Archive for the ‘Bird-watching’ Category

Hello! Recognizing that I would be staying local this year I decided to try and have a BC Birding Big Year! I set my goal at 190 birds for the province. Since there are ~260 breeding birds that can be seen in BC without having to spend too much money for weird locations, I thought 190 was doable. Also, since I live in the Okanagan Valley (Kelowna), there is a great opportunity to see ~200 birds here … again, if the conditions and timing are right.

The year started off very well, and through the end of July, I’m up to 129 birds. I think I can hit my goal if three things happen: 1) I can make a trip to the Lower Mainland (near Vancouver), 2) I make a trip to Eastern BC (in the Kootenays), and 3) I collect a few more Alpine birds overall.

Here are five of my favorite birds so far this year … The first is this Nashville Warbler.

Nashville Warbler

This is a first time bird for me — we were hiking on the High Rim Trail near Lake Country, BC … we heard several of them calling and were finally able to see it well enough to snap a few pictures. Lovely.

Red-eyed Vireo

This was another new bird for me. We were camping near Mabel Lake earlier this summer and had stopped at a small recreation area — Shuswap Falls Recreation Site. There were quite a variety of birds here — this was one of a pair … lovely.

Golden-crowned Kinglet

I was happy to see this little fellow — also near the High Rim Trail. He was in full mating display and it was easy to see his crest. I was happy he sat still for the minute or so I needed to focus. lol.


This was also a new bird for me — a Veery. Very similar in call and appearance as a Thrush. Beautiful vocalization — photographed along McCulloch Road leaving Kelowna. I found it funny that it was standing on one leg.

Northern Waterthrush

The final bird was another new one for me! The Northern Waterthrush. I almost confused it with a juvenile Robin, but that yellow color was too vibrant to ignore. A beautiful bird and very curious. We saw this near Browne Lake to the east of Kelowna.

Such a wonderful variety of birds … I’ve been very fortunate to add around 5 new birds to my “life list” pushing my total numbers up to 1,105. We’ll see how it goes the rest of the year!



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This is the final birdwatching entry from our Southern Swing 2018-2019.  A few previous posts discussed the North Island, Stewart Island, and our Pelagic bird-watching.  The focus of this trip on the South Island wasn’t really about the birds but just experiencing everything the island had to offer.  We did take every opportunity to view the birds when we were at different locations.   I also mentioned earlier that it was ‘possible’ for us to see around 150 birds … but I thought 75 was the more realistic goal, so that’s what we went after!   At the end of our trip we counted up and had 80 birds on our New Zealand list.  Wow.  A great number considering it wasn’t our primary focus.  Of those 80, 59 were brand new birds.  We finagled a few new ones on the South Island but the majority really came from the previous three trips.

There were only two or three native birds we didn’t see that I thought we had a chance: 1) Kea, 2) Shining Cuckoo, and 3) Fernbird.  Otherwise, we saw all the other common native birds.  The Moorpork (Owl), Kiwi, and Takahae were in captivity but cool to see anyway.  Here are a few pictures of birds from the South Island not in previous posts.

First off is this little guy: the Rifleman.  This bird is about the size of my thumb … just a tiny fellow!  We felt very fortunate to be able to call them in and get these photos.  They are almost as active as a hummingbird so never sitting still.  Enjoyed seeing them on Stewart Island and on the South Island.

This is a set of birds that were “imported” from Europe.  The European Goldfinch, the Green Finch, and the Yellowhammer.  We saw several others to include Starlings, House Sparrow, Chaffinch, etc.  Pretty birds nonetheless … just not native.

Here are the Takahes.  There are about 300 of these birds alive — captive or otherwise.  They were originally considered extinct but were discovered in a remote area of the island and are now being bred back to a sustainable level.  A beautiful, big flightless bird.

Another couple of native birds.  The Tomtit … just a wee fellow.  About the same size as the Robin.  We saw him in the mountains in New Zealand.  We also saw this Blue Duck, a rare native as well.  A strange looking duck.  We saw this native Stilt: a Pied Stilt; also known as a Black-winged Stilt.

This is an Australasian Crested Grebe.  I felt fortunate to see it — twice!  Hard to photograph, but cool!


