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Chlidonias Goes To Asia, part six: 2019

Discussion in 'Asia - General' started by Chlidonias, 7 Dec 2019.

  1. FunkyGibbon

    FunkyGibbon Well-Known Member

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    Did you not want to try for Laotian rock rat? Or does no-one ever see them?
     
  2. Chlidonias

    Chlidonias Moderator Staff Member

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    Yes...

    I have a paper on my laptop about the Rock Rat with information on distribution etc, in case I should have happened to get to Laos on any other (long) trip. But on this trip I didn't think it likely I'd have time, and I don't know if they are found in the area I was in. The problem with the rats is that they are strictly nocturnal and spend the daytime hidden deep within crevices in the karst outcrops. The locals catch them by setting traps. To see them in the wild you'd need to stake out the cliffs at night and hope to spotlight them. A thermal imager would probably be ideal. Overall I think the chances would be slim. I'd definitely like to try some day, but it wouldn't have been on this trip.
     
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  3. Chlidonias

    Chlidonias Moderator Staff Member

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    DAY TWENTY-TWO - the one with Rot Fai


    One of the better city birding sites in Bangkok is Rot Fai Park, which is right next to Chatuchak Park, which is right next to the Chatuchak Weekend Market. Today was Sunday, which meant that I'd be able to combine birding in the parks with some souvenir shopping at the market. I left the guesthouse at a perfectly reasonable hour, only to find that the river boats don't start running until 6.20am (which in actuality was 6.45am) meaning that I had about an hour to wait. I didn't reach Chatuchak Park until 8am.

    I spent some time photographing different colour morphs of the Variable Squirrels in Chatuchak Park. The photos below show the variety in the species.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]


    Chatuchak Park is a small and very organised sort of city park - flat lawns, individual trees, a lake with boats - but Rot Fai Park across the road is very large and, apart for the more orderly areas for rose gardens etc, also includes overgrown nurseries, bamboo groves, unkempt fields, and other such birdy places. The rough map I'd drawn from Nick Upton's Thai birding website turned out to be quite out-of-date. There is supposed to be a butterfly house in the park but I never found it. I did find a large tented enclosure which was being used to hold crowds of poultry, including a pair of Black Swans and some Green Peafowl (but mostly just large numbers of domestic ducks and geese), and I suspect this was previously the butterfly house.

    There were more Variable Squirrels here as well as Northern Tree Shrews. Although very common and easy to see here, the tree shrews were extremely quick and alert so photographing them successfully was a mission. An unexpected find at one point was a Berdmore's Ground Squirrel scuttling through the undergrowth. This probably started out as a pet (the Chatuchak Market sells a lot of squirrels) but Bangkok is within the species' range so I'm counting it anyway. I also spent a bit of time checking the palm trees with binoculars until eventually finding some Greater Sphinx Bats roosting inside a folded frond.

    [​IMG]
    Northern Tree Shrew


    Coppersmith Barbets and Asian Koels were everywhere in Rot Fai. They are both common birds but not always easy to see (although their calls are omnipresent!) - fruiting figs made seeing them very easy today. Asian Pied Starlings and Black-collared Starlings were about - always in pairs - and in the grassy areas at the far end of the park there were Indian Rollers in abundance. Before heading off to the market around noon I spied a Black-winged Cuckoo-Shrike in the biggest fig tree near the entrance.

    [​IMG]
    Coppersmith Barbet

    [​IMG]
    Black-collared Starling


    I headed to the fish section of the Chatuchak Market first. The prices there are astounding for a Westerner. Baby softshell turtles are only 20 Baht (at the time of my trip there were 20 Baht to one NZ dollar), Siamese Fighting Fish just 10 Baht, horned toads (Ceratophrys) between 150 and 300 Baht depending on the colour morph. Lots of unpriced L-number plecs and lots of Asian Arowanas. There were fewer unusual species of fish than the last time I was there, although there was a chap with trays of horseshoe crabs which was interesting.

    [​IMG]
    Horseshoe Crabs

    The bird and mammal sections were as depressing as ever. Some of the more interesting species included meerkats for 18,000 Baht, bushbabies for 30,000 Baht, sugar gliders for 1500 Baht, hedgehogs for 350 Baht ... squirrel monkeys, marmosets, prairie dogs, hamsters, African dormice, squirrels, civets, so many exotic animals! I saw quite a few people walking through holding little boxes containing baby squirrels or sugar gliders that they had bought. Something that always grates when I visit the market is how carelessly the sellers are treating the animals, especially confusing when you consider that some of them are selling for the equivalent of several hundred dollars each.

    That night I was lying on my bed watching the lightning outside when a fruit bat flew past the window! I forgot about those! Or maybe it was a late-flying crow? I went to the window and waited, and soon saw a definite fruit bat flapping in to the huge fig tree off to the left of my building. Most of the tree was out of sight, so only occasionally would a bat come into view, but it was enough to add another mammal to the trip-list.


    Animals seen today:

    BIRDS:
    Large-billed Crow Corvus macrorhynchos
    White-vented Mynah Acridotheres grandis
    Little Egret Egretta garzetta
    Feral Pigeon Columba livia
    Asian Openbill Stork Anastomus oscitans
    Black-naped Oriole Oriolus chinensis
    Oriental Magpie-Robin Copsychus saularis
    Great Egret Egretta alba
    Pond Heron Ardeola sp.
    Spotted Dove Streptopelia chinensis
    Common Mynah Acridotheres tristis
    Asian Koel Eudynamis scolopacea
    Asian Pied Starling Sturnus contra
    Coppersmith Barbet Megalaima haemacephala
    Asian Pied Fantail Rhipidura javanica
    Eastern Crowned Warbler Phylloscopus coronatus
    Streak-eared Bulbul Pycnonotus blanfordi
    Black-collared Starling Sturnus nigricollis
    Taiga Flycatcher Ficedula albicilla
    Scarlet-backed Flowerpecker Dicaeum cruentatum
    Zebra Dove Geopelia striata
    Scaly-breasted Munia (Nutmeg Finch) Lonchura punctulata
    Cattle Egret Bubulcus ibis
    Indian Roller Coracias benghalensis
    Black-winged Cuckoo-Shrike Coracina melaschistos
    Tree Sparrow Passer montanus
    House Sparrow Passer domesticus
    Yellow-vented Bulbul Pycnonotus goiavier

    MAMMALS:
    Variable (Finlayson's) Squirrel Callosciurus finlaysonii
    Northern Tree Shrew Tupaia belangeri
    Greater Short-nosed Fruit Bat Cynopterus sphinx
    Berdmore's (Indochinese) Ground Squirrel Menetes berdmorei
    Lyle's Flying Fox Pteropus lylei

    REPTILES:
    Asian Water Monitor Varanus salvator
     
    Last edited: 11 Jan 2020
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  4. Chlidonias

    Chlidonias Moderator Staff Member

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    DAY TWENTY-THREE - the one with not much at all


    Even less was done on this day than the preceding days. While having breakfast there were black storm-clouds approaching. The distant city buildings had become foggy silhouettes. Birding in Bangkok really needs to be done in the morning because later it becomes too hot for the birds (and for me!). I debated whether to go out or to stay in. I decided to stay in. Half an hour later it was as dark as if night was falling, and then the rain started. By the time it cleared it was getting towards noon, too late to bother going out.

