Welcome to Birdquest

SOUTHERN AUSTRALIA

Sunday 11th October - Monday 2nd November 2015

Simon Mitchell

Letter-winged Kite (Simon Mitchell)

Letter-winged Kite (Simon Mitchell)

First time visitors to Australia heading there for birding trips seem to return from their travels with one common sentiment: The continent is an almost criminally underrated birding destination. Perhaps, since there is little crossover with Palearctic and Nearctic species it’s avifauna remains ‘off the radar’ of many European and American birders. However, it’s incredible the variety of habitats, climates, genera and different types of birding the on the Southern Australian loop matches anything in even the most diverse parts of South America, Africa and Asia have to offer.

The contrasts between biomes and avifaunal communities in such a short space of time was quite staggering. In the damp temperate rainforests, we found Superb Lyrebirds, Pilotbirds, Eastern Whipbirds and a variety of brightly coloured and very tame robin species. Along the sandy beaches open pastures of Phillip Island we found Cape Barren Geese, Hooded Dotterels and Little Penguins and rocky shores near Adelaide held Sooty and Australian Pied Oystercatchers. The montane heaths held Southern Emu-wrens, Striated Fieldwren, Chestnut-rumped Heathwren and White-eared Honeyeaters. Dry mallee forests further inland held a variety of Honeyeaters as well as difficult target birds such as Striated Grasswren, Mallee Emu-wren, Hooded Robin, Chestnut-backed Quail-thrush, Crested Bellbird and Gilbert’s Whistler. Visiting mature dry woodlands also produced species like Painted Honeyeaters as well as other tough species like White-browed Treecreeper, Regent and Superb Parrots. Sub-urban wetlands held Freckled and Pink-eared Ducks, Australian Spotted Crake, Baillon’s Crake and even Latham’s Snipe. On the spiky spinifex hillsides we found Stubble Quails and Elegant Parrots and spot-lighting on the rolling agricultural plains produced Inland Dotterel, Little Button-quail and the bizarre and unique Plains Wanderer. Further inland Eyrean Grasswrens were found on the scrubby sand-dunes, whilst Grey Falcons held sentry on various different radio masts. Gibberbirds, Orange, Yellow and Crimson Chats were also located each adapted to a slightly different specific habitat. Cinnamon Quail-thrush, Redthroat, Southern Whiteface and Banded Whitefaces and Chirruping Wedgebills were all encountered at the border between agricultural lands and desert outback. A visit to dried out lignum swamps produced Grey Grasswrens and Pied Honeyeaters whilst Brolgas, Corellas, Crakes and even Flock Bronzewings visited the watering holes. In the acidic bogs and forests of Tasmania we found Orange-bellied and Eastern Ground Parrots and seeing all twelve endemic species was further augmented by the when we connected with the unique races of Masked Owl and Morepork. No doubt future ‘armchair ticks’ for the whole group!

Plains Wanderer (Pete Morris)

Plains Wanderer (Pete Morris)