As with most things, when you are seriously always looking for birds you’ll see what you want to see!  I saw these two “ducks” below — and still photographed them.  I think I need to get my prescription updated …


Well, that wraps up the birdwatching portion of our Southern Swing.  Eight countries, six guided trips, and a whole lot of leg work, photography, and sorting in four months.  We saw over 410 new birds.  It was just an incredible trip and a fantastic birdwatching adventure.  Until next time!

Stumbling Piper


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We drove to Oamaru with two thoughts in mind … to see the Blue (Little) Penguin again (having seen it already on Stewart Island) and to see the Yellow-eyed Penguin.

We checked into our hotel and asked the owner about these two penguins.   In Oamaru you can pay to see the Blue Penguin … we weren’t interested in that.  He told us where we might see it for free.  He also told us we missed the time the Yellow-eyed penguin comes back to shore … we discussed getting up early to see it depart.  He said we’d have to be there by 0600 to see it.  The adventure continues!

First, we went down to the dock to see if we could see the Little Penguin again.  No luck … However, we saw about 1,000 “Shags” all sitting on this dock … Check it out.


Oamaru is also known for its Steampunk Museum.  We knew we would be visiting it again on our Alps2Ocean bike ride (that’s a later post), but we stopped by to see it at night after trying to see the Little Penguin.  Check out the cool pictures and this video.


The whole place was pretty neat!

The next morning was an early start!  We made it down to where the Yellow-eyed Penguin resides and were rewarded with a beautiful sunrise.

Here’s a shot where the sun isn’t even up yet!IMG_20190218_061302075This next picture gives you an idea of where we were scanning for these penguins … way down on the beach.IMG_20190218_063118719Here’s Deb scanning the distance …IMG_20190218_065706050It was really dark to begin with … my phone lightened up these images.  However, the sunrise was spectacular!IMG_20190218_070056235_HDRIMG_20190218_070153149

We also had the great fortune of seeing one of the Yellow-eyed Penguins make its way to the ocean for an early start.   The pictures below are quite dark, but he’s in there.

It looks like he’s down there …IMG_4723Zooming in with the camera … some white!LND_91F9AAD2-5F4C-49A3-B25A-310276AED3D8Even closer … that’s got to be him!LND_D93DAC27-7776-4D43-B3D1-734C7A75539A

Yes! Success!  You can see his shape here.


As we were making our way back to the car we had a bonus surprise of seeing this Golden Pheasant walking around the area.  So cool …

It was time to head back to the hotel, pack up the car, and head out for the next stage of the adventure!

Stumbling Piper


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Sorry for the delayed posting … once we got back to Canada it’s been non-stop action. haha.  Picking up where I left off … we had just been enjoying ourselves in Hanmer Springs and needed to make our way south to the Central Otago Rail Trail (more on that in a later post).  It was a long drive to get there so we decided to break it up over a couple of days.  The first stop was actually a tiny bit further north to a seaside town named Kaikoura.  As those of you who have been following know, we’ve been birding along the way … we decided we were going to do one more organized birding trip — this time something called a Pelagic Birding tour … you take a boat out on the ocean to see the different sea birds local to that area.  We drove over on a Saturday and spent the afternoon walking along the beach enjoying the sights.

Here are a few pictures from that part of the journey.  Yep, we saw some seals!  :0)


Check out this little guy ….IMG_3594

… and then all the people who thought it was a good idea to get closer.  haha.  Guess they can’t read the signs that say stay back.IMG_3596

We also saw a few nice birds on shore before heading out the next day for our boat trip.

As far as I could tell, this is a variation on a Starling.IMG_3443This was a Dunnock … kind of strange but a new bird for me.IMG_3477This is a European Bird … a Chaffinch.IMG_3562These birds are called “Shags.”  We in the Canada / U.S.A. know them as Cormorants.IMG_3585Then you have the Plovers hanging around …IMG_3634

We got up (relatively) early the next day for our adventure on the high seas.  We were going out with Albatross Encounters!  A nice business that really caters to your bird-watching desires.


Check out the pictures we’ve got from this trip!  We had a nice fast boat …


We not only saw birds, we saw some other wildlife as well!IMG_4777

Here’s Deb checking out the momma seal … and her babies!


IMG_4764We also caught glimpses here and there of two kinds of dolphins.   IMG_4754

But the real stars of this trip were the birds!  Here’s only a few of the highlight photos.  Even as we were leaving shore we saw nice birds … the white-faced heron.

