Discovering the World of Parrots Adventure in the land down under

April 1, 2011



In August of 2008 I Journeyed to Australia – the land of Parrots to attempt to Film all 50 plus species of these Amazing and Colorful Birds.  My Journey Led me to all Corners of This Magnificent Country.  I hope you enjoy a brief description and some images from this fantastic trip of a lifetime.

The Adventure Ends With a “Glossy” Finish!

February 26, 2009

Even in the Blue Mountains the summer days were hot.  I drove up into the Mountains from Emu Plains in the morning as quickly as I could but often bird activity was rather dead.  On my first day of searching I missed my directions and stopped at the wrong location but lucked out!  I heard the snapping and cracking of seeds being eaten and that unmistakable rusty door hinge sound that could only mean one thing.  Gang-gang Cockatoos!


In this locale in the Blueys there were plenty of Casuarina seed pods around.  That meant that not only were the Gangs enjoying them but perhaps I would luck into seeing some Glossy-black Cockatoos.  I visited the same area repeatedly for several days and saw absolutely no sign of Glossy’s.


Then on my very last full day in Australia as I was about to climb into the car and drive off, I heard a throaty cockatoo cry I had never heard before.  Way up in the sky were several Glossies!  They were playing “lets live dangerously” and escorting a hawk out of the area.  Fortunately for me after they wisely left the hawk alone they came flying down and perched only about 75m away!!!


This male (top photo) is almost fully mature indicated by his almost pure red tail feathers.  The female with her distinctive yellow patch-like head pattern is being accompanied by a huge male chick demanding her constant attention.  With literally only minutes to spare before my trip ended the Glossy’s put in an appearance that was literally an answer to prayer!  What a fantastic adventure this entire trip was!  I will remember it for the rest of my life!

On to the Blue Mountains

February 6, 2009

My time in the “Blueys” was spent with mixed emotion.  I was excited about seeing and filming my final species but also a bit melancholy that this marvelous adventure was coming to a close.  After 6 months of traveling around Australia I was truly humbled at its beauty and the amazing opportunities I had.  Based out of Emu Plains I headed out daily to search for my last 3 parrots.  As it turned out – all Cockatoos.


Australia’s largest parrot is the Yellow-tailed Black and what a beaut!  I would always hear them long before seeing them.  Those child-like wailing calls carried for many kilometers.  Up close it was very easy to tell the sexes apart by the cheek patches and tail feathers.  This fantastic looking female has the fruit of a banksia she is enjoying.


This pair were in constant contact with each other and I could readily tell they were a devoted couple.  The male (3rd image from the top) was easy to tell from his mate by his duller cheek patches and tail without markings.

Superb Parrots in NSW

February 2, 2009

I was very worried I would miss the Superb Parrot.  After all it is found only within a restricted range.  I thought perhaps the birds that I was told about would have moved on long ago.  It had been weeks since I connected with the kind Aussie who told me about them.  Despite my worry I did indeed find them! NowI had the chance to spend time with my last member of the Polytelis family.



Fortunately for me I discovered a sheep trough that was a favorite hang-out for the Superbs.  They would roost in the heat of the day in the surrounding gums.  Before heading out to the wheat fields to feed on left-over wheat they would often come down to drink first.  I noticed young Superbs everywhere!  The air was full of their persistent begging cries as they pestered the colorful adult males.  A couple of times I saw an adult male regurgitate food to the bothersome chicks just to silence them it seemed.


I was surprised how much the young Superbs reminded me of Princess young as well.  I  especially noted that the underside of the tail was that same pastel pink of Polytelis alexandrae.  It was easy to be lulled into thinking that this species was common because of the large flocks I saw.  However I realized how privileged I was to see and interact with this  threatened species.



Rural New South Wales and Turquoise Parrots

February 1, 2009

My next target species was the Turquoise Parrot.  As usual some great folks on the Birding-Aus website offered specific direction as to where to see these fantastic little parrots.  I wasn’t disappointed.




I methodically worked a dry creek-bed near an abandoned farm even though it looked so dry nothing would be there.  Serenaded by more Pied Currawongs than I had ever seen before, I spotted a flock of Turquoise Parrots feeding in the dry grasses exactly in the location described to me!  I had hoped they would be tame like the Scarlet-chests but that was not happening.  They were very alert and kept flitting out of sight anytime I got close.


Finally!  the key to filming the Turquoise.  I found a little bore where the Wallaby’s and Euros came to drink in the evening.   I set up my tent as a blind and held my breath and waited for the Turq’s to come in.  Good ol Roos!  Their movements forced the little neophemas closer and closer. The results were great!  I couldnt get enough of watching the little blue-headed males.  Gorgeous!


South Australia and Scarlet-chested Parrots!

