G’day again from Australia! I’m halfway through my trip so I thought it was a good time to post some thoughts about the experience so far. I also share some of my favourite recent bird sightings and what’s up next on my Australia trip agenda. Hint: I’m leaving the Melbourne area and heading north.
If you missed my Week 1 update, you can read it here: G’day From Australia: Australia Birding Adventure Week 1.
Dear Australia, You Have Too Many Birds!
At a certain point over the last 4 weeks I came to the realization that there are a lot of birds here. I began to consider whether someone arriving in Canada, not knowing any of the bird species, would feel as overwhelmed as I do in Australia. If this hypothetical person arrived during Canadian winter, they would more likely wonder where all the birds were!
Are There Really More Birds in Australia?
According to my Google research (I’m sure these won’t be the most up to date figures, but use them as a ball-park), Australia has 828 recorded bird species versus 426 in Canada. These figures include migratory birds and, especially for Canada, this makes a huge difference to the number. If we were to just look at resident species, the difference would be even more staggering.
If you’re curious to know which countries have the most bird species, I found this list that’s meant to be up to date as of 2004. Canada doesn’t even make the list!
How Do You See 830 Bird Species?
Depending on how much time you have, you need to decide whether your strategy is breadth or depth and how much money you want to spend!
Going on a Bird Tour
If you want to see as many bird species as possible in a short amount of time, going on a paid bird tour is an option. For example, Rockjumper Birding Tours offers a 21 day East Coast Australia birding trip for AUD 12,350 where you’ll see an estimated 370-400 species.
Do It Yourself
My strategy is to do it myself and focus mostly on Melbourne, Victoria and the surrounding area. I certainly won’t get anywhere near the number of species that you can on some of these bird tours, but I like going at my own pace. I also don’t have the budget to spend thousands of dollars on a tour!
The downside of my strategy is it can feel like you’re barely scratching the surface of the wonderful birding opportunities available here! Someone with more energy could still DIY it and travel much more extensively around Australia than I am able to (see the post about my balance disorder for more information about why travel is a challenge for me).
If you want to do it yourself, an amazing resource available on Amazon is Finding Australian Birds: A Field Guide to Birding Locations.
I wish I had picked up this book at the start of my trip!
Birding in Australia Inspiration
To get a sense of what the birding is like over here, I’ve compiled a couple of resources worth looking at.
This week I’ve been reading an inspirational book (with lots of great photographs) about the best places to bird-watch in Australia. I recommend this book for anyone planning a trip here, but I warn you: you will want to visit all 100 sites!
It’s available on Amazon: Best 100 Birdwatching Sites in Australia
Facebook Group: Bird Photography Australia
If you want to get an idea of the diversity of birds in Australia, join the Bird Photography Australia Facebook group. The photographs are amazing!
A Few of my Favourite Australian Birds
Here are a few of my exciting recent sightings:
I was thrilled to see my lifer Tawny Frogmouth. A big thanks to Graham Harkhom of the Melbourne Bird Photographers Meetup Group for finding one for me!
My Michael Morcombe Field Guide to Australian Birds lists 74 species in the Honeyeater family! (p.s. this is an excellent and easy to use field guide, perfect for someone like me who knew nothing about aussie birds… you can get it on Amazon: Field Guide to Australian Birds).
Seeing a beautiful Lewin’s Honeyeater this week was Honeyeater #11 on my list.
It’s a Crow, it’s a Raven…no, it’s a Chough (pronounced chuff)! This was the highlight of my outing with the Melbourne Bird Photographers to Woodlands Historic Park. I love its red eye.
I like Pigeons in Australia!
As some of you might know, I’m not a big fan of the pigeons in Canada. However, seeing the variety and amazing colours of pigeons in Australia I may have to rethink my position. My Aussie field guide lists 24 varieties and they’re all gorgeous!
Every time I see a new parrot species I get a rush! Seeing my first Little Corella was no exception. This bird is similar to the Long-billed Corella I saw a couple of weeks ago.
I have just over three weeks left on my birding in Australia adventure! Time has flown by, but as the weather in Melbourne starts to turn towards winter, I’m starting to look forward to getting back to Canada and the start of summer.
For my last week in Melbourne, I’m going to be visiting Victoria’s premiere birding site, the Western Treatment Plant. 284 bird species have been recorded here so it is bound to be an awesome day! It’s a known hotspot for an amazing variety of water birds and raptors. I’ve arranged a guide through My Birding Pal (another great DIY resource).
The Helmeted Honeyeater is a critically endangered bird species endemic to Victoria. In September 2010, there were only an estimated 130 Helmeted Honeyeaters left in the wild. My boyfriend’s Mum volunteers for the Friends of the Helmeted Honeyeater doing supplemental feedings. I hope to join her on an outing before I leave.
Brisbane and the Sunshine Coast
I’ll be spending my last 10 days in Australia in Queensland! It’s further north than Melbourne so should hopefully be warmer (it’s been 12-15 degrees Celsius and raining here all week!). We’ll be dividing our time between Brisbane and Noosa. As usual, if you have any birding tips for either of these areas please drop me a comment or a message.
-The Afternoon Birder