IMG_4296However, the most amazing birds were the Albatrosses … so large … and so close! haha.IMG_4325IMG_4354They were right by the boat all the time.  The Wandering Albatross below … Salvin’s Albatross above here.IMG_4414IMG_4423They kept sneaking into my photos.IMG_4431But we also saw several different kinds of birds because they were “chumming” for them.IMG_4451It made it very easy to see them … here’s a Giant Petrel.IMG_4489The Wandering Albatross up close and personal.IMG_4497Oh, we also saw a few hundred seagulls.  haha.IMG_4528IMG_4576

All in all a fantastic birding adventure … we made it back safely to shore and headed south on the island … down to Oamaru for the next leg of this adventure!

Stumbling Piper


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Our journey continued from the North Island in New Zealand … we were flying to the bottom of the South Island and then catching a flight the next day to Stewart Island … even further south. We had a late flight from Wellington landing in Invercargill around 8:30 pm. Deb had recommended we buy some food to have with us on the flight so we wouldn’t have to look around for supper. Once again, I should have listened to her!

We had booked a bed and breakfast not too far from the Airport since we were flying the next day. As we landed it began to rain … my plan was to grab a taxi to our B&B, walk over for some dinner at a local restaurant, and then head to the airport somehow the next day. We ran out into the rain, grabbed a cab, and told him where we were headed. It was kind of out in the middle of nowhere … since it was raining, I asked if he would wait while we dropped our bags and then we could go grab some dinner. He said, “Sure” and we knocked on the door. A young Asian girl answered and didn’t know who we were … we started to get a little worried; then an older man appeared and he was also confused. His wife usually ran the business and she was out playing bridge. He showed us to what he thought was our room and left it at that. Unsure of things, we left our bags and hopped back in the cab (with the meter running). We drove off to find some dinner … we didn’t know, but this day happened to be a federal holiday … all of the restaurants were closing early or closing right at 9pm. We had no idea what to do … however, Deb had seen a take-out place so we stopped there (still with the cab running …). It turned out to be a Chinese place. We asked for the fastest item on the menu … they said Fish and Chips … we said we’ll take two! So off we went with our Chinese Fish and Chips back to the B&B. The young lady (who was a surprise guest at the house) showed us where to get plates. We ate dinner, went to bed, all without knowing if this was really our B&B. We did meet the lady the next morning over breakfast … we swore off B&Bs, she dropped us at the airport (after a detour to show us some of the local beaches). We arrived about 30 minutes before our flight … no real issue; there was no security and we and the other 6 passengers were heading out to board our tiny prop plane. Funny thing again … there was some weather in the area … the winds were really gusting … around 50 miles per hour! We took off and our pilot said he wasn’t sure we’d land but he’d give it a go! Deb was seated in the co-pilot’s seat and they chatted the whole way … he was showing her pictures on his phone, flying with one hand … come to find out, he had about forty years of experience. He brought us in for a crazy sideways landing and said “Welcome to Stewart Island!” This video will show you how windy it was.

So … we made it to Stewart Island! Our plan here was really to just birdwatch and hike a couple of tracks. We had several birds on our list (to include the Kiwi) and we were getting after it!

We spent some time the first day walking around town and saw a few birds to add …

We walked along the inner harbor.I’m sure it looks like I’m lost … but I’m not!Don’t even ask …This beautiful ship was out in the harbor.

A special bird that first day was the Blue Penguin. We walked down to the pier that night, braved the rain and wind, and saw two of these little penguins coming in to shore.

We saw these wonderful Variable Oystercatchers (the Black variant).We also saw this black-billed Gull.Here is the red-billed Gull.I captured this Little Tern from a distance. Quite windy so he is hunkered down.That evening we saw these little blue penguins. Here he is coming up out of the water.You can see his gullet is full of food for the young ones …Just before he hops down into his hiding place …Oh, we also saw another Kaka … this guy flew right up to us. No way I was going to reach out and see if I could touch him! Look at that beak!

The following day was to be a hike day but it rained the whole day. We had hoped to head out that evening to see some Kiwis but we just couldn’t brave the cold and wet again.

On our second full day we had nice weather in the morning so we booked a ride on a ferry to Ulva Island.