    From the window of my room I saw a Black-winged Cuckoo-Shrike which was unexpected, even though I'd seen one the day before at Rot Fai Park. Even stranger was a pair of pond herons which flew in over the buildings and landed in the top of one of the street trees. The pond heron species can't really be told apart when in non-breeding plumage, but one of these had just started getting the colouration on its breast so I could identify it as a Javan Pond Heron (which is the commonest species in Bangkok).

    And ... that's about it for the day.


    Animals seen today:

    BIRDS:
    Large-billed Crow Corvus macrorhynchos
    Feral Pigeon Columba livia
    Asian Pied Fantail Rhipidura javanica
    Zebra Dove Geopelia striata
    Spotted Dove Streptopelia chinensis
    Oriental Magpie-Robin Copsychus saularis
    Black-winged Cuckoo-Shrike Coracina melaschistos
    Tree Sparrow Passer montanus
    Javan Pond Heron Ardeola speciosa
    House Sparrow Passer domesticus

    MAMMALS:
    Variable (Finlayson's) Squirrel Callosciurus finlaysonii
    Brown Rat Rattus norvegicus
    Lyle's Flying Fox Pteropus lylei
     
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  5. Chlidonias

    Chlidonias Moderator Staff Member

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    DAY TWENTY-FOUR - the one with the lack of gulls


    For wading and wetland birds one of the better places in Bangkok to visit is the Muang Boran fish ponds and the nearby Bang Pu Recreational Area. Last time I went to Bang Pu was in 2014 and it was more of a mistake than anything (I was aiming for the Muang Boran fish ponds and ended up a couple of kilometres further along the road at the Bang Pu Recreational Area). At that time I had to take a train to Bearing station and then taxi the last 16km. Since then the line has been extended to Kheha and then you just take one of the #36 songthaews from outside the station for eight Baht, and these run right past Bang Pu. Of course the driver will assume you are going to the Ancient City (a local tourist attraction) which is a few kilometres up the road, but I told him I wanted Bang Pu and, just to be clear, showed him the gull page in my field guide. Bang Pu is a famous place in Bangkok for feeding gulls so he knew exactly where I meant. Unfortunately the gulls didn't know that. There was one flock of about two-dozen Brown-headed Gulls and that was it. This was mid-October - when the gulls should have been there by the hundred - where were they?!

    It is also a wader site, but just as unfortunately the high tide was at 6am and low tide at noon. Because it took two hours to get here I didn't arrive until 9am when the tide was halfway out. Most of the waders present were quite a way off and also back-lit against the sun. Not easy! Seemed like most of them were Black-tailed Godwits with scattered greenshanks and redshanks. There were hundreds of Chlidonias terns though, both Whiskered and White-winged.

    The gulls and waders are viewed from a long pier sort of structure, but there are also mangroves here lining the mudflats. The gate to the main mangrove reserve was padlocked but a side-gate just had a sliding bolt so I went in. Nick Upton's website for Thai birding sites says that this is is acceptable - his site is really out of date now, but I decided that piece of information could still be followed (because there was nobody around to stop me). The reserve was in a bit of disarray, as is usual in nature places in Asia where they basically get left to collapse after a few years of service. All the wooden boardwalks were in pieces although the concrete ones were okay. The various hides were mostly falling apart and the former views from them were entirely obscured by the growth of mangrove trees. There was a two-storey hide still in a good state but there were only Black-winged Stilts and Golden Plovers visible from it.

    I didn't end up go to the Muang Boran fish ponds today as it was already 1pm when I left Bang Pu, I was too hot and tired, and frankly I couldn't be bothered trying to find them. So I just returned to Bangkok.


    Animals seen today:

    BIRDS:
    Large-billed Crow Corvus macrorhynchos
    Feral Pigeon Columba livia
    Spotted Dove Streptopelia chinensis
    Asian Openbill Stork Anastomus oscitans
    Common Mynah Acridotheres tristis
    Tree Sparrow Passer montanus
    Little Egret Egretta garzetta
    Pond Heron Ardeola sp.
    White-vented Mynah Acridotheres grandis
    Zebra Dove Geopelia striata
    Oriental Magpie-Robin Copsychus saularis
    Streak-eared Bulbul Pycnonotus blanfordi
    Great Egret Egretta alba
    Black-winged Stilt Himantopus himantopus
    Brown Shrike Lanius cristatus
    Asian Little Cormorant Phalacrocorax niger
    Collared Kingfisher Todiramphus chloris
    Black-tailed Godwit Limosa limosa
    White-winged Tern Chlidonias leucopterus
    Brown-headed Gull Larus brunnicephalus
    Whiskered Tern Chlidonias hybridus
    Common Redshank Tringa totanus
    Common Greenshank Tringa nebularia
    Eurasian Curlew Numenius arquata
    Asian Brown Flycatcher Muscicapa dauurica
    Black-capped Kingfisher Halcyon pileata
    Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos
    Pacific Golden Plover Pluvialis fulva
    Black Drongo Dicrurus macrocercus
    Crow-billed Drongo Dicrurus annectens
    Intermediate Egret Egretta intermedia
    Greater Coucal Centropus sinensis
    Hill Blue Flycatcher Cyornis banyumas
    Golden-bellied Gerygone Gerygone sulphurea
    Black-naped Monarch Hypothymis azurea
    Common Tailorbird Orthotomus sutorius
    Striated Heron Butorides stiatus
    Indian Cormorant Phalacrocorax fuscicollis

    MAMMALS:
    Lyle's Flying Fox Pteropus lylei
     
    Last edited: 11 Jan 2020
  6. DavidBrown

    DavidBrown Well-Known Member

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    Where did you go ratting this day? Back to the restaurant alley?
     
  7. Chlidonias

    Chlidonias Moderator Staff Member

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    No, that alleyway was in a different city in a different country. I can't actually remember this one but it would have just been a lone rat in the street outside.
     
  8. DavidBrown

    DavidBrown Well-Known Member

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    This is a recurrent theme in your travels. Are there places in Asia where nature areas are being run and protected on a sustained basis? My impression is that the larger national parks of Thailand are quite well protected and run. Is that accurate?
     
  9. AmbikaFan

    AmbikaFan Well-Known Member

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    It gave me chills. What makes you think it's poor quality adds a mysticism and reverence for me of something quite special I know I'll never see. Thanks for posting it despite your reservations.
     
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  10. Chlidonias

    Chlidonias Moderator Staff Member

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    DAY TWENTY-FIVE - the one with all the dogs


    Bangkok may be a giant sprawling city but there are numerous parks and gardens scattered throughout. One of the more interesting was supposed to be the Sri Nakorn Kuen Khan botanic gardens, which is pretty central within the city but a tad awkward to get to.

    I had tried to get here on one of my earlier trips but the taxi driver ended up not knowing where he was going so we got lost and I never made it. This time I'd found out a much more "I'll just do it myself" route, which also had the benefit of not costing much money. All you need to do is to take the MRT train to Khlong Toei station (or to Queen Sirikit National Convention Centre which is the next station along) and then take a motorbike-taxi to the Khlong Toei pier for 50 Baht. From there a tiny longboat will take you across the river for 10 Baht, and then it's just a ten minute walk to the park.

