Tuesday, 8 January 2019

A Big Aussie Twitch - Citrine Wagtail

I've been lucky to spend Christmas and New Year with my friends Dave and Sue in Adelaide this year and the day after Boxing Day whilst enjoying watching India stuffing Australia in the cricket Dave got a message from a birder with a report of a Citrine Wagtail in the town of Whyalla, about four and a half hours to the west of Adelaide. Now this is a serious Australian MEGA, with only 4 previous (accepted) records, one other of these records was also in South Australia.

Once we got a back of camera photograph of the bird, and confirmed the record was current etc we all jumped in the truck and so started my final twitch of 2018! 

Five hours after setting off from Adelaide we stepped out of the vehicle and right into an oven. It was baking hot, 45oC and blowing a gale (so felt a lot hotter). We set off out in different directions around the wetland composed of several small waterbodies hoping to find the bird. After a short while of searching the various pools Dave and Sue located the bird on one of the back pools. After a few nervous minutes after it had vanished before I could get across from where I was, the bird suddenly appeared and we then spent the next hour or so enjoying great views of the 5th for Australia.

The Citrine Wagtail was a very worn 1st-winter bird and seemed happy enough finding plenty of food along the lake shore. It would occasionally fly about and was heard calling several times.

5th for Australia Citrine Wagtail. 

We had a nice selection of other birds whilst looking for the wagtail, such as Australian Spotted Crake (pic below) and Wood Sandpiper.

Australian Spotted Crake

After grabbing some dinner in Whyalla we drove back to Adelaide, arriving back home near mid-night. What an awesome and exciting day! Huge thank you to Dave and Sue for all their driving! (and of course for having me for Christmas and New Year!)

Monday, 7 January 2019

Thailand 2019

I'm going to be heading over to Thailand from Australia in a couple of days and am getting very excited about the numerous really cool birds that will be on offer... Here are a few of the species I'll be looking for....

Spoon-billed Sandpiper - this will again be one of my big targets while I'm in the country. Look below for a whole load more awesome birds! 

Giant Nuthatch

Hodgson's Frogmouth

Kalij Pheasant

Long-tailed Broadbill

Mrs Hume's Pheasant

Siberian Blue Robin

Siberian Rubythroat

Silver Pheasant

Silver-breasted Broadbill

Banded Kingfisher

Black-breasted Thrush

Great Hornbill

Common Green Magpie

Rusty-naped Pitta

Ultramarine Flycatcher

White-tailed Robin

Saturday, 5 January 2019

First Birding of 2019

Today I went birding for the first time in 2019 (I'm currently in Adeliade, South Australia). I'd seen a paltry 20 species in the first few days of the year, but that was without leaving my friends house as I'm currently busy sorting out logistics for Thailand, India, Australia, West Papua, Sulawesi, Java, and New Zealand tours for this year.

Garden birds over the last few days have included New Holland Honeyeater (my favorite), Common Bronzewing, Galah, Long-billed Corella, and Black-shouldered Kite.

Today however we headed out to the Toderol Game Reserve about an hour south of Adelaide. This is a shorebird mega site and we had a great list of species. Highlight birds were the two Long-toed Stints we found, along with a Pectoral Sandpiper, and many other shorebirds such as Pacific Golden Plover, Marsh Sandpiper, Common Greenshank, Curlew Sandpiper, Red-capped Plover, Red-kneed Dotterel, Red-necked Avocet, Royal and Yellow-billed Spoonbill, Glossy Ibis, Swamp and Spotted Harriers, Black-tailed Nativehen, Elegant Parrot, Pink-eared Duck, and Horsfield's Bronze Cuckoo - along with many more!

For a full list of sightings take a look at my ebird Checklist: https://ebird.org/view/checklist/S51326819

Long-toed Stint. One of two seen during the morning.

Pectoral Sandpiper.

Marsh Sandpiper.

