Trip Report: Australia, February 25 - March 23, 1997

Mike Houle, La Crosse WI, USA;


February 23, 1997. Departed La Crosse noon 10°F snowing, arrived Sidney 6 am Tuesday February 25, 26 hours later. The round trip was 18,000 miles, and we traveled 9,000 miles within Australia. The country is about the same size of the United States but has only 18 million residents. Outside the cities there is only the Bush. We walked around Sidney, 85°F, sunny, through Hyde Park and the Botanical Gardens, took a ferry to Manly, and the next day on a mail boat to Parramatta. Sidney is a beautiful city of bays, hills, parks and water. We had opportunities to see caged birds, but decided only to see the birds in the wild throughout Australia. We were well rewarded. The first bird I saw was the Magpie-Lark and then the Silver Gull. I next saw Welcome Swallows, Australian King Parrots (adult and immature), Rainbow Lorikeet (eastern form), Scaly-breasted Lorikeet, Scared Ibis, Australian Pelicans, Grey Fantail (southern form), Channeled-billed Cuckoo, Common Myna, Grey Herons, Black-backed Australian Magpies, White-faced Heron, Torresian Crow, Pacific Heron, Common Bronzewing, Little Pied Cormorant, Little Black Cormorant, Australian Darter, Brown Cuckoo-Dove, Banded Lapwing, Red-kneed Dotterel, Oriental Plover, Whiskered Tern, Australian Raven. Blue Mountains Rain Forest: Yellow-tailed Black-Cockatoo, Pied Currawong, Blue-cheeked Rosella (crimson), Gang-gang Cockatoo, Rufous Fantail, Brush Bronzewing, Wonga Pigeon, Northern Shoveler, Crested Pigeon, Black-tailed Native-hen, House Sparrows and a Common Starling. Our guide saw a Superb Lyrebird scratching the trail like a turkey, but I missed it.

Melbourne, March 2-4, 1997

Went directly to Phillips Island to watch the "Little Penguins" suddenly pop out of the surf in a mob and waddle right past us, within 3 feet, and then into their nests. In this report each bird is noted the first time I saw them, and I normally did not repeat them in future cities, unless they were very numerous, a special form or were just neat. We saw Little Raven, Black Swans, Wood (Maned) Ducks, Musk Ducks, Mallards, Australian Grey Teal, Swamp Harrier, Blue-cheeked Rosella, White-throated Needletail, Blackbirds, White-browed Scrubwren. In Melbourne we saw Sulphur-crested Cockatoo, Rufous Fantail, White-winged Triller, White-winged Cough, Australian White-backed Magpie.

Brisbane, March 5-7, 1997

Botanical Gardens: Dusky Moorhen, flocks of Noisy Miner, 200 year old trees, mangrove swamp, Willie Wagtail (a delightful little bird), Welcome Swallow (Pacific form), White-faced Heron, flocks of Rainbow Lorikeet (eastern form).

Cairns, March 8-10, 1997

Cairns: Bar-tailed Godwit (breeding and juvenile), Little Tern, Barn Swallow, Figbird (northern form), Masked Lapwing (northern form), Pied Oystercatcher, Common Sandpiper, Pied (Magpie) Geese, Royal Spoonbill (swishing that large bill back and forth), Black Bittern, Peaceful Dove, Rose-crowned Fruit-Dove, Torresian Imperial-Pigeon, Brown Songlark, Black-faced Woodswallow (white vented form).

Great Barrier Reef: Common Sandpiper, Gull-billed Tern, Sooty Tern, Bridled Tern, White-capped Noddy, Rain Forest; flock of Little Corella, Rainbow Lorikeet (red-collared form). Our guide saw a Cassowary but I failed to see it. Botanical Gardens: Orange-footed Scrubfowl, Australian Brush-Turkey (northern form) sitting on branch 3 feet from us, the elusive Yellow Oriole with the beautiful, big voice, Great Cormorant, Metallic Starling, and the Varied Honeyeater.

