Thursday, 29 January 2015


Whichever way you look at it, January 2015 has been pretty good.  I've seen a lifer (the White-rumped Sandpiper at Lake Wollumboola, thanks to Graham).  I've managed a total of 152 birds this month, not record breaking, but okay, and including some very interesting species, seven of which I did not see in 2014.  I've visited some good birding spots and met some great birders.

There's been some disappointments too.  Rog and I drove to Wollongong, hoping to see a White-necked Petrel.  This was my eighth trip interstate for the purpose of ticking this bogey bird.  It's beginning to be a bit of a joke.  Conditions were perfect:  the water was warm, the sea was calm.  Yet my bogey bird still taunts me.  I wonder if I'll ever see it.  I've also visited Wilson Reserve six times this year, hoping to see the Powerful Owl that often roosts there.  No luck there either.  I also spent some time looking unsuccessfully for the House Crow in South Melbourne (thank you, Cousin Liz for driving me around!)  I didn't really expect to see that bird, but I felt I had to look.  I also had a good look around Chiltern No 2 dam where a Grey-headed Lapwing had been reported.  There were very few birds there the day I looked, and the only lapwings visible were common old masked ones.

Other spots I've been birding around Melbourne are Banyule (Latham's Snipe, Spotless Crake), Jell's Park (nesting Darters), Karkarook (Blue-billed Duck, Greenfinch), Healesville (Olive Whistler, Leaden Flycatcher), Lilydale Lake, Willsmere Billabong, Blackburn Lake, Edithvale Wetlands, Braeside (Freckled Duck) and Sherbrooke (Crescent Honeyeater).
Lake Wollumboola, where I saw the White-rumped Sandpiper
On our way to Wollongong, I birded at Wonga Wetlands (site 54) where the cicadas were so noisy, you couldn't hear the friarbirds calling.  Here I saw Black-tailed Native-hen, Rainbow Bee-eaters, Tree Martins and White-breasted Woodswallows (which were my 100th bird for the year).  I also saw a Dollarbird fishing like a kingfisher, showing pale blue wings.  At The Rock (site 15) I saw (as usual) lots of Speckled Warblers.  There were also Western Gerygones, Red-capped Robins, Varied Sittellas and several different thornbills.  At Cootamundra, I did Migurra Walk, but it was quite hot and there were so many spiders across the track that I could not relax for a second.  At Barren Grounds (site 46) it was overcast, and I dipped on my hoped for bristlebirds.

The outstanding sighting on the Wollongong pelagic was the Pomarine Jaegers.  We saw lots, of every phase and age imaginable.  We saw Long-tailed Jaegers too, but no Arctic. It was a most unusually comfortable pelagic - no one was seasick.

One of several Pomarine Jaegers seen on the Wollongong pelagic.

The next day, we drove down to Lake Wollumboola to see the White-rumped Sandpiper.  I will be forever grateful to Graham for taking me there.  It is a joy to go birding with him:  he sees so much more than I do.  He showed me Topknot Pigeons flying overhead and Plumed Whistling-Ducks at Nowra sewage ponds.  The sandpiper sat on the beach at Lake Wollumboola, just where it was supposed to be and allowed itself to be admired.  And ticked.  What a pleasure it is when birds behave like this!

At Chiltern on the way home (site 5) Dusky Woodswallows were my 150th bird for the year.

So January did not, as I'd hoped, eliminate a bogey bird.  However, I did see some great birds.  And I had fun.  Now let's see what February can do.