camp and left Hattah for drive north to Yarrarra, stopping for breakfast en route. A couple of hours at Yarrarra produced the hoped for White-browed Treecreeper and an excellent male Gilbert's Whistler. We continued into South Australia (declaring two bananas and a carrot, which were then hastily eaten, at a fruit check-point) and after a brief stop by the Murray River hit the coast at Port Gawler, north of Adelaide. This was generally disappointing, although did produce Slender-billed Thornbill and a few distant waders. A look on the salt pools and coast along the St. Kilda road was, if anything, worse. Camped on a site in West Beach. 75 species seen, 2 being new. Best bird: a superb singing male Red-capped Robin.
Saturday 8th August.
Arrived at Adelaide Airport at 7.30 am to collect a pre-booked 4WD but one was not available. Following some misinformation about the roads we eventually started the tedious journey north mid morning in the car we'd arrived in. A 17 km diversion along a muddy track due to the main road being closed north of Hawker for filming (of Holy Smoke) was made worse when we realised the film crew had probably been given 'our' 4WD along with many others! It eventually proved to be worthwhile, however, with Chirruping Wedgebill and White-winged Fairywrens beside the track and a flock of Elegant Parrots by the road a few kms past the diversion. Drove on to the company mining town of Leigh Creek arriving just after dark. A strangely impersonal place but the main bar served excellent food. Camped by the road a few kms further north. 31 species seen of which 3 were new. Best bird: White-winged Fairywren.
Sunday 9th August.
Up at dawn and after a brief look around continued north towards Lyndhurst, stopping 7 kms short where 2 rather distant Thick-billed Grasswrens and a pair of Elegant Parrots were seen. Continued on to Lyndhurst and down the first part of the Strzelecki Track to the Chestnut-breasted Whiteface sites at km 26 and 27. 2-3 hours at the first site produced very little, a shy Rufous Calamanthus being the best. A similar time at the 'old mine site' looked like ending up the same way until a funny little song drew my attention to a pair of Whitefaces. We had excellent views for about 15 minutes, during which time the male appeared to be nest building, before they flew off several hundred metres away. We returned to Lyndhurst and drove on towards Marree, seeing a pair of Banded Lapwings by the road in fading light. Camped beside the road just short of Marree. 31 species, 4 being new. Best bird: Chestnut-breasted Whiteface.
Monday 10th August.
Concerned about taking an uninsured hire car further along a damp Birdsville Track than was absolutely necessary we decided to go as far as we could in a day or as far as it took to see Inland Dotterel. Three Cinnamon Quail-Thrush beside the road just before Marree was an excellent start, with another 2 and then 7 a few kms down the Birdsville Track. A Gibber Chat was seen while watching the last ones (14 kms out of Marree) and stopping a km further on for another Gibber Chat revealed 3 Inland Dotterel walking around behind it. A further 5 Inland Dotterel and 4 Australian Pratincoles on the other side of the road capped a brilliant morning and after watching them for some time we rather reluctantly turned back. We drove back to the Port Augusta salt pans, stopping for another good meal in Leigh Creek and spent the last hour of light in scrub 9 kms to NW hoping for, but not seeing, Redthroat. After dark drove south to Port Lincoln, camping in Lincoln National Park. 38 species seen, 3 being new. Best bird: Cinnamon Quail Thrush just ahead of Inland Dotterel.
Tuesday 11th August.
A disappointing morning at Lincoln National Park in rather indifferent weather. No whipbirds were heard and only Gary managed to find a Blue-breasted Fairywren, which then immediately vanished. Moved on to the much more spectacular Coffin Point National Park where 3 Rock Parrots were found in the low coastal scrub, although a very pleasant walk along a beach produced little. Left and started to drive north late in afternoon, stopping for a flock of Cape Barren Geese in a field near Port Lincoln prison and to look at Big Swamp a few kms further north. Drove on to Lake Gilles Conservation Park where camped along the entrance track. 64 species seen of which 2 were new. Best bird: Superb Fairywren.
Wednesday 12th August.
Little was seen in rather poor habitat along the Lake Gilles entrance road so we continued towards Port Augusta, stopping in much better habitat 54 kms short of Iron Knob. Here we were very pleasantly surprised to find Rufous Treecreeper, while a broken wing display from a Western Yellow Robin was unexpected. We continued to Iron Knob, turning south-east towards Whyalla and stopping after 10 kms where 2 Redthroats were seen (the first one flying in response to tape). Another brief stop at Port Augusta salt pans gave even better views of Banded Stilts (in better light) and we continued south to Port Prime arriving with just over an hour before dusk. Two Stubble Quail and 3 Bluebonnets were seen on the approach road while 40 Fairy Terns were the pick of the birds seen on the shore. Walking out on the mudflats (and rapidly returning ahead of the incoming tide) was tremendously atmospheric, with a superb light where we were, but very dark storm clouds seemingly passing all around us. Drove to Adelaide and camped again at West Beach. 62 species seen, 5 were new. Best bird: Rufous Treecreeper.
Thursday 13th August.
Changed the Station Wagon for a saloon car that needed to be returned to Melbourne and, after seeing 3 Musk Parrots in flowering trees in the parking lot, drove to Bool Lagoon by way of the Coorong, although did not stop there. Arrived at Bool Lagoon early afternoon and spent the rest of the day walking the various trails, mostly between showers. Lots of water birds of which 200+ Pied Geese were unexpected. Three Australian Bitterns were seen and 13 Blue-winged Parrots roosted in one of the drier reed beds. Then drove on to Loch Ard Gorge on the Great Ocean Road, camping nearby. John was breathalysed twice within half an hour at different local police road blocks! A new experience for him. 62 species seen of which 2 were new. Best bird: Pink-eared Duck.
Friday 14th August.
Up at dawn enjoying Loch Ard Gorge before other tourists arrived. Surprisingly no Blue-winged Parrots could be found although an Olive Whistler was new and several Rufous Bristlebirds were seen well. It was nice to see the coast in better weather and we also returned to the Bay of Islands before heading inland to Lake Martin, near Cressy, where 16 Cape Barren Geese were seen. Continued on to Long Forest for the last part of the day, although it was rather cold and small birds were not in much evidence, possibly not helped by the presence of a Collared Sparrowhawk, which gave good views. After dark drove round the outskirts of Melbourne to Toolangi where we camped behind the forest centre. 66 species seen, one being new. Best bird: Rufous Bristlebird.
Off To New Caledonia:
Saturday 15th August.
