Welcome to Birdquest

SOUTHERN AUSTRALIA

Monday 3rd October - Tuesday 25th October 2011

Pete Morris

The critically endangered Orange-bellied Parrot (Pete Morris)

The critically endangered Orange-bellied Parrot (Pete Morris)

I say it every year, but it’s still true. This superb tour keeps producing the goods with an unbelievably high hit rate of outback specialities. We did the impossible this year and just about matched our last tour to this special part of the world. I say matched, in fact we saw more species of birds (320 recorded in total) and mammals (28 species in total). As we all know though, it’s the number of specialities that count rather than the total species, and here we compared well. Scarlet-chested Parrot was a spectacular addition to our list and other highlights included our bird of the trip, the unique Plains-wanderer, the stunning and nomadic Letter-winged Kite, no fewer than five special grasswrens (Eyrean and Grey being our highest ranked), an incredibly obliging pair of Pilotbirds, thousands of stunning Flock Bronzewings, nomadic Freckled Ducks, superbly obliging Rufous Bristlebirds and a fabulous Painted Buttonquail. And that small list is just from a quick flick through the top ten as voted for by the group! We can add to it many more mouth-watering specialities, including: an amazingly obliging pair of Malleefowls; a couple of smart Australian Owlet-Nightjars; an unexpected Square-tailed Kite; several Black Falcons; much-wanted Inland Dotterels, Hooded Plovers and Australian Painted-Snipes; thousands of smart Banded Stilts; good numbers of crakes and rails; the declining Fairy Tern; delightful Gang-gang and Major Mitchell’s Cockatoos; many stunning parrots including Blue-winged, Elegant and Superb Parrots and Little Lorikeet; Mallee Emu-wren; Redthroat and Speckled Warbler; the tough to find Chestnut-breasted and Banded Whitefaces; a full set of Pardalotes; a long list of 41 honeyeaters including all the Australian Chats, nomads such as Black and Pied Honeyeaters, Purple-gaped Honeyeater and rarities such as Painted and Black-chinned Honeyeaters and the endangered Black-eared Miner; stunning Cinnamon and Chestnut Quail-Thrushes; brilliant Superb Lyrebirds; the rarely seen Red-lored Whistler; many gorgeous flocks of nomadic White-browed and Masked Woodswallows; luminous Flame, Pink and Rose Robins and much appreciated Diamond and Beautiful Firetails. And on Tasmania, we completed a clean sweep of the endemics again, saw almost a third of the world population of the critically endangered Orange-bellied Parrot and watched Ground Parrots at our feet! Not a bad haul for three weeks and that’s just the beginning!

The stunning Scarlet-chested Parrot was a fabulous bonus (Pete Morris)

The stunning Scarlet-chested Parrot was a fabulous bonus (Pete Morris)