Trip Report: South-East Australia, July 21 - August 16 & August 21-22, 1998

Richard Fairbank, Sussex, England;

[Editor's note: This report was split into separate Australia and New Caledonia sections. UG]


Nick Preston and I had wanted to see Kagu on New Caledonia for many years. The prospect of being able to do so became very much to the fore when, in New Zealand in August 1996, we met a French doctor and his girlfriend who were doing National Service in New Caledonia. Although not birders, they had seen Kagu by the Grand Kaori tree at Rivière Bleue with ease. A trip in 1997 was not a possibility but one in 1998 was, and we planned a trip around Kagu, Plains Wanderer (another bird we had wanted to see for some time) and a good selection of SE Australian species (both of us had been to Queensland before). John Cooper was soon recruited, and he and Nick decided to stay on for another week after I left (to go to Darwin). Gary Edwards signed up a month before departure, for the whole trip, giving us a full compliment, but disaster struck 4 days before departure when Nick Preston was taken into hospital.

The following is a personal report of the trip made by John Cooper, Gary Edwards and myself between 21 July and 22 August 1998. The trip cost me approx. £1950 of which £1180 was for flights. I saw 274 species in Australia of which 98 were new and 44 on New Caledonia, of which 24 were new. Best birds were Kagu, Plains Wanderer and Superb Lyrebird.


Special thanks to Nick Preston for helping with the organisation of the trip; we were almost as disappointed as he was that he couldn't make it. Many thanks to those on birding-aus who provided information for various aspects of the trip, either in response to requests for information or through their routine postings. In particular we would like to thank Margaret Cameron, Mike Carter, Yves Letocart, Phil Maher, Gordon McCarthy, Dr P Milburn, Des Quinn and Lindsey Smith with whom we were privileged enough to spend time in the field. Richard Thomas's The complete Guide to finding the Birds of Australia was absolutely invaluable, and his unpublished New Caledonia Trip Report was even more so, as was various advice and information he provided. Dave Cooper loaned us several bird tapes, some of which proved to be very useful. Tony Palliser offered much advice on all aspects of the trip, and Murray Lord provided helpful information regarding sites around Sydney - we regretted not being able to meet up with either of them. Other useful information, without which we would have struggled to find several species, was received from Lawrie Conole, Stuart Dashper, Terry Gould, Roger Hicks, Jack Krohn, Peter Menkhorst, Michael Norris, Dick Norton, Don Roberson and Trevor Quested. Thanks to all.


Cheap road maps of the relevant states and cities in Australia were sufficient to find all the sites we visited, although we might have struggled to find the Orange-bellied Parrot site at Geelong on our own. They were available in most petrol stations, those produced by BP seeming particularly good. The rough maps in the New Caledonia Lonely Planet guide enabled us to find Rivière Bleue and Mont Koghi, although adequate road signs would have been reassuring at times!

Daily Diary

Tuesday 21st July

Arrived in Sydney mid morning (an hour late), picked up the booked hire-car and drove straight to Royal National Park where it was dull and showery. Car was making loud and very annoying bumping noises from the rear suspension. After seeing the Beach Thick-knee at Bonnievale and a short walk down northern end of Lady Carrrington Drive we returned to Sydney Airport and changed the car (to a larger Ford Station Wagon that needed returning to Adelaide). Returned to Royal National Park after a take-away and camped at Bonnievale, somewhat shattered. I saw 38 species seen of which 2 were new for me. Best bird: Beach Thick-knee.

Wednesday 22nd July

Woken at 1 am by a Powerful Owl calling from nearby, but by the time we'd got out it had stopped. Packed up tents soon after dawn and walked the southern section of Lady Carrington Drive until mid morning where a Superb Lyrebird displaying at a range of 10-15m was absolutely stunning. Drove to Barren Grounds and walked to the Illawarra Lookout and along the ground parrot trail a couple of times (with no success). Had a brief look at Budderoo before returning to the ground parrot trail at Barren Grounds where an obliging Rufous Bristlebird provided some consolation for the lack of Ground Parrots and Emuwrens. Frustratingly three Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoos flew over in silhouette (and at some distance). Drove into Roberton for a take-away and camped near Budderoo. 42 species seen, 2 being new. Best bird: Superb Lyrebird.

