One thing that contributors have always wanted is to be able to generate a list of the species they've recorded. We activated this when we launched the current IBC site, back in July 2016, but now we’ve improved the species list page and also created another page at the family level, which breaks down a contributor’s recordings by bird family, species and type of material, all clickable and easy to follow.
In the former version of the IBC, a thumbnail image from an uploaded video was automatically taken at 1/3 of the video’s duration. So, for a 30-second video, the system took a static image at the 10-second mark, “hoping” that the bird was visible there. Now, videos get an automatic thumbnail taken in the same way, but the system generates 5 images instead of just one, so you can choose the best one when uploading the video, or you can edit already uploaded videos to choose a better thumbnail.
For videos uploaded in the old system, you will be see a button next to “Edit” called "Regenerate thumbnails". Clicking it will trigger the extraction of 5 images and you will be able to pick the best one. New videos don't have this "Regenerate thumbnails" option because they are already generated, you just need to go to "Edit" to pick a different one. We encourage all contributors to review their favourite videos to make sure the current thumbnail is satisfactory and, if not, to change it.
This is just another small way in which we hope to improve the IBC experience for everyone!
The new IBC site has lots of improvements based on input from users and contributors. For example, now most of the lists of materials have filters to search for specific bird families and/or contributors, sorting options, etc.
In every locality page—from large countries to small parks—there are individual lists for the Videos, Photos and Sound recordings taken there. Further down the page, below these three blocks of materials, there is a box called "Recent contributors for XXX" which shows up to 25 contributors with material for this locality, in order from newest to oldest contributions.
There is also a link to "View a complete list of all contributors", which takes you to a full list of contributors who have uploaded materials from this locality (or localities inside the current one) with three columns for the total numbers of videos, photos and sounds.
If you're interested in exploring the materials of a particular contributor, just click on any of the totals and you will get a new page with the videos, photos or sound recordings by that contributor. This is a great way to discover materials from other contributors or consult and share your own. Like many IBC pages, you can share the exact page that shows your photos from that birding trip you enjoyed so much!
We are proud to unveil the new and improved IBC website, which is, and will remain, free-access and open to everyone! We hope that you will be happy with the improvements, which you will quickly see for yourself, although here we’ve included a summary of the top benefits and some examples to explore.
But this is only the beginning! With the new IBC now in place, we can concentrate on strengthening and adding to this solid base, always listening to the IBC community and what users are looking for in an ornithological multimedia library. Together we have come a long way and together we will take the project even further! Many thanks for your support and participation.
Top benefits of the new IBC
- Example: If you are planning a trip to Oulanka National Park, in Finland, just type “Oulanka” and you’ll quickly find all of the material from that locality.
- Example: If you want to see photos of Albatrosses displaying, you can get just what you’re looking for in a few clicks.
► In the new species account, there is a world map shaded to show all of the countries with material of that species. Also, you get free access to the full taxonomy and distribution texts of the species on HBW Alive, and there are links to view and filter the photos, videos and sound recordings of the species.
Example: Now it’s very easy to see all the videos of the Common Nightingale (Luscinia megarhynchos) singing!
Example: If you want to see photos of different sandpiper species, just type Scolopacidae in the global search bar and in the resulting family page you’ll see a list of all of the waders. Just click on any species to go to its account!
- Example: Enjoy the impressive plumages of Wilson's Bird-of-paradise (Cicinnurus respublica) in its photo gallery!
- Example: The Helmet Vanga (Euryceros prevostii) slideshow is really spectacular!
- Example: You can view the species list of a contributor, which includes all of the species for which he/she has material and number of photos, videos and sound recordings of each; click on any species or material total to explore further.
This is Pieter de Groot Boersma's last news feed from his big trip! He travelled extensively from August 2014 to August 2015, covering a whopping 47,000 km by car alone, excluding the travels made by bus throughout New Zealand in November 2014. He hopes that people have enjoyed his videos, which he started uploading to the IBC in September 2015 until June 2016, never missing a day! The news feeds grew over the months, from just a line per species to extensive background information per species. We at the IBC hope other contributors will follow his example when uploading exciting material in the future! Many thanks, Pieter!
