Ornithological trivia

I golfed today at the National Course, Cape Schanck – specifically the Moonah. As I approached the 18th green I noticed an Australian Hobby diving almost vertically into some thick grass presumably after a rodent. As it hit the deck it was immediately attacked by an Australian magpie who sought a share of the booty [...]


I have been a recreational birdwatcher for 20 years although these days I am a bit too lazy to be considered a serious participant. I keep my eyes open but try to avoid the excesses. Nevertheless I have an admiration for those who have devoted their lives to this hobby. People like Mike Carter and [...]

New bird for La Trobe University?

I walk around the beautiful campus at La Trobe University many mornings simply to enjoy the landscapes and to get some exercise. The last few mornings I have seen Brown quail between the Sports Field Lake and the Austrian Club – actually almost adjacent to the lake. This morning I saw 10 quail on a [...]

Golfing & birdwatching

I am a member of a beautiful golf club that is only 10 km or so from the centre of Melbourne. It lies on flood plains adjacent to the Yarra River. Golf has largely replaced my previous weekend diversion of bird-watching but not entirely. Now I bird-watch – though not very seriously – as I [...]

Enchanting discoveries

It is about the size of an adult’s thumb (about 8.4 cm) and weighs 10-15 grams* – the Buff-faced pygmy parrots (Micropsitta pusio) . The world’s smallest parrot was found in that exotic volcano crater in New Guinea – Mount Bosavi. It isn’t a new species – it is indeed widely distributed along the northern [...]

Canaries in coal mines 2

Even the zombies who care nothing about their natural environment should feel some real fear in connection with current changes. In the US today fully one third of all bird species are ‘endangered, threatened or in serious decline’. Isn’t this troubling? Doesn’t it raise some doubt about the sustainability of human life on the planet [...]

Canaries in coalmines & climate change

Bird observers to some are a weird lot. Fanatical, obsessed with what these others see (or often ignore and don’t see) and dismiss as trite. The obsession of bird observers with their environment however often feeds into useful science.

US observers have noticed that over 40 years 177 bird species have moved further north [...]

5 new bird species for H

In my 5 days in Cairns during the last week I observed 6 bird species that were new to me.

Laughing gull – a resident of north and south America that is a very rare vagrant to Australia.  It may have taken a wrong turn across the Pacific or followed a ship here.  Here [...]

Cairns in the wet & birding

I flew to Cairns this morning – I love this place but its the first time I have visited it in the ‘big wet’.

Without ado I headed that afternoon down to the Esplanade mudflats which were 0.5 km from my hotel. Met a Swedish birder there and then the legendary John Crowhurst as well [...]

Bird photography – Black Grouse

The winning images of the International Wildbird Photographer 2008 Award were announced this week. They include gentoo penguins, a graceful whooper swan in midflight, and the inside of the huge bill of a dalmatian pelican. The above is a Black Grouse – it won the bird behaviour section. The photo was taken by a [...]

First sharkgull spotted in Australia

Long believed to be extinct in territorial Australia – but occasionally seen on off-shore islands that do not lie in Australian territorial waters – this great snap of Accipiter selachimorpha (the Common sharkgull) was taken by C. Marter while the bird roosted on the roof of a local eatery near Gosford NSW.  Until this gory [...]

Spokesbird for the endangered species

Thanks Lena.


Bird-watching history made in Australia

For the last decade or so I have been a pretty keen recreational bird watcher. I have a pretty good list of pelagic species but a mediocre list of non-pelagic, terrestrial species which, in fact, make up most of the bird species of Australia.

Most people see it as a nerdy activity but I think [...]

Eurasian curlew

The Eurasian curlew, a reasonably common northern hemisphere bird but one that seldom gets past southern Asia, was seen and photographed yesterday at Eighty Mile Beach, west of Broome, by members of the Australian Wader Studies Group (AWSG) . Chris Hassell found it and some 20 observers saw it. This is a new bird [...]

A ‘new’ bird species for Australia?

Last year on 10th November I had a wonderful day’s bird-watching around Atherton in Queensland. Late in the afternoon we saw a pair of Painted Snipe at Hasties Swamp. In total I saw 107 species that day the final birds being an elegant pair of Jabiru in the swamp next to Cairns airport. Today, [...]

Californian condor

Its mainly just a great photo. There are only 300 left in the wild. A number recently died after feeding on the carcasses of animals that had been shot using lead bullets. The Californian senate has responded by banning the use of lead bullets in hunting. Good. (533)


Backyard birdwatching – 50 species seen

I keep a tally of the bird species I see from my home in suburban Ivanhoe in Melbourne. Keeping a watchout is part of the great art of pottering around the garden with no specific purpose but managing to fill in many a lazy day. It is also an outstanding way of confirming my ‘nerd’ [...]

Endurance test for Godwits

It has just been discovered that common migratory wading birds, Bar–tailed Godwits, make a 10,000 klm. non-stop journey from New Zealand to the Yellow Sea, refuel for a month and then head off to Alaska. This is an interesting site with a link to a site enabling tracking of flight paths.

The Godwits take [...]

Make them an offer they cannot refuse

Cowbirds like cuckoos* are brood parasites. They lay their eggs in the nests of other birds and leave the hosts with the hard job of raising their young. But cuckoo chicks normally** kick the original nestlings out so they can monopolise the food supply. Cowbird chicks however tolerate their nestmates. Moreover, while eggs of cuckoos [...]

Rediscovering the dodo

Well not quite. But the world’s least-known bird has been rediscovered in Thailand. The Large-billed reed warbler, not seen since a single specimen was obtained in India in 1867, has been positively identified (using DNA tests on material from feathers) in a Thai sewage farm, by British ornithologist Philip Round who announced the find yesterday. [...]