Archive for January, 2009

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. 

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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!  

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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!

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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.

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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…

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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.  

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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!

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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
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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.

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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!

Tasmania!

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.

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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.

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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.  

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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.

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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!

Adventures with Lorikeets

January 8, 2009

I was told that I should have been able to film Purple-crowned Lorikeets in other locations rather than Melbourne but I had missed them elsewhere so Melbourne it was.  A tip on the site Birding-aus led me eventually to PCL’s only about 5 km from my caravan park!

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 I spent several days with them before they finally offered an eye-level encounter that was conducive to filming.  At one point I was filming a group of them when another lorikeet species showed up.  It wasn’t until later, when reviewing the film that I discovered that I had captured some images of Little Lorikeet as well!  

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I worked flocks of Little Lorikeets for 2 days near Windsor in NSW but captured only birds way up in the treetops.  They simply wouldn’t come down!  Very very challenging!  In the end I made do with only okay footage but I thoroughly enjoyed getting to know them.