This island is predator-free and has a lot of native birds as well.

We were able to spend the full morning walking around this beautiful island; well, at least a small section of it. There were so few people it seemed like we were there alone. We identified all three of the whitehead species here: the Whitehead, the Brown Creeper, and the Yellowhead. Deb identified the Rifleman call and we were able to track these tiny birds down. They are just a tad larger than my thumb … I was able to capture a couple of photos. All in all it was a great trip to Ulva Island.

This is the South Island Saddleback.Here is one of the New Zealand flightless birds, the Weka. It was very curious … check out these photos of its curiosity.Deb had sat down to grab a quick bite … see the Weka looking up at her? Haha. He wanted something to eat. Oh, and that was the last time we saw that little booklet!She finally had to get up and move … they were right up on her!This was a deserted beach and we were here at low tide. Check out the mussels in this picture.

This is a South Island Robin … has to be one of the cutest, tiniest birds ever.Here is the Yellowhead. A little fuzzy, I know. This is the brown creeper … again fuzzy … but all these little birds moved so fast!I couldn’t pass up posting another Wood Pigeon photo. So pretty.This is the Bellbird … a lovely green color …Here is the Rifleman … so tiny …One more shot of the Rifleman.

We made our way back to the ferry and caught a ride back to Stewart Island. We saw our first Albatrosses here … both right before boarding and on the ferry ride. These are White-capped Mollymawks.

The weather was cooperating so we walked around a little more checking out the sights. It clouded up and rained again that evening … another night we couldn’t get out for the Kiwi! Aaargh. Oh well … you can’t win them all! It was an awesome trip and we had a relatively smooth flight back to Invercargill to begin our South Island adventure!


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I knew coming to New Zealand that I had already surpassed my goals for birdwatching and that anything here would be the cherry on top. I bought a bird book for New Zealand when we were in Auckland. As usual, I didn’t look real close at the book on the inside; I just bought it for the size and cool cover. The back cover said it contained images and information on 374 species … I thought, wow! I’ll really add to my life list total here … that all matched up with my goal to see 75 new birds in New Zealand. Then I looked at the contents … it seems that 170 of the birds listed are either extinct, very rare, or rare. Also, about another 50 are to be found on some tiny island off the main islands. Soooo …. I’m really working with about 150 birds … which is just fine … like I said. Anything here is extra!

I’m breaking this blog post up into three: 1) The North Island (this one), 2) Stewart Island, and 3) the South Island. Those are the three largest islands and, fortunately, we visited all three.

With these numbers to work with and knowing our destinations we headed off on this leg of the adventure. As stated in the previous post, we first went to Rotorua–this village is right on a lake so it provided an opportunity to see both land and shore birds — it didn’t disappoint. We were able to add quickly to the list. Here are a few photos from there.

Here in New Zealand, they call the Cormorants “Shags.” This is a little Shag.We saw both the Little Shag and the Little Black Shag in Rotorua.This is the Pied Stilt … he was a long way away … but I got him with my big telephoto!We saw plenty New Zealand Scaups.All of the Black Swans we saw were so beautiful and elegant.This guy was hiding up under the reeds … New Zealand Dabchick (what I would call a Grebe).This is a Silvereye.We loved this bird … first real photo I captured … so beautiful. It is a Tui. This is called Pukeko … commonly known as a Purple Swamphen.See it’s enormous feet? Very cool bird.

The second place we stopped was Tongariro … that was more about hiking and a lot less about birding, but I think we were able to add one or two as well.

After we had hiked the first day, we decided to try and see some Kiwi in that area … we asked around and folks just kind of laughed and said “good luck.” We knew we were finished with the big hike so we changed our plans and went to Wellington a day early to visit this place called “Zealandia.” It is a very large wildlife preserve that has an 8.6 kilometer predator fence around it. They’ve introduced native species and bird life in this preserve and they are thriving … we were able to see quite a few native birds on the North Island. Here’s a couple of those images.