Thursday 23rd July

Returned to Barren Grounds and after seeing a Pilotbird near the entrance walked the circular trail and the ground parrot trails for most of the morning, another Bristlebird and a pair of Beautiful Firetails being the highlights. Wandered around Budderoo, flushing an Emuwren which gave good flight views before returning again to Barren Grounds, spending the rest of the afternoon walking the ground parrot trail another four times. John flushed a Ground Parrot at the start of the trail when returning early to look for Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoos but it could not be refound. Even more frustrating, several Ground Parrots were heard at dusk, though none were close.

Met Milburn in Roberton and followed him to Wollongong, stopping on the escarpment on the way to try for Sooty Owl. We turned down the track to park and realised we had stumbled into a police stakeout. Somewhat unnerved, despite being reassured by the police that it was OK to carry on, we continued and had a pair of Sooty Owls responding to tape, although unfortunately not close enough to spotlight. Returning up the track we were passed by 3 vehicles, at least one being a police car and near the start of it noticed a number of newish cars that had been dumped down the escarpment, rather spooky in the dark. Continued to Wollongong where spent the night with Lindsay and Janice Smith. Only 23 species seen, 3 being new. Best bird: Beautiful Firetail.

Friday 24th July

Off Wollongong on the Sandra K returning late afternoon ahead of a band of rain. There was sufficient swell to make the movement of the boat unpleasant at times. Found loads of albatrosses around some trawlers, but comparatively few were attracted to our chum, although a very smart White-faced Storm Petrel spent some time with us. The lack of variety was, however, a bit disappointing, though it was not helped by our failure to pick out any differences in prions or our more traditional approach to Wandering Albatross forms (and inability to differentiate between them). A nice group of uncontroversial Sooty Oystercatchers greeted our return to Wollongong and after an excellent meal at Lindsay's we drove north to Dhurag National Park where we camped. 27 species seen, 3 being new. Best bird: White-faced Storm Petrel.

Saturday 25th July

After a quick look around the camp site and nearby picnic area (which failed to produce Glossy Black Cockatoo) we walked the Old North Road seeing an excellent Spotted Quail Thrush on the way up and a pair of Origmas on our return. We then drove to Mitchell Park, seeing an impressive pair of Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoos on the way. Failing to find the Powerful Owl in a couple of hours at Mitchell Park, we continued to Londonderry, where a quick stop produced excellent views of Swift Parrots between heavy showers. Slowly drove west reaching Bathurst by dusk and continued to Wallendbeen where we camped near the road. 52 species seen of which 3 were new. Best bird: Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoo.

Sunday 26th July

Up at dawn to witness movement of c150 aptly named Noisy Friarbirds moving north through the line of trees by the tent. Slowly drove along route 94 to Tenora and then on to Leeton, stopping when birds were seen from the car (the best being c50 Bluebonnets and a pair of Banded Lapwings). At Leeton Swamp most of the water birds were distant, and we failed to find a way of approaching them despite getting wet feet. I had a frustrating view of a small crake as it dropped into a patch of reeds. Continued on to Deniliquin, arriving just before dark. Camped in town at a site near the river and made contact with Phil Maher to arrange a meet for the next morning. 73 species seen of which 10 were new. Best bird: Bluebonnet.