Three hours in the tall forest at Toolangi proved to be even less productive than our earlier visit and we left mid morning to return to Melbourne International Airport at Tullamarine, having earlier stopped in a supermarket to buy supplies for New Caledonia (mainly tinned fish and biscuits). Returned hire car, showered in the airport and repacked before checking in for Aircalin flight to Noumea. Arrived at Tontouta International Airport, 45 kms N of Noumea at 23.00 hrs where a pleasant lady was waiting for us with our hire car. Drove to Riviere Bleu (c80 kms) and camped at park entrance, although this was not quite as easy as it sounds as there are very few road signs on New Caledonia. 17 species seen, none new - first tickless day!. Best bird: Eastern Yellow Robin.
Sunday 16th August.
Up at dawn and into the park at 7 am when it opened. It was not possible to camp as the reserve closed at 5 pm and was not open on Mondays! Were given directions to Yves Letocart's house, although as we were not sure if our fax to him had got through we decided a visit early on Sunday morning might not be appropriate. Red-throated Parrotfinch beside the road a couple of kms into the park was a very encouraging start. Continued to drive through very degraded habitat around a large artificial lake (the result of a large dam downstream) before finally entering superb forest. Concentrated on the excellent trail by the Grand Kaori tree (which in itself was most impressive), finding a good selection of the New Caledonian endemics (including Notu Pigeon, Southern Shrikebill and Horned Parakeet), but no Kagu. Decided to visit Yves early afternoon to find out where best to see Kagu, but after negotiating a very rough and in places muddy track arrived at his house to find nobody in. We left a note and rather reluctantly drove out of the park before it closed. Arrived at Mont Koghi just as it was getting dark and camped by the car park. 25 species seen of which 14 were new. Best bird: Notu Pigeon.
Monday 17th August.
Up at dawn and once tent was packed away spent most of the morning on the main trail up towards the summit of Mont Koghi. Few birds were evident, possibly due to a quite strong wind. Nothing was seen or heard in the 'ferny' sections where we'd hoped we might encounter the New Caledonian Grass Warbler. Returning to the car park we spent the afternoon scanning the adjacent forested slopes eventually finding two distant Cloven-feathered Doves. A short walk part way along the trail towards the waterfall gave much better views of the Doves (a very smart bird) and an amazing view of a parrotfinch feeding on berries growing directly out of the trunk of a tree. Left Mont Koghi just before dusk to return to Riviere Bleu, stopping at a supermarket to buy bread and fruit on the way. Camped at entrance to Riviere Bleu. 22 species seen of which 3 were new. Best bird: Cloven-feathered Dove just ahead of Red-throated Parrotfinch.
Tuesday 18th August.
Entered the park when it opened at 7 am, having got a permit to camp for 2 nights. We were told that Yves would be waiting for us on the road to the Grand Kaori tree and with a growing sense of anticipation we set off to meet him. Our desire to see Kagu must have been evident to Yves right from the outset and without further ado he took us to an area nearby where he had heard Kagus earlier that morning. Within a couple of minutes of him playing a tape recording, two Kagus ran in, circled us curiously for some time before eventually wandering off. A dream realised! Yves took us to another patch of roadside forest where a strange Crow Honeyeater immediately flew in to investigate the tape recording of its song. We were very fortunate to see one so easily, and it turned out this was our only definite sighting of the species. After an hour or so Yves left us to continue with his work (as the Park superintendent), having first imparted much helpful information. We spent the rest of the day on the Grand Kaori trail and walking along the road between there and Pont Germain where we set up camp at the picnic area (where there was a good supply of drinking water and basic toilet, but note that no food is available in the park). One of a pair of New Caledonian Crows near the camp site was fascinating, carrying a long stick in its bill (something noted of two others seen subsequently too). Returning for a meal (of bread and tuna) before it got dark we were delighted to have 2 Kagus feeding around the tents in a plover like fashion (running then stopping and listening) for nearly half an hour before dusk. When disturbed, or clumsily bumped into each other, they would display to each other for a minute or two. This consisted of standing bolt upright in very close proximity to each other with belly stuck out, crest raised and wings partially opened and inverted - a ridiculous posture! The less dominant of these two had yellow rings on each leg. A truly magical place. 26 species seen, 4 being new. Best bird: Kagu.
Wednesday 19th August.
All day at Riviere Bleu walking the road from the camp site to the Grand Kaori tree and beyond. A good days birding with most of the New Caledonian specialities seen and several Kagu sightings. Two were seen along the road about 1 km from camp site, one chasing the other off across the road. Near the Grand Kaori tree a ringed individual (pale green & yellow) did three running passes in response to a brief play of the tape before crossing the road where it started calling very loudly. It was soon joined by a second (unringed bird) and a duet, if two barking calls can be described as such, ensued for several minutes while the birds were in full view less than 10 m from us. They eventually wandered off into the forest and almost immediately after three were seen on the road 100m away by John & Gary. Although two had gone by the time I'd caught up with them, these may have been the noisy pair which had gone in that direction, the third bird had a pale green ring on one leg. Later, at the camp site before dusk, the two birds that had been seen previously appeared again, but only for 5 minutes this time. 28 species seen, one being new. Best bird: Kagu.
Thursday 20th August.
Morning at Riviere Bleu walking the road to the Grand Kaori tree. An unringed Kagu was seen in the forest by a small picnic table about 0.5 km from campsite then, when walking down the road before the Kaori tree, a pair started hissing at me. I hissed back and one approached to within 4 m. I took a photo of it with a pocket camera and promptly ran out of film. Both birds, which were unringed, wandered off but further hissing when I'd changed the film enticed them back, one to nearly as close as before enabling a few more photos to be taken. Somewhat surprisingly the photos came out very well! Kagu had got to be one of the best birds ever. Further down the track a calling New Caledonian Sparrowhawk was seen perched on an exposed tree top branch. Reluctantly returned to the camp site, packed up and left Riviere Bleu. Drove to west coast near Yate where 12 summer plumaged Wandering Tattlers were seen on the shore. Continued parallel to the coast to Goro but few places seemed to allow access to the beach, although we did see another sparrowhawk in patchy forest beside the road. Drove back to Noumea Airport in fading light, seeing a superb sunset en route. Camped by airport car park. 36 species seen, one being new. Best bird: Kagu.
Friday 21st August.
Returned hire car to a different and much less pleasant lady at 6 am. She insisted the voucher we'd presented was not valid as it was in Nick's name and wanted payment again. We refused and eventually, and with very bad grace, a written statement to the effect that we'd had the car booked and paid for by Nick in England seemed to satisfy. Flew with Aircalin to Sydney arriving just after 10.30 am. John and Gary departed for a harbour tour ahead of a flight to Darwin (for a further 6 days). I hired a car and drove straight to Barren Grounds. Walked the 'ground parrot' trail with increasing frustration for over 4 hours with no success despite superb weather, 3 Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoos and an Eastern Bristlebird providing little consolation! Decided to try nearby Budderoo, for a change of scenery, and amazingly flushed a Ground Parrot and what was probably a Lewin's Rail within five minutes of getting there! It clouded over at dusk and I drove back to Royal National Park, sleeping in the car at Bonnievale. 2 species seen on New Caledonia and 25 in Australia, one being new. Best bird: Ground Parrot.