Wednesday, 2 January 2019

2018 Year Summary

I had every intention of updating the blog more frequently during 2018 but in reality I was just too busy birding! Had some great trips, here are some links to the trip reports with some photos below. Ended the year on 2,241 species I think, give or take.... I also started using ebird this year... follow me there: https://ebird.org/profile/NjE1MzA1/world Best wishes to everyone for 2019...

Wilson's Bird-of-paradise gave amazing views in West Papua

New Caledonia December 2018

Western Australia December 2018

West Papua November 2018

East Coast Australia Tour 2 October-November 2018

Tasmania October 2018

East Coast Australia Tour 1 October 2018

South Australia September 2018
No trip report (email me if you want some info tho!)

Peru July-August 2018

Brazil July 2018
No trip report (email me if you want some info tho!)

China (Sichuan) June-July 2018

Iceland June 2018

Poland Tour 3 May-June 2018

Poland Tour 2 May 2018

USA (Ohio) May 2018
No trip report (email me if you want some info tho!)

Poland Tour 1 April 2018
No trip report (email me if you want some info tho!)

USA (Florida and Ohio) January-February 2018
No trip report (email me if you want some info tho!)

Malaysia January 2018

Here are a few photos from my trips..... loads more on my Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/AWBirder  or search for AWBirder on Instagram and Twitter.

Kagu - New Caledonia

Western Crested Shriketit - Western Australia

Southern Cassowary - East Coast Australia Tour 2

Orange-bellied Parrot - Tasmania

Plains-wanderer - East Coast Australia Tour 1

Southern Cassowary - East Coast Australia Tour 1

Northern Royal Albatross - South Australia

Diademed Sandpiper-plover - Peru

Long-whiskered Owlet - Peru

Green-billed Toucan - Brazil

Blood Pheasant - China (Sichuan)

Harlequin Duck - Iceland

Alpine Accentor - Poland Tour 3

Aquatic Warbler - Poland Tour 2

Snowy Owl - USA (Ohio)

Boreal (Tengmalm's) Owl - Poland Tour 1

Florida Scrub Jay - USA (Florida)

Blue-winged Pitta - Malaysia 

Silver-eared Mesia - Malaysia

Wednesday, 7 February 2018

2017 A Big Work Year!

Working for Birding Ecotours I get the opportunity to travel around the world and show people some amazing birds, and for that I am very lucky, and truly grateful. During 2017 it was clear I’d got a busy calendar to a wide variety of locations around the world, and a few gaps where I was free to go and fit some ‘extra’ birding in. Early on I thought I had a good chance to get 2,000 species from my tours, and then with a few personal trips I set myself the target of getting 3,000. A substantial proportion of my Life List!

The year was a huge success and by the end of it I finished up on 3,080 species! Target achieved. So how did I get there…. read on...

January 2017

Vietnam – a city break with my first bird of 2017 being Black Drongo
Thailand – a city stop in Bangkok
Sri Lanka – a two-week trip, main highlight was Serendib Scops Owl and loads of endemics
UK – my first visit home of the year coincided with a UK mega close to home – Pine Bunting
Dubai – an airport layover with that highly sought Laughing Dove!  

At the end of January I was at 415 species

Serendib Scops Owl - Sri Lankan Endemic

February 2017

Thailand -  a tour giving excellent views of numerous highly sought species such as Spoon-billed Sandpiper, Nordmann's Greenshank, Chinese Egret etc...

At the end of February I was at 694 species

Spoon-billed Sandpiper - mega wader

March 2017

Thailand – more great birds like Siberian Rubythroat and Blue Pitta
UK and USA – a very brief stop with a handful of not-so-exciting year ticks
Costa Rica – a mega-filled tour taking me into early-April, Resplendent Quetzal was a memorable species, as were the several species of Antpitta. Here I hit 1,000 for the year (18th March 2017) with Dull-mantled Antbird.