Monday 27th July

Phil arrived at 07.30 and immediately took us to see Superb Parrot. They were found relatively easily and more than lived up to their name, but the wind soon picked up with showers making birding a struggle, although a Stubble Quail was flushed twice in this area. A walk through an area of dying woodland produced excellent views of Flame and Red-capped Robins, and a few wetland birds were found (although the time of year was wrong for others). Phil dropped us off at lunch time with sombre words about the weather and the possibility of not being able to get into the area for Plains Wanderer. Tension mounted as the drizzle persisted, and we set out again mid-afternoon to try our luck. A pair of Bush Thick-knees, in an area they'd deserted 18 months before, was a good start, and an angry Owlet-Nightjar, enticed out of its hole by the tapping of a stick, was even better. Phil decided to try and get into the Plains Wanderer area before dark, being particularly concerned about a couple of creek crossings that were required, and with increasing anxiety we entered the property and started to drive across an enormous grassy field. No more than half way across the field, and much to our amazement and great relief, we disturbed a female Plains Wanderer. A very strange bird and not at all as we'd expected - its horizontal, belly on the ground, carriage with large protruding feet made it look like a cross between a small tinamou and a young duckling as it scurried away, occasionally attempting to hide under small tufts of grass. We watched it for several minutes before leaving it and then waited until dark. Spotlighting in the same field for an hour or so produced 2 male Plains Wanderers in the upright (frozen) stance we were expecting. Stubble Quail were also seen but no Button-Quail (wrong time of year again), although having seen Plains Wanderers so well we were not too bothered. Phil later admitted he'd thought we might break his 3 year run of successes in finding the species; we were very glad we hadn't. 80 species seen, 11 being new. Best bird: Plains Wanderer (no contest really).

Tuesday 28th July

Left Deniliquin soon after dawn and drove steadily to Chiltern State Forest, arriving mid morning. Weather a slight improvement but very cold and showery. Quickly saw 2 Regent Honeyeaters near Frog's Hollow. The rest of the day was spent along Greenhill Road (where a superb male Rose Robin was found in a nearby paddock) and near Cyanide Dam although generally few birds were in evidence. After dark drove to Victorian Alps and camped on lower slopes of Mt Buffalo. 57 species seen of which 2 were new. Best bird: Rose Robin.

Wednesday 29th July

Awoke to find tent covered in snow and Mt Buffalo closed to vehicles without chains. As obviously not conducive to birding we decided to return to Chiltern. Stopping on the edge of the Alps at Eurobin, near Porepunkah, to check some parrots flying over (not the hoped for Gang-Gangs) we were accosted by the owner of an adjacent caravan park who thought we were taking photos of his property on behalf of an unfriendly rival neighbour! Realising immediately that we were not, he invited us look round his park where we were surprised to see up to 70 non-breeding plumaged Satin Bowerbirds feeding on the grass. Continued to Chiltern and revisited the areas we'd been to the previous day. After a few false starts with dark-chinned juvenile Brown-headed Honeyeaters we finally saw a good Black-chinned but despite much searching Chestnut-rumped Hylacola could not be found, though a perched Collared Sparrowhawk near Cyanide Dam was some consolation, as were a field full of Flame Robins at Brown's Road. After dark we phoned Mike Carter and arranged to meet him the following morning on the outskirts of Melbourne. We then drove to Toolangi (Kinglake National Park), and after failing to find any picnic areas despite driving round for almost an hour we camped behind the forest centre. 49 species seen, 2 being new. Best bird: Satin Bowerbird.

Thursday 30th July

Spend a couple of hours walking in impressive forest at Toolangi, but low cloud obscured the tops of the (admittedly very tall) trees, and the birds were disappointing, though Bassian Ground Thrush and a Lyrebird were nice. Drove to Melbourne via Maroondah Reservoir hoping for Gang-Gangs but one of the workers there told us they'd not seen any for some months. Met Mike Carter and Des Quinn and after a brief and unsuccessful look at Ferntree Gulley headed for Lysterfield where Des showed us a superb roosting Powerful Owl that he kept a regular eye on. We left Des and moved on to Edithvale where an Australian Bittern was flushed, Balnaring for a pair of Cape Barren Geese with 4 small goslings and finally, in a rush to beat the fading light, Rosebud where 3 breeding plumaged Double-banded Plovers were on the beach. We returned to Mike's house in Mount Eliza where he and his wife were perfect hosts. 62 species seen of which 5 were new. Best bird: Powerful Owl.