Parc Le Grandes Fougeres, an UNESCO park, which, translated in English, is called "the park of the large ferns", covers more than 4500 hectares of rainforest between 400 m and 700 m of altitude, and protects many endemic life forms. These include 500 plant species, of which 70% are endemic to New Caledonia. At the gate, there used to be prime habitat for the endemic New Caledonian Thicketbird. A few years ago they cleared the area of vegetation to make room for picnic and parking spots, basically driving this elusive species away from that location. Already a difficult bird to pin down, this made finding this species even more difficult. Although I could have spent many hours looking for this species, at the end of my big year I also wanted to enjoy snorkelling at the exquisite reefs surrounding the island, hence this is the only missed species of my trip to New Caledonia:
- Kagu, endemic to Grande Terre, New Caledonia. This truly iconic species is thought to be the sole survivor of the clade Rhynochetidae. Another (larger) species, found as subfossil remains on New Caledonia, has been called the Lowland Kagu (Rhynochetos orarius). The extinct adzebills from New Zealand (Aptornis) and the extant Sunbittern (Eurypyga helias) are thought to be the closest relatives of the clade. The Kagu, although still having quite large wings, is flightless. This feature, as with so many already extinct ground birds, is one of the main reasons for its previous decline. Although still rare over much of its range and being considered Endangered, this species has grown in numbers during the last decade or two. The main reasons for this increase is attributed to the control of feral dogs. It is now thought to number between 1000 and 1500 birds. Its elaborate display is famously known; its incredible calls and impressive crest leave a big impression on any lucky observer (see Josep del Hoyo's video). Its habitat consists of rainforests from sea-level up to an altitude of 1400 m, where it forages for invertebrates in family groups. Here you can see a foraging bird, and a close-up of the head (filmed at Parc de la Riviére Bleue).
- New Caledonian Parakeet, endemic to Grande Terre, New Caledonia. A recent split from the Red-fronted Parakeet complex (see location Ulva Island, New Zealand). It is a localised and uncommon-to-rare species of several types of forests, including humid rainforests, scrub and stands of Casuarina. Larger than its former conspecific Red-fronted Parakeet, it spends its time from the ground to the high canopy, although possibly less so on the ground as the Red-fronted Parakeet.
- New Caledonian Myzomela, endemic to Grande Terre and the small island of Ile des Pins, New Caledonia. A fairly common species of forests, savannas and scrub. Mostly found as lone birds or as in pairs, often joining mixed species flocks.
- Southern Shrikebill, only found in Vanuatu and New Caledonia. A fairly common species of wet rainforests, from sea-level up to 1100 m. It forages for invertebrates in thick tangles of vegetation, from the lower storey to the sub-canopy. It spends most of its time in mixed species flocks, where it can be quite unobtrusive. Its calls and the ruffling of the dead leaves are the best indications of its presence.
- Fan-tailed Warbler, only found on Rennell (S Solomon Islands), Vanuatu and New Caledonia. A common bird of forest edges and secondary growth, where its sweet song resonates through the trees.
Parc Riviére Bleue, translated as "the park of the blue river", is a protected area that lies in between old and still-active mining operations. Mining has destroyed much of the surrounding habitat, but the creation of two more protected areas in the area enhanced the importance of these combined 22,400-hectares-large parks. It protects the core area of the Critically Endangered Crow Honeyeater:
- Crow Honeyeater, endemic to a restricted range on Grande Terre, New Caledonia. A unique species, being the only one of its genus, this species is largely unknown. Indeed, in HBW, and the HBW and BirdLife International Illustrated Checklist of the Birds of the World the bird is depicted having a yellow cere/wattle around its eye, but this can be seen in the video as red. Critically Endangered, it seems clear that the species is undergoing a very alarming population decline. Probably found over much of Grande Terre before human colonisation, this species has recently been recorded only once in the north of the Island (Mt. Panié) in 2011. Predation by feral mammals, mostly by rats, along with habitat destruction, seems to be the most important factor in its decline, although this is yet to be confirmed by scientific research. The rangers at Parc Rivière Bleue, its stronghold, told me that they build their nests in trees, but in a very exposed manner. In addition, they tend to leave the nest unattended for long periods of time, giving rats easy access to their contents. No action plan to save the species has been devised yet, and, in order to do so, more information is needed on their general behaviour. The rangers, most of them French-born, told me no funds are available for the necessary study. As a result, the future of this species seems bleak. Estimates of its total numbers were given in the year 2000 as 1000-3000 birds. These estimates were very probably greatly over-estimated. Pairs occupy humid rainforest at an altitude of 100-850 m. There, pairs occupy territories of 1 km2. Recent estimates are that there are less than 250 birds surviving. Again, this is a provisional estimate until more is known about the species, which will hopefully happen before it's too late. This sound clip, which I also uploaded to the IBC, is the only one I can find on the web.