Saturday 22nd August.
Up at dawn. Spent an hour at Bonnievale seeing little, followed by a brief walk on Curra Moors, which was exceptionally wet. Returned to Sydney Airport and departed at 1 pm. 31 species seen, none were new. Best bird: female Brush Bronzewing.
Species List: Australia
(sightings by RJF, * indicates a new species, + possible new species, depending on taxonomy. Scientific names are not given but names used are as in Thomas & Thomas, The complete guide to finding the Birds of Australia)
*Emu: 12-13 daily Wyperfield, 1-16 daily
Hattah, 43 Lyndhurst-Hawker on 10th, 16 Lincoln/Coffin Point & 4 Lake Gilles.
*Hoary-headed Grebe: 319 seen on 9 dates incl. 250 Werribee and 40 at Port Augusta.
Australian (Little) Grebe: 4 Royal NP, 2 Deniliquin, 2 Edithvale, 1 Geelong, 2 Port Gawler & 10 Bool Lagoon.
Wandering Albatross: 4 adult gibsoni and 1 juvenile exulans from Sandra K on 24 July.
Black-browed Albatross: c50 from Sandra K on 24 July of which 2 were white-eyed impavada, 4 off Great Ocean Road.
Shy Albatross: 7 from Sandra K on 24 July
Yellow-nosed Albatross: c100 from Sandra K on 24 July. Three were banded.
Southern Giant Petrel: 3 from Sandra K on 24 July.
Cape Petrel: 2 from Sandra K on 24 July.
*Solander's Petrel: c10 from Sandra K on 24 July.
Fairy Prion: 50+ from Sandra K on 24 July.
Fluttering Shearwater: 150+ from Sandra K on 24 July, 5000 off Barwon on 31st when sadly over 100 were found washed up on a short section of beach.
*White-faced Storm Petrel: 1 from Sandra K on 24 July.
Australian Pelican: 182 seen on 14 dates, maximum 50 along Murray River on 7 August.
Australian Gannet: 5 from Sandra K on 24 July, 14 off Great Ocean Road & 1 off Coffin Point NP.
Little Black Cormorant: 75 seen on 6 dates, max. 50 Coffin Point NP.
Great Cormorant: 27 seen on 7 dates, max. 10 Great Ocean Road.
Pied Cormorant: 50 Werribee, 6 Great Ocean Road, 40 Coffin Point NP & 30 Port Prime.
*Black-faced Cormorant: 6 nesting off Bay of Islands, Great Ocean Road.
Little Pied Cormorant: 109 seen on 12 dates, max 50 over Bonnievale, Royal NP at dawn.
Pacific (White-necked) Heron: 1 at Deniliquin on 27 July and 40 in fields by Great Ocean Road.
Great (White) Egret: 32 seen on 11 dates, max. 10 Port Prime.
White-faced Heron: 110 seen on 16 dates, max. 50 Werribbee.
Little Egret: 1 on 1 August.
Cattle Egret: 7 seen on 5 dates.
Australasian Bittern: 1 at Edithvale and 3 at Bool Lagoon.
Australian (White) Ibis: 241 seen on 12 dates, max. 50 Deniliquin.
Straw-necked Ibis: 500 seen on 12 dates, max. 150 at Deniliquin and at Lake Martin.
Royal Spoonbill: 4 at Bonnievale on 21 July and 22 August, 3 at Leeton Swamp and 10 at Werribbee.
*Yellow-billed Spoonbill: 1 at Leeton Swamp, 1 at Chiltern State Forest, 3-5 at Hattah Lakes and 10 at Lake Martin.
Magpie Goose: 200 at Bool Lagoon.
Black Swan: 1200 seen on 12 dates, max. 750 at Bool Lagoon.
*Cape Barren Goose: 1 pair with 4 goslings at Balnaring, 27 near Port Lincoln prison and 16 at Lake Martin.
*Australian Shelduck: 112 seen on 8 dates, max. 24 at Hattah Lakes and 40 at Bool Lagoon.
Maned or Australian Wood Duck: 175 seen on 20 dates.
Grey Teal: c1700 seen on 13 dates, max. 500 at Leeton Swamp and at Bool Lagoon.
Chestnut Teal: 107 seen on 10 dates, include. 40 at Werribbee, and 20 on Big Swamp on 12 August.
Mallard: 1 in Adelaide on 13 August.
Pacific Black Duck: c500 seen on 15 dates, max. 100 at Leeton Swamp, Werribee and Bool Lagoon.
Australian Shoveller: c110 seen on 8 dates include. 40 at Leeton Swamp and 50 at Werribee.
Pink-eared Duck: 3 at Deniliquin, 500 at Werribee and 30 on Bool Lagoon. Very smart.
Hardhead: c130 seen on 7 dates include. 75 at Werribee and 20 at Bool Lagoon.
*Blue-billed Duck: 2 males and a female at Drysdale on 1 August.
Musk Duck: 50 at Werribee, 6 at Big Swamp and 10 on Bool Lagoon.
Australian (Black-shouldered) Kite: 54 seen on 12 dates include. 10 on 7 and 12 August.
Black Kite: 38 seen on 9 dates include. 15 on 8 August.
Whistling Kite: 15 seen on 7 dates of which 7 were at Hattah.
Spotted Harrier: An immature male at Barren Grounds on 22 July, a male at Deniliquin and an immature at Port Prime.
Swamp Harrier: 28 seen on 8 dates incl. 8 at Werribee and 10 at Bool Lagoon.
Brown Goshawk: 7 singles seen.
*Collared Sparrowhawk: Singles seen well at Barren Grounds Ground Parrot trail (on 23 July and 21 August), Chiltern State Forest and Long Forest.
Wedge-tailed Eagle: 20 seen on 11 dates.
Little Eagle: 1 at Barwon on 31 July and 2 there on 1 August.
Australian Kestrel: 94 seen on 19 dates, include. 20 on 8 Auugst and 25 on 12th.
Brown Falcon: 38 seen on 13 dates, max. 8 pn 27 July and 12 August.
Australian Hobby: 1 near Deniliquin, 2 at Werribee, 1 at Hattah and 1 along Great Ocean Road.
Peregrine Falcon: 1 at Bay of Islands.
Australian Brush Turkey: 1 at Dhurag National Park camp site.
[*Malleefowl: heard at Wyperfield at dusk.]
*Stubble Quail: Singles flushed and spotlighted near Deniliquin, 2 flushed near Geelong and 2 walking along approach road to Port Prime.
*Plains Wanderer: A female seen in daylight and 2 males spotlighted near Deniliquin. Amazing birds!
