Sunday, 5 January 2020

Bali and East Java 2019 - A quick catch up!

While putting together my review for 2019 I realized I'd forgotten to put together a blogpost on the awesome few days I had birding with my friends Jerry and Annie in Bali and East Java in February 2019. It was supposed to be a relaxing couple of day between tours... it turned out to be an incredible birdfest! And I think I got some sleep somewhere at some point, and I wouldn't change it for the world!

After a day or so around Ubud we cut north to a really cool mountain birding site before heading west along the north coast where we found the Bali Myna - stunner. We then caught the ferry over to East Java where the main target bird was the Grey-breasted (White-faced) Partridge, an incredibly rare bird that had just been discovered to be coming to some feeders. We got great looks and some photos of the bird, as well as many other targets (like Horsfield's Thrush). Lots of potential future splits we think too. Photography was tough (and was with my old Lumix then).

Some of the other highlights included Grey-cheeked Tit-Babbler, Javan Bush Warbler, Sunda Bush Warbler, Pink-headed Fruit Dove, Green Junglefowl, Crescent-chested Babbler, Javan Grey-throated White-eye, Rusty-breasted Whistler, Javan Kingfisher, Javan Whistling Thrush, Siberian Thrush, Blood-breasted Flowerpecker, Scarlet-headed Flowerpecker, Black-backed Fruit Dove, Dark-backed Imperial Pigeon, White-crowned Forktail (local subsp), Sunda (Javan) Scops Owl, Javan Pond Heron, Flame-fronted Barbet, Black-banded Barbet, Javan Banded Pitta, Sunda Minivet, Pied Shrike Babbler, Olive-backed Tailorbird, Lesser Shortwing, Javan Munia, White-shouldered Triller, Javan Hawk Eagle, Orange-breasted Trogon (local subsp), Pale Blue Flycatcher, Indigo Flycatcher, Warbling White-eye, Lesser Adjutant and more!!!!

I'll be heading back to Bali next month and hope to improve on some of these pics, at least for the ones I see again!!

Bali Myna

Bali Myna

Black-banded Barbet

Blue Nuthatch

Collared Kingfisher

Grey-breasted (White-faced) Partridge

Grey-breasted (White-faced) Partridge

Grey-breasted (White-faced) Partridge

Indigo Flycatcher

Javan Bush Warbler

Javan Munia

Javan Whistling Thrush

Long-tailed Shrike

Olive-backed Sunbird

Orange-breasted Trogon

Red Junglefowl

Rusty-breasted Whistler

Horsfield's (Scaly) Thrush

Sunda (Javan) Scops Owl

Sunda Bush Warbler

White-crowned Forktail

White-shouldered Triller

Saturday, 4 January 2020

2019 A Review

Well another year has come to an end. 2019 was another great year full of birding highlights with around 2,500 species logged across the five continents I visited (check out my ebird profile for full details, I've been gradually adding back data too: I've added lots of links to previous blogposts if you want to see more info/pics from the various locations

The year started in Adelaide, South Australia. Didn't really do much birding but did have an interesting day birding a wetland site to get my year list going.... Pectoral Sandpiper being a good bird here. After that it was onto some proper birding in Thailand where I had two back to back tours with some of the usual spectacular birds I've come to expect from this part of the world, like Spoon-billed Sandpiper, Blue Pitta, Rusty-naped Pitta etc. I then had a 'relaxing' week in Bali and East Java where I photographed the rare Grey-breasted Partridge and Bali Myna. After that it was back to Thailand again for another, really enjoyable tour, my third and final tour of the year there and yet more great wildlife.

Spoon-billed Sandpiper, always a huge target bird in Thailand

The next month or so was spent birding in India. I explored the northwest, south, and northeast and recorded some incredible birds and wildlife, great to see Asiatic Lion, Indian One-horned Rhinoceros, Indian Leopard, and Asiatic Wild Ass among others. Birds were very plentiful and scored a ton of Nilgiri and Western Ghat endemics, as well as Grey Hypocolius, Great Indian Bustard and many more good world bird targets. The birding in the northeast around the Eaglesnest area was simply outstanding and some of the most incredible forest I've seen in Asia, I loved it out there. The main target bird there was Spotted Elachura which gave great views, along with other megas such as Bugun Liocichla, Ward's Trogons and a whole load more.

A very rare bird these days unfortunately, Great Indian Bustard. On the way out it seems.

Bugun Liocichla - tiny global range and a huge target while up there, completed my set of liocichlas I think! 

Next stop was the United States of America for something totally different and back to Ohio for the Biggest Week in American Birding (again) and Michigan for my first Tawas Bird Festival. I loved these festivals and the birding that goes with them, it's also a good opportunity to meet up with friends and colleagues. Loads of great birds, a couple of lifers and some Ohio ticks were bonuses! Whooping Crane was one of my favorite lifers, and glad to finally see Dickcissel (hanging round later into May seemed to pay off). I also brought my first ever DSLR camera while in the states, a Canon 7D Mark ii with a 100-400 lens and immediately fell in love with it! After a road trip through Kentucky and Tennessee it was time to fly south.

Always love seeing Golden-winged Warblers, this one showed well in Michigan

I spent the next two months birding around Peru, Colombia, and Ecuador. Peru was to visit Machu Picchu, somewhere I've wanted to see for a while, and I wasn't disappointed. The birding in the mountains around Cusco was brilliant and all the target birds fell into place nicely. A day birding around Lima was also rewarding (Many-coloured Rush Tyrant and the below...)