- New Caledonian Cuckoo-shrike, endemic to Grande Terre and the small island of Ile des Pins, New Caledonia. A fairly common bird of forests and scrub, mostly above 600 m (but sometimes down to 200 m). It mostly lives in pairs. It spend most of its time in the sub-canopy and the canopy, where it often perches in the open.
- Yellow-bellied Fly-robin, endemic to Grande Terre and the small island of Ile des Pins, New Caledonia. A common bird, which prefers the lower storeys and the undergrowth of wet and shady parts of rainforests. However, locally it can also be found in both dry and open forest. Where found, this little gem can be very confiding.
Nouméa, the capital of New Caledonia, has a feel of a mixed European and Pacific lifestyle:
- Coconut Lorikeet, a recent split from the Rainbow Parakeet species complex. The Coconut Lorikeet is common on New Caledonia in open forests, but it can even be abundant in suburban areas. Its range stretches from New Caledonia in the south through the strain of islands of the W Pacific and New Guinea to the Moluccas in E Indonesia.
- Fairy Tern, a Vulnerable species which can be found in four disjunct subspecies, one in SW Australia, one in SE Australia, one in New Zealand (Critically Endangered, only around 30 birds left) and one in New Caledonia. Here is an adult and a view of some chicks and adults in a breeding colony on one of the offshore islands near Nouméa (good for snorkelling!).
Endemic or near-endemic species seen in New Caledonia, but not filmed: Large Lifou White-eye, White-rumped Swiftlet, Pacific Imperial Pigeon, Barred Honeyeater and Red-throated Parrot-finch.
And all of a sudden, that completes Pieter de Groot Boersma's big year! He has shared it with us through daily uploads from the 17th of September 2015 to 17th June 12016. We strongly encourage others to follow his example! Thanks again, Pieter!
Pieter de Groot Boersma's grand end to its big trip involved its trip to New Caledonia, a much anticipated visit. Here part two of this journey, part 1 of his visit to Grande Terre.
Grande Terre, New Caledonia's main island. This island is approximately 350 km long and, along most of its length, 30-50 km wide. This island, and some of its satelites, is the only Pacific Island (or nearly so?) which is essentially a mountain rising from the sea. It belongs to the former continent Zealandia (before part of Gondwana) which now mostly lies underwater. Therefore, many ancient lineages still occur on the island, most famously being the endemic flora.
