On the road again

We are on the road again. To be  more precise: we have been on the road and are now in Sydney for about a month staying with family for Christmas. We left just over a week ago and travelled from home in Murray Bridge, South Australia, to my son’s home in Artarmon in two days of many hours in the car. Although the distance is just over 1300km we enjoy the journey, taking note of the changing environments as we go.

All the way we are on the lookout for birds. At certain points along the way we stop for meal breaks, or to refuel. On these occasions I usually jot down the birds observed during our break. Additional lists are sometimes made as we drive along, usually when my wife is driving. If either of us sees something special or out of the ordinary I will make a note of that too.

During the morning of the first day we saw many of the usual species seen along the road from Murray Bridge to Ouyen in Victoria. This is predominantly mallee eucalypt country used for wheat and sheep farming. Along the way we saw several family groups of White-winged Choughs.  It always amuses me that they do not merely walk or hop along the ground; it’s more of a swagger. If pressed hard they will fly off, their white wing patches showing up clearly. This easily identifies them from the many Australian Magpies and Little Ravens along this stretch of highway.

Also along this stretch I am also on the lookout for the way the magpies change from the white-backed sub-species to the black-backed. Intermediate hybrids are also worth looking for. As for the ravens it is a harder task. The further east one travels the more Australian Ravens can be found. The only sure way of telling them apart from the Little Ravens is to hear them call, not a practical solution driving at 110kph.

Along this first leg of the journey we also saw a few Grey Currawongs as they glided across the road in front of us, many Willie Wagtails fluttering around in search of breakfast, the occasional Nankeen Kestrel soaring or hovering over the fields, and flocks of Galahs glowing pink in the morning sun. A highlight was several brief sightings of Dusky Woodswallows, always a nice species to see.

Morning tea at Lameroo added Welcome Swallows, Australian Wood Duck, Crested Pigeon and Magpie Lark to the list. I didn’t add the feral domestic ducks which live around the artificial lake.

Coming into Ouyen for lunch I saw the only Brown Falcon sighted on the journey to Sydney. Typically, it was perched on the pole of a telephone line. While having lunch a female House Sparrow cheekily perched on the picnic table about 30cm from my lunch. It was close enough to get a few good shots with my phone (see below).

Female House Sparrow

Female House Sparrow

Other species added to my growing list while we ate lunch included Spiny-cheeked Honeyeater, European Blackbird, Common Starling, Yellow-throated Miner, Singing Honeyeater and White-plumed Honeyeater.

Tomorrow: from Ouyen, Victoria to Narrandera, NSW.

Road trip to Sydney

Yellow Rosella, Balranald, NSW

Yellow Rosella, Balranald, NSW

We have just returned from a two week road trip to Sydney. In all we covered 2840 kilometres over five days. The remaining 9 days were spent in Sydney visiting family. We had the privilege of spending most of that time with our 20 month old grandson, so there were limited opportunities for birding.

On the trip over and back I listed the birds seen or heard whenever we stopped for a break: lunch or a cuppa. Because of the vast distances we needed to cover each day, birding time was limited. I’ll be sharing some of these times here on this blog in the coming days, including a few photos taken at the time.

In all I managed to record a total of 81 species, not bad for limited opportunities. One of the highlights was the beautiful Yellow Rosella shown in the photo above. He posed beautifully for me while we were enjoying lunch at Balranald in far western New South Wales on our return journey. You can read more about this species here.


Apologies to my regular readers.

I have been a little slow at responding to comments over the last week or so. This is because I was on a road trip with my family and had limited (or no) internet access on some days. Over the next day or so I should catch up with all comments.

We travelled from home in Murray Bridge in South Australia for two days so that we could be in Sydney for Christmas with family. After New Year we travelled to Canberra and then along the south coast of NSW and Victoria, staying with friends for a few days just north of Melbourne. Over the coming weeks I will share my birding experiences while on this trip. You can also read about non-birding experiences on Trevor’s Travels.

Late last week we also had a problem with this blog, with no posts since April 2008 showing. Sorry if this confused you. My son Simon maintains my blogs and was doing an upgrade and inadvertently configured this blog to point to an older database. That’s why you couldn’t read all those recent posts for a few hours.

Sorry if this caused you any inconvenience. All is now fixed, thanks to my son.