Saturday, 27 August 2016


In autumn 2014, I had the privilege of travelling to Ashmore Reef with George Swann on the Reef Prince.  It was a fantastic experience.  (I made a posting about it on 7 April 2014.)  Most trips to Ashmore go in spring; this particular autumn trip was a bit of an experiment to see what we could see.

I came home with three lifers:  Bulwer's Petrel, Jouanin's Petrel and, most exciting, a Yellow-browed Warbler.  We saw lots of other birds of course.  In particular, I remember a Red-necked Phalarope swimming in the ocean, and lots of nesting seabirds on various islands.

People go to Ashmore to see storm-petrels, and as we missed out in autumn, I knew I'd have to return in spring.  This is the year!
Brown Booby chick, taken at the Lacepedes

In November, I plan to board that wonderful boat, the Reef Prince again.  This time I expect to see both Matsudairas's and Swinhoe's Storm-Petrels.  With a bit of luck I might manage a Leach's Storm-Petrel as well.

A birding friend did the Ashmore trip last spring, and he saw Pechora Pipit, Middendorff's Grasshopper-warbler, Narcissus Flycatcher, Tiger Shrike, Siberian Thrush, Chinese Sparrowhawk, Siberian Blue Robin, Pallas's Grasshopper-warbler and Nicobar Pigeon.  Howzat!

If only we could see all them this year!  There are other birds too, which are possible on Ashmore.  The Indonesian Collared Kingfisher is one.  There's also:  Swinhoe's Snipe, Lesser Coucal, Grey Nightjar, Island Monarch, Asian Brown Flycatcher, Grey Wagtail, Black-crowned Night Heron, Brown Hawk Owl, Pale-headed Munia and Arctic Warbler.  I'd have mentioned House Swift too, if I hadn't already seen one.

Not a bad list of possibilities.  I'm going for two storm-petrels.  Anything more is a bonus.  But what a list of possible lifers!  Extraordinary!

There are still places available for this November's trip on the Reef Prince.  We leave from Broome on 2 November, and return to Broome on 10 November.  If you'd like to come, contact George Swann:  Some of Australia's best birders will be there.  And I will too.

One added benefit of an Ashmore Reef trip, is it leaves from Broome!