Birding at Nepal

Nowadays when I am travelling I always keep my eyes open for birds, butterfly and moths.  For Nepal, I was hoping to see some exotic birds. I did my research and knew that up in the mountains there were vultures and eagles.

Unfortunately, as it turned out, there wasn’t that many birds spotted on the trek. Maybe I was too tired to look hard. There were of course the common birds like the crow and sparrow. But common or not, I still took some of their photos including photo of what I thought was a crow. It was however only when I came back and look through the photos that I realised it was not a crow but some other bird with a yellow bill. Too big to be a myna and too high up in the mountain. Did some online search and discovered this is a Alpine Chough. That is still a species of crow but at least it is not the usual House Crow or Thick Billed Crow.

There were some raptor flying here and there and I managed to get a half decent photo of this one soaring overhead.

Can’t id it. Could be a Black Kite or hopefully a Steppe Eagle?

But up on the 2nd highest point of the trek, I hit paydirt! At Thorong La Pass High Camp, after a very exhausting climb, instead of resting, when the guide suggested we take a walk up to the highest point there, a few of us went. And lo and behold, a flock of this bird came. At first I thought it was some geese. They made similar sound. But a bird is a bird and so I took a few snaps while trying to crawl up the little knoll in the freezing cold and fading light. And thankfully I got an decent shot out of the lot of snaps. A Tibetan Snowcock! 

Of course I didn’t know what bird it was then and with no internet connection, I had to wait until when we were at the Pokhara Airport when I chanced upon a bird guide book in one of the shop. Bingo! A rare lifer for me.

Ironically where there were no birds up in the mountain, there were more birds at Pokhara. Somewhere out in the streets, spotted a tree with many egrets on it. This is one of them. A Intermediate Egret.

And over at Lake Phewa, I got another Egret. This time a Little Egret.

And over in Kathmandu at the Swayambhunath Monkey Temple, immediately after we entered the place, we got this beauty,

It was still there half an hour later when we left. And up in the sky there were many of them soaring magnificently over the area.

Not a lot of birds but at least there was some interesting sightings so it wasn’t that bad. Consolation is – I got lot of butterfly but that is a story for another time.

Australia Diaries – Birding in Sydney

During the traipse round the Sydney waterfront area, I was hoping to see a lot of water birds. On that score we didn’t see a lot. We were hopeful that we could see a pelican but no luck. Of course there were lot and lot of seagull, Common Myna and sparrow but still there were some interesting sightings.

On our first day while crossing Darling Harbour, near to the Maritime Museum, we came across 4 Rainbow Lorikeet on a pillar! How cool is that! Strolling around, we saw a Little Black Cormorant and on our final walk there from the Rocks to Circular Quay, we saw a Darter and a Pied Cormorant. That was about all we managed to see in the Sydney city area. Not great but still pretty good haul considering that this is the city with nary any trees.

But at Bondi Beach coastal walk, we hit it big time. The day didn’t start off too promising. Other than the ubiquitous seagull, there wasn’t much other birds in sight.

But as we continued walking towards Coogee Beach, we came upon a Nakeen Krestrel perched nicely on a rock. Our view was blocked partially by a chain-linked fence but still it was so close that we could not have missed it anyway. What a beauty!
Further down, there were some black birds on the beach rocks. At first I thought they were raven or mynas but after checking the Australia Bird app, realized that these are Common Starlng although in my opinion, they are not so common where I come from.

We also came upon some Honeyeater. Not the more common one but this beautiful striped New Holland Honeyeater.

Then we got another beauty a Fairy Wren if I am not wrong.

Last but not least, this brown bird spotted by M. Look like a Finch to me but I may be wrong.

That wrap up the unofficial Australia Birding trip. It has been fun trying to spot and take photos of the various birds. Especially challenging was trying to spot the smaller birds in the tree canopy or in the forest. M with her sharper eyesight and Nikon P900 managed to take most of the bird photos while I was happy to play support with my D7000 and the Sigma 18-300 travel lens. It has been interesting and I look forward to our next unofficial birding trip to Nepal for more birds!

Australia Diaries – Birding in the Blue Mountain

Naturally where there is trees and forest, there are birds and naturally I was excited that I could see some more interesting birds other than the common Australian birds. But then again, because there are trees which comes with thick foliage, spotting the birds prove more difficult than expected. And my Sigma 18 – 300 6.3 failed big time under the trees! But still we or rather M with her P900 did get some of what I think are the not so common garden birds.

First thing we noticed was the abundance of the Sulphur Crested Cockatoo. They were everywhere and flying in waves over the Blue Mountain Valley. 

Sadly though, we didn’t manage to shoot the other type of parrots. Did saw some black cockatoos flying by but my 300 mm could only shoot this.

At the Katoomba Fall Creeks, we did see many small little birds. Not exactly sure what they are. It was quite dark there and we didn’t get a good shot of the active birds hopping from one rock to another. Some sort of Wren? 

The star catch of the first full day out at the Blue Mountain was this Lyrebird. First saw it in the forest near to Scenic World but couldn’t get a good shot as it was in the undergrowth and too dark. Then at Katoomba picnic area, right out in the open, we saw one. It was behind some construction hoarding but we managed to get off a burst before it disappeared into the bushes. Not very good shot though but still a record shot of this interesting bird.

As usual, plenty of Laughing Kookaburra, magpie and honeyeater

Also saw some ducks near one of the open ground while we were on way back to Echo Point.

The next day from Echo Point to Leura Cascade, we got a few more interesting birds including the common Crimson Rosella. Quite a number of them too.

Crimson Rosella

And M got this Red Wattlebird.