Friday 31st July

Left Mount Eliza after an early breakfast and drove around Melbourne to arrive at Werribee at 9 am, the time we had arranged to meet Margaret Cameron. She arrived with Gordon McCarthy, and after getting reasonable views of Purple-crowned Lorikeets by the entrance we were taken on a whistle-stop tour of Werribee. Keeping up with Margaret along the sometimes slippery dirt tracks around Werribee was an effort at the best of times, so her telling us at one point that we would be heading back the way we'd come in a 'fairly determined manner' raised a smile - it was hard to imagine her doing anything any other way! Birds abounded at Werribee, the best for us being a very obliging pair of Australian Spotted Crakes. We then moved on to a flooded area south of Geelong where a small wintering flock of Orange-bellied Parrots had been seen regularly. We found them after a good bit of wandering around, although not before Margaret had to go (having other commitments), leaving us in Gordon's capable hands. We then had a quick stop at Laverton Saltworks (some distant Banded Stilts), Geelong botanical gardens in Eastern Park (a spectacular flock of Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoos, but still no Gang-Gangs) and finally a marshy pool and very scenic beach west of Barwon Heads. A pair of Hooded Plovers on the beach were superb, but about a hundred dead Fluttering Shearwaters on the tide line rather depressing. We said goodbye to Gordon and made for a nearby campsite at Barwon. A phone call to Mike Carter confirmed that the Portland pelagic, scheduled for the 2nd, had been cancelled due to anticipated bad weather. We had mixed feelings about this! 73 species seen, 6 being new. Best bird: Hooded Plover.

Saturday 1st August

Up at dawn, but wasted nearly two hours trying, unsuccessfully, to track down a couple of parrots seen badly in flight. A quick walk along the beach then failed to produce the Hooded Plovers seen the previous day. Returned to Geelong via Drysdale (where 3 Blue-billed Duck were seen). Walked along by the river in Queen's Park where we found the female Pink Robin Gordon had told us about (but still no Gang-Gangs). We then drove inland to Brisbane Ranges (8 cute Koalas, but few birds) before returning to the coast where we immediately saw a Rufous Bristlebird at Airey's Inlet Lighthouse. Drove a short way inland to Distillery Creek where 2 pairs of Gang-gangs came in to drink at a pool by the car park. They were brilliant (their amazing red floppy crests were far better than expected) as was an immature male Pink Robin in the same area. Camped in a campsite near Airey's Inlet. 76 species seen of which 5 were new. Best bird: Gang-Gang Cockatoo.

Sunday 2nd August

Left campsite and tried to find an area of heathland inland from an open cast mine. Gave up when the dirt track became increasingly muddy, but a very tame male Brush Bronzewing beside the road made the effort very worthwhile. Returned briefly to Distillery Creek, where 2 more Gang-gangs were seen and a small, but noisy, flock of Forest Ravens flew over, before continuing along the Great Ocean Road. Despite showery and dull weather, the scenery was impressive, particularly the 12 Apostles, Loch Ard Gorge and Bay of Islands. Birds were not very evident, 6 breeding Black-faced Cormorants being an exception, and those that were did not always perform as one would like - particularly 2 presumed Blue-winged Parrots which flew over at cliff top height just at we'd climbed down to the beach at the head of Loch Ard Gorge! We then hurried along to Warrnambool in time to see 3 or 4 Southern Right Whales offshore before the light went. Drove steadily north to Little Desert National Park where we camped. 50 species seen, 3 being new. Best bird: Brush Bronzewing.