The preserve had feeders set up … we saw this Kaka (parrot) by the feeder. Here’s another shot of the Kaka from the front. Beautiful.This is one of our favorite birds in New Zealand … the Fantail. I caught this one in full display. They were so curious … they were always coming around when you called.This is the North Island Saddleback … a rare bird making a comeback!This is the Hihi (Stitchbird). I caught this Pied Shag jumping up out of the water…This lovely bird is the New Zealand Wood Pigeon … an extremely large bird.This is a small little bird … the North Island Robin. He was just as curious as the Fantail. He would walk around your feet looking for insects you disturb by walking.Here’s another shot of the fantail from the side … a lovely little bird.This guy is the Tui mentioned above. I added this picture so you could see his two puff-balls on his chin. His song is quite lovely … they mimic all kinds of sounds.

Overall, we had a great experience on the North Island with birds. We came away having seen 42 birds with 24 of those being new to us. Yeah! On to Stewart Island!


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While in Australia we decided a visit to the Daintree rainforest, north of Cairns, would be a good idea. I had wanted to drive up through the forest to Cape Tribulation to possibly see some Cassowaries but didn’t think we had the time. We decided to book an evening cruise on the River instead. I had hoped to have an opportunity to see the six different kinds of Kingfishers and possibly a Frogmouth or two. We made a day of it and leisurely drove up to the quaint village of Daintree. On our way, we made a few stops to see if we could identify some shore birds.

Once again, we were in the dreaded area of the Crocodile. I was completely oblivious to the fact that Deb was terrified (see previous posts) of these things. When we stopped at the mouth of the Daintree river to look for some birds one of the locals told us that a 20 foot crocodile usually hung out by the sand bar but they hadn’t seen it for a couple of days. I decided a jaunt over to the beach would be a good idea … and it was from a birding standpoint! Saw a couple of terns, an oystercatcher, and a couple of other shore birds. Deb was constantly watching for the croc … no sighting! Whew.

Here’s an osprey we caught at the shore … a different version than my normal one, so a new bird for me. Yes!My previous bird post for Australia has images of the birds we saw … This reef egret was a little bit of a loner.This guy was trying to sneak away so I only got a “Sasquatch-style” photo … but enough to identify him — an Eastern Curlew.

We drove up to Daintree and then poked around a couple of the roads there looking for birds. We didn’t have great success … there was the odd bird here and there. Just really enough to whet my appetite.

This stone curlew was always a pleasure to see.This Metallic Starling was pretty cool.

Around 5pm we were at the pier waiting for our guide to show up and take us for our river cruise … I was excited to see the birds. I saw a couple as we were waiting:

This is a Forest Kingfisher … one of six! This is an olive-backed sunbird … beautiful!

Well… let’s just say that it was us and the tour guide and he wasn’t really a birdwatcher. He wanted to just cruise us up the river, look for a few “animals,” show us the bats and return.

I was pretty disappointed initially. While Deb did see the most rare of Kingfishers, the Little Kingfisher, I was constantly just missing whatever birds there were and about 45 minutes later it was too dark to spot birds anyway.

Here we are cruising up a narrow section between the shore and an island.I did catch this little guy snooping around … a Brown -backed Honeyeater.I also saw this “leaf bird.” Haha. From a distance, I would swear that yellow stem was a bill on an a nice orange bird.And here was my problem … it just started getting too dark to identify any more birds.

As we cruised along, Dan, our tour guide, pointed out a crocodile cruising down the river … he wanted to know if we wanted to get closer … it was about 12 feet long. We said “Heck no!”

I kept asking myself why I was so disappointed … we were out on a boat in a river in Northern Australia doing something that few other people do … it was actually pretty amazing. I perked up and we saw an amazing display of these very large fruit bats leaving the roosting area for their nightly dinner.

It was a mass migration of thousands of bats. As we sat there, the only boat in the area, the bats would swoop down to the river and bounce in the water. They were collecting water in their fur so they could land and drink it. We had these bats flying overhead, bouncing on the water (right by the boat) all in the stillness and the quietness. I was happy that I had perked up and was just enjoying the moment. Check out this video of all the bats. And look at that sky! Wow!

I guess things sometimes don’t go they way you expect but they still turn out pretty nice. On the way back, we spotted a Nankeen Heron and a Radjah Shelduck … both new birds for me. A great way to end an excellent cruise on the river.

Stumbling Piper

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We decided in Australia that we wouldn’t take any organized bird watching tours. We figured we could see enough birds on our own while out and about. The one organized tour we did take was an evening cruise on the Daintree River. Now you may or may not know that this is in the Daintree Rainforest … there are really big crocodiles here. As a matter of fact, many times when out and about on our own, we would see these signs.

