Wednesday, 30 December 2015


Well I've made it over to India to end 2015 and start 2016. I'm hear for a Birding Ecotours Northern India trip that I'm leading in early January. Really looking forward to the tour but came over early for a couple of days birding in Bharatpur beforehand. Have just finished one and a half days birding in the park which was great fun. Some highlights (reduced file size so they load!) below:

Black Bittern


Brahminy Starling

Indian Thick-knee (IPhone)

Orange-headed Thrush

Purple Heron

Sarus Cranes

Siberian Rubythroat

Yellow-eyed Babbler

Friday, 18 December 2015

Some Australia Tour Photos

Here is a selection of photos taken during the Birding Ecotours Australia tour that I guided... The trip report is online here, as well as a recce that was carried out in the South West.

The tour commenced in Hobart, Tasmania, moved across to Melbourne, Victoria where we completed a circuit of the state, briefly popping into New South Wales. We then flew up the coast to Brisbane, Queensland visiting the world famous O'Reilly's before continuing to Cairns in Tropical North Queensland where we completed another circuit.

As anyone who follows me on Twitter/Facebook the tour was really enjoyable and we saw some really incredible birds - some of these are shown in the photos below... If you're interested in joining the 2016 Australia tour please get in touch!

Australia is a wonderful place, not just for birds, but a wide range of other wildlife - as you can see from some of my recent posts on this blog and hopefully the following photos...

We had incredible looks at several of the critically endangered Orange-bellied Parrots - a breeding endemic to Tasmania. This species is in serious peril with possibly less than 50 birds left in the world.

The Orange-bellied Parrots are thankfully taking up nest boxes provided but it is concerning just how few birds remain.

Forty-spotted Pardalote is another very rare bird. Endemic to Tasmania, global population is estimated at around 900 birds, maybe less, with a very restricted range on the island. Again this species is in severe need of help.

Plains-wanderer was yet another 'Mega' bird of the tour, this tiny bird is all in its own family and its closest relatives are the seedsnipes of South America! This adult female was the big highlight of a night-drive in New South Wales. 

And when it turned round and faced us you could hear a collective gasp as we saw how beautiful this bird was. Again, like the species above this species is in serious decline. We cannot afford to lose any species, especially something as unique as this bird.

Southern Cassowary was high on our hit list for our time in Tropical North Queensland, but I never dreamed we'd see an adult male with his two stripy chicks in tow! This is my favourite bird on the planet I think, and the more I see them the more that I agree with myself! An absolute stunning, prehistoric species that comes and goes like a ghost!

Here's a bit of a closer look at those cute and stripy Southern Cassowary chicks!  

It is always nice to see an owl - but to see a Lesser Sooty Owl as well as this, and manage to get a record shot of it was really pleasing. Sooty Owls have a crazy bomb-whistle call that is really scary when it decides to do it right overhead when you didn't know it was there!

Quail-thrush can be shy and skittish, so to get this Chestnut-backed Quail-thrush perched up out in the open  and singing was a real treat! What a beautiful and cryptically plumaged bird.

This Golden Bowerbird was very showy, seeing him attend his bower was pretty special.

This Great-billed Heron was seen during a really enjoyable trip along the Daintree River, such a wonderful place full of interesting wildlife. This bird had apparently just been in a fight with another Great-billed Heron, he got of lightly as the other bird got killed and eaten by a Crocodile that was attracted to all of the commotion!!!!  

A Hooded Plover at a nest in Tasmania was very nice to see. Another rare bird seen well.

Coming second-fiddle to the Plains-Wanderer on our night-drive in New South Wales were the Inland Dotterel. We saw several bird during the course of the evening. Yet another highlight!

A very nice surprise was seeing this Lewin's Rail in Victoria. This doesn't tell the whole picture though, because behind him in the vegetation were his two chicks and their mother! To see Lewin's Rail is good, to see it like this was fantastic!

We saw lots of different parrots during the tour, the Major Mitchell's Cockatoo surely has to be the best! That crest is just incredible. Just one of those birds you HAVE to see.
We saw lots of Pink Robins while in Tasmania, and these were a real treat, and certainly very popular. These dainty little birds were very approachable and showed well in their family groups.

Rufous Bristlebird was unusually showy as it basked in the cold morning sun. We weren't going to complain though.