Monday 3rd August

Had a quick look around the campsite at dawn then moved on to a nearby picnic area in a small block of mallee. Lots of honeyeaters were in evidence (although some took a while to get to grips with), and some superb male Variegated Fairywrens were seen although there was no sign of any Malleefowl despite there being a mound near the main track. It was just as well it was a small block of forest as, despite having a compass, I managed to get confused and disoriented for some time before emerging from a completely unexpected side of the Mallee! We left late morning and drove to Wyperfield National Park, arriving mid afternoon. Emus were common, but little was seen along the Lake Brambruk Track despite a distinct improvement in the weather. Spotlighting along the Eastern Lookout Nature Drive produced a single Brush-tailed Possum. 49 species seen, 5 being new. Best bird: Variegated Fairywren.

Tuesday 4th August

All day in Wyperfield National Park, most on the trail to the Malleefowl mound and the first few kms of the Lowan Track. An excellent day, lots of good birds (though not a huge number of species) and pleasant weather with highlights being Chestnut Quail-Thrush, Shy Hylacola, Southern Scrub-Robin, Pink Cockatoo and Mulga Parrot. The only disappointment was no Malleefowl despite my watching a mound for over 3 hours (we later learned that they may only visit the mounds once or twice a week at this time of year)! Left Wyperfield as the light was fading, stopping for food en route to Hattah-Kulkyne National Park where we camped by Lake Hattah. 37 species seen, 7 being new. Best bird: Chestnut Quail-Thrush.

Wednesday 5th August

Quite cold by the lake at dawn (following a clear night) although a flock of Regent Parrots soon got the blood racing. All day in Hattah-Kulkyne National Park, concentrating on the Mallee adjoining the start of the Nowingi Track. Here Mallee Emuwrens were readily found, along with Chestnut Quail-Thrush, Crested Bellbird and a distant view of a Striated Grasswren bouncing away from me. A drive to Lake Mournpoll produced a superb pair of Pink Cockatoos in roadside conifers but little else. Grasswren type calls were heard during a final walk down the Nowingi Track, but the light was starting to go and nothing could be seen. Returned to camp at Lake Hattah. A Southern Boobook calling near the campsite shut up as soon as we approached it (a clear moonlit night). 49 species seen, 4 being new. Best bird: Mallee Emuwren.

Thursday 6th August

Out along the Murray Valley Highway at dawn but no Malleefowl. Returned to the Nowingi Track seeing similar birds, although only one Emuwren and no more Grasswrens. John failed to reappear at the car, and after some time a very faint shout for help was heard in the opposite direction from that to which he appeared to have gone. Gary took a compass bearing and 'rescued' a much relieved John. It transpired he'd been 'lost' for about an hour, at which stage he'd stayed in the same area periodically shouting in different directions. The lack of landmarks in the Mallee clearly required a greater degree of care than we were taking! We returned to Lake Mournpoll early afternoon, where a distant White-backed Swallow was seen, and then concentrated on the track past it to the kangaroo fence. We'd been told this was a good area for Chestnut-crowned Babblers and after a couple of hours of searching eventually found a superb group of 4. Undaunted by his earlier adventure, John and I decided to have a final try for the Grasswrens and had brilliant views of a pair along the Nowingi Track. Returned to camp at Lake Hattah. The moon was so bright the Southern Boobook didn't even start calling. 65 species seen, 2 being new. Best bird: Striated Grasswren.

Friday 7th August

Packed camp and left Hattah for drive north to Yarrarra, stopping for breakfast en route. A couple of hours at Yarrarra produced the hoped for White-browed Treecreeper and an excellent male Gilbert's Whistler. We continued into South Australia (declaring two bananas and a carrot, which were then hastily eaten, at a fruit check-point) and after a brief stop by the Murray River hit the coast at Port Gawler, north of Adelaide. This was generally disappointing, although did produce Slender-billed Thornbill and a few distant waders. A look on the salt pools and coast along the St. Kilda road was, if anything, worse. Camped on a site in West Beach. 75 species seen, 2 being new. Best bird: a superb singing male Red-capped Robin.

