Thursday, 22 October 2015

Breaking the 7,000 barrier!

Me in the Arfak Mountains:
 West Papua.

I have just returned from West Papua; an amazing place with amazing birds. This trip brought me just over 7,000 species, in fact 7,006 species to be precise. I follow the IOC Taxonomy with only seen birds counted.

This year has been an amazing adventure with trips to South Australia; the wonderful month long WPO, cruising through some of the worlds most beautiful islands & seeing some of the worlds most wanted sea birds & island endemics. A short trip to Sichuan, which was excellent for the superb game birds seen, followed by two weeks in the forests of SE Brazil & then West Papua. I haven't mentioned the four months spent in South Africa seeing beautiful birds & some great mammal sightings. And finally a couple of trips to the UK to see family & friends.

What a year & it hasn't ended yet!  The following birds, mammals & scenery are some of my highlights of the year, not all were new species for me but all were memorable in one way or another.

Kruger in January/February:

Me at Letaba Camp.
A great way to start the year!

A close encounter!

 A pair of Wild Dogs in the rain.

Wild Dog sightings are getting commoner.

African Finfoot

Sooty Falcon - a real rarity here.

Amur Falcon (male).

Barred Owlet.

Woodland Kingfisher - one of the real stars
 of summer here.

Didric Cuckoos courtship feeding.

Meeve's Starling

Sunset in Kruger National Park

Victoria: Australia:

Cape Barren Goose - a tick for me on this trip.

Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoo

Wonderfully entertaining birds!

Long-billed Corella

Sulphur-crested Cockatoo, quite a common bird 
here, but still brilliant to see!

Australian King Parrot.

Turquoise Parrot, a restricted range endemic
 which I had missed on a previous visit.
So very happy to see it this time.

Superb Parrot, which really is superb!

Not a great photo, but any shot of Swift Parrot
is memorable!
Powerful Owl, what a beast!
Tawny Frogmouth.

Superb Lyrebird doing its display!

White-throated Treecreeper
This family of Australian Treecreepers 
is a cracking one!

Crescent Honeyeater.

Olive Whistler, a tricky species to see.

Red-capped Robin.

 Hard to see, never mind photograph!
Mallee Emu Wren.

Rufous Bristlebird, the easiest of this group to see.

West Pacific Odyssey:

My home for the next month!

Black Petrel

Buller's Shearwater - 
the most beautiful of this group?

Short-tailed Albatross

 One of the highlights of the year for me was
 meeting these two guys: David & Arthur.
We had a lot of fun!

 The totally bizarre Kagu.

 Weird but wonderful!

Beach Kingfisher.


 Snow Partridge
White-eared Pheasant
Przewalski's Nuthatch
White-capped Redstart
Himalayan Rubythroat
Golden breasted Fulvetta
The rare & localised Sooty Tit

Mrs Gould's Sunbird

Slaty Bunting, a real prize this one!

SE Brazil:

Tataupa Tinamou.
This is a rarely seen species.

Dusky-legged Guan

Blackish Rail

 Red & White Crake.
Views just don't get any better than this!

Red breasted Toucan

 Saffron Toucanet

Helmeted Woodpecker, one of my most wanted 
birds & it did not disappoint!

Brazilian Ruby

White-throated Hummingbird

Saw-billed Hermit

 Variegated Antpitta, one of the many highlights
 in the year!
Pin-tailed Manakin
Blue Mannakin

Spot-backed Antshrike
Variable Antshrike
Black-hooed Antwren, it doesn't get much rarer
 than this!

Chestnut crowned Becard

Brazilian Tanager

Golden-chevroned Tanager
Red necked Tanager
Green Headed Tanager, common
 but still one of the best!

Blue Dacnis

Green Honeycreeper

Clare & Rowan in South Africa: August.

At Skukuza Golf Course

In Kruger.


 Not a bird, but this encounter with a Lion pride 
was truly memorable.

At night.

Leopard seen from Sabie Park picnic spot.

One of the 25 White Rhinos that 
Rowan & I saw in one day!

Nyala, always a pleasure to see.

Banded Mongoose

Martial Eagle

Rowan & Clare at God's Window.

West Papua:
Spotted Whistling Duck.

Western Crowned Pigeon

Papuan Hawk Owl

 Biak Scops Owl

Mountain Owlet Nightjar

Feline Owlet Nightjar

Numfor Paradise Kingfisher

Yellow billed Kingfisher

Black Sicklebill

Greater Ground Robin
 Wilson's Bird of Paradise.

 Often touted as the most beautiful bird
 in the world!

 This adult male displayed very nicely for me.

 Magnificent Bird of Paradise

 The display.


Then it turns around! Whow!
I was in London for a few days.
Still a very exciting city to visit.
Me & Rowan in the Wheatley Arms Hotel.
Rowan on Ikley Moor.
Rowan & Ceggy
That is a large piece girl!
Ceggy & me, joining in!

I spent most of October in the UK, catching up on friends & family. The weather was very good for this time of year. I arrived at Nicci's but soon went north on the train to visit Rowan in Ikley. She has been there a while now & a have never visited here. I spent a lovely five days with her, seeing the sights & one day walking in the hills.

Scarborough YHA.
I stayed at two YHA's, both were excellent.
Looking south, towards Scarborough Castle.

Me in Wainwright's Bar!
A bit of  Holy Grail for walkers.
The amazing Whitby Abbey.
The YHA is inside the Abbey.

I then went across to the coast walking part of the Cleveland Way between Scarborough & Whitby. I was fortunate to have beautiful weather & enjoyed some stunning vistas along the way.

Martin, Amanda & Antonia.
Birding at Pulfin Bog.

I then spent a week with Martin & Amanda at their home in Beverley. It was good catching up on old times.
Count Manley & his followers!
Rowan & Nicci.
OK! We had a party!
Then it was back down south for the last day of the month! Rowan came down for a few days & we had a blast!

The Three Amigos on the Sabie River.
Maarten & Rob on the Tropic of Capricorn.
Little Bittern of the African race.

We enjoyed some great sightings in Kruger.
Hailstorm in late November!
It was amazing!
Getting up high in the Drakensberg.

Drakensberg Rockjumper
Crowned Crane.
Denham's Bustard
Rob & Maarten talking it easy in the 
Mountain Zebra National Park.
Cape Mountain Zebra
Black Rhino - one of my highlights of the year!

It was then time to head back to South Africa, where the year had begun. This time Rob & Maarten came with me for a month & we had a blast!

Spent Christmas & the New Year in Sabie Park with Rob & Cath. How different from last year when all the girls & me were together in Abu Dhabi!

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