Farino, a small village in the mountains of SC Grande Terre. Its winding road up a mountain towards Parc Grandes Fougeres (see my next news feed) is world famous by visiting birders to see the following species:
- Cloven-feathered Dove, endemic to Grande Terre and the small island of Ile des Pins, New Caledonia. A truly iconic species, which is locally common in (especially) humid forest up to 1000 m. altitude. Its feathered tarsi are a special feature of this species. However, its name points to the fact of an even more remarkable adaptation. Its wing feathers are cloven which allows for a distinctive whistling sound in flight. This sound and its calls are the best indications of its presence, as it normally is very unobtrusive in the forest canopy
- New Caledonian Sparrowhawk (aka White-bellied Goshawk), endemic to Grande Terre, New Caledonia. A fairly common and small goshawk of forests. Mostly found in undisturbed patches, but also in degraded habitats. It mostly hunts from perches in the canopy, where it sits-and-waits for passing prey. It is thought that it primarily feeds on lizards, geckos, insects and small mammals, but I think it also takes birds. I've seen a foraging flock of passerines sounding the alarm when this bird flew through the trees. No other similar birds of prey occur on the island
- New Caledonian Crow, endemic to Grande Terre, New Caledonia. Introduced on Maré and Lifou (Loyalty Islands, New Caledonia) where now extinct on the latter island. World famous due to its intelligence and the use of tools. It uses sticks as a hook to get to large grubs in trees. When a tool proves to be efficient, it even carries it around. Recent research unveiled very complex cognitive learning abilities with this species. It can even take eight steps to solve a problem! Here an incredible video of research by Auckland University, and here another one. It's an uncommon species of forests, and to a lesser extent, savannas. It lives in groups of up to five, and they are very inquisitive. Their calls are very unlike other species of crows
- New Caledonian Whistler, endemic to Grande Terre and the small island of Ile des Pins, New Caledonia. Recently split from the Melanesian Whistler (see location Ouvéa). A reasonably common species, mostly in degraded areas and edges of wet forests in the lowlands, but also at higher altitudes
- Green-backed White-eye, endemic to Grande Terre and the small island of Ile des Pins, New Caledonia. A very common species in both wet and dry forests, but less so above 1000 m. Also, mostly replaced (but not entirely) from suburban areas and scrub by the Silvereye
- New Caledonian Imperial-Pigeon (aka Goliath Imperial-Pigeon), endemic to Grande Terre and the small island of Ile des Pins, New Caledonia. The largest arboreal pigeon in the world at a maximum length of 51 cm. Only the three Crowned-Pigeons of New Guinea surpass it in size. It's still reasonably common where it's not hunted. Obviously, due to its size, an expected threat. It will have a profound effect on several species of plants which are dependant on this Imperial-Pigeon for dispersal of their seeds. Due to hunting pressure it can be difficult to actually see this species, cautiously following up its call being the best strategy
- Horned Parakeet, endemic to Grande Terre, New Caledonia. Recently split from the Ouvéa Parakeet (see location Ouvéa). Rather uncommon to rare and patchily distributed. Where found it prefers humid forest valleys in hilly terrain. It seems it is most often found on limestone soil. It is suspected that predation of adults and eggs/nestlings is a significant threat. This species is known to regularly breed on the ground, hence its vulnerability while nesting
- Melanesian Flycatcher, only found on Rennell Island (S Solomon Islands), Vanuatu and New Caledonia (including the Royaly Islands). A common bird in the latter country, where it favours open forests and the edge of forests in the lowlands. Also found in mangroves and in mountains up to 1200 m. This species behaves like many related species. It can often be seen flycatching from trees, and its scaffolding calls are very distinctive
- Rufous Whistler, near-endemic to Australia with the only other populations occuring on Grande Terre, New Caledonia. A common bird which nearly always outnumbers the New Caledonian Whistler in its forest habitat. Also found, equally common, on savanna woodlands and scrub, on all altitudes. Here a female and here a singing male
- South Melanesian Cuckoo-shrike, only found in Vanuatu and New Caledonia (Grande Terre and the Loyalty Islands). A fairly common and large cuckoo-shrike encountered in many types of woodlands and savanna. It spends most of its time in the upper canopy, where it forages in groups of up to five, mostly flycatching for insects
Pieter de Groot Boersma concluded his big trip in New Caledonia, home of 23 endemic species of birds (of which three are feared extinct) and, formerly, many extinct birds after colonisation by man. A dream come true, he remembers looking at species like Kagu, Cloven-feathered Dove, Horned Parakeet and Crow Honeyeater in the HBW series thinking "not in this lifetime". Never say never...
Loyalty Islands, a group of islands about 190 km east of New Caledonia's main island Grande Terre. New Caledonia is a former French colony. It's the first major island group east off the Pacific east of Australia. I visited two of the Loyalty Islands, namely Lifou and Ouvéa.