Saturday 8th August

Arrived at Adelaide Airport at 7.30 am to collect a pre-booked 4WD but one was not available. Following some misinformation about the roads we eventually started the tedious journey north mid morning in the car we'd arrived in. A 17 km diversion along a muddy track due to the main road being closed north of Hawker for filming (of Holy Smoke) was made worse when we realised the film crew had probably been given 'our' 4WD along with many others! It eventually proved to be worthwhile, however, with Chirruping Wedgebill and White-winged Fairywrens beside the track and a flock of Elegant Parrots by the road a few kms past the diversion. Drove on to the company mining town of Leigh Creek arriving just after dark. A strangely impersonal place but the main bar served excellent food. Camped by the road a few kms further north. 31 species seen of which 3 were new. Best bird: White-winged Fairywren.

Sunday 9th August

Up at dawn and after a brief look around continued north towards Lyndhurst, stopping 7 kms short where 2 rather distant Thick-billed Grasswrens and a pair of Elegant Parrots were seen. Continued on to Lyndhurst and down the first part of the Strzelecki Track to the Chestnut-breasted Whiteface sites at km 26 and 27. 2-3 hours at the first site produced very little, a shy Rufous Calamanthus being the best. A similar time at the 'old mine site' looked like ending up the same way until a funny little song drew my attention to a pair of Whitefaces. We had excellent views for about 15 minutes, during which time the male appeared to be nest building, before they flew off several hundred metres away. We returned to Lyndhurst and drove on towards Marree, seeing a pair of Banded Lapwings by the road in fading light. Camped beside the road just short of Marree. 31 species, 4 being new. Best bird: Chestnut-breasted Whiteface.

Monday 10th August

Concerned about taking an uninsured hire car further along a damp Birdsville Track than was absolutely necessary we decided to go as far as we could in a day or as far as it took to see Inland Dotterel. Three Cinnamon Quail-Thrush beside the road just before Marree was an excellent start, with another 2 and then 7 a few kms down the Birdsville Track. A Gibber Chat was seen while watching the last ones (14 kms out of Marree), and stopping a km further on for another Gibber Chat revealed 3 Inland Dotterel walking around behind it. A further 5 Inland Dotterel and 4 Australian Pratincoles on the other side of the road capped a brilliant morning, and after watching them for some time we rather reluctantly turned back. We drove back to the Port Augusta salt pans, stopping for another good meal in Leigh Creek and spent the last hour of light in scrub 9 kms to NW hoping for, but not seeing, Redthroat. After dark drove south to Port Lincoln, camping in Lincoln National Park. 38 species seen, 3 being new. Best bird: Cinnamon Quail Thrush just ahead of Inland Dotterel.

Tuesday 11th August

A disappointing morning at Lincoln National Park in rather indifferent weather. No whipbirds were heard, and only Gary managed to find a Blue-breasted Fairywren, which then immediately vanished. Moved on to the much more spectacular Coffin Point National Park where 3 Rock Parrots were found in the low coastal scrub, although a very pleasant walk along a beach produced little. Left and started to drive north late in afternoon, stopping for a flock of Cape Barren Geese in a field near Port Lincoln prison and to look at Big Swamp a few kms further north. Drove on to Lake Gilles Conservation Park where camped along the entrance track. 64 species seen of which 2 were new. Best bird: Superb Fairywren.