    I didn't really enjoy the park a great deal. I think I might just be arriving at places too late to see many birds (it took me 1.5 hours to get here, so I didnt arrive until 8.30am), not that it really matters all that much. Earlier in the thread I mentioned that I'd counted up how many birds I've already seen from the Southeast Asia field-guide and it is about two-thirds of them. The remainder are mostly vagrants which I'd be unlikely to see anyway by virtue of them being vagrants, or they are species with restricted ranges or reclusive habits which would need to be specifically sought out. However one looks at it, the chances of me seeing "new" birds while rummaging around city parks in Bangkok is very low indeed.

    More of a reason for being a bit edgy while at the park was the number of dogs. On the walk from the pier there were a few dogs which ignored me, so that was fine. On the driveway up to the park entrance four or five dogs came tumbling out from under a car where they'd been sleeping and started barking at me. I ignored those ones because they kept their distance. But as I got close to the park gate, a pack of seven dogs came charging out and blocked the road, all snarling with what seemed to be vicious intent. In general I find Thai dogs to be all bluster, but at the same time I definitely don't want to be in a position where it turns out that these dogs will be the ones which attack rather than run. After some yelling at the guards on the gate one came down and drove the dogs away with a stick, which didn't exactly reassure me of their timidity!

    Once inside the park there were even more dogs. I picked up a handful of stones and started biffing them at any dog which barked at me. Unlike the ones outside the gate, all the ones inside the park were scaredy-cats and ran off quickly when a rock was sent their way. Still, the dogs running everywhere really kept me wary. There was even one sleeping on the top level of the bird-watching tower!

    Unlike some other nature parks in Asia, this one was in really good shape. There was even educational signage in good condition about the plants and birds. The eastern end of the park was the better for birds - former fruit orchard reverted to forest. The nearby river is tidal and when this land was being farmed the orchardists had to maintain channels of freshwater to minimise the amount of brackish water coming through which would have killed the fruit trees. Now a more natural forest is taking over. The swarms of mosquitoes here were not particularly pleasant but there were quite a lot of birds around. Probably there would have been a lot more to be seen if I'd been able to get here at dawn. Best bird of the morning was a male Hainan Flycatcher.

    By 11am the only birds I was still seeing were crows, so I headed back to the pier. Even the dogs had all disappeared in the heat.

    On the other side of the river I stopped at an alley-side restaurant where I ate some fried catfish. If you have never had this, then I recommend that you do so. Because catfish have no scales, the skin goes crispy - like a roast chicken - and you just eat the entire thing. It's really good. Unless you're a vegetarian and then probably your opinion would differ.


    [​IMG]
    Pink-necked Green Pigeons

    [​IMG]
    Black-winged Cuckoo-Shrike

    [​IMG]
    Asian Water Monitor


    Animals seen today:

    BIRDS:
    Large-billed Crow Corvus macrorhynchos
    Feral Pigeon Columba livia
    Spotted Dove Streptopelia chinensis
    Tree Sparrow Passer montanus
    White-vented Mynah Acridotheres grandis
    Little Egret Egretta garzetta
    Great Egret Egretta alba
    Pond Heron Ardeola sp.
    Common Mynah Acridotheres tristis
    Scaly-breasted Munia (Nutmeg Finch) Lonchura punctulata
    Green-billed Malkoha Phaenicophaeus tristis
    Oriental Magpie-Robin Copsychus saularis
    Zebra Dove Geopelia striata
    Asian Koel Eudynamys scolopacea
    White-breasted Waterhen Amaurornis phoenicurus
    Greater Racquet-tailed Drongo Dicrurus paradiseus
    Ashy Drongo Dicrurus leucophaeus
    Pink-necked Green Pigeon Treron vernans
    Olive-backed Sunbird Nectarinia jugularis
    Scarlet-backed Flowerpecker Dicaeum cruentatum
    Hainan Blue Flycatcher Cyornis hainanus
    Asian Pied Fantail Rhipidura javanica
    Black-winged Cuckoo-Shrike Coracina melaschistos
    Common Tailorbird Ortomtomus sutorius
    Eastern Crowned Warbler Phylloscopus coronatus
    Streak-eared Bulbul Pycnonotus blanfordi
    Large Cuckoo-Shrike Coracina macei
    Grey-headed Canary-Flycatcher Culicicapa ceylonensis
    Dark-necked Tailorbird Orthotomus atrogularis
    Asian Brown Flycatcher Muscicapa dauurica
    Black-naped Oriole Oriolus chinensis
    Taiga Flycatcher Ficedula albicilla
    Striated Heron Butorides stiatus
    House Sparrow Passer domesticus

    MAMMALS:
    Variable (Finlayson's) Squirrel Callosciurus finlaysonii
    Red-bellied (Pallas') Squirrel Callosciurus erythraeus

    OTHER:
    Asian Water Monitor Varanus salvator
    Red-eared Terrapin Trachemys scripta elegans
    Archer Fish Toxotes sp.
     
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  11. Chlidonias

    Chlidonias Moderator Staff Member

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    DAY TWENTY-SIX - the one with the missing fish ponds


    The flock of seagulls which migrates to the Bang Pu Recreational Centre each year is supposed to be quite the spectacle, and often contains random unusual gull species. There were almost no gulls there when I went on day 24 but mid-October was when they were supposed to arrive. I wondered if two days difference would mean anything. Maybe there had been a sudden influx on day 25. I decided I would go to the Muang Boran fish ponds today and then drop into Bang Pu afterwards just in case.

    Getting to the fish ponds is basically the same as getting to Bang Pu. Train to Kheha, then songthaew up the road, except you get off just after the Ancient City at the second overbridge. There is a motorbike-taxi stand at the canal bridge here. I drew a little map from my five-year-old memory of my last visit to show them where I wanted to go, added some little fish and herons to the plan, and one of the drivers immediately knew where I meant ("to see the birds!" he said).

    The driver took me to exactly the same spot where I had entered the ponds area on my last visit in 2014, except this time the guy sitting outside the house which blocked the entry shook his head with a firm "no". I knew this was an entry-point, he knew it was an entry-point, and the motorbike-taxi driver obviously knew it was an entry-point because he'd brought me directly to the spot. He had a word with the guy and I went on through. Note that the house was also there on my last visit, and the ladies who had been home then had let me through no problem (and also note that I didn't have to go through their actual house, they had just stuck a fence in the way so you need to cross over it).

    I armed myself with a long whippy stick to warn off any of the barky dogs which I knew were a feature here, and set off all ready for seeing too many birds to comprehend. Last time I was here there were birds everywhere. It was possibly one of the greatest wetland sites I'd been in.

    Immediately on the right as I set off should have been the large swampy ponds filled with jacanas and bitterns and egrets. They were empty. Not just empty of birds, but empty of actual water. There were no ponds there, just dry fields becoming overgrown with shrubs. Are the ponds drained for part of the year? I don't know, but the amount of high vegetation encroaching on the area suggested that they had been dry for quite a while. There were still the deeper open ponds in which fish are bred but they are clear of vegetation and, in general, clear of birds. I saw one Little Grebe, some cormorants and Whiskered Terns, and nothing else on them.

