Archive for February, 2009

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!

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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.

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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!!!  

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!
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