Wednesday 12th August

Little was seen in rather poor habitat along the Lake Gilles entrance road so we continued towards Port Augusta, stopping in much better habitat 54 kms short of Iron Knob. Here we were very pleasantly surprised to find Rufous Treecreeper, while a broken wing display from a Western Yellow Robin was unexpected. We continued to Iron Knob, turning south-east towards Whyalla and stopping after 10 kms where 2 Redthroats were seen (the first one flying in in response to tape). Another brief stop at Port Augusta salt pans gave even better views of Banded Stilts (in better light), and we continued south to Port Prime arriving with just over an hour before dusk. Two Stubble Quail and 3 Bluebonnets were seen on the approach road while 40 Fairy Terns were the pick of the birds seen on the shore. Walking out on the mudflats (and rapidly returning ahead of the incoming tide) was tremendously atmospheric, with a superb light where we were, but very dark storm clouds seemingly passing all around us. Drove to Adelaide and camped again at West Beach. 62 species seen, 5 were new. Best bird: Rufous Treecreeper.

Thursday 13th August

Changed the Station Wagon for a saloon car that needed to be returned to Melbourne and, after seeing 3 Musk Parrots in flowering trees in the parking lot, drove to Bool Lagoon by way of the Coorong, although did not stop there. Arrived at Bool Lagoon early afternoon and spent the rest of the day walking the various trails, mostly between showers. Lots of water birds of which 200+ Pied Geese were unexpected. Three Australian Bitterns were seen, and 13 Blue-winged Parrots roosted in one of the drier reed beds. Then drove on to Loch Ard Gorge on the Great Ocean Road, camping nearby. John was breathalysed twice within half an hour at different local police road blocks! A new experience for him. 62 species seen of which 2 were new. Best bird: Pink-eared Duck.

Friday 14th August

Up at dawn enjoying Loch Ard Gorge before other tourists arrived. Surprisingly, no Blue-winged Parrots could be found although an Olive Whistler was new, and several Rufous Bristlebirds were seen well. It was nice to see the coast in better weather, and we also returned to the Bay of Islands before heading inland to Lake Martin, near Cressy, where 16 Cape Barren Geese were seen. Continued on to Long Forest for the last part of the day, although it was rather cold, and small birds were not in much evidence, possibly not helped by the presence of a Collared Sparrowhawk, which gave good views. After dark drove round the outskirts of Melbourne to Toolangi where we camped behind the forest centre. 66 species seen, one being new. Best bird: Rufous Bristlebird.

Saturday 15th August

Three hours in the tall forest at Toolangi proved to be even less productive than our earlier visit, and we left mid morning to return to Melbourne International Airport at Tullamarine, having earlier stopped in a supermarket to buy supplied for New Caledonia (mainly tinned fish and biscuits). Returned hire car, showered in the airport and repacked before checking in for Aircalin flight to Noumea. 17 species seen, none new - first tickless day! Best bird: Eastern Yellow Robin.

Go to New Caledonia

Friday 21st August

Arrived with Aircalin from Noumea in Sydney just after 10.30 am. John and Gary departed for a harbour tour ahead of a flight to Darwin (for a further 6 days). I hired a car and drove straight to Barren Grounds. Walked the 'ground parrot' trail with increasing frustration for over 4 hours with no success despite superb weather, 3 Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoos and an Eastern Bristlebird providing little consolation! Decided to try nearby Budderoo, for a change of scenery, and amazingly flushed a Ground Parrot and what was probably a Lewin's Rail within five minutes of getting there! It clouded over at dusk, and I drove back to Royal National Park, sleeping in the car at Bonnievale. 25 species seen in Australia, one being new. Best bird: Ground Parrot.

Saturday 22nd August

Up at dawn. Spent an hour at Bonnievale seeing little, followed by a brief walk on Curra Moors, which was exceptionally wet. Returned to Sydney Airport and departed at 1 pm. 31 species seen, none were new. Best bird: female Brush Bronzewing.

Species List

Sightings by RJF, * indicates a new species, + possible new species, depending on taxonomy. Scientific names are not given but names used are as in Thomas & Thomas, The complete guide to finding the Birds of Australia

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This page served with permission of the author by Urs Geiser;; November 20, 1998