16 October 2013

Superb Birding...AUSTRALIA (16 Oct)

I returned from Papua New Guinea in the morning, having caught the "red eye" from PNG's infamous capital, Port Moresby. I had a great tour of PNG, with some 23 birds-of-paradise and even a couple of lifers, but enough of that for now, back to that later...
I landed in Brisbane and set about a plan for some final Aussie birding before I head back to my Andean home in Ecuador for a while. I decided to check out the Minnippi Parklands, as my great birding mate Stuart Pickering has this as his home patch. He was not around unfortunately, and all I had as an objective was to shoot some birds, no matter how common they are, they were appealing to me and my lens. Arriving at the lake the usual throng of waterbirds were around: Purple Swamphens, squabbling with Pacific Black Ducks and Noisy Miners (and later Crested Pigeons) for scraps laid out for them. 
The middle of the lake had some mud which had attracted both Red-kneed and Black-fronted Dotterels, as well as a Comb-crested Jacana family. A couple of Australian Pelicans loafed, rather conspicuously, too offshore. On the island a Latham's Snipe scuttled around the muddy edges, probing deep in the mud with his well-adapted weapon, his long, long bill.
Working around the pond I heard the far from musical sound of a Rufous-tailed Bush-hen, a bird which I had not seen in Australia (only in Papua New Guinea and eastern Indonesia), and set about trying to see it, which proved typically futile. The bird likes the bush, as it name suggests, and that's where it remained; in a dense dark, impenetrable, bush! Still the habitat around the edges of the lake led me to two of my favourite Aussie birds; first Superb Fairywren, and then a trio (including two powder blue-headed males) of Variegated Fairywrens

Tawny Grassbird also popped up to make sure he made it on to my memory card too. Moving on, I admired both the sound and the size of a pair of Laughing Kookaburras, laughing at me from a eucalyptus tree, and then tried snapping a Sacred Kingfisher which alerted me to its presence through it's harsh yelps. 

Then I turned and was startled to come face-to-face with a low sitting Channel-billed Cuckoo; my best views and photos ever of this species. That was my highlight, the up close views of the world's largest cuckoo (it is considerably bigger than the fearsome Great Horned Owl), and yet more intimate encounters with that most lovely of Australian birds, the fittingly named, Superb Fairywren. Farewell to beloved Australia, a place I love coming back to. The birds are friendly, and the people too.

 Soon I will relay the best of my trip into deepest, darkest PNG, where birds-of-paradise loomed large...

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