Chilean Flamingo was a nice surprise near Lima before I left the country

Colombia was all about targeting certain endemics around the Medellin area, and the Sapayoa out from Cali. It was, as it always is in Colombia with my friends Ivan and Giancarlo, a great experience and we did pretty well with our target birds!

Monotypic Sapayoa was my main target in southern Colombia

Ecuador was just magical, I really loved the birding and the pace of the country. It was my first visit, but it won't be my last that's for sure. There were so many highlights from my time here. Harpy Eagle has to be the big one though, but with Jocotoco Antpitta, Rufous Potoo, and my 5,000th world bird (Orange-breasted Fruiteater) there was stiff competition!

Must be the highlight bird of 2019, right! Harpy Eagle 

After a brief spell back at home for a very wet British Bird Fair (always great to catch up with everyone from home) it was off to Australia and New Zealand for the most of the rest of the year. Australia is like home to me now, I had some excellent tours finding some really great birds and managed to visit a few new areas such as Alice Springs and Darwin. The birding very different between the two places but very rewarding. I also got plenty of time up and down the south and east coasts and my final trip of the year was in Western Australia which I also really love (and got a couple of Australian megas to add to my expanding Australia Life List!). A 3+ week trip to New Zealand was also great fun, such a picturesque places, particularly the South Island. I got on several pelagic trips in both countries which was also an amazing experience.

Antipodean Albatross - seen in Australian and New Zealand waters

Southern Cassowary - still my favorite bird in the world - some have pushed close over recent years though...

Spinifex Pigeon - one of many highlights from the Northern Territory

Kea is an endemic parrot to the alpine zone in New Zealand - they have 'character'...

I spend the final week of the year in the UK where I added a few new year ticks like Whooper Swan, Willow Tit, Water Rail, and a few others and was nice to visit my local patch, although only briefly between Christmas and New Year.

2020 will start in Thailand with my first of several tours there of the year. Can't wait to get going again, 2020 has some fantastic bird potential and I'll be visiting several very good spots such as Sulawesi, Halmahera, West Papua, Bali (and a few other locations in Indonesia), USA (twice including a few new spots and Biggest Week again), Vietnam, Australia, and likely Colombia and Brazil too... watch this space!

Thanks for keeping with the blog - please leave me a comment to let me know if anyone is still reading!!! Cheers, Happy New Year and all the best for 2020, Andy.

Friday, 3 January 2020

Western Australia Trip Report

My final tour of 2019 was to one of my favorite spots, Western Australia.

Before my tour started I did a bit of twitching around Perth for a couple of Mega Australian birds - firstly Crested (formerly called Oriental) Honey Buzzard and then Eurasian Hobby. These birds are covering a large area of foraging habitat and so can be really difficult to pin down at times. I got the Crested Honey Buzzard on the second go, largely thanks to the gen of ace local birders Dan and Plaxy who gave me the spot to view them as they leave their roost site. I actually had 2 birds up in the air together, they were even displaying which was awesome to see - the old "butterfly flap"! The Eurasian Hobby was tougher still and that took three attempts, but amusingly it was the first bird of prey seen on my tour! Some way to start the tour.

For the tour itself I went from Perth, down to Dryandra (home of the Numbat - which we saw), into the Stirling Ranges, down to the stunning coastline at Cheynes Beach, across through some very dry landscapes to the tip of the southwest of Australia at Cape Leeuwin before we completed our loop back to Perth via Busselton.

All of the SW endemics fell into place, along with the near-endemics. We got absolutely spectacular views (and even photos) of the Noisy Scrubbird, one of the toughest birds in Australia to see/photograph, along with Black-throated Whipbird (formerly Western Whipbird before the recent split), Western Bristlebird - my third and final of the Bristlebirds for the year.

Other targets fell nicely into place such as Crested Shriketit (Western subspecies and likely split), Western Whistler, White-breasted Robin, Western Yellow Robin, Blue-breasted Fairywren, Red-winged Fairywren, Western Wattlebird, Western Spinebill, Gilbert's Honeyeater, Spotted Scrubwren, Rufous Treecreeper, Carnaby's Black Cockatoo, Baudin's Black Cockatoo, Red-capped Parrot, Western Rosella, Western Corella, and Red-eared Firetail.

Lots of other 'good' birds too like Little Eagle, Hooded Dotterel, Australian Fairy Tern, Rock Parrot, Square-tailed Kite, Blue-billed Duck, Splendid Fairywren, Scarlet Robin, Varied Sittella, and Red-capped Robin.

Here are some pics....

Noisy Scrubbird

Black-throated Whipbird

Western Bristlebird

Australian Hobby

Baudin's Black Cockatoo

Blue-billed Duck

Blue-breasted Fairywren

Brown Songlark

Carnaby's Black Cockatoo

Western Crested Shriketit

Western Crested Shriketit

Grey Currawong

Grey-tailed Tattler

Hooded Plover

Jacky Winter

Laughing Dove

Little Eagle

Rainbow Lorikeet

Red Wattlebird

Red-capped Plover

Red-capped Robin

Rock Parrot

Scarlet Robin

Splendid Fairywren

Square-tailed Kite

Western Corella

Western Whistler

Western Yellow Robin

Whistling Kite

White-breasted Robin

Willie Wagtail