[*Lewin's Rail: A bird presumed to be this species was flushed from boggy area at Budderoo on 21 August. It repeated a grunted call - gruk - 4 times as it flew directly away.]
*Australian (Spotted) Crake: Stunning views of a pair at Werribee.
[*Spotted/Spotless Crake: 1 flushed but only seen badly in flight at Leeton Swamp.]
*Black-tailed Native Hen: 7 near Deniliquin.
Dusky Moorhen: 78 seen on 7 dates, max. 30 Royal NP.
Purple Swamphen: 185 seen on 11 dates, max. 50 Bool Lagoon.
Eurasian Coot: 736 seen on 11 dates, max. 250 at both Werribbee and Bool Lagoon.
Pied Oystercatcher: 8 on beach at Coffin Point NP and 2 at Bay of Islands.
*Sooty Oystercatcher: 5 at Wollongong, 11 at Barwon Heads and 6 at Coffin Point NP, all on beaches.
Black-winged Stilt: 124 seen on 8 dates, max. 40 at both Werribbee and Bool Lagoon.
*Banded Stilt: 6 at Laverton, 15 at Adelaide and 30 & 85 at Port Augusta, all on saltworks.
*Red-necked Avocet: 40 at Leeton Swamp, 110 at Werribbee, 140 at Laverton and 30 on Lake Mournpoll.
Bush Thick-knee: a pair near Deniliquin.
Beach Thick-knee: 1 on beach at Bonnievale, Royal NP on 21 July had been present for some months.
Australian Pratincole: 2 adults and 2 juveniles 15 km north of Marree.
*Banded Lapwing: 2 near Tenora, 2 near Deniliquin, 1 at Werribbee, 2 just south of Marree and 1 just north of Marree.
Masked Lapwing: 93 seen on 19 dates, max. 10 on 27, 28 and 31 July and 7 and 13 August.
Red-capped Plover: 2 at Rosebud, 25 at Werribbee, 12 at Barwon, 1 at Port Gawler and 3 at Port Prime.
Double-banded Plover: 3 on beach at Rosebud on 30 July.
Black-fronted Dotterel: 2 at Leeton Swamp, 11 on Lake Mournpoll, 2 north of Lyndhurst.
Red-kneed Dotterel: 50 at Werribbee.
*Hooded Dotterel: 2 on beach near Barwon.
*Inland Dotterel: A group of 2 adults and a juvenile and another group of 5 adults by the road 15-16 kms north of Marree.
Ruddy Turnstone: 3 at Werribbee.
Eastern Curlew: 2 at Port Gawler and 3 at Bonnievale in Royal NP.
Greenshank: 8 at Werribbee, 1 at Port Gawler and 2 at Port Prime.
Red Knot: 2 at Port Gawler and 30 at Port Prime.
Red-necked Stint: 10 at Werribbee, 6 at Barwon, 100 at Port Gawler, 50 at Coffin Point NP and 75 at Port Prime. Most on beaches.
Curlew Sandpiper: 100 at Werribbee.
Southern or Brown Skua: 3 from Sandra K on 24 July and 2 off Coffin Point NP.
*Pacific Gull: 1 at Rosebud, 7 along Great Ocean Road and 10 at Coffin Point NP.
Kelp Gull: 4 from Sandra K on 24 July, not far offshore.
Silver Gull: c1250 seen on 18 dates, max. 250 on 12 August.
Caspian Tern: 4 at Murray River on 7 August, 3 at Port Prime, 1 near Coorong and 3 near Bay of Islands.
White-fronted Tern: 4 from Sandra K on 24 July.
*Fairy Tern: 40 at Port Prime.
Crested Tern: 5 from Sandra K on 24 July, 1 at Werribbee, 12 at Coffin Point NP, 10 near Coorong and 50 near Bay of Islands.
Feral Pigeon: 270 recorded in urban areas on 5 dates incl. 200 in Adelaide. Probably overlooked.
White-headed Pigeon: 20 near Bathurst on 25 July.
Spotted Dove: 112 seen on 9 dates, max. 30 on 30 July.
Peaceful Dove: 1 at Chiltern State Forest.
Common Bronzewing: 3 near Deniliquin, 6 at Chiltern State Forest and 4 at Hattah-Kulkyne.
*Brush Bronzewing: 2 (1 male) near Airey's Inlet, 5 (2 males) at Lincoln NP, 1 at 12 Apostles and a female in Royal NP.
Crested Pigeon: 330 seen on 18 dates, max. 100 on 26 July.
Rainbow Lorikeet: 16 in Royal NP, 4 at Distillery Creek and 2 in Melbourne.
*Musk Lorikeet: 4 at Adelaide Airport, by Budget truck pound.
*Little Lorikeet: 2 at Chiltern State Forest.
*Purple-crowned Lorikeet: 3 at entrance to Werribbee and 3 in Lake Gilles NP.
*Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoo: 3 at Barren Grounds (poorly on first visit), 2 near Dhurag and 30 in Geelong Botanical Gardens.
*Gang-gang Cockatoo: After failing at several sites 2 pairs came to drink at a small pool by Distillery Creek picnic area on evening of 1 August while 2 immature males were seen in the forest nearby the next morning.
Galah: c5400 seen on 22 dates, max. 2200 on 26 July.
Little Corella: 3 near Leeton, 5 near Geelong, 2 at Hattah, 75 S of Leigh Creek, and 250 Lyndhurst-Marree.
*Long-billed Corella: 500+ at Deniliquin and 150 near Bool Lagoon.
corella sp.: 50 near Lake Martin were not seen close enough to identify.
*Pink Cockatoo: A pair at Wyperfield and 2 pairs (seen on different days) at Hattah-Kulkyne. Stunning.
Sulphur-crested Cockatoo: c600 seen on 17 dates, max. 175 at Royal NP.
Australian King Parrot: 2 at Chiltern State Forest, 9 at Maroondah Reservoir, 4 at Distillery Creek and 2 at Toolangi.
*Superb Parot: 3 near Deniliquin. Definitely superb.
*Regent Parot: 3 at Wyperfield and daily totals of 16, 8 and 4 at Hattah-Kulkyne.
Crimson Rosella: 56 seen on 9 dates, max. 20 Kinglake, (4 presumed Adelaide in flight near Adelaide Airport).
Yellow (=Crimson) Rosella: 7 near Deniliquin and 10-15 daily at Hattah-Kulkyne.
Eastern Rosella: 67 seen on 7 dates, incl. 40 on drive from Wallendbeen to Leeton and 10 at Chiltern State Forest.
*Mallee Ringneck: 35 seen on 7 dates, 2 near Deniliquin, 4 at Little Desert NP, 1 at Wyperfield, 8-10 daily at Hattah-Kulkyne and 2 near Lyndhurst.