    Here and there were muddy scrapes in the former swampy ponds, in which poked a few waders - Marsh Sandpipers, Temminck's Stints, Little Ringed Plovers, and Black-winged Stilts - but all those wonderful flocks from my last visit were entirely absent. No jacanas, no rails, no waterfowl. I saw exactly one bittern (a Yellow Bittern) and one prinia (a Plain Prinia), and just a few other bits and bobs. On my previous visit I had seen fifty species and probably thousands of individual birds. This visit I saw 32 species but the majority of them with less than a handful of individuals. In fact, nine of the species were seen as only one individual each.

    I'm hoping this is just a seasonal thing. My 2014 visit was in February and @LaughingDove had an April visit a couple of years ago, and both of these were loaded with birds. Maybe it's to do with the rains. I hope so anyway, because it is depressing how empty the place is without the ponds.

    I got a motorbike-taxi back to the main road, and then caught a songthaew the rest of the way up to Bang Pu. Would the two days have made a difference to the gull numbers? Nope. Still just the same small flock there. I had a poke around the mangrove reserve but it was high noon and nothing was moving. I did find a dead House Shrew on the path but that was the only interesting encounter.


    Animals seen today:

    BIRDS:
    Feral Pigeon Columba livia
    Large-billed Crow Corvus macrorhynchos
    Oriental Magpie-Robin Copsychus saularis
    Pond Heron Ardeola sp.
    Spotted Dove Streptopelia chinensis
    Zebra Dove Geopelia striata
    Tree Sparrow Passer montanus
    Asian Openbill Stork Anastomus oscitans
    Little Egret Egretta garzetta
    Asian Pied Starling Sturnus contra
    Great Egret Egretta alba
    Common Mynah Acridotheres tristis
    Scaly-breasted Munia (Nutmeg Finch) Lonchura punctulata
    Black-collared Starling Sturnus nigricollis
    White-vented Mynah Acridotheres grandis
    Streak-eared Bulbul Pycnonotus blanfordi
    Ashy Drongo Dicrurus leucophaeus
    Barn Swallow Hirundo rustica
    Taiga Flycatcher Ficedula albicilla
    Plain Prinia Prinia inornata
    Black-winged Kite Elanus caeruleus
    Indian Cormorant Phalacrocorax fuscicollis
    Whiskered Tern Chlidonias hybridus
    Little Grebe Tachybaptus ruficollis
    Asian Pied Fantail Rhipidura javanica
    Asian Little Cormorant Phalacrocorax niger
    Yellow Bittern Ixobrychus sinensis
    Black Drongo Dicrurus macrocercus
    Marsh Sandpiper Tringa stagnatilis
    Intermediate Egret Egretta intermedia
    Black-winged Stilt Himantopus himantopus
    Yellow Wagtail Motacilla thunbergi (or the Eastern M. tschutschensis if split)
    Little Ringed Plover Charadrius dubius
    Blue-tailed Bee-eater Merops philippinus
    Stejneger's Stonechat Saxicola stejnegeri
    Richard's Pipit Anthus richardi
    Temminck's Stint Calidris temminckii
    Striated Heron Butorides stiatus
    Collared Kingfisher Todiramphus chloris
    Brown-headed Gull Larus brunnicephalus
    Black-tailed Godwit Limosa limosa
    Pacific Golden Plover Pluvialis fulva

    MAMMALS:
    Variable (Finlayson's) Squirrel Callosciurus finlaysonii
     
  12. Chlidonias

    Chlidonias Moderator Staff Member

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    DAY TWENTY-SEVEN - the one with really just nothing happening


    This was my last day in Bangkok and it was another case of the old doing nothing. I don't like just sitting around "wasting time" but I wasn't going to be seeing any new birds around the city and this was supposed to be a holiday.

    As far as zoos were concerned, Dusit Zoo had closed, the Bangkok Snake Farm didn't really interest me, Siam Ocean World is a ridiculous 1090 Baht to visit, and then there are the exploitative facilities which are offensive to me either through their blatant mistreatment of the animals or through their roles in animal smuggling - the crocodile farm, the Pata Zoo, and the Bangkok Safari World.

    I did want to go try and track down the colony of Vervet Monkeys which have been established near the Safari World since the mid-1990s but there is almost no information available on them and I only had the most general idea of where to look, so I knew that without being able to speak Thai it would have probably been a fool's run. I didn't even know if they still existed as the information I'd read was from 2013. They aren't mentioned at all in the field-guide for Southeast Asian mammals.

    In the late afternoon I headed off to the airport. When planning out this trip I'd discovered that Air Asia had started direct flights between Bangkok and Brisbane in June of that year, and so naturally I had picked that as my route homewards. The domestic terminal at the Don Muaeng Airport, which I'd transferred through on my way from Kuala Lumpur to Chiang Rai a couple of weeks before, is way nicer than the international terminal at the same airport. I found that kind of weird - you'd think it would be the reverse. The domestic gate had even had a Dairy Queen at it. My gate at the international terminal, on the other hand, had a tiny room of chairs and nothing else. I wasn't waiting there like some animal. I went off and waited at a nicer gate which had a Dairy Queen. I bought a strawberry Blizzard - much better than the oreo Blizzard I'd had at the domestic terminal.

    I travel on Air Asia all the time. It is one of my favourite airlines. But this was the strangest flight I'd had with them. Carry-on bags were being thoroughly searched at the gate and no water or food was being allowed through - even though everyone had already been through security to get to that point and hence any water bottles had been filled inside the airport. Half the people for the flight ended up gathering outside the gate complaining about it, sculling back their water, and trying to eat all the packaged food they'd bought at the duty-free shops because they weren't allowed it through the gate. Once on the plane I've never seen so many people using the toilets before the plane has even left the ground, just a constant stream of them because everyone had been drinking so much water right beforehand. Then after take-off the lights remained off and everyone had to stay seated for over an hour into the flight. The air hostesses kept yelling at people to sit back down. Once the lights finally came on and the seatbelt lights were off, there was another mad scramble for people needing to get to the toilets.


    Animals seen today:

    BIRDS:
    Large-billed Crow Corvus macrorhynchos
    Asian Openbill Stork Anastomus oscitans
    Spotted Dove Streptopelia chinensis
    Feral Pigeon Columba livia
    Asian Pied Fantail Rhipidura javanica

    MAMMALS:
    Variable (Finlayson's) Squirrel Callosciurus finlaysonii
     
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  13. FunkyGibbon

    FunkyGibbon Well-Known Member

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    I've once had the 'lights off and seat belt sign on for one hour' Air Asia experience. It was indeed very weird. I feel like that flight also had more weird knocking noises than usual, but I don't remember the food thing being a thing.
     
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  14. Chlidonias

    Chlidonias Moderator Staff Member

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    At the time I figured it was because they wanted to sell snacks and water on the plane and not have people bring their own on board. What annoyed everybody was that they weren't allowing any of the packaged duty-free-shop stuff on the plane, which is what people would be buying to take home as presents for their friends. So their only choices were to try and eat it all on the spot or throw it in the bin. (It didn't bother me personally because I don't buy that stuff for myself, and I don't have any friends).
     