Lifou is the largest atoll in the world (1.146 km2), shaped by fossil coral reefs. During its development, its centre was raised with the result that it doesn't hold any more seawater. Two endemic species of bird inhabit the island, the Large Lifou White-eye (seen but not filmed by me) and the Small Lifou White-eye. In addition, an endemic subspecies of the widespread Silvereye is a possible split:
- Small Lifou White-eye, endemic to Lifou in the Loyalty Islands, New Caledonia. This is an abundant species, greatly outnumbering the other endemic species of white-eye of the island (see Josep del Hoyo's video). The two species are very distinct, the latter being more secretive while it mostly stays in thick vegetation in forests and secondary growth. The Small Lifou White-eye is, as previously mentioned, abundant and omni-present on the island. It's mostly forages in parties, and its calls are in the top two of the most heard bird sounds of the island, probably only surpassed by the equally common but much louder Grey-eared Honeyeater
- Red-bellied Fruit-dove, only found on islands belonging to Temotu (Santa Cruz), Vanuatu and New Caledonia. On the latter it's rare (to uncommon in a few locations) on the main island of Grande Terre, but common on the Loyalty Islands. It can be locally nomadic due to its frugivorous diet, when it also flies from island to island. Seemingly more adapted to live on small islands, where it can be found in forest (including second growth) and, to a lesser extent, savannas. Here an adult and here a juvenile
- Metallic Pigeon, a widely spread species which can be found from the Phillippines and the Lesser Sundas (E Indonesia) through the Moluccas and New Guinea and from there on south-eastwards to many Pacific Island groups. It's abundance differs greatly, being rare in most of its range in the W to E New Guinea, and being common on most Pacific Islands in spite of heavy hunting pressure. Mostly confined to forests, where it utilises al layers, from the high canopy to the ground
- New Caledonian Friarbird, endemic to New Caledonia. A beatiful species of friarbird, which is fairly common on both the mainland (Grande Terre) and on the Loyalty Islands. This conspicuous and loud bird can be found in all sorts of forests and in open areas, provided there are some large trees present
- Cardinal Myzomela, only found on Makira and Rennell, (S Solomon Islands), the Temotu Islands (Santa Cruz), the Vanuatu islands and the Loyaly Islands of New Caledonia. It's a common bird on the latter, where it's mostly confined to forests, as other suitable habitat is heavily defended by the larger Grey-eared Honeyeater. At 12 cm, it's rather large for a species of myzomela
- Grey-eared Honeyeater, aka Dark-brown Honeyeater, only found on islands in C and S Vanuatu and New Caledonia. A very common bird of many types of vegetated habitats, preferably open forest and scrub. A conspicious and noisy bird, which can also be found in suburban areas. It's rather protective of its nectar supply, and it actively chases away many other species of birds
- Long-tailed Triller, only found on Makira (S Solomon Islands), Vanuatu and New Caledonia. It's a common bird which can most commonly been found at forest edges and scrub. However, it can also found in secondary growth and in well vegetated villages and primary forest. It spends most of its time in the upper layers of its chosen habitat
- Silvereye, a species with a vast range from Australia to New Zealand and many Pacific islands. Many subspecies are involved, which probably involve a few valid species on their own. Zosterops is a genus which are known to have many endemic species on many Pacific Islands. One of those possible valid species is subspecies melanops, which is endemic to Lifou. It's a very dark form, and if indeed proving to be a valid species, will make Lifou home to three endemic species of White-eye. It's reasonably common on the island, where it can be found in secondary growth, bushes and gardens
- Streaked Fantail, only found in Vanuatu and New Caledonia. It's a common species of closed forest and, to a lesser extent, degraded forest and secondary growth. Less active as most fantails, this species is often outnumbered by the Grey Fantail (in New Caledonia at least)
Ouvéa, another atoll, this time a crescent-shaped one. It's about 50 km long and, at its broadest, only 7 km wide. It's populated with 3.000 tribespeople from Polynesian, Melanesian and Walisean decent. As I experienced it, probably the most hospitable people I've encountered during my world-wide travels. A large proportion of the local community takes great care of their now endemic Ouvéa Parakeet. They told me that they even stopped a plane with a German avian collector some decades ago, threw him in jail and releasing the birds afterwards:
- Ouvéa Parakeet, now endemic to the small island of Ouvéa. Recently split from the Horned Parakeet of New Caledonia's mainland. Formerly also occuring on nearby islands in the Royalty Islands. Re-introductions have been attempted, which failed due to the rats. Ouvéa is still free of these exotic rats. Recently split from the Horned Parakeet from Grande Terre (the main island of New Caledonia). An Endangered species, 30-50 % of its habitat has been destroyed in the last 30-40 years. It favours forests, but it will venture in the green patches of land of the locals. This consist of many huts interspersed with large trees, many of which are mandarin trees. The parrots also feed on these, as well as on nectar of several species. However, figs seem to be the most important source of food. Since a awareness campaign in the local community, the population of the birds has increased from 617 in 1993 to 2.090 birds in 2009. I suspect the number would be even higher now. Most birds live in the north of the island (20 km²) although 60 km² of suitable habitat seems to remain.