And she also got this little birdie. ID by folks at the Birds of Australia FB page as an Eastern Spinebill Honeyeater

And last but not least, a Satin Bowerbird if M’s identification is correct although I think it could be a raven

That about the more interesting birds in the Blue Mountains. Next birding in Sydney and Bondi.

Australia Diaries – Birding in Brisbane

We didn’t come all the way to Australia to do birding but of course we were hoping to sight birds. With that in mind, M had brought along her P900 and I have a 18mm – 300 mm lens fitted on my camera. The hope was that we were see some birds. And birds we saw, many in facts. Although most of them are common birds of Australia, much like our mynas and heron, still we were very happy at our haul from Brisbane and Sydney (more on Birding in Sydney in a later post).

Not surprisingly the first native birds we saw were at the Australia Zoo. Just like our Singapore Zoo has attracted many wild birds, so does the Australia Zoo. We first saw a Blue-faced Honeyeater and a Raven in the food court. Just like the mynas back in Singapore -hoping to grab some food off our plates! The next common bird was the White Ibis, a species which seems to be all over Brisbane. We saw them almost everywhere, at the Zoo, at the Botanic Garden and at any place with a big open field or near to some water source. Near to one of the many Koala enclosures, we came upon many Scarlet Honeyeater on a clump of flowering trees. At the Kangaroo and Wallaby enclosures, there were many Brush Turkeys. Not too sure whether these are wild or free ranging but they weren’t tagged so I think they must be wild although the number seem too many to be wild. And we saw the first of what was to become many sighting – the famous Australian bird – the Laughing Kookaburra. The star of this place was this beautiful Eastern Yellow Robin perched nicely on a fence.

Eastern Yellow Robin @ Australia Zoo

The next day at one of the street market, we saw more ravens, more White Ibis and Australian Magpie. At Mt Cootha, we came across some Rainbow Lorikeet and Scaly breasted Lorikeet. We also saw the first of what was to become very common, the Sulphur Crested Cockatoo. Down at the base of Mt Cootha, more cockatoo, Kookaburra, Magpie and Noisy Miner, another common Honeyeater.

Nosiy Miner

At the Brisbane Botanic Garden, again the Blue-faced Honeyeater and White Ibis and many water fowl – ranging from the biggest Pacific Black Duck to the Masked Lapwing and the rarer Bush Stone Curlew. Other water birds were the White Eye Duck, the Purple Swamphen and the Eurasian Coot. Also saw more of the White Ibis (what else), Brush Turkey and Honeyeater and a new bird – Crested Pigeon.

Over at Lamington National Park, we heard many but due to the thick vegetation, we didn’t manage to see them. There was a Brush Turkey and that was it until the Birdbell Lookout where we saw a small brown bird. Think it is a White throated Treecreeper. Back at the parking lot, more magpie, brush turkey and raven but we got enough of them though.

We started our trip to North Stradbroke Island with a bird sighting at Toondah Harbour. A Bush Stone Curlew standing forlornly near a fence! While waiting for the ferry, we spotted a White Bellied Sea Eagle. Once on North Stradbroke Island, the very first we saw was naturally a gull. Silver sea gull on the beach. Walking the trail, we came across some small birds, too frisky to take any photos. Then on a open branch and staying perfectly still for us – our first sighting of a Pied Butcherbird. This was followed subsequently by 3 Masked Lapwing and a Noisy Friarbird. Also saw a brown bird. Think it is a Brown Honeyeater. We then saw a Brahminy Kite soaring over the sea and then to our delight, it perched on a tree barely metres away from us and we got this beautiful close up.

Brahminy Kite @ North Stradbroke Island

Other birds on the island, more Rainbow Lorikeet and Crested Pigeon and of course the Honeyeaters

Back in Brisbane City, other than the White Ibis, myna and sparrow, there wasn’t any interesting bird. We did come across a pair of black bird at the Brisbane River – look like Little Black Cormorants but with only our mobile phone on us, we couldn’t see close enough to id it.

That about sum up the birds we saw at Brisbane. All the photos in the following album.

Australia Diaries – North Stradbroke Island

Undoubtedly the highlight of the Brisbane leg of our Australia holiday and probably the best place to visit in Brisbane. North Stradbroke Island is a small little island off Brisbane which is accessible via ferry. We started our journey there by driving to the jetty where we elected to park our car there and take the passenger ferry over rather than drive over. Much cheaper and there is bus service on the island which covers the main highlight areas of the island.

We took the bus to Point Lookout, the main village. There is 2 other areas that are apparently must go but I slipped up in the homework and overlooked that and spent the whole day at Point Lookout. 

We started the day with a wonderful delicious brunch at the Blue Room. For those who wants local fresh bake, this is the go to place. Great food and coffee.

After that we took a stroll along the beach which stretch on and on one bay after another.

Naturally we had to explore some of the trails

And we were lucky to spot some birds like this Butcher Bird.

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Australia Diaries – Never Stop Exploring – Lamington National Park

Brisbane has a lot of national parks and reserve. And we were spoilt for choices. Finally we settle on Lamington National Park, one of the biggest in the area about 2 hours drive from Brisbane City. However, we took over 2 + hours to reach the place passing by the Gold Coast on the way! Consequently by the time we reached, it was almost noon.

We stopped at the Park Office to check out the trails and because we were left with only about 5 hours of walking time, and knowing our own propensity for taking our own sweet time for birding and taking photos, on the advice of the staff at the Park Office, we decided to just do a short hike that should take us about 3 hours max.

At the trail head, we came across this contraption – a device to sanitise our shoes! So that we don’t carry any unwanted things into the park. How about that. They think of everything. Apart from this minor excitement, the first part of the hike was among thick vegetation and with no view.

We did come across this tree which looks like a face.And can hear many birds but cannot see them.

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