Saturday, September 30, 2006


Isnt fruit picking fun, been in bundaberg (or 'Bundy' as us in the in-crowd call it) for a week now and its driving me mad already, it really is a dump as people had warned me it was. have done all sorts of odd jobs like planting sweet potatoes, stacking sugar cane bales and tearing down old tomato plants. thanks to the decrepit, untidy condition of the farms the birding has been quite good whilst working with the tomatofarm producing my first singing bushlark, chestnut breasted manakin and tawny grassbird, and a quail sp. running in front of the tractor that i didnt see well enough to i.d. other new birds seen arounf bundy include channel billed cuckoo (2 over the sweet potato farm), little shrike thrus, pale headed rosella, mangrove honeyeater and spice finch, bringing my aus list to 306, and the trip list to 412.
apologies for posts being very boring and few and far between but i havnt really done much interesting lately, hopefully when i leave here in a few weeks time and the australian summer starts to kick in things will liven up a bit.
p.s. marbled duck, genuine? sod off, its got no chance! (unless it stays there until january, then i can see it and pronounce it a definate vagrant)

Friday, September 22, 2006

Heading North

In brisbane at the moment on a 2 day stopover on the way up to bundaberg to another spell of fruit picking, what fun. o nthe way here from sydney i stopped at byron bay for a week. didnt get round to doing that much birding but still saw a few new birds including scaly breasted lorikeet, far eastern curlew and the somewhat bizzare sight of an australian brush turkey that thought it was a feral pigeon eating cigarette butts in the car park! it was also good to see birds that i hadnt seen since darwin like figbirds and rainbow bee eaters. the main highlights however came from the sea, with great views of humpbacck whale, and green turtles from the clifftop at byron lighthouse. also a superb experience that came pretty close to snorkelling with the manta rays in fiji: while i was swimming and having fun in the surf on the main beach at byron i felt something brush my leg, looking down i was slightly surprised to see a shoal of small fish swimming around my legs, then seconds later a common dolphin streaked past no less than a metre away and then circles me several times as the fish it was hunting took refuge around me, awsome stuff!

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Very old pics from mildura

A few common birds from alongside the murray River

Purple Swamphen

Australian Darter

Maned Duck

More wollongong pelagic pix

Indic Yellow Nosed Albatross

Brown Skua

Wedge tailed Shearwater

Humpback whale

Old pics from Royal National Park (near Sydney)

Thanks to the very rare event of having some spare time to kill and decent internet access spontaneously, heres a load of old pics:

Short beaked echidna, a bit like a hedgehog but sharper

Cracking views down the coast and over a whale infested sea

Pondering the best way to cross the Hacking River

Tawny Crowned Honeyeater

Variegated Fairy Wren, right little crackers

Friday, September 15, 2006

Fiji birds

Fiji Woodswallow

Whistling Dove


Orange Dove, a shit picture that really
does not do justice to a truly superb bird

Black naped tern

Collared Lory

Blue crested broadbill

Photos from last months wollongong pelagic

A bloody massive humpback whale and a
few barnacles

Northern Giant Petrel

Wedge tailed shearwater

Pete milburn ready to net an albatross

fiji pictures

Some pics from the yasawas

some new fijian mates

Crazy fire eating stuff

Drinking Kava out of a coconut shell


am back in sydney now after a superb two weeks in fiji.

i started off with 4 days in the Yasawa group, a small island chain off the west coast of fijis main island viti levu. as the yasawas are pretty poor for birding i decided to hang up the bins and be a regular tourist instead. time was spent, sunbathing, snorkelling or getting wasted, occasionally with combinations of the three. The snorkelling was far and away the highlight with some superb coral reefs offshore islands that were teeming with some unbelievably brightly coloured fish, starfish and and i had a breif view of a seasnake. this was pretty boring stuff though compared to snorkelling with a masssive manta ray in the deep channel off the south end of naviti island. swimming alongside this huge beast was just awesome. having heard of the tragic death of the legend that was steve irwin i took all the safety precautions anbd wore lots of suncream cos it said on the bottle "protects from harmful rays"
also spent a lot of time sampling kava, the local drink that is made from mixing water with the pounded up dried roots of ssoem wierd plant. it looks and tastes like muddy water thats been strained through dirty socks but has a rather fun tranquilising effect, and it doesnt cause a hangover effect! unfortunately i dont think the plant woudl be able to grow in english conditions.

after the third day i was getting a bit tetchy about the lack of birds (running up and down the beach pulling my hair out and screaming to get me off this godforsaken avian desert island). luckily the boat back to the main island of viti levu produced some cracking seabirds, with red tailed tropicbird, brown booby, lesser frigatebird, audobons shearwater, sooty and bridled tern all being seewn well but briefly thanks to the boat being too fast.

i then headed over to the east side of the island to stay in the colo-i-suva forest park. thsi was more like it, soem decent patches of rainforest that had escaped logging produced some great fijian endemics, Golden dove, blue crested braodbill, masked shinging parrot, giant forest honeyeater and peales imperial pigeon being the highlights.

after that i took a very small plane over to the island of taveuni, much less popualr with tourists and with soem very rugged hills, which meant that it still retained much of its forest. a hike up to des vouex peak (1192 metres) in 30degree plus heat and starting from sea level was very tiring but produced the three taveuni endemics, orange dove, red shining parrot and silktail, all superb birds, as well as many coloured fruit dove and good views of the endemics seen on viti levu which were much more abundant. a snorkelling trip to korolevu island produced red footed booby and blaack naped tern.

i then flew in an even smaller plane to kadavu island, south of viti levu, and after an hour long speedboat transfer arrived at the far eastern end of the island that was almost completely untouched apart from a few small beachside resorts. the four kadavu endemics were all seen well in the two days, kadavu fantail, kadavu honeyeater, kadavu shining parrot and whistling dove.

when i have the time i will write a full birding trip report cos there dosent seem to be that many for fiji, anjd hopefully i'll post some pics if blogger stops being gay and lets me.