- Striated Starling, endemic to New Caledonia with two subspecies. Subspecies atronitens occurs on the Loyalty Islands where it's common. The females of both subspecies differ significantly, with birds from the Loyalty Islands being much darker. Both male and female on the Loyalties have larger bills and the sound differently from the birds of New Caledonia's Grande Terre. It can be found in many types of habitat, ranging from forests, plantations and villages. Here a male and here a female
- Melanesian Whistler, only found on the Temotu (Santa Cruz) Islands, Vanuatu and the Loyalty Islands of New Caledonia. Formerly included the now split New Caledonian Whistler from Grande Terre (New Caledonia's main island) and, south of it, Ile des Pins. The Melanesian Whistler is common overall, but less so on the Loyalties. It can be found in forests, but it prefers degraded forests and forest edges
- Silvereye, another dark subspecies, this one being endemic to Ouvéa
- Pacific Emerald Dove, recently split from the (Common) Emerald Dove. It occurs from the Lesser Sundas and the Moluccas (Indonesia) through E New Guinea, N and E Australia and east to islands groups in the W Pacific. A common and mostly ground dwelling species
- Glossy Swiftlet, a species with a vast range stretching from Malayan Peninsula to many island groups in the W Pacific. In New Caledonia it can be confused with the White-rumped Swiftlet (occuring in the Solomons and New Caledonia, also seen by me). The latter seemingly outnumbers the Glossy Swiftlet on the Loyalty Islands, with the reverse situation on Grande Terre (New Caledonia's main island). White-rumped Switlet is said to avoid mountainous terrain
We are happy to share the first videos of Baudo Guan on the IBC! Up until now, few images had been achieved of this species, but this seems to be changing as more localities for it are being discovered. In the past, it was considered a subspecies of Penelope montagnii, but, despite their ranges being contiguous, with overlap in W Ecuador and possibly also in SW Colombia, there is no trace of intergradation. This specific bird was filmed at CVC Yatacué Camp, in Farallones de Cali National Park, by Josep del Hoyo on a trip to Colombia.
An adult bird taking care of its plumage and looking around in a tree.
A bird scratching the head and preening in a tree.
A bird perched in a tree, turning around, defecating and flying away.
Central Arnhem Road, a 663 km long road which runs through remote Arnhem Land in the NE of the Top End, which is mostly owned by Aboriginal tribes. From a certain length it's required to have a permit to drive the full length of the road. Arnhem is a city in the Netherlands. It is widely believed that the Dutch were the first European explorers on the continent, in 1606:
- Northern Shrike-tit, endemic to NE Western Australia and the Top End in N Northern Territory. Rarely recorded and not well known, this is the first video of this (sub)species (whitei) of the Crested Shrike-tit for the IBC. This and the other two subspecies occur in three very disjunct subspecies in the corners of the Australian continent. All three sound different and all three look quite distinct. When will they finally be split? The Northern Shrike-tit seems to prefer open eucalypt woodlands, and the first 10 km of the Central Arnhem Road seems to be the best option to look for this species
Barkly Tablelands, a vast area of grasslands which cover around 21 % of the Northern Territory. The Tablelands Highway runs through the area, which offers the best chance in Australia to find the next species:
- Flock Bronzewing, endemic to Australia, found from inland SE central Australia to NW Western Australia. A highly nomadic species, which, although having a vast range, is a very difficult species to get a hold on. It can exclusively been found in arid grassy plains. The best time to look for them is at the end of the dry season, when birds come in to the last remaining bodies of water in the early morning and late evening. As the name implies, this species occurs in flocks, which can sometimes consist of thousands of birds. Even when foraging in vast numbers, they can be easily missed when they are foraging among the tall grass. A farm along the Tablelands Highway (11) offers the best chance to find this species, as it seems there are at least a few flocks present year-round. This species belongs to the genus Phaps, together with the Common Bronzewing (see location Cheynes Beach), which can be found nearly throughout Australia, and the Brush Bronzewing (also location Cheynes Beach), which occurs in S Australia. They are the only representatives of this endemic genus to Australia