Port Lincon (=Mallee) Ringneck: 9 near Big Swamp and 5 at Lake Gilles NP.
Red-rumped Parrot: c240 seen on 7 dates, max. 100 on drive from Wallendbeen to Leeton.
*Mulga Parrot: 5 at Wyperfield, 4 at Hattah-Kulkyne and 1 at Lake Gilles NP.
*Bluebonnet: 50 on drive from Wallendbeen to Leeton, 12 near Deniliquin, 2 near Yarrarra and 3 on Port Prime approach road. Very nice.
*Blue-winged Parrot: 13 roosted in reeds at Bool Lagoon. 2 probables flew over Loch Ard Gorge.
*Elegant Parrot: 10 beside road north of Hawker and 2 just south of Lyndhurst.
*Rock Parrot: 3 at Coffin Point NP.
*Orange-bellied Parrot: 6 in flooded area south of Geelong.
*Swift Parrot: 120 at Londonderry, NW Sydney on 25 July.
*Ground Parrot: 1 seen well in flight at Budderoo on 21 August. Several heard and 1 flushed (by JFC) at Barren Grounds on 23 July.
Fan-tailed Cuckoo: 1 at Little Desert NP and 3 at Lincoln NP.
*Horsfield's Bronze Cuckoo: 1 or 2 at Lincoln NP.
Shining Bronze Cuckoo: 1 at Lincoln NP.
Barn Owl: 1 by road after dark on 13 August. 1 probable by road after dark on 10 August.
[*Sooty Owl: heard at fairly close range on Roberton escarpment. Frustrating.]
*Powerful Owl: heard at Bonnievale, not found at Mitchell Park, 1 roosting at Lysterfield. Very impressive.
Southern Boobook: heard on Roberton escarpment, at Little Desert NP and Hattah-Kulkyne.
Australian Owlet-Nightjar: one enticed from roost hole near Deniliquin. 2 birds that flew across road at dusk north of Port Lincoln were almost certainly this species.
Laughing Kookaburra: 46 seen on 17 dates, heard on 3 others. Max 8 at Royal NP, also 5 at Dhurag and Toolangi.
*Superb Lyrebird: An amazing male displaying at the southern end of Lady Carrington Drive, 2 along the Old North Road at Dhurag and 1 at Toolangi.
Australian Busk Lark: 10 while spotlighting near Deniliquin.
Sky Lark: 53 seen on 5 dates, head on 2 others. Max. 40 at Werribbee.
*White-backed Swallow: 1 at Lake Mournpoul and 6 along the start of the Strzelecki Track. Superb.
Welcome Swallow: c500 seen on 21 dates, max. 100 on drive to Leeton.
Tree Martin: 1 at Wyperfield, 23 at Hattah, 5 on Strzelecki Track and 3 near Port Lincoln.
Australian Pipit: 57 seen on 10 dates, max. 15 Marree-Port Augusta.
Black-faced Cuckoo-Shrike: 16 seen on 6 dates, max. 6 at Yarrarra.
White-bellied Cuckoo-Shrike: 3 at Chiltern State Forest.
*Southern Scrub Robin: 2 along Lowan Track at Wyperfield and 2 near the generator at Lincoln NP.
Bassian Ground Thrush: 6 at Toolangi.
Blackbird: 90 seen on 12 dates, max. 30 Great Ocean Road.
Song Thrush: 1 in Victoria Park, Geelong.
Eastern Whipbird: 3 at Dhurag and 1 near Centre at Royal NP.
*Chirruping Wedgebill: 13 Hawker-Lyndhurst and 15 8 kms NW of Port Augusta.
Spotted Quail Thrush: A female at start of Old North Road, Dhurag.
*Chestnut Quail Thrush: 9 at Wyperfield (mostly along the Lowan Track) and 2 along the Nowingi Track at Hattah-Kulkyne.
*Cinnamon Quail Thrush: 12 along first 15 kms of Birdsvile Track.
Grey-crowned Babbler: 2 near Wallendbeen, 4 near Deniliquin and 1 at Edithvale.
White-browed Babbler: 52 seen on 11 dates, incl. 12 at Wyperfield and 10 at Lake Gilles NP
*Chestnut-crowned Babbler: 4 at Hattah-Kulkyne, adjacent to the track past Lake Mournpoul.
*Little Grassbird: Singles at Deniliquin, Edithvale and Werribbee.
Golden-headed Cisticola: 1 at Leeton, 1 at Edithvale, 5 at Werribbee and 4 near Barwon.
*White-winged Fairywren: 5 north of Hawker, 18 along Strzelecki Track, 13 along Birdsville Track, 2 8kms NW of Port Augusta and heard near Iron Knob. Smart. Song easily remembered.
Superb Fairywren: 142 seen on 13 dates, at least 22 were full plumaged males. Max 30 at Lincoln NP included 4 stunning males chasing a female.
*Splendid Fairywren: 5 at Wyperfield and 2 at Hattah-Kulkyne. Only eclipse plumage males seen.
[Blue-breasted Fairywren: One male at Lincoln NP. Unfortunately only seen by Gary.]
Variegated Fairywren: 15 (including 4 brilliant males) at Little Desert NP and 3 at Wyperfield.
*Southern Emuwren: A male seen well in flight at Budderro. Gary saw one briefly at Barren Grounds where what were presumbed to be others were heard.
*Mallee Emuwren: 9 at Hattah-Kulkyne, most were along the Nowingi Track. Very nice.
*Thick-billed Grasswren: 2 in scrub 5 kms S of Lyndhurst.
*Striated Grasswren: 1 seeen distantly then 2 seen very well about 1 km down the Nowingi Track at Hattah-Kulkyne. Excellent.
*Eastern Bristlebird: 2 at Barren Grounds, one being seen on 'Ground Parrot' trail on 3 .
*Rufous Bristlebird: 1 at Airey's Inlet Lighthouse, 8 at 12 Apostles & Loch Ard Gordge and 2 at Bay of Islands.
*Pilotbird: One by Barren Grounds entrance gate.
*Origma: A pair about 1 km along the Old North Road at Dhurag.
White-browed Scrubwren: 42 seen on 14 dates, max. 8 at Lincoln NP.
*Redthroat: 2 beside the road 10kms SE of Iron Knob.
*Striated Calamanthus: Singles at Werribbee (badly) and Barwon and 5 at Loch Ard Gorge.
*Rufous Calamanthus: 4 in scrub 25kms along Strzelecki Track and 1 8kms NW of Port Augusta.
*Shy Hylacola: 2 at Wyperfield, one along the Lowan Track and the other along the trail to the Malleefowl mound.
Buff-rumped Thornbill: 2 at Brisbane Ranges and 8 at Long Forest.
*Slender-billed Thornbill: 5 in low coastal vegetation at Port Gawler.
Brown Thornbill: 56 seen on 14 dates, max. 10 in Royal NP.