Suffice it to say, come to find out, Deb was terrified the whole time we were in Australia — of the spiders, snakes, critters, jellyfish and especially the crocodiles. Actually she was eaten by crocodiles … every night in her nightmares. You should have seen how relieved she looked when we finally landed in New Zealand. But I digress. Let’s get back to the birds!

When we first arrived in Port Douglas we went for an evening walk. We saw several birds over the next several days right in town.

Appropriately enough, this bird is a Rainbow Lorikeet.This is the Pied Imperial Pigeon.Here is a Magpie Lark.The Laughing Kookaburra.A beautiful Bush Stone-Curlew.Willy Wagtail.The Helmeted Friarbird.The Orange-footed Scrubfowl. Funny story about this bird. We were walking up a hill kind of in the woods when we saw one of these walk across the path. I tried to get a picture but my camera wasn’t cooperating. I was lamenting the lack of a photo when Deb said, “Don’t worry … you’ll see it again.” To which I replied “You never know, this could have been a once-in-a-lifetime bird.” We walked back to town and, guess what, they were all over the place. We laughed pretty hard about my once-in-a-lifetime bird. I was able to see it again … and again … and again.This is a Figbird.The lovely Peaceful Dove … we saw this right at the airport.These Lorikeet were so colorful! And there were hundreds if not thousands around the town. They are considered pests to some extent.

The next day we had an evening Boat Tour scheduled for what we thought would be birdwatching … more on that in another post. We decided to spend the day birding in that direction (the Daintree Rainforest). Every place we went it seemed we would be thwarted … we saw the odd bird here and there (heck, they were all new to us!) … but I wouldn’t call it a “Big Day.” Here are a few of the highlight birds from the trip:

This is known both as the Spur-winged Plover or the Masked Lapwing. We thought it looked more like one of those masked Mexican wrestlers … Nacho Libre! This is an Oystercatcher.Check out these old man looking birds … terns.This is an Australian White Ibis.This is a Nankeen Night Heron. Almost the last bird we saw that night on the river.

The next day, the weather was a little untidy, so we had to adjust our timetable a little. We wanted to have a successful birding outing after the previous day’s attempt. I had read online that there was great bird-watching at the Kingfisher Park Bird-watching Lodge in Julatten. We showed up there around 1620 to see if we could get in a little evening viewing. As we turned in the driveway it was quite dark in the woods. We crept up to the house … it looked deserted. We knocked on the door and this guy came out like Lurch from the Munsters. He gave us this ‘what do you want look’ and basically said, “Can’t you read our signs.” Apparently, it is a very welcoming place … if you pay … and if you show up on time … neither of which we did. Not too welcoming. Not to be deterred, I cheerfully asked if he knew of somewhere close to birdwatch. He sent us on down the road and, to his credit, it was a good bird-watching location. Here are a few of the birds we saw there:

Chestnut-breasted MannikinSulphur-crested Cockatoo.Royal Spoonbill.Pacific Black Duck.

These were cool, but we knew we had to be on to some good birds. We didn’t want our previous two outings to color our opinion of the area, so off we went the next day … back to the tablelands. We stopped in 4 different places … and again … we weren’t having great success. It was getting late in the afternoon and we had to make a decision. We decided to press on to one more location … Mount Carbine. We drive for 1/2 hour in that direction and I realized I missed the town. As we were attempting to turn around, I saw a place named Mount Carbine Caravan Park. I kind of remembered this listed in a couple of the birding blogs I’d seen as a place to visit. Once again, we took a chance and drove in. We stopped at the office and the lady was very friendly! She said, “Sure, for $5 you can walk around and look at the grounds. We have a lot of birds here!” She was right! They even had one of the birds I’d wanted to see on the whole trip but didn’t think I would get to see it — the Frogmouth. This was a fantastic locale and we definitely hit the jackpot here. I told her I was very close to my 1,000th bird on my life list. She was so excited she walked us around and pointed out the different birds. She was really nice … Here’s a sampling of these birds:

