Peter Rowland and Chris Farrell are very proud to announce the release of their new book “Australia’s Birdwatching Megaspots” (published by John Beaufoy Publishing, Oxford in association with Australian Geographic). The culmination of over 30 years of individual research and four years of collaborative effort to produce this portable yet informative aid to both domestic and international travellers who want to maximise their birding experience in Australia.
After reading an internet news article about the intentions of the South Australian government (in conjunction with the mining sector) to seal the iconic 475km long Strzelecki Track, a couple of us decided that we should take a look at this remote part of north-eastern South Australia before it becomes a popular picnic destination!
Alice springs has many great sites for birding, with a large variety of arid zone species to be found here (if you know where to look), and the local birders are more than willing to point you in the right direction. There are also a few guided tour operators that can definitely save you much research time and wasted effort trying to locate the more difficult to find species yourself, if you are able to afford the tour costs and have a set agenda for your trip itinerary. I (Peter Rowland) spent four days there in early August to check out some of the hotspots for myself.
Australia was once referred to on early navigational charts of the region as Terra Psittacorum, which means Land of Parrots, but it was not the only “Land of Parrots”, as the name Terra Psittacorum was also given to the south-west coast of Africa. Australia does however have two-thirds of the world’s Cockatoos and around one-eighth of the world’s Parrots.
Capturing images of birds and other fast moving animals is very difficult, but capturing birds in flight (or BIFs, as they are often referred to as) is extremely challenging indeed. While today’s digital SLR cameras make things a little easier, the biggest advantage of the digital cameras is the large number of pictures you can take when practicing your photography hobby.
Before digital SLR cameras were available, the only way we could practice photographic techniques was with film (in our case slide film), which you had to get developed before you could see your results. This was both a slow process and an expensive one, especially if you were practicing the tricky art of photographing birds in flight.
Back in 2008 one of our team, Peter Rowland, wrote a book on the Bowerbirds of Australia and New Guinea. Part of the book-writing process involved sourcing images of the different species and the various types of bowers that the males build to attract their potential mates. While images of most of the Australian species proved to be quite easy to obtain, the New Guinea species were somewhat more difficult to find.
While we have, so far, focused mostly on the birds that are found on Australia’s land areas, this blog would not be complete if we did not tell you about some of our trips out to Australia’s Pelagic zones.
In the first week of November 2015, we decided to head to perhaps the two best birding areas in Victoria. In just a few days of birding we managed to clock up huge list, but one of the most exciting places was on the Victorian Coast, just west of Melbourne.
Just a short drive south of Sydney (well, about 2.5 hours really – but that is short in Australian terms) is a wonderful shorebird area, that often attracts the occasional rare visitor from time to time.
We’ve started heading north from Sydney on our way to Brisbane in Queensland. Along the way we managed to stop in at a few places on the New South Wales north coast. Some were very fruitful indeed and others were very picturesque, but lacking in one vital thing – abundant wildlife. At one place in particular, we were absolutely inundated by wildlife, but not the type we were looking for. We were literally savaged by blood-thirsty mosquitoes every time we stopped to take a picture!