Inland (=Brown) Thornbill: 4 at Little Desert NP and 3 at Wyperfield.
*Yellow Thornbill: 6 near Deniliquin, 10 in Chiltern State Forest and 1 at Hattah-Kulkyne.
Yellow-rumped Thornbill: 50 seen on 9 dates, max. 10 near Wallendbeen and near Deniliquin.
*Chestnut-rumped Thornbill: 4 near Deniliquin, 6 at Wypefield NP, 2 at Hattah-Kulkyne and 2 at Yarrarra.
Striated Thornbill: 3 at Budderoo, 4 at Dhurag, 2 at Distillery Creek and 4 at Toolangi.
Weebill: 3 at Little Desert NP, 1 at Wyperfield and 4 at Hattah-Kulkyne.
Brown Gerygone: 3 at Royal NP.
Southern Whiteface: 2 near Tenora, 2 near Deniliquin, 5 at Hattah-Kulkyne, 5 at Yarrarra, 4 north of Hawker and 2 10kms SE of Iron Knob.
*Chestnut-breasted Whiteface: A pair near old mine 26kms along the Strzelecki Track, the brighter bird was occassionally in song and appeared to be nest building.
*White-fronted Chat: 12 Werribbee, 6 Barwon, 1 Wyperfield, 2 near Leigh Creek, 5 Bool Lagoon and 5 Loch Ard Gorge area.
*Gibber Chat: 5 along Birdsville Track 15kms N of Marree.
Willie Wagtail: 128 seen on 26 dates, max. 25 Little Desert/Wyperfield.
Grey Fantail: 2 at Royal NP, 1 at Dhurag, 2 near Deniliquin, 1 at Chiltern SF and 1 at Toolangi.
Jacky Winter: 1 at Chiltern State Forest, 3 at Wyperfield and 4 at Hattah-Kulkyne.
Scarlet Robin: 2 at Chiltern SF, 1 at Distillery Creek, 2 at Little Desert NP and 3 at Long Forest.
*Red-capped Robin: 1 near Tenora, 7 near Deniliquin, 1 at Wyperfield, 4 at Hattah-Kulkyne, 1 at Yarrarra, 1 N of Hawker and 1 at Royal NP. Half were males, very smart. Nice little song too.
*Flame Robin: 4 (3 males) near Deniliquin and 15 (8 males) at Chiltern State Forest. Nice.
*Pink Robin: A female in Queen's Park, Geelong and an immature male at Distillery Creek.
*Rose Robin: A male in a wooded paddock near Greenhill Road at Chiltern State Forest was stunning.
Hooded Robin: 4 at Little Desert NP, 2 at Wyperfield, 4 at Hattah-Kulkyne and 1 at Coffin Point.
Eastern Yellow Robin: 34 seen on 12 dates, max. 6 at Chiltern State Forest and Toolangi.
*Western Yellow Robin: 4 at Lake Gilles (54kms W of Iron Knob).
Crested Shrike-Tit: 5 at Chiltern State Forest.
*Crested Bellbird: 4 at Hattah-Kulkyne.
*Olive Whistler: 1 at Loch Ard Gorge.
*Gilbert's Whistler: A female at Little Desert NP, a male at Yarrarra and 4 at Lake Gilles.
Golden Whistler: 2 at Royal NP, 4 at Dhurag, 2 at Chiltern State Forest and 2 at Lincoln NP.
Rufous Whistler: 1 near old mine 26kms along the Strzelecki Track
Grey Shrike-Thrush: 27 seen on 12 dates, max. 6 Loch Ard Gorge area.
Varied Sittella: 1 near Deniliquin.
*White-browed Treecreeper: 2 at Yarrarra.
Brown Treecreeper: 3 near Wallendbeen, 2 near Deniliquin, 11 at Chiltern State Forest, 2 at Brisbane Ranges, 3 at Little Desert NP, 2 at Wyperfield and 3 at Yarrarra.
*Rufous Treecreeper: 4 at Lake Gilles (54kms W of Iron Knob).
White-throated Treecreeper: 3 at Budderoo, 1 at Dhurag, 2 at Chiltern State Forest, 7 at Toolangi, 1 at Brisbane Ranges, 2 at Little Desert NP and 2 at Long Forest.
Mistletoebird: 1 at Hattah-Kulkyne, 2 near old mine 26kms along the Strzelecki Track and 1 at Lake Gilles.
Spotted Pardalote: Singles at Dhurag and Distillery Creek.
Yellow-rumped (=Spotted) Pardalote: 4 at Wyperfield, 4 at Hattah-Kulkyne and 15 at Lake Gilles.
Striated Pardalote: 8 'red-tipped' at Hattah-Kulkyne and 3 'striated' at Lake Gilles.
(Grey-breasted) Silver-eye: 160 seen on 7 dates, max. 50 at Lincoln NP.
Lewin's Honeyeater: 2 at Royal NP, 7 at Barren Grounds, 1 at Dhurag and 2 at Toolangi.
Singing Honeyeater: 52 seen on 11 dates, max. 10 on 10 August.
Fuscous Honeyeater: 1 at Little Desert NP.
Yellow-faced Honeyeater: 2 at Barren Grounds, 1 at Dhurag, 6 near Deniliquin, 15 at Little Desert NP and 1 at Long Forest.
*Purple-gaped Honeyeater: : 2 at Lake Gilles (54kms W of Iron Knob).
White-plumed Honeyeater: 50 seen on 8 dates, include. 16 at Chiltern State Forest and 20 at Little Desert NP.
*Yellow-plumed Honeyeater: 4 at Little Desert NP, 20 at Wyperfield, 45 at Hattah-Kulkyne and 20 at Lake Gilles.
White-eared Honeyeater: 24 seen on 9 dates, max. 10 at Little Desert NP.
Yellow-tufted Honeyeater: 2 at Dhurag, 35 at Chiltern State Forest and 1 at Little Desert NP.
*Brown-headed Honeyeater: 6 in woodland near Temora, 6 near Deniliquin, 5 at Distillery Creek, 2 at Little Desert NP and 8 at Lale Gilles.
White-naped Honeyeater: 6 at Barren Grounds, 25 at Chiltern SF, 10 at Toolangi, 15 on 31 July, 1 at Brisbane Ranges and 8 at Little Desert NP.
*Black-chinned Honeyeater: One, after much searching and several false alarms, at Chiltern State Forest.
Blue-faced Honeyeater: 1 near Temora.
Little Friarbird: 1 near Temora.
*Noisy Friarbird: 150 flying N early morning near Wallendbeen.
New Holland Honeyeater: c200 seen on 9 dates, max. 100 at Barren Grounds.
*Tawny-crowned Honeyeater: 1 at Little Desert NP, 3 near Coffin Point and1 at Loch Ard Gorge.