The Pied Butcherbird.A White-bellied Cuckoo-shrike.This is a Tawny Frogmouth … the male … sitting on the nest! Awesome!This is a Bower bird … it builds a bower to attract the female.Here is the bower it builds … the red objects are to entice the ladies!!The beautiful Galah.Here it is with it’s top-notch extended.This is a Noisy Friarbird … slightly different than the Helmeted.This is the Blue-faced Honeyeaters.Here he is up close and personal with a Kookaburra. The Straw-necked Ibis … we had seen these earlier in the day.Here is a family of frogmouths! Can you see all four of them?Here’s a closer shot of an adult and the child is looking at us.The child was really curious. Apparently, the juveniles will stare at you because they are curious but the adults will ignore you. So cool …Finally, as we were getting ready to leave, the really nice owner put us on to a location to see the Australian Bustard. We went over and, yes! We added that lovely bird to the list as well. Here’s another shot of one … just hanging out in the farmer’s field.

This finished up a great outing for us in Port Douglas and the Tablelands. It broke the ice for seeing more birds too. Once we made it to the Blue Mountains and Sydney we kept seeing more birds. Here are a few photos we saw there:

There were plenty of these Australian White Ibis in Sydney.We saw this Crimson Rosella in the Blue Mountains.This Noisy Miner was also in Sydney.The Sulphur-crested Cockatoo was a frequent visitor to Katoomba.

Overall, we had an excellent time birding in Australia. We saw around 93 birds with 77 of those new to me! I even went over 1,000 on my life list. It was a great way to hit my number and enjoy a few birds.

Here’s a short video … of me birding and Deb looking for crocodiles!

Not sure we’ll ever go back to Australia.

Stumbling Piper

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We made a short stop through Malaysia (6 days) over the New Year. We were focused on bird-watching this trip. We stayed in Kuala Lumpur but had trips scheduled with a guide to two separate areas: Kuala Selangor and Fraser’s Hill. We were very lucky that Bird Malaysia had assigned as our tour guide Andrew Sebastian.

He is a freelance guide and runs a nonprofit for conservation issues — here’s his website: https://www.ecomy.org/

Wow … did he provide fantastic bird outings! I can’t say enough about Andrew — he was fun, funny, kind, and very considerate. However, at the same time he was serious about birding. We were fortunate enough to identify 150 birds in 3 days … 86 of which were new to me. Our first trip was to Kuala Selangor and we started early …0730! We commenced upon a whirlwind trip that saw us returning back to the hotel around 9:30 pm. We visited Selangor Nature Park to begin and immediately started knocking off great birds on our list.

The Common Flameback Woodpecker … see the “flame” color?

Here he is from the front!This is the Laced Woodpecker …This is the Sunda Pygmy Woodpecker … just a wee fellow!Check out the Shrimp this White-throated Kingfisher has in its beak.

He was giving it a good whack on the branch to kill it so he could eat it!

A beautiful Grey Heron.A Mangrove Blue Flycatcher.Andrew leading the way and checking for snakes … it was extremely warm already!A final shot of the common kingfisher.

From there we went to the coast and identified a few more.

The striated heron.A lovely black-capped kingfisher.Some Redshanks.On our way out to the Rice Paddies we stumbled upon this Dollarbird.

We enjoyed our time at the rice paddies with a late afternoon / evening scan for ground birds and accipiters. Success as well!

A white-breasted waterhen.Check it out: 4 Snipes!Common Sandpiper.Great Egret.Greater Sand Plover.Lesser Sand Plover.Beautiful Purple Heron.An elusive Cinnamon Bittern.The Sandpiper checking me out.

The Eastern Marsh Harrier, Peregrine Falcon, Black-shouldered Kite, and White-bellied Sea Eagle were amazing. Great birding …

Marsh Harrier on the attack!Peregrine Falcon relaxing in the evening.Another view of the falcon.The White-bellied Sea Eagle.This Black-shouldered Kite was building a nest.Here he is perched in a tree.Those red eyes! So brilliant!

We finished up with another walk in complete darkness at the Nature Park to try and see an owl. No luck. However, as we were driving to see a fire-fly display we spotted an owl flying overhead. We quickly stopped and Andrew identified it for us as I tried to snap a couple of photos. Cool.

This is as good as it gets with my P900 at night … unless I have super bright light.

We were so excited (and tired) that we decided to skip the fireflies. What a great day! We saw a total of 74 birds this day. Awesome!