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  15. Chlidonias

    Chlidonias Moderator Staff Member

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    DAY TWENTY-EIGHT - the one where I'm in Brisbane


    The flight from Bangkok landed in Brisbane at 11.35am. I have only been to Brisbane once before, way back in 2008, and it rained every day I was there which rather impacted on the animal-watching. As it happened, it was also raining when I landed today. Possibly it hadn't stopped raining since my last visit. Luckily the rain shower passed over quickly and there was no more rain for the rest of my stay. The first bird noted for this section of the trip was Australian Figbird, in the trees at the airport.

    I had booked and paid for all my Australian accommodation in advance (five nights at Nomads Backpackers in Brisbane city, and one night at the Gold Coast YHA because that was where my flight back to New Zealand left from) and almost all my train and bus costs would be going onto a Go-Card, so I wouldn't otherwise be using much actual cash whilst in Brisbane, really just food and the fares for the North Stradbroke Island ferry and bus (which aren't covered by the Go-Card). It was good, because it felt like I was spending very little money while there even though that was a false impression.

    The Go-Card is the same as the cards I've mentioned earlier in the thread (the Opal Card in Sydney and the EzyLink Card in Singapore) - load the money on the card and use it when riding the buses and trains, with a discounted fare relative to using cash. Conveniently the Go-Card isn't just for Brisbane city itself but can also be used in surrounding areas, including the Gold Coast. It costs AU$10 to purchase the card in the first place and, in a better system than most of these types of cards, if you don't need the card any more - say, if you are only a visitor to the city - you can get the unused funds, plus the original cost of the card itself, completely refunded. In a strange twist, however, you can only get refunds at specific places and one of those places is not the Gold Coast Airport - you can buy a card if coming in through that airport but can't get refunds when going out. Kind of inconvenient!

    There is a train from the Brisbane airport direct to the city which runs every fifteen minutes or so and only takes twenty minutes. But it costs AU$19 for a ticket. Much cheaper - and hence my route - was to take the free Terminals-Skygate bus to the nearby bus station of Skygate, from where you take the #590 bus to the Toombul Interchange, from where you then take a train to Central Station in the middle of the city. With the Go-Card that cost me just AU$4 in total.

    Nomads Backpackers is right outside Central Station, so is in a good location for me. I was booked into a four-bed dorm for five nights at NZ$134.40, which is about NZ$26.90 per night. It's a bit of a weird breakdown of price because I booked it through Agoda and there was a little fee added on, and also it was obviously converted from Australian to New Zealand dollars. Nomads was okay. It was definitely better than the awful Elephant Backpackers in Sydney. I do remember that I didn't really like staying there but I can't remember why - the problems of writing reports so long afterwards. Literally the only thing I had written in my notes about it was "Nomads okay" but that was on the day I arrived there. Shrugs, I guess.

    I had a few different sites I wanted to visit in Brisbane, with a few different species I specifically wanted to look for. On day one (today) I had just been going to go to the Botanic Gardens and the Queensland Museum because I didn't really know how much of the day I'd have left after getting into the city and both are easy walking distance from the backpackers, but I changed that to going to Sandgate where I could try spotlighting for Squirrel Gliders. On day two I went to the gardens and museum in the morning, and then to Sherwood Arboretum in the afternoon for birds. On day three I went to North Stradbroke Island with the intention of trying to see Humpback Dolphins and Dugongs, and followed it up with an evening visit to the Greater Glider Conservation Area. On day four I went to Oxley Creek Common for birds. On day five I made an unplanned return visit to Oxley Creek Common in the morning, then made an unplanned visit to the Enoggera Reservoir in the afternoon, and then in the evening went back to the Greater Glider Conservation Area, which was also not in the plan; basically it was a day where I threw out my original plan and went to other sites. On day six I went down to the Gold Coast and then back to New Zealand the following morning.

    With the benefit of hindsight I'd probably rearrange some of those sites to give myself more or better opportunities for finding certain animals, and I'd drop Sherwood Arboretum because I didn't see much there at all, but it all worked out okay I think.

    ...........................................................

    Sandgate is a suburb of Brisbane, easily reached by a direct train from Central Station. It only takes 35 minutes and the last train back to Central is just after midnight so there is plenty of time for spotlighting (sunset was at 6pm at this time of the year).

    One of the mammals I wanted to see while in Brisbane was the Little Red Flying Fox. This is a very common Australian bat but it is also migratory and I haven't been in the right places at the right time of year before. This time I would be. I found a document online showing all the major fruit bat colonies in Brisbane and their species composition. The colony at Curlew Park in Sandgate looked most convenient for me and was supposed to contain all three local species (Black, Grey-headed, and Little Red). Also, googling for spotlighting locations in the city showed that the Deagon Wetlands in Sandgate is the local stronghold for Squirrel Gliders.

    Curlew Park is only a short walk from the train station. It seems to be mostly a dog park and sports area, but there are also mangroves lining the river. One of the first birds I saw on reaching the park was a Banded Rail in a ditch. I couldn't find the flying fox colony though. I'm not sure where it is supposed to be and the park didn't seem large enough for it to have been hidden.

    While wandering around the perimeter of the park looking for the bats I found a honeyeater in the mangroves. One of the birds I was wanting to see while in Brisbane was the Mangrove Honeyeater, and this must be one. It is true that it looked suspiciously like a Brown Honeyeater, but the distribution map in my Slater field-guide told me that that species was not found here. I was pretty sure the map was wrong but I also thought that maybe the Mangrove Honeyeater simply looked much duller in real life than it does in the book. I put it on my list, knowing I'd have to check that later when I could get onto the internet. Sure enough, when I could check it out, I found that Brown Honeyeaters are common in Brisbane, and photos of Mangrove Honeyeaters do not look like that at all. Also I saw lots of Brown Honeyeaters at Oxley Creek Common a couple of days later and so knew I had misjudged that first bird. Just now, while looking at a distribution map for Brown Honeyeater online and re-checking the Slater field-guide, I realise that what they have done is duplicated the map for Pied Honeyeater.

    With no sign of the flying fox colony at Curlew Park I walked back to and past the train station, and continued on towards Dowse Lagoon and Deagon Wetlands. It was about 4pm by now and while walking I saw a few bats flying about in the general direction of Curlew Park. There was a colony there somewhere; perhaps just not in an easily accessible spot. That was fine, though, because I had just come up to a sports field and in the corner of that field was a huge eucalyptus in full flower, and in that eucalyptus there were some bats feeding. At first I saw only Black Flying Foxes flapping about (which were the first for this trip, but not lifers) but then, yes, some Little Red Flying Foxes too amongst the flowers. The views weren't the greatest - they were very high up - but it was better than not seeing any at all.

    Dowse Lagoon was mostly dry and held few birds - most of which I'd already seen on this trip in Sydney or Asia. I continued on to Deagon Wetlands, a largish expanse of dry eucalyptus forest and some parkland. This was a nice area, but there were likewise few birds here. Red-backed Fairy Wrens and Pale-headed Rosellas are always a joy though, and I was excited to see Magpie Geese (I thought they were a lifer because I'd completely forgotten I'd seen them back in 2008!).

    I covered all the tracks through the Deagon Wetlands forest before dark so I could get the lay of the land. It looked like perfect forest for glider-spotting and there were supposed to be a few different macropod species here too. I saw none of them. There were masses of Cane Toads, just everywhere after dark, and I saw two Brush-tailed Possums, but that was all.


    Animals seen today:

    BIRDS:
    Australian Figbird Sphecotheres vieilloti
    Welcome Swallow Hirundo neoxena
    Noisy Miner Manorina melanocephala
    Australian Magpie Gymnorhina tibicen
    Australian White Ibis Threskiornis molucca
    Masked Lapwing Vanellus miles
    Torresian Crow Corvus orru
    Rainbow Lorikeet Trichoglossus haematodus
    Spotted Dove Streptopelia chinensis
    Magpie-Lark Grallina cyanoleuca
    Feral Pigeon Columba livia
    Grey Butcherbird Craciticus torquatus
    Common Starling Sturnus vulgaris
    Straw-necked Ibis Threskiornis spinicollis
    Banded Rail Gallirallus philippensis
    Common Kookaburra Dacelo novaeguineae
    Crested Pigeon Ocyphaps lophotes
    Pied Butcherbird Cracticus nigrogularis
    Willy Wagtail Rhipidura leucophrys
    Brown Honeyeater Lichmera indistincta
    Grey Shrike-Thrush Colluricincla harmonica
    Rainbow Bee-eater Merops ornatus
    Little Pied Shag Phalacrocorax melanoleucos
    Blue-faced Honeyeater Entomyzon cyanotis
    White-headed (Pied) Stilt Himantopus leucocephalus
    Dusky Moorhen Gallinula tenebrosa
    Grey Teal Anas gracilis
    Purple Swamphen Porphyrio porphyrio
    Intermediate Egret Egretta intermedia
    Cattle Egret Bubulcus ibis
    White-eyed Duck Aythya australis
    Whiskered Tern Chlidonias hybridus
    Greater Sulphur-crested Cockatoo Cacatua galerita
    Red-backed Fairy-Wren Malurus melanocephalus
    Pale-headed Rosella Platycercus adscitus
    Long-billed Corella Cacatua tenuirostris
    Magpie Goose Anseranas semipalmata
    Black-faced Cuckoo-Shrike Coracina novaehollandiae
    Spangled Drongo Dicrurus bracteatus

    MAMMALS:
    Black Flying Fox Pteropus alecto
    Little Red Flying Fox Pteropus scapulatus
    Common Brushtail Possum Trichosurus vulpecula

    OTHER:
    Cane Toad Rhinella marinus
     
    Last edited: 19 Jan 2020
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  16. Chlidonias

    Chlidonias Moderator Staff Member

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    DAY TWENTY-NINE - the one where I can't think of a title without making a Robin Hood joke which wouldn't make any sense at all


    The Brisbane Botanic Gardens are only 700 metres from Nomads Backpackers - just walk straight down to the end of Edwards Street and there they are. I got there early but because it was Sunday and there was some sort of market being set up in the grounds, there were already quite a lot of people about.

    Botanic Gardens are always a good place to look for birds within a city. Generally there are only common species, but if you're not from that place then even the common birds are unusual. Here the species were mostly in the vein of "ubiquitously common" - White Ibis, Noisy Miner, Rainbow Lorikeet, etc - but there were some less usual birds for me too, like Australian Figbird. I had been meaning to keep an eye out for Bush Stone-Curlews, which are a feature of the gardens, but I completely forgot about them until I suddenly came across a small group of them resting on a lawn.

    [​IMG]
    Bush Stone-Curlew

    One other bird I was hoping to see was the Mangrove Honeyeater. I didn't feel comfortable about the "Mangrove Honeyeater" I'd seen the day before at Curlew Park, and was pretty sure that if I saw one elsewhere then it would look obviously different from a Brown Honeyeater! I didn't have a clue if the honeyeaters were found at the gardens but I did know that there was a stretch of mangroves along the river with a boardwalk, so I figured it might be possible. Turned out that the mangroves were much less extensive than I remembered and the boardwalk was gone, with only a few post remnants where it had been. I'm not sure what happened - the remaining area of mangroves is far too narrow to have contained the boardwalk as it was, so I guess a large area of the trees was lost, perhaps in floods or through deliberate removal.

    In better news, I happened across a bat roost soon after entering the gardens which hosted both Little Red and Grey-headed Flying Foxes, enabling much more enjoyable views of the former than I had managed to obtain yesterday.

    [​IMG]
    Grey-headed Flying Foxes

    [​IMG]
    Little Red Flying Foxes


    The morning visit to the gardens was really just to pass the time until the Queensland Museum opened at 9.30am. The museum is easy walking distance from the gardens and is free. There is a great collection of local animal species displayed here (in taxidermy form), as well a small selection of live animals - at the time of my visit, there were three species of stick insects, Saunder's Bag Moths, Giant Burrowing Cockroaches, Leaf-tailed Geckos, and Green Tree Pythons. Two months after my trip there would be a spider exhibition as well. There were a lot of advertisements outside the museum for this, but of course I was too early to see it. You can read about the exhibition in a thread by @WhistlingKite24 - New Spider Exhibition [Queensland Museum]

    [​IMG]
    Green Tree Pythons at the Queensland Museum


    I had a very early start tomorrow - I would be going to North Stradbroke Island - so for this afternoon I'd scheduled in a birding spot which would take up a few hours but with no spotlighting to keep me out half the night. The place I had chosen was the Sherwood Arboretum. It is close to the Sherwood train station (less than ten minutes walk) so is easy to get to. It is also close to another birding site named Oxley Creek Common, but I had read that the latter site gets busy in the afternoons so had written that in for another morning.

    The Sherwood Arboretum turned out to be much smaller than I had expected and, at least to my eyes, more of a suburban park than an arboretum. I expected a foresty sort of place but in reality it is more like open lawns with individual trees dotted about.

    It was close to midday when I arrived and there were not many birds around. It does seem like the Brisbane area is mostly about mid- to large-sized birds. Especially within the city there seem to be no small passerines like sparrows, just ibis and pigeons and such. It's like if your kitchen was filled with goats and badgers instead of mice and silverfish; there's just something slightly askew. If you look at the bird lists for today and yesterday, there are almost no birds smaller than (say) a mynah. On the other hand, it was the middle of the day and it does get very hot in Brisbane, so that could also be a factor.

    I saw a couple more Magpie Geese at the arboretum, as well as some other waterfowl on the two ponds, but otherwise there were just a few common suburban birds like Pale-headed Rosellas and Grey Butcherbirds. The two best birds were Little Friarbird which was a lifer for me, and a large flock of Scarlet Honeyeaters in a bottlebrush tree. In my head the latter bird lives solitarily or in pairs, like sunbirds and flowerpeckers, but I guess that is not the case in reality!

    I was only at the arboretum for an hour. I wasn't seeing much at all so I just went back to town.


    [​IMG]
    White-eyed Duck

    [​IMG]
    Magpie Goose

    [​IMG]
    Australian Little Grebe


    Animals seen today:

    BIRDS:
    Feral Pigeon Columba livia
    Noisy Miner Manorina melanocephala
    Blue-faced Honeyeater Entomyzon cyanotis
    Australian White Ibis Threskiornis molucca
    Dusky Moorhen Gallinula tenebrosa
    White-eyed Duck Aythya australis
    Rainbow Lorikeet Trichoglossus haematodus
    Welcome Swallow Hirundo neoxena
    Pied Currawong Strepera graculina
    Pied Butcherbird Cracticus nigrogularis
    Torresian Crow Corvus orru
    Common Kookaburra Dacelo novaeguineae
    Bush Stone-Curlew Burhinus grallarius
    Australian Figbird Sphecotheres vieilloti
    Australian Magpie Gymnorhina tibicen
    Common Coot Fulica atra
    Little Black Shag Phalacrocorax sulcirostris
    Pacific Black Duck Anas superciliosa
    Grey Teal Anas gracilis
    Purple Swamphen Porphyrio porphyrio
    Masked Lapwing Vanellus miles
    Magpie Goose Anseranas semipalmata
    Grey Butcherbird Craciticus torquatus
    Crested Pigeon Ocyphaps lophotes
    Australian Wood Duck Chenonetta jubata
    Australian Brush Turkey Alectura lathami
    Spotted Dove Streptopelia chinensis
    Common Mynah Acridotheres tristis
    Scarlet Honeyeater Myzomela sanguinolenta
    Little Friarbird Philemon citreogularis
    Pale-headed Rosella Platycercus adscitus

    MAMMALS:
    Little Red Flying Fox Pteropus scapulatus
    Grey-headed Flying Fox Pteropus poliocephalus

    REPTILES:
    Eastern Water Dragon Physignathus lesueurii
    Brisbane River Turtle Emydura krefftii signata
     
  17. Chlidonias

    Chlidonias Moderator Staff Member

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    DAY THIRTY - the one with mythical dolphins


    There are two marine mammals found right on Brisbane's doorstep which I was quite keen on seeing. One is the Dugong, of which considerable numbers are found in the shallow waters of Moreton Bay northeast of the city; and the other is the Australian Humpback Dolphin which is a fairly recent split from the "original" IndoPacific Humpback Dolphin (now in three species). I have seen Dugongs in captivity (in Sydney and Singapore) and I have likewise seen the IndoPacific Humpback Dolphin in captivity (in Singapore), but none of them have I seen in the wild. The bay is also home to IndoPacific Bottlenose Dolphins which I have seen in the wild (in Western Australia) and at this time of year there would also be Humpback Whales passing by on migration (I have also seen those in the wild before).

    I had looked at some ways for seeing these mammals and the best option for me seemed to be one of the tour operators which run out of Newport, north of Brisbane. They were expensive but they do pick-up/drop-offs from the city centre (which would be necessary as there was no way to get to Newport early enough by public transport) and the chances of seeing the Dugongs and Humpback Dolphins seemed good with them. I was rather put off by the emphasis on their websites of just-really-not-wildlife-watching-material like Boom-Netting (towing the passengers behind the boat in nets), and how a lot of the day seemed to be spent on an island doing nothing, however at least they said the Boom-Netting wasn't done during whale migration season because they want to spend more time getting to the whale-spotting area - although that also made it sound like a lot less time was going to be spent in the Dugong areas. What made me decide not to use one of these tours in the end was simply that the entire day would be spent on a boat, and I didn't think I'd be a happy sailor. I tend to get seriously seasick and after more than a couple of hours on a small boat I just want to die.

    Instead I decided to take the ferry across to North Stradbroke Island and hope for the best. It would be ten times cheaper (the ferry is only AU$16 return) and I had found out that Humpback Dolphins are often seen - and Dugongs sometimes seen - from the pier at Amity village which faces the bay, and that the whales can be seen from the North Gorge Walk at Point Lookout which faces the ocean.

    To get to North Stradbroke Island meant a very early start in the morning. The ferry leaves from Cleveland, which is well south of the city centre. I caught a train at 5.17am, arriving in Cleveland an hour later at 6.20am, and took a bus to the terminal for the 7am ferry. The tide was out and I saw a Whimbrel and a White-faced Heron while waiting.

    At this time of year the Dugongs often gather in the Rous Channel, which presumably was named by the Dread Pirate Roberts. I sort of imagined that this must be a channel between the island and one of the neighbouring islands, which would mean a restricted area to look out for the Dugongs, but upon looking it up I discovered that it is in fact an underwater channel in the bay which did not help me at all. I think the ferry crosses the Rous Channel on its way across the bay, but there's really no hope of seeing a Dugong on the way.

    There are three main settlements on North Stradbroke Island. The ferry comes in at Dunwich, and then there is Amity and Point Lookout at the northwest and northeast corners of the island respectively. A bus meets the ferry and runs on a limited schedule between the three villages. The bus isn't part of the Go-Card system, but an all-day ticket only costs AU$9.80 so it's hardly expensive. I can't remember why I chose the order I did - it may have been to do with the bus schedule or it may have been to do with the direction of the sun - but I went first to Point Lookout to do the North Gorge Walk and second to Amity.

    The North Gorge Walk is really nice, skirting the headland around the tops of the cliffs which gives good viewing points for whales (of which I saw none) but which also means it is very windy. There is forest along the track, mostly rugged wind-swept shrubby forest rather than "proper" forest, and there were very few birds seen. I managed to spot a few Wedge-tailed Shearwaters skimming about over the waves, which were a lifer for me - they are common in the area because they breed on the island. There were also a few Eastern Grey Kangaroos up here. There are other macropods on the island, including Red-necked, Agile, and Swamp Wallabies, but I only saw the kangaroos. The Swamp Wallabies are of a local "golden" form which I wanted to see. Apparently, though, they are uncommon on North Stradbroke and mainly found in the south of the island.

    [​IMG]
    Eastern Grey Kangaroo (joey)

    I did the walk twice because I had time to kill before the next bus going to Amity. Actually the bus only goes between Point Lookout and Dunwich, dropping people off at a junction and a van takes them the rest of the way to Amity.

    Amity is a nice enough seaside village - it strikes me as more of a holiday park than an actual village although there are obviously pemanent residents there as well. I spent quite a bit of time wandering around looking upwards because the area is supposed to be good for Koalas, although they may be mythical. Then I spent quite a bit more time looking out to sea for dolphins, which might also be mythical. There was a "don't feed the dolphins" sign by the pier, but that just proved the dolphins were mythical because obviously you don't feed something that doesn't exist. Eventually I went to sit down in the shade, and found a Koala in the tree next to me. Later I pointed him out to some other tourists who said they had spent hours looking. There were, unfortunately, no dolphins in the tree.

    I could see the sea from my shady retreat - I could also see Ospreys and Brahminy Kites for that matter - but eventually I headed back to the pier and took to wandering up and down the beach to try and optimise my dolphin chances. It took a while, but this did pay off. Using my exceptional animal-spotting skills - i.e. thinking "hey, what are those people pointing at?" - I found some Humpback Dolphins. They aren't the most obvious of dolphins. They don't jump in the air and chatter and bounce balls on their noses like dolphins are expected to do. They just sort of rolled through the water, showing their backs and not much else. There were only a couple of them - maybe two or three - rising and vanishing quickly as they moved along the beach with not much chance for photographs or even for very good viewing. They weren't even around for long, maybe ten minutes tops, and then they disappeared. Good enough to count as having seen them, but also in the "wish they were seen better" category. The whole day only cost about $50 too, so can't complain about that.

    As readers may remember, when I went to Singapore to look for Smooth-coated Otters at Pasir Ris, @MRJ turned up a few days later to look for Smooth-coated Otters at Pasir Ris. When I went to Bukit Fraser to look for birds, @MRJ turned up at Bukit Fraser to look for birds on the same day that I left (we just missed each other). And when I went to Brisbane to look for Dugongs, yes, @MRJ turned up in Brisbane to look for Dugongs a month later. I'm not saying he's stalking me, but ... I don't know how to finish that sentence...

    @MRJ did a better job of the Dugong-finding than I did. I had decided against the dolphin boat tours largely because I didn't feel like my constitution could withstand an entire day on the water in a small boat, and finding Dugongs from shore isn't a good strategy so I missed out. @MRJ also decided against the tours, instead chartering a vessel with Moreton Bay Fish Charter which cost $400 for three people - divided between them that actually works out cheaper than the tours - and he saw over fifty Dugongs. That's less than $8 per Dugong! (His post on that is here: ZooChat Big Year 2019).

    [​IMG]
    Grey Butcherbird on North Stradbroke Island


    Before going to Brisbane I had read through some trip reports on Mammalwatching to find suitable locations for spotlighting. In one of them a reserve by the name of Greater Glider Conservation Area had come up, where-in the author had easily seen Greater Gliders. The site was near Alexandra Hills, in the suburb of Redlands. On Google Maps this seemed pretty out-of-the-way, but I managed to figure out the transport routes to get there from central Brisbane. The problem wasn't just one of awkwardly-connecting bus routes but also one of timing. One set of bus routes meant I'd have to leave the reserve before 8.30pm which, given that sunset was at about 6pm, didn't give much time. The second option was a train-bus combo which required a 2km walk from the nearest stop but meant I could stay until a bit after 9.30pm before leaving to catch the 10.05pm bus (there are buses running later than that - up until 11.35pm - but the last train back to the city was at 10.39pm). The train station for this combo was the Cleveland station, the same one I would be at for North Stradbroke Island, so naturally I used this day to tag on spotlighting for Greater Gliders.

    The Greater Glider Conservation Area is a fairly small patch of eucalyptus forest hemmed in by housing on three sides and a motorway on the western side. However there is a surprising number of marsupials here in apparently healthy populations. I probably arrived there around 4pm - I can't remember exactly but it was the afternoon and I had plenty of time to circle the reserve a couple of times looking for birds. Leaden Flycatcher and Bar-shouldered Dove were new for the trip, and there were a few other bush birds around as well.

    I knew there were Red-necked Wallabies here, so I kept my eyes open for them becoming active as the afternoon wound down. I have seen this species in the wild before but only in Tasmania. I saw two animals on this afternoon, which I was pleased about. The mainland subspecies looks very different to the darker bulkier Bennett's Wallaby of Tasmania.

    After dark there were flying foxes overhead - I couldn't tell the species in the dark, but I returned here a couple of days later and saw that they were Black Flying Foxes - and I encountered three Common Brushtail Possums, including the one in the photo below.

    [​IMG]

    One fortuitous find was a Squirrel Glider, a species I had missed at Sandgate (and had been going to return there to try and find). I only found this one by accident when I picked up a single spot of eye-shine high in a tree. At first I thought it was just a spider sitting on a knot but there was something off about it. After some waiting, during which I became convinced it was just a spider because it remained static, the "knot" suddenly swivelled round and revealed itself as a head with two eyes looking down at me. It was too big to be a Sugar Glider and it wasn't a Greater Glider or a regular possum. The writers of that trip report I mentioned also saw Squirrel Glider here. Unfortunately the animal wouldn't emerge from its hole, and eventually went back inside completely.

    I actually did see a Sugar Glider later as well. I was trying to see something else and a glider sailed right through the torch beam and landed on a tree truck. It was in an awkward position and ended up being mostly hidden by shrubbery, but I saw enough of it to tell what it was (and it was still a better view than the one I saw at the Warriewood Wetlands in Sydney at the start of this trip). Curiously I could get no eye-shine from it, and I also got no eye-shine from the one in Sydney.

    Frustratingly I could not find any Greater Gliders which were my main reason for being here. I didn't see any Ringtail Possums either, which the trip report I mentioned said were very common here.


    Animals seen today:

    BIRDS:
    Noisy Miner Manorina melanocephala
    Feral Pigeon Columba livia
    Australian White Ibis Threskiornis molucca
    Torresian Crow Corvus orru
    Common Mynah Acridotheres tristis
    Magpie-Lark Grallina cyanoleuca
    Crested Pigeon Ocyphaps lophotes
    Australian Magpie Gymnorhina tibicen
    Grey Butcherbird Craciticus torquatus
    Galah Cacatua roseicapilla
    Welcome Swallow Hirundo neoxena
    Whimbrel Numenius phaeopus
    White-faced Heron Ardea novaehollandiae
    Australian Wood Duck Chenonetta jubata
    Common Kookaburra Dacelo novaeguineae
    Masked Lapwing Vanellus miles
    Australian Figbird Sphecotheres vieilloti
    Noisy Friarbird Philemon corniculatus
    Wedge-tailed Shearwater Puffinus puffinus
    Rainbow Lorikeet Trichoglossus haematodus
    Silver Gull Larus novaehollandiae
    Great Crested Tern Sterna bergii
    Little Corella Cacatua sanguinea
    White-breasted Woodswallow Artamus leucorynchus
    Australian Pelican Pelecanus conspicillatus
    Willy Wagtail Rhipidura leucophrys
    Brahminy Kite Haliastur indus
    Osprey Pandion haliaetus
    Little Pied Shag Phalacrocorax melanoleucos
    Bush Stone-Curlew Burhinus grallarius
    Spotted Dove Streptopelia chinensis
    Straw-necked Ibis Threskiornis spinicollis
    Leaden Flycatcher Myiagra rubecula
    Sacred Kingfisher Todiramphus sanctus
    Black-faced Cuckoo-Shrike Coracina novaehollandiae
    Eastern Yellow Robin Eopsaltria australis
    Bar-shouldered Dove Geopelia humeralis
    Rufous Whistler Pachycephala rufiventris

    MAMMALS:
    Eastern Grey Kangaroo Macropus giganteus
    Koala Phascolarctos cinereus
    Australian Humpback Dolphin Sousa sahulensis
    Red-necked Wallaby Macropus rufogriseus
    Black Flying Fox Pteropus alecto
    Common Brush-tailed Possum Trichosurus vulpecula
    Squirrel Glider Petaurus norfolcensis
    Sugar Glider Petaurus breviceps
     
    Last edited: 20 Jan 2020
  18. TeaLovingDave

    TeaLovingDave Moderator Staff Member

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    Oh really? :p
     
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  19. Chlidonias

    Chlidonias Moderator Staff Member

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    That's what baby kangaroos look like. It's an evolutionary technique for predator avoidance. You wouldn't know because you're not Australian.
     
  20. TeaLovingDave

    TeaLovingDave Moderator Staff Member

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    Nor are you :p
     
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