*White-fronted Honeyeater: 6 at Little Desert NP and 4 at Hattah-Kulkyne.
Eastern Spinebill: 56 seen on 10 dates, max. 40 at Barren Grounds.
*Regent Honeyeater: 2 seen near Frogs Hollow at Chiltern State Forest.
*Bell Miner: 4 at Lysterfield.
Noisy Miner: 178 seen on 16 dates, max. 50 between Wallendbeen and Leeton.
Yellow-throated Miner: 6 near Deniliquin.
*Spiny-cheeked Honeyeater: 42 on 11 dates, max. 10 on 10 August.
*Brush Wattlebird: 3 at Royal NP and 7 at Barren Grounds.
Red Wattlebird: 149 seen on 15 dates, max. 80 at Barren Grounds.
Goldfinch: 50 at Werribbee, 11 at 12 Apostles/Loch Ard Gorge and 5 at Bool Lagoon.
Red-browed Firetail: 8 at Royal NP and 15 at Dhurag.
*Beautiful Firetail: 2 seen very well on the loop trail at Barren Grounds. Also 3 probables in flight at Budderoo.
Diamond Firetail: 1 at Chiltern State Forest and 2 at Lincoln NP.
Zebra Finch: 7 near Deniliquin, 50 near Lyndhurst and 6 near Marree.
House Sparrow: 920 seen on 17 dates.
Starling: 2800 seen on 22 dates.
Common Myna: 100 seen on 9 dates.
Olive-backed Oriole: 1 at Mitchell Park and 1 near Deniliquin.
Magpie Lark: 550 seen on 24 dates, max. 200 between Wallendbeen and Leeton.
White-winged Chough: 265 seen on 12 dates, max. 100 between Hattah-Kulkyne and Adelaide.
Apostlebird: 60 between Wallendbeen and Leeton, 10 at Chiltern SF and 33 at Hattah-Kulkyne.
Black-faced Wood Swallow: 2 near Deniliquin, 2 at Chiltern SF, 20 between Hattah-Kulkyne and Adelaide, 1 N of Hawker, 10 Lyndhurst/Marree area.
Dusky Wood Swallow: 25 at Hattah-Kulkyne, 2 at Lincoln NP and 2 at Lake Gilles.
Grey Butcherbird: 24 seen on 11 dates.
Pied Butcherbird: 2 near Temora, 2 near Deniliquin and 2 at Hattah-Kulkyne.
Australian Magpie: c750 seen on 25 dates, max. 100 between Wallendbeen and Leeton and between Adelaide and Bool Lagoon.
Pied Currawong: 107 seen on 14 dates, max. 30 between Wallendbeen and Leeton.
*Grey Currawong: 1 at Wyperfield, 3 at Hattah-Kulkyne, 3 at Lincoln NP, 7 between Adelaide and Bool Lagoon and 1 at Long Forest.
Green Catbird: 5 at Royal NP along Lady Carrington Drive.
Satin Bowerbird: 1 at Royal NP, 4 at Mitchell Park and 70 at caravan park near Eurobin.
*Little Crow: A flock of 8 near old mine 26kms along the Strzelecki Track.
*Australian Raven: 110 seen on 19 dates, max. 25 at Royal NP.
*Forest Raven: 6 at Distillery Creek and 2 at Loch Ard Gorge.
*Little Raven: 230 seen on 7 dates.
raven/crow sp.: 350 seen on 6 dates.
Species List: New Caledonia
(sightings by RJF, * new species, + possible new
species, depending on taxonomy)
Little Pied Cormorant [Phalacrocorax melanoleucus]: 1 Riviere Bleu on 16th and 1 at Riviere Bleu dam on 20th.
White-faced Heron [Ardea novaehollandiae]: singles at Riviere Bleu on 18th and 19th.
Pacific Reef Heron [Egretta sacra]: 1 on offshore reef near Yate on 20th.
Osprey [Pandion haliaetus]: 2 along Yate-Goro road on 20th.
Whistling Kite [Heliasur sphenurus]: 6 at Riviere Bleu and 1 along Yate-Goro road on 20th.
*White-bellied Sparrowhawk [Accipiter haplochrous]: singles at Riviere Bleu on 19th and 20th (the last calling from an exposed branch of a tall tree by the river) and along the Yate-Goro road on 20th. A small accipiter, all blue-grey with pure white lower breast and belly. Yellow cere and legs. Call typical of an accipiter: ki-ki-ki-ki-ki
Swamp Harrier [Circus approximans]: a very pale adult above the forest at Mont Koghi on 17th and 1 beside the Riviere Bleu dam on 20th.
*KAGU [Rhynochetus jubatus]: 4 at Riviere Bleu on 18th, 7 on 19th (5 different) and 3 (probably two different) on 20th. Most gave stunning views. All were seen from, or near, the road from 1 km before the Grand Kaori tree to the camp site at the river. Truely amazing birds.
*Wandering Tattler [Tringa incanus]: 12 in summer plumage on coast along Yate-Goro road on 20th. Call a four note trill.
Silver Gull [Larus novahollandiae]: 10 on coast along Yate-Goro road on 20th.
Crested Tern [Sterna bergii]: 6 on coast along Yate-Goro road on 20th.
Spotted Dove (Streptopelia chinensis]: 8 seen on 3 dates around inhabited areas.
Emerald Dove [Chalcophapsindica chrysochlora]: 2 at Riviere Bleu on 18th and 19th. On each day one was present at the camp-site.
*Cloven-feathered Dove [Drepanoptila holosericea]: 3 at Mont Koghi on 17th, 1 at Riviere Bleu on 18th and 3 on 19th. Very nice pigeon. Small, rotund and bright green. Red eye, small black bill, white throat wattle. Whitish tips to coverts forming 3 wing bars, thin white line and then thick black band separating green head from green breast. Bright yellow belly and vent, but green flanks. Puffy white feathering on legs. Call a deep, regular 'oo-oo-oo-oo', appeared to be given with great effort.
*Notu Pigeon [Ducula goliath]: 3-6 daily at Riviere Bleu and 2 at Mont Koghi. A very large and impressive pigeon. Dark grey with chestnut shoulders, belly and tail and buffy undertail coverts. Red eye, yellow bill with black tip. Call a deep booming 'ooom'.
Rainbow Lorikeet [Trichoglossus haematodes]: 2-6 daily at Riviere Bleu and 12 along Yate-Goro road on 20th.
+(New Caledonian) Red-fronted Parakeet [Cyanoramphus (novaezelandiae) saisetti]: singles at Riviere Bleu on 16th and 20th. Green, paler below, with red crown and eyeline, bluish wing coverts and black primaries. Long tail.
