Sunday, February 15, 2009

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 is a good YouTube of an adult laughing.   The bird I saw on The Esplanade Cairns was an immature without the black head.   It was a smudged, greyish gull with conspicuous white eyelips. (I would only have seen this because I had prior notification it was there!)

Terek sandpiper - a migrant from Finland and Northern Siberia with a distinctive up-turned bill.  Seen on occasion at various parts of Australian coastline and even inland but one I have always missed.  Fairly scarce worldwide - here is a YouTube from Hungary.  Again spotted on The Esplanade mudflats.

Lesser crested tern - is probably sedentary to Australia though elsewhere is nomadic. Very orange bill. Here is YouTube of it with other species.   A bit scarce onshore - I saw this on a sandspit near a crocodile-infested estuary near Mossman with Silver gulls, Pied oystercatchers and a few Godwits.

White-throated honeyeater -  I'll bet I've seen this before but confused it with White-naped which has the slightest black chin and, in eastern Australia, a red-eye crescent.  I saw several instances of this in woodlands a bit inland from Mount Molloy with at least 5 other species of honeyeater and with both a male and female Cicadabird. I had not seen a female Cicadabird before.

Buff-breasted paradise kingfisher (yes, it is at Jennifer Marohasy's site).  On a dirt road heading south about 5 to 6 klm east of Julaten I saw at least 20 observations of adults and juveniles.  One of Australia's most beautiful birds. Not rare but I have often missed it on previous treks to Cairns because I was there wrong season. Migrates from New Guinea.  Nests in termite mounds - I saw many with one having been subject to goanna attack. This gorgeous YouTube is a good still study.  You are not a fully-fledged Aussie until you have seen this beautiful bird! Orgasmic.

Lesser (Mongolian) sandplover - a migrant from Asia/Mongolia/Siberia.  Not rare in Australia - regularly in the low thousands at certain locations - but often just a few birds and small/difficult to distinguish from Greater sandplover unless alongside them.  Here is a YouTube. Again I spotted several examples of this bird on The Esplanade.

These all get added to my lifelist.


Anonymous said...

Harry, your continuing enthusiasm for birding has finally prompted me to join a bird-watching group. I enjoyed the experience immensely, found that the experts were not at all intimidating to this newbie, but rather were ever ready to help with information and explanation. I counted twenty two species of birds during the morning.
An invitation to join some of the group on the Cairns Esplanade later in the day resulted in my sighting of that Laughing Gull. (It is there daily at the moment.) My only disappointment was that it wasn't as large (and as intimidating) as the Herring Gull I remember seeing in Scotland!

hc said...

That's great Lesley!

I strongly recommend that you consider joining the Bird Observer's Club particularly if you are new to birding. It has branches in all eastern states.

Your comments are accurate. In my experience birders are among the most pleasant of people - I am a prime example! Seriously, they are a very decent bunch and very helpful to new birders. They will teach you to identify common species and eventually you will start being able to operate on your own.

The Esplanade is a fantastic place for birding and has fantastic adjacent seafood restaurants.