Trip report: Eastern Australia, from Top to Bottom (October 2011) (Nick Leseberg)

Guided by Nick Leseberg.

During the weeks leading up to this trip, I was sweating; with loads of rain falling throughout Australia this year, conditions had been set for an epic breeding season. Birds that rely on these conditions to breed further inland before pushing to the coast for spring, had been thin on the ground last year, but this year reports had already started trickling in as early as August of all manner of unusual species being sighted along the east coast. As the trip got closer and the reports kept coming in, I was starting to worry. Would the birds hang around until we got there?

I needn’t have worried! This tour turned into one of those brilliant trips where the birds keep popping up in front of you. Right from our first afternoon in Cairns through to our finish in Tasmania, we were adding piles of new birds each day, including some of Australia’s most spectacular species. The list of favorites was long, but in the end got narrowed down to three fantastic birds. The winner by a nose was Noisy Pitta, a bird we see each year, but which rarely puts on a show like it did on this trip. Instead of fleeting glimpses of this shy jewel of the rainforest, we got walk-away views as a bird sat and preened in the ‘scope for a good ten minutes. The runners-up were Plains-wanderer, and one of my personal favorites, the gorgeous little Splendid
Fairywren, while honorable mentions went to the dashing male Victoria’s Riflebird, an immaculate pair of Inland
Dotterels, the gaudy Rainbow Lorikeet, and a fantastic Pink Robin. In short, it was an incredible trip!

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