Wednesday, 29 April 2009


I am killing time between buses in Sydney (came up from Melbourne overnight), so a little posting is in order here, I think. :)

I did go for a short birding sesh on Sunday morning and the lifers came thick and fast. I went for a walk through St Kilda and down to the waters edge. There were
Silver Gull
Pacific Gull
Pied Cormorant
Black Cormorant
Crested Tern
Black Swan (at last - tickable non-ornamental Black Swans! For a European, or indeed any non-Aussies, it was strange seeing black swans instead of white ones)
Rainbow Lorikeets in the trees
Australian Magpies
Common Myna (introduced species, I think)

I have also never seen so many fitness fanatics in one place either - I know we have our share in UK but runners, swimmers, cyclists, etc, were out in force. I went back to the hostel for a 'quick nap' at 10am - the 'quick nap' lasted until 4.30pm!

The trip list is coming on well. On Monday I took a tram - the tram network round Melbourne is excellent - from St Kilda to the Botanic Gardens and added a whole load of new birds, think I got around 20 new species.  The birds(s) of the day though was Yellow-tailed Black-cockatoo of which 12 were feeding in a tall tree, there were also plenty of Sulphur-crested Cockatoos around as well. This is how you should be seeing parrots - in the wild, not in some poxy horrible cage. That goes for all birds.
The fitness fanatics were out in force in the Botanic Gardens too, seriously I have never seen so many joggers, cyclists or power walkers in one place in my life. I suppose that's part of the Aussie dedication to sports and, because they are so sport mad, I still find it hard to get my head around the fact that Australia is the world's fattest nation (up there with us and the USA?).

I didn't see the penguins in the end, I was going to go on Monday evening (they live under the St Kilda breakwater and emerge at dawn to go to sea and return at dusk) but the weather was appalling, torrential rain, and I didn't fancy a 15-20 minute walk in those conditions. I am hoping that I might catch penguins on the Wollongong pelagic trip next month, and I think there's a population of them in or around Sydney somewhere, too.
If I fail to see any penguins this time, it's an excuse for a return to Australia one day.

Black Swan
Australian Pelican
Sulphur-crested Cockatoo
Bell Miner
Australian Magpie
Dusky Moorhen
White-browed Scrub-wren
Common Myna
Purple Swamphen
Pacific Black Duck
Magpie Lark
Chestnut Teal
Little Pied Cormorant
Spotted Turtle Dove
Little Raven
Willy Wagtail
Grey Fantail
Australasian Grebe
Yellow-tailed Black-cockatoo
Red Wattlebird

It's only been a week and I am already sick of hostels, with their faux matiness, crappy bunkbeds and 20-somethings who have been on the piss all night, come in at 3am making noise like elephants in clogs and then have the cheek to moan when you get up at 8am! Luckily the next few places I am in a single room. At least in Asia I'll be able to afford proper hotel rooms, something I can't do here in Australia.
I had a last birding session in Melbourne yesterday, with local birder (or 'birdo', as they call them here) Penny Johns, a return to the Botanic Gardens and a walk along the Yarra River adding some new birds to my list. Unfortunately the weather was iffy, with squally showers (this was after a night of torrential rain, which, let's face it, the region badly needs - they are in the middle of a severe drought with water levels down 36%, partly drought and partly problems with the Murray-Darling River system) so not conducive to much birding. Did manage to add Wood Duck, Brush Wattlebird, Crimson Rosella, Eastern Rosella, Pied Currawong, Noisy Miner, Grey Butcherbird, Little Black Cormorant and Australian Darter to the list. We aso visited Birds Australia (Royal Australasian Ornithologists' Union) in Melbourne, which was interesting and they gave me some copies of their magazine Wingspan to read on the bus, which was nice.

I liked Melbourne a lot. It's a pretty city and full of lovely green spaces. A bit like Singapore without the overbearing heat and humidity. I was actually quite sorry to get on the Greyhound and leave.
I had a quick count and so far I am on 61 trip species, 55 of which are lifers.

Sorry there's no more photos yet, but none of the public computers at the hostels or anywhere seem to have any image editing software so I can't resize them or anything.

I have decided to do away with my rucksack, as it is doing my shoulders serious damage, and I am sick of hauling it onto my shoulders so I bought a holdall on wheels (wish I'd brought mine from home rather than using a rucksack) but my stuff only *just* fits in it. Fortunately it's expandable! God knows what I'm going to do with the rucksack though, I am loathe to just bin it, so wasteful, so I'll find a charity shop somewhere who might like it.

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