January 26, 2009

Tasmania was all too brief but I had to keep moving.  I flew to Adelaide to stage my next journey, focusing on the Scarlet-chested Parrot.  I did a lot of hand-wringing and pacing on this one.   Several aussie birders warned me that this was no easy species to find and I thought it unlikely I would see one. 


Far in the remote outback  desert of South Australia, I was following the directions of an old sight record and made a crucial error.  I took  a left when I should have turned right.   Realizing I had gone the wrong direction I back-tracked and parked my truck.  Then miraculously I spotted  a flash of color in the mulga scrub.   A scarlet chested male feeding!  


I had that surreal, this-just-cant-be-happening feeling as I watched this fantastic little parrot.  I tore myself away to run back to the vehicle for a tripod.  When I returned he was gone.  I was exasperated!   However I decided to circle around in the area and Bingo!  There he was again.  This time I was ready!



I traveled back to the area every day for 5 days to see if I could relocate the Scarlet-chest.  I wasnt disapointed.  My final day of filming was the best ever even though the hottest.  However I took precautions as this day was 47 deg. C.  The flies were so bad at one point it looked like I had a black watch-band on my wrist.  They were gathered at my shirtsleeve for the sweat and moisture.  A head-net was mandatory to keep sane as I filmed.


On my last day there a male came flying in out of nowhere.  Then another male came in! There was a brief scuffle as they fought for this favored shady spot.  Having won the battle  he dug down into the sand in the shade of a clump of Mulga to keep cool.  I filmed and watched him for a total of about 3 hours!  What an amazing opportunity and this trip was second only to my Princess adventure!

Swift Parrots & Blue-wings

January 16, 2009

I arrived in Tasmania during the summer and being there at this time of year afforded the opportunity to interact with Swift Parrots on their breeding grounds.  Quite honestly I expected them to be easier to find.  I drove one whole day around Bruny Island looking for anything that would even resemble a Swiftie.  Nothing…


Then thanks to Mark Holdsworth the OBP expert I came in contact with a fellow biologist who steered me in the direction of a local videographer in Devonport who had filmed them at a waterhole in the forest.  I worked the waterhole for 2 days but I had arrived after the main breeding season and the chances of seeing Swift Parrot was slim.  


Then on a warm day late in the morning a single adult came to drink!  What a fantastic little parrot!  I couldn’t believe it!  Another return trip to Bruny island and a tip from a ferry staff member led me to a large flock of Swifties feeding in the gum trees as well.  I was ecstatic!


I had combed the Mornington Penninsula south of Melbourne but came up empty-handed looking for Blue-winged Parrots.  They were a great surprise as a bonus when looking for Swift Parrots in Northern Tassie.

Orange-bellied Parrots

January 14, 2009

The target species and the reason I flew all of those miles – Orange-bellied Parrots!  I really am fond of the neophema family and I felt very priveledged to interact with this rare species.  tazmaniaOBPsingle3edited

It was fantastic to have timed my visit unwittingly with biologist and OBP expert Mark Holdsworth.  Mark and his staff were super kind to me and let me hang out with them while they banded young Orange-bellies.  Even as nestlings young males display the classic orange belly that gives this little neophema its name.


To top off a fantastic adventure I even got a brief look at a ground parrot which Mark and his crew flushed in the heath while we were out!  Nothing worth mentioning footage-wise as I frantically pointed the camera at the flushed and fleeing bird, but still an enounter nonetheless!


January 13, 2009

It didn’t take me long to reach the decision that I just had to go to Tassie.  After all, some Australian parrots are not found breeding anywhere else in the entire continent.


The crew at Taz air were friendly and competent and my flight was fantastic! The climate in this region being affected by Antarctica was surprisingly cold.  The rocky topography and fog reminded me somewhat of Newfoundland in Canada.


While I saw my first Green Rosellas in a well planted Graveyard outside of Hobart my best looks at Greens were in this remote area of Melaleuca in the South West.   I was surprised at how very differently colored young birds were from adults.  The young birds often being very green while their parents were more yellow in color.

Long-billed Corellas and a Surprise Parrot

January 10, 2009

On the outskirts of Melbourne I discovered my first Long-billed Corellas.   I was surprised that the Rosy hues in their head and neck areas were so prominent.  


This is  not an easy bird to obtain in aviculture in North America so I treasured my time with the Long-bills.  Later in NSW in the Penrith area I found flocks of them that were tame and approachable.  I soon learned to recognize their quavering calls and never tired of watching them thriving among these very populated areas.


Among the Corellas was a surprise!  I can only conclude this was a Galah/Little Corella hybrid.  It was very pale in color and totally associated with the Corellas even though there were Galahs in the immediate area.   I had heard elsewhere that these two parrot species occasionally paired and produced viable offspring but this was terrific to witness firsthand!