Birding Down Under

katoomba-nsw-australia_lah_5599If you could go birding anywhere in the world, where would you go? That was the question my husband asked when he presented me with a pile of frequent flyer miles and credit card points for my 60th birthday. There are so many choices, but after months of careful research, I chose Australia. I wasn’t disappointed. Birding Australia was truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

After far too many hours in the air, we landed in Sydney just as the sun was setting. Our friends picked us up and drove us an hour or so west to their home in the Blue Mountains, where we planned to stay for a week. Exhausted from the flight, we went straight to bed. But early the next morning, lying in the predawn dimness, I heard a chirp. And then another. A bird started singing, and was quickly joined by several more. A minute later I was up, dressed, and downstairs with my camera, binoculars, and Field Guide to Australian Birds. I was in Australia!

This is the first bird I saw:

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It’s an Australian King Parrot. He was busily eating the flowers off the wisteria vine that covered the deck railing. (A photo of the female is at the top of this post.) I was excitedly taking photo after photo when another parrot arrived—this one a Crimson Rosella (below). When the Eastern Rosella arrived, I couldn’t contain my delight. I was in awe—these are yard birds?

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As the day brightened, I realized that their backyard was full of birds. A female Satin Bowerbird (bottom) perched in a tall tree. She was joined by a Crested Pigeon (left), a pair of Red-whiskered Bulbuls, and some Red Wattlebirds (right).

The Pied Currawong (below) looked a bit sinister, crouching on a low branch. I was particularly thrilled to see my first fairy-wren (the Superb Fairy-wren was as cute as its name), but it would be a while before I got a decent photo.

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Over the course of the week, as we explored the Blue Mountains, my list grew. At the top of my “must see” list was the Laughing Kookaburra. I needn’t have worried—they were plentiful and not the least bit shy.

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So were the Rainbow Lorikeets. Painted with every color of the rainbow, these small parrots would fly from bush to bush in noisy flocks.

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I had to laugh at my reaction to the Sulphur-crested Cockatoos. That first morning I was so excited to see a pair on the neighbor’s roof. But that was just the beginning. By evening, it was, “Oh, look, another cockatoo.” By the end of day two, I was totally ignoring them. And by the end of day three, I was beginning to grumble at their propensity for photo-bombing my pictures of other species. I never would have imagined that I’d so quickly tire of such impressive birds, but they were everywhere!

There were other kinds of cockatoos—the Long-billed Corella and Glossy Black-cockatoo. My favorite was the pink Galah:

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It was difficult to bird in a totally new place, especially without a guide. I ended up trying to snag photos of every bird I saw so I could identify them later. It proved to be a good strategy; now that we’re home and I can spend more time on my pictures, I’m still adding birds to my list. Of course, there were some I missed, but I would have missed a lot more if I’d had to stop and flip through the field guide for every new species.

Stay tuned for Part 2, next week.

 

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2 Responses to Birding Down Under

  1. careymoonbeam says:

    Hm…I wonder if the Australians get as excited about our “yard birds” when they visit – house finches, etc. Thanks so much for this post…I have been waiting for the tales of your Australian adventure! (And happy belated milestone birthday)

  2. These photos are amazing, Leslie. I thought the birds I saw in Germany were exciting, but they have nothing on their Australian cousins:-)! Keep them coming…

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