We had a couple of days off (thank goodness!) to recover before we started the adventure again–this time to Fraser’s Hill … we were spending a day-and-a-half here (which stretched out into two days). The birding started immediately … although it started slow, we sped up and were seeing plenty of birds by the end.

We worked our way up the hill. Andrew told us that the birds would come in “waves” … so we needed to place ourselves in the right location. We did that several times over the two days.

The Little Bronze Cuckoo.The Ochraceous Bulbul … like an old man. Check out the frog in this White-throated Kingfisher’s mouth. See the Red eye? This is the Spectacled Bulbul.This lovely bird is a bar-winged flycatcher-shrike.I spotted this guy hiding away … a yellow-vented pigeon.I caught this late … a black and crimson oriole.Who doesn’t like a Drongo?This beautiful bird is called a Large Niltava.This is the female.A rufous-browed flycatcher.

So many beautiful birds … and this was just the start. We made our way around Fraser’s Hill two or three times over the next couple of days. Andrew even took us over a slight defect in the road … here’s a shot of it. Fortunately, we survived! Looking at it, you wouldn’t think you could drive a car there …

The birds were stunning. Most of the time we were on the move looking … however, we did wait a couple of hours to see this partridge. It is endemic to the area — you can only see it here in Malaysia. Success!

Here are some of the brilliant birds we saw up on the Hill.

The Silver-eared Mesia.The chestnut-capped Laughingthrush.Maroon Woodpecker.The Blue Nuthatch … check out the eyes!The fire-tufted Barbet.The Streaked Spiderhunter.The Blue-throated Bee eater.The Slaty-backed Forktail.The Red-bearded Bee eater.

Such an absolutely great time … thanks, Andrew, for an awesome time!

We walked many miles and I took thousands of pictures (it felt like). The end result is wonderful memories.

Stumbling Piper

Oh yes … we celebrated New Year’s in Malaysia!! Happy New Year!!

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With a month in Thailand, we had plenty of opportunities to bird watch. We went on two organized tours … one to Doi Inthanon National Park (highest point in Thailand). The other one was around Chiang Mai (specifically to two locations: Huay Tung Tao lake and a small nature preserve southwest of Chiang Mai). Both were on the eastern slope of Doi Suthep. Apparently “Doi” means Mountain. These bird watching tours were different than other countries … we spent most of our time in the vehicle driving to see different birds on the side of the road … hence my position in this photo:

We saw approximately 70 different bird species on these two trips. Some of them were duplicates of birds we had already identified ourselves. Our final numbers in Thailand were 87 different species where 44 of those were new to us.

Thailand is a wonderful place for bird watching. There is quite a variety of habitats and these habitats attract many different birds.

Although not as prevalent as in Vietnam, the Thai people do net the birds around the rice fields. However, we found the bird life abundant in Thailand … even around our hotel. Here are a few photos of the birds around our hotel:

This is a Coppersmith Barbet … a beautiful bird easily identified by his call … and then you see him and it’s “Wow.” This is a scaly-breasted Munia … a seedeater … you can tell by the large bill.This is a black-collared Starling … a little noisy but lovely to observe.This is a Scarlet-backed Flowerpecker … this guy is noisy too!

Here are a few random shots of some of our other favorite birds.

I couldn’t pass up adding one more of the Coppersmith Barbet … beautiful.This is a Green Bee Eater.This is an Indian Roller … lovely sitting … fantastic colors when flying. This is a long-tailed shrike.Here’s another picture of the Indian Roller …and one of him in flight …A very cool bird … this small dove is called a Zebra (or Peaceful) Dove.This is a female Hill Blue Flycatcher.There were so many cool “junk birds” … this is a white-vented Myna.The Kingfisher’s colors were amazing … This is a White-throated Kingfisher.Another barbet …. this time the Lineated Barbet. They loved the fruit in this tree.We’ve had the fortune of seeing three owls on this trip … we saw this one in the day-time so I was able to get a nice picture. It is an Asian Barred Owlet. Although this is called the Common Kingfisher … it doesn’t look common to me.Another barbet … a blue-eared Barbet.Hanging out down near the stream, a White-capped Water Redstart. The velvet-fronted Nuthatch …

I hope you enjoy the pictures as much as I enjoyed taking them. Haha.


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