Birds of Australia

I didn’t go to Australia to go birding – tennis, beach resort, Sydney sights and hiking were on the agenda – but I did take my binox and had some good moments. On Lord Howe Island I counted 24 of the species pictured in that island’s field guide, missing only four. Most were found feeding in the extensive grass fields in the island’s midlands, so it was just a matter of checking them off. A boat ride to Ball’s Pyramid added a few seabirds to the list, although I doubt I could’ve identified any on my own.
In the Blue Mountains I cancelled my bird guide, partly for logistical reasons but partly because after a morning hike with a naturalist I was discouraged about finding many birds in the rain-forest habitat. Instead, the next morning I went out on my own before breakfast, and in the park across from our hotel saw my first Laughing Kookaburra sitting calmly on a tree branch. Crimson Rosellas were conspicuous by their call as well as their bright red plumage, and I saw a pair of King-Parrots, which I’d briefly seen with our guide the day before. Walking down the road I saw a Crested Pigeon, a very obvious identification, sitting atop a TV antenna. Then, darting in and out of a dense bush, I spotted a Satin Bowerbird, a male along with an equally identifiable female. These weren’t a lot of birds, but being able to make the identification on my own made them memorable and thrilling. As we neared the end of our morning hike, we stopped at a lookout over one of the many falls at Katoomba. I spotted a White-throated Treecreeper working its way along a branch; then a Rose Robin with a striking pink breast and white forehead patch perched nearby.
There were, of course, the common birds that we saw in the cities: White Ibis, Silver Gull, Australian Magpie, Common Myna. It all goes to prove that I don’t need a lot of birds to keep me happy. I just like to know what it is I’m seeing.

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