At the end of March I was at 1,202 species

Dull-mantled Antbird - #1,000

April 2017

Costa Rica – finishing the above and enjoying some exciting spring visible migration
Panama – a brief layover
Colombia – my first trip to this incredible country – Andean Cock-of-the-rock was a huge highlight and 1,500th year tick on 28th April 2017 (Black-fronted Wood Quail)

At the end of April I was at 1,531 species

Andean Cock-of-the-rock

May 2017

USA – a brief stop in Florida, then a couple of weeks in Ohio at the brilliant Biggest Week in American Birding, a time packed full of migrating warblers and numerous other birds.
Colombia – a couple of days birding in Baranquilla on my way to Peru
Peru – 10 days sampling the high Andes and the Amazon – found a mega rarity and saw Diademed Sandpiper-plover, Giant Hummingbird, Inca Tern, Andean Condor, the list goes on and on!
USA – a flight delay gave me an expensive two year ticks in New Jersey (dipped on The Boss)!

At the end of May I was at 1,828 species

Diademed Sandpiper-plover

June 2017

Effectively a ‘month off’ with time in the UK and a trip to Iceland (amazing Harlequin Ducks and Gyr Falcon)

At the end of June I was at 1,891 species

Harlequin Duck

July 2017

Thailand – a brief trip to the south - some nice Pittas and Trogons
Uganda – my first trip there for 20 years (Shoebill in the bag!) Forest Robin became number 2,000 for the year (27th July 2017)

At the end of July I was at 2,166 species

Shoebill - had been my 'most-wanted' bird to see for about the last 20 years, since the last time I was in Uganda! I think this becomes my #1 bird... 

August 2017

Uganda - continuation of above tour with Green-breasted Pitta NESTING!!
UK – a brief trip home for the Bird Fair

At the end of August I was at 2,383 species

Andy and John representing Birding Ecotours at the British Bird Fair

September 2017

Australia – spent the month in South Australia and Queensland got my 4,000th Life Bird (Thick-billed Grasswren) and 2,500th year tick (Dusky Woodswallow) lots of amazing Outback birds too. Also was present when Dave and Sue smashed the South Australia year list record (details here)!

At the end of August I was at 2,383 species

Letter-winged Kite is one of the best-looking birds of prey in the world

October 2017

UK – got some Autumn birding in at home for the first time in year, Arctic Warbler was nice here
India – Cheer Pheasant and so many other great India birds
Java – a 24hr layover and scored Javan Banded Pitta, Javan Trogon and Javan Cochoa!

At the end of October I was at 2,755 species

Javan Banded Pitta - WOW!

November 2017

West Papua – a month of Birds-of-paradise, Paradise Kingfishers, Fruit Doves and generally spectacular birds and I got number 3,000 for the year, Hook-billed Kingfisher (24th November 2017)

At the end of November I was at 3,020 species

Hook-billed Kingfisher - #3,000 for 2017! Made it...

(Birds-of-paradise photos and report coming soon.....)

December 2017

Australia – A trip around the Southwest, and Sydney, lots of SW Endemics
New Caledonia – my final tour of the year with Kagu the star bird
UK – Christmas in Belfast gave me my final year tick of the year, Hooded Crow. Exciting way to finish I know….

At the end of December, and therefore at the end of 2017 I was at 3,080 species

Kagu - a nice way to round off 2017! 

It wasn’t all about the birds, though they were the main targets at most places I went. I also came across some of the world’s best mammals such as Lion, Leopard, Mountain Gorilla, Bengal Tiger, Jungle Cat, Asian Elephant, African Elephant, Hippopotamus, Koala, Red Kangaroo, and a huge number of monkeys, squirrels and 'small mammals' etc etc… not to mention all of the incredible reptiles, amphibians, and insects….  

Male Bengal Tiger

Summary.... 2017 rocked! Now bring on 2018...!!! (My year list at the end of January 2018 is higher than it was at the same time in 2017... shall I go for another 3K???)..... 

I can't thank everyone enough who helped me along the way to make all of the above possible and generally a lot of fun! I met a lot of new people along the way and have made a lot of great friends old and new over the last year and I look forward to meeting you all again in the future. 

Check out the Birding Ecotours website or blog for trip reports as most of the above were all enjoyed on our excellent range of birding tours.