*Horned Parakeet [Eunymphicus cornutus]: 1-7 seen daily at Riviere Bleu. Most seen in trees while walking the road. Largish, full-tailed green parrot with a yellow head and two red-tipped black crest feathers. Heavy black bill. Blue wings and tip to tail.
[Barn Owl [Tyto alba]: one flushed by JFC at the park entrance on morning of 18th.]
*White-rumped Swiftlet [Collocalia spodopygia]: 10 at Riviere Bleu on 20th, probably overlooked earlier (as spent most of time looking in and below trees). Larger than following species with slower flight and greyish underparts. Tended to fly higher, making white rump hard to see.
White-bellied Swiftlet Collocalia esculenta]: 2-10 seen daily. Smaller, more dashing that previous species and often encountered low over forest, belwo tree top level. Glossy black with white rump and whitish underparts.
Sacred Kingfisher [Halcyon sanctus]: 1-6 seen daily.
*Melanesian Greybird [Coracina caledonica]: 2 at entrance to Riviere Bleu on 16th and 4 at Mont Koghi on 17th. A large dark grey cuckoo shrike with long full tail and an obvious white eye.
*Caledonian Mountain Greybird [Coracina analis]: 8 seen at Riveire Bleu on 3 dates. Noticably smaller than previous species, though still quite large. All grey with dark eye and rufous undertail coverts.
*Long-tailed Triller [Lalage leucopygia]: 1-2 seen daily at Riviere Bleu with 2 at Mont Koghi on 17th. Black above and white below with white rump, wing coverts and sides to tail.
*Faintail Gerygone [Gerygone flavolateralis]: 4-15 seen daily at Riviere Bleu with 8 at Mont Koghi on 17th. Small and active. Greyish head with indistinct whitish supercillium, yellowish belly and flanks. White tail spots.
*Southern Shrikebill [Clytorhynchus pachycephaloides]: 4 by the Grand Kaori tree at Riviere Bleu on 16th and one there on 19th. Disproportionately large pale horn coloured bill. Pale rufous brown with buff tips to the tail. Not particularly active, but quite agile, sometimes hanging upside down on branches for several minutes.
*Wide-billed Flycatcher [Myiagra caledonica]: a male at Mont Koghi on 17th, a male and 3 females at Rivere Bleu on 18th, 2 males and 2 females on 19th and 3 males on 20th. Active in mid canopy. Quite vocal, a typical 'schnapp' call. Male all bright, but dark, blue with white lower breast, belly and outer tail feathers. Female paler above with thick white eyering, orange throat, vent and at bend of the wing and white breast and belly.
Grey Fantail [Rhipidura fuliginosa]: 1-6 daily at Riviere Bleu with 4 at Mont Koghi on 17th.
*New Caledonian Spotted Fantail [Rhipidura spilodera]: 4-12 daily at Riviere Bleu with 4 at Mont Koghi on 17th. Rufous brown above with buff tips to the tail, white supercillium and throat, black spots on the breast. Generally found to be commoner in good habitats than previous species.
*Yellow-bellied Robin [Eopsatria flaviventis]: 8-21 daily at Riviere Bleu with one at Mont Koghi on 17th. Small, tame and often on the ground. Brown above, pale grey throat and upper breast, rest of underparts pale yellow.
*New Caledonian Whistler [Pachycephala caledonica]: 4-12 daily at Riviere Bleu with 4 at Mont Koghi on 17th. Male like dull Golden Whistler with grey head, narrow black breast band and orangy belly. Mostly mid canopy. Females more often on or near the ground. Olive brown above, dull whitish below, brighter on throat.
Rufous Whistler [Pachycephala rufiventris]: 2 at Riviere Bleu on 16th, one at Mont Koghi on 17th and one at Riviere Bleu on 20th.
*New Caledonian White-eye [Zosterops xanthomera]: 4-30 daily at Riviere Bleu with 15 at Mont Koghi on 17th. Olive green above with clear white eye-ring, greenish-yellow breast and dull whitish undertail. Typically noisy. Note presence of next species, at least in secondary growth.
[Grey-breasted Silver-eye [Zosterops lateralis]: 4 unidentified white-eyes seen briefly in scrub near Yate on 20th might have been this species.]
*Silver-eared Honeyeater [Lichmera incana]: 6 in scrub at Riviere Bleu on 16th, 1 on 18th and 3 on 20th. Smaller than Barred with shorter bill. Olive brown above with greenish wings. Pale grey ear coverts and underparts.
+New Caledonian Myzomela [Myzomela (dibapha) caledonica]: 2-4 daily at Riviere Bleu with 4 at Mont Koghi on 17th. Small. Scarlet with white flanks and black wings and tail.
*New Caledonian Friarbird [Philemon diemenensis]: 4-21daily at Riviere Bleu with one at Mont Koghi on 17th and 3 along Yate-Goro road on 20th. Generally brown with white streaking on breast, greyish head with pale malar and bluish on closed wing. Surprisingly nice for a friarbird!
*Crow Honeyeater [Gymnomyza aubryana]: one taped in by Yves by the lagoon at Riviere Bleu on 18th, a bird seen poorly in the same general area on 20th was probably one too. Size of a small, but rather slender, crow. All black with bright orange skin on face and orange wattles at base of bill. Long decurved black bill with yellow lower mandible. Large yellowish legs and feet.
*Barred Honeyeater [Guadalcanaria undulata]: 2 at Riviere Bleu on 16th, 4 at Mont Koghi on 17th, 4 at Riviere Bleu on 19th and one on 20th. Medium sized honeyeater with long decurved bill. Greyish brown above, white bellow with fine greyish bars from throat and ear coverts to flanks.
*Red-throated Parrotfinch [Erythrura psittacea]: 3 at Riviere Bleu on 16th, one at Mont Koghi on 17th, 2 at Riviere Bleu on 19th and another 2 on 20th. Brilliant. Small and bright green with very extensive bright red face and breast. Red upper and under tail coverts. Longish, pointed tail.
House Sparrow [Passer domesticus]: 3 at Noumea Airport on 21st.
*Striated Starling [Aplonis striatus]: 3 at Mont Koghi on 17th, 1-4 at Riviere Bleu on 18-20th and 4 along Yate-Goro road on 20th. All dark with red eye and short tail. Female (juvenile?) paler grey above indistinctly streaked below.
Common Myna [Acridotheres tristis]: 114 seen on 4 dates in inhabited areas.
*White-breasted Wood Swallow [Artamus leucorhynchus]: 1-3 daily at Riviere Bleu, 2 at Mont Koghi on 17th and 10 along Yate-Goro road on 20th. Sootier than in SE Asia, mantle had a brownish cast.
*New Caledonian Crow [Corvus moneduloides]: 3 at Riviere Bleu on 18th and 2 on 19th. Smallish. All black. Very wedge shaped bill, particularly the lower mandible. Often to be seen carrying a stick. Quite noisy.