Darwin, March 10-13, 1997

Partly cloudy, 80-98°F. Brahminy Kite, Green-backed Warbler, Golden Whistler, Rufous-throated Honeyeater, Lemon-bellied Flycatcher, Blue-winged Kookaburra, Little Friarbird, White-bellied Cuckoo-shrike, Black-faced Woodswallow (black-vented form). Kakadu: Australian Darter, Great Egret, flocks of Pied (Magpie) Geese, Black-necked Stork, Oriental Cuckoo, Intermediate Egret, Laughing Kookaburra, two Little Eagles (light phase), Red-backed Kingfisher, Barking Owl, two mature and one immature White-breasted Sea Eagles, Comb-crested Jacana, Masked Lapwing (northern form), Spotted Harrier, Black-shouldered Kite, Square-tailed Kite, Brown Falcon (grey-headed), Australian Kestrel, Western Corella, Helmeted Friarbird, Silver-crowned Friarbird, Crimson Finch, Black Kite, Yellow-throated Miner (white-rumped form), Olive-backed Oriole, Grey Butcherbird, Common Koel, flocks of Rainbow Lorikeet, 4 wallabies in the wild and 1 crocodile on the yellow waters boulobong.

Ayres Rock, March 14, 1997

85°F, sunny. Lots of Singing Honeyeater, Crested Pigeon, Grey-headed Honeyeater, Magpie Lark & juvenile, Little Crow, Fairy Martins, Grey Fantail (mountain form), Wedge-tailed Eagle being harassed by a small falcon. The flies are so thick in Ayres that we had to buy netting for our heads. It was impossible to eat. The flies were very bad. La Crosse got 18" of snow today.

Alice Springs, March 15, 1997

85°F, sunny. 80% of the people in Alice were Aborigines, sitting in small groups in the shade of trees, barefoot, in parks, river beds, shopping malls, everywhere, and the flies were thick, and we needed the nets. The flies walked on the faces of the Aborigines without seeming to bother them. Australian Hobby (Little Falcon), saw Royal Flying Doctors Service.

Adelaide, March 16-18, 1997

Sunny, 75°F. Out of our hotel room was a flocks of Galah and Rainbow Lorikeet, Yellow-throated Miner (black-eared form) with babies coming out of their nest, a ring-tailed opossum going into a hole in the tree for the day, Fairy Martins, flocks of Pink Cockatoo (Major Mitchell), flock of New Holland Honeyeater, bushy opossum. Botanical Gardens: Rainbow Lorikeet (red-collared form), Australasian Grebe (breeding) chased minnow under water which jumped 12 times before being caught, Plumed Whistling-duck, Chestnut Teal, Dusky Moorhen. Carrack Castle: Eastern Reef Egret (dark phase), Blue-cheeked Rosella (Adelaide Phase), Red Wattlebird, Grey Currawong, Australian Magpie (black-backed).

Perth, March 19-23, 1997

Sunny, 85°F. Flock of Great Cormorant, Australian Shellduck, Eurasian Coot, Flocks of Carnaby's Black-Cockatoo and Long-billed (Baudin's) Black-Cockatoo, Zebra Finch, Regent Parrot, Sacred Ibis, Purple-crowned Lorikeet, Rufous Whistler, Diamond Dove, Rufous Fieldwren (southern), Western Warbler, Grey Currawong (black-winged form), Black-faced Woodswallow (black vented form), Spiny-cheeked Honeyeater, Australian Magpie (western), New Holland Honeyeater, Collared Sparrowhawk, Pied Cormorant, Singing Honeyeater, flocks of Rainbow Lorikeet

Rottnest Island: Caspian Tern, five Osprey nests and two Osprey, Crested Tern, Black-winged Stilt, Laughing Gull Malleefowl, Red-necked Avocet (looked like a redhead duck, dipping, with a white body until it came out on the shore), Black-fronted Dotterel, Large (Greater) Sand-Plover, Nankeen Falcon, Singing Honeyeater, lots of porpoise, seals, and the unique 2 to 4 pound kangaroo which are the smallest 'roos in Australia. Saw Emu and Kangaroo in the wild north of Perth near the Pinnacles. I thought the Red-necked Avocet was a red-headed duck with a white body, dipping in the shallows, but it was a curved-billed avocet when I got to see it up close and personal.

Australia -- A magical trip. I lectured 12 of the days I was in the country, but I saw lifetime first birds daily for the other 28 days we were in Australia. The eastern states were very green, the mountains were rain forests and Darwin was flooded. Only Alice Springs and Ayres Rock were desert-like, and even they were green. Adelaide seemed to have the most birds despite being the driest state in the driest continent in the world. Next time I will go on some actual birding trips.

Return to trip reports.

This page served by Urs Geiser;; October 13, 1997