This male Scarlet Robin was busy feeding up his chick that had very recently fledged from their nest in Tasmania. Yet another very popular Robin.

Superb Parrot was a nice find. This parrot has a fairly restricted global range and was a welcome addition to our trip list. It allowed very close views as it sat and preened in the midday sun.

Another parrot that is becoming rarer by the year - the Swift Parrot is another parrot that breeds only in Tasmania, wintering on the Australian mainland. We had good views at a good number of birds which was great to see. Lets hope that the management that is meant to be happening for these species actually happens so it doesn't go the way of the Orange-bellied Parrot.

Michaelmas Cay on the Great Barrier Reef was (another) real highlight of the tour with thousands of Sooty Terns and Brown Noddys on show.

We saw all Tasmanian endemics, and this flightless Tasmanian Native-hen was a bit of a brute of a bird. 

Victoria's Riflebird was a bit shy for the camera but we got some incredible views of displaying birds whilst in the rainforests Tropical North Queensland. 

I'll finish with Australia's largest owl - Powerful Owl. We saw a pair of birds on a day roost - seriously impressive, huge owls!

Common Brushtail Possum - this one was caught fighting in the street in Tasmania!

Greater Glider from Victoria

Koala - always a mammal highlight

Platypus - another highlight, we saw at least 3 on one night!

Short-eared Brush-tailed Possum

Sugar Glider from Queensland

Whiptail (Pretty-face) Wallaby from Queensland

Boyd's Forest Dragon from Queensland

The rare and restricted-range Chameleon Gecko from Queensland

Jungle Carpet Python from Queensland - full head shot

Jungle Carpet Python - head shot

Crucifix Toad - a huge highlight of the night-drive, almost as popular as the Plains-Wanderer for some!

Showing why it's called what it is! Crucifix Toad, also know as Cross Frog!

Whitep-lipped Tree Frog from the rainforest in Queensland

Saturday, 5 December 2015

Queensland Birds and Wildlife 2015

After I'd finished the Birding Ecotours Australia tour I spent a little over a week in Queensland, based at my friends Rob and Di's in Brisbane.

I was fairly tired and not feeling great so didn't do a great deal all the time and just had a few walks and days out birding here and there, but did get a few evening walks in around Brisbane after Rob and Di had finished their days at work. For my last weekend in the country Rob and I headed north along the Sunshine Coast to Inskip Point where we camped out and spent a couple of days looking for (successfully in the end) Black-breasted Button-Quail among other things.

Saw some fantastic birds and wildlife, even with the limited effort! Bird highlights included: Black-breasted Button-Quail, Eastern Grass Owl, Greater Sooty Owl, Australian Owlet-Nightjar, Tawny Frogmouth, Southern Boobook, Powerful Owl, White-throated Nightjar, Large-tailed Nightjar, Grey Goshawk, Pacific Baza, Buff-banded Rail, Laughing Kookaburra, White-throated Needletail, Channel-billed Cuckoo, Rose-crowned Fruit-Dove (spotlighted at night!), Rainbow Bee-eater, Mangrove Honeyeater and loads more!

Wildlife highlights included: Green Turtle, Yellow-faced Whipsnake, Golden-crowned Snake, Water Dragon, Lace Monitor, Eastern Striped Skink, Green Tree Frog, Wallum Froglet, Wallum Rocketfrog, Bush Rat, Koala, Black-striped Wallaby, Common Brush-tailed Possum, Common Ring-tailed Possum, and Squirrel Glider.

Australian Owlet-Nightjar © Andy Walker 2015

Laughing Kookaburra © Andy Walker 2015

Rainbow Bee-eater © Andy Walker 2015

Rose-crowned Fruit-Dove (at night!) © Andy Walker 2015

Tawny Frogmouth © Andy Walker 2015

Eastern Grass Owl © Rob Dougherty 2015

Koala © Andy Walker 2015

Squirrel Glider © Andy Walker 2015

Eastern Striped Skink © Andy Walker 2015

Golden-crowned Snake © Andy Walker 2015

Golden-crowned Snake © Andy Walker 2015

Lace Monitor © Andy Walker 2015

Lace Monitor © Andy Walker 2015

Lace Monitor © Andy Walker 2015

Water Dragon © Andy Walker 2015

Water Dragon © Andy Walker 2015