Mount Isa, a mining town in NW Queensland along the Barkly Highway which connects the Northern Territory with Queensland. The following star birds occur in the greater area:
- Carpentarian Grasswren, endemic to a restricted range in NE Northern Territory and NW Queensland. A new species on video for the IBC. Recently elevated to Endangered status, this large grasswren is one of the Holy Grails of this often elusive family. Two subspecies exist, which are possibly candidates for splitting. It can be found in mature clumps of spinifex, where it's an expert in hiding. A traditonal site (Lady Loretta Road) was burnt a few years ago (a natural event which belongs to a cycle) which meant they momentarily left the area. Indeed, I spent six long hours slowly walking through this location without seeing a thing, until I saw a suspicious bird flying low over the spinifex about 80 meters in front of me. I started to walk little circles where I thought the bird had landed until it suddenly popped out of a thick clump of spinifex
- Kalkadoon Grasswren, endemic to a restricted range in NW Queensland. A new species on video for the IBC. A common bird which can be found in spinifex covered and rocky terrain. Nevertheless, as with so many species of grasswrens, some effort and patience is required to actually find it. The same rules apply for the whole group, slowly walking through the habitat while looking in front of you (they swiftly run from cover to cover) and listening to their fant contact calls. It certainly helps to avoid windy and cold days
Karumba, a fishing village in extreme SW Cape York Peninsula along the Gulf of Carpentaria. It offers one of the few accesible patches of mangroves along the northern coast of Australia. The best option is to take the ferry with these people, as they know the mangrove birds well. The star bird is most definitely the White-breasted Whistler, which is common in the surrounding mangroves
- White-breasted Whistler, endemic to coastal N Australia, from NW Western Australia to NW Queensland. Another mangrove specialist, where it centres its territories around small creeks. However, due to the inaccesibility of its habitat I believe it could be underrecorded, albeit less so then the following species. It certainly is very common in the mangroves of Karumba. The males are generally a bit more difficult to see well, as they try to be more out of sight when disturbed, unlike the inquisitive females. Here a male and here a female
- Mangrove Robin, found in S New Guinea, the Aru Islands and coastal N Australia. A true mangrove specialist, where it is seemingly uncommon and local. But again, like with the White-breasted Whistler, possibly underrecorded due to the inaccesibility of its mangrove habitat
- Black-necked Stork, patchily found from the Indian subcontinent to Thailand (now very rare there) and N and E Australia. This large and iconic species (max. length 150 cm) is found in swamps, tidal areas and along large rivers. It's reasonably common in Australia, although pairs have vast territories which means they are thinly spread
- Sarus Crane, a species with three widely separated areas of distribution, N India, Thailand/Cambodia/Laos/Vietnam and NE Australia. The species is fairly common in Australia, although most often outnumbered by the endemic Brolga (see location Bowra Station). It was first confirmed as being present in Australia as recently as 1966, which raised the questions of their origin. Genetic studies suggested the Australian Sarus Cranes haven't interbred with their SE Asian congeners for 30.000 years
- Brahminy Kite, a very common bird which occurs from Pakistan to N Australia, where it is strictly coastal. It can be found in mangroves, mudflats and many offshore islands, even in harbours
Cumberland Dam, a nice roadside stop near this dam along the Gulf Development Road (which runs from Mount Isa to E Queensland). Cumberland is a ghost town, which was created and subsequently abandoned by the discovery and depletion of gold deposits:
- Great Bowerbird, endemic to N Australia. This large species is common in many parts of its range in open woodlands and similar habitats. It even builds its bowers in suburban gardens. Their large