BellBird Tours Birding Blog

 
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Tour overview This was a tour with returning guests from South Africa birding the Iron Range region in Far North Queensland. The aim was to see as many of the endemic bird species in the Far North as well as visit the Atherton Tablelands. The 9 day tour took us down to Etty Bay, south […]

 
brolga

The Great Southern Tour concentrates on the many specialties of the southern coastal region of Australia and the South Australian outback. Coastal birding north of Adelaide and along the Great Ocean Road; the outback deserts and dry watercourses, with the rugged escarpments of the Flinders Ranges; Birdlife Australia’s splendid Gluepot reserve, the Murray River, we wander the plains around Deliniquin and marvel at the masses of waterbirds in Werribee to finish in the tall, hill forests near Melbourne.

 
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The September 2016 Six Grasswren tour was already the 11th year that we have done these tours. The aim was to see Striated, Short-tailed, Western, Thick-billed, Eyrean and Grey Grasswren and other wonderful outback bird species. The 6.5 day tour took us along the Strzelecki track through the outback of South Australia. It had been a wet winter and spring which means that the conditions were great for birding – probably the best I’d seen it in 5 years. There were plenty of wildflowers and birds breeding wherever we went. As a result of widespread rainfall deeper into the outback, many waterfowl had deserted their traditional wetlands to go breeding in those flooded areas, which were beyond the reach of this tour. Nevertheless, a grand total of 152 quality outback species were recorded during the tour. Read on for the daily summary and bird checklist.

 
Regent Parrot

The Highlights of South Australia birding tour provides an insight into the range of habitats present in South Australia, which contain some unique bird species including a small number of endemics. From the lush and green Mt Lofty Ranges around Adelaide to the outback deserts with spectacular mountain ranges, the bird-rich wetlands along the Murray River, beautiful coastal scenery and vast expanses of the famous semi-arid mallee scrublands, tour has it all.

 
RCA

The “Red Centre”, as Australia’s outback around Alice Springs is named, hosts a variety of exciting bird species. Using Alice Springs as a base, this 4-day tour took daily trips out to different areas targeting enigmatic birds such as Dusky Grasswren, Rufous-crowned Emu-wren, Spinifexbird, Grey Honeyeater, Western Bowerbird, Painted Finch and more. Guided by Mark Carter, the tour visited the Eastern and Western MacDonnell Ranges, the sewage works, the Old Telegraph Station, the Tanami Road, Kumoth Bore and the Deep Well Road.

 
Dusky Grasswren

The 2016 ‘Nine Grasswren tour’ started in Adelaide (SA) and finished in Alice Springs (NT). After visiting Birdlife Australia’s Gluepot Reserve (Black-eared Miner) we explored the bluebush plains around Whyalla (Western Grasswren, Splendid (turquoise) Fairy-wren) and travelled through the scenic Flinders Ranges (Short-tailed Grasswren) up to the Birdsville track where we had both Chestnut-breasted and Banded Whiteface as well as the elusive Grey Falcon and Eyrean Grasswren. Unfortunately the Grey Grasswren site was inaccessible due to flooding but we had great views of Gibberbird and Inland Dotterel.

 
Long-billed Broadbill

This was a ten day birding trip to Central Thailand by Bruce Wedderburn and Peter Waanders. The trip followed a standard itinerary from Bangkok to Pak Thale for the Spoon-billed Sandpiper, followed by visits to the national parks of Kaeng Krachan, Mae Wong and Khao Yai. We also birded at Petchaburi Paddyfields, Bueng Boraphet Wetlands and Wat Phra Phutthabat Noi Temple along the way. The ten days birding in Thailand was successful with 302 birds seen and another 7 birds heard only.

 
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In August 2014 I had scheduled a 3-day stopover in Dubai on the way back to Australia from the UK. At first I was worried that birding there in August, the hottest time of the year, would be difficult, but I was encouraged by Ian Reid’s trip report who had done a similar trip a year earlier. Using Ian’s trip report as a starting point, the excellent information available on UAEbirding.com and further information from expats I had designed a 3-day trip around my target species. I had decided to stay in a central location in the small country, to avoid having to worry about hunting around for accommodation, and to have a base where I could retreat to any time if the heat got too much or if I’d get too tired. After some research, I settled on the Hattah Fort hotel.

 
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The 2013 ‘Great Southern Tour’ started in Adelaide (SA) and finished in Hobart (Tas). The weather was pretty close to perfect with calm, sunny days, temperatures in the 20-25 Degrees Celsius range, and no rain. A grand total of 301 bird species were seen. Highlights included Oriental Plover, Black-breasted Buzzard, Inland Dotterel, Pilotbird, Plainswanderer, Superb Parrot, Swift Parrot, Freckled Duck, Mallee Emu-wren and all 12 Tasmanian endemics. Mammal sightings of interest included 3 species of Kangaroo, 3 species of Wallaby, Platypus, Eastern Quoll, Echidna, Koala and Australian Fur Seal.

 
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The 2013 Six Grasswren tour covered over 3,000 km mostly on outback roads. From Adelaide (SA) we travelled through Gluepot, Broken Hill and Tibooburra to the ‘Corner Country’. From there, the Strezelecki track was followed south, and after a detour via Whyalla we travelled through the Flinders Ranges and back to Adelaide. The weather was quite reasonable with only one hot day. In total 168 bird species were seen. Apart from the Grasswrens, highlights included Flock Bronzewing, Letter-winged Kite, Australian Bustard, Inland Dotterel, Major Mitchell’s Cockatoo, Budgerigar, Banded Whiteface, Black Honeyeater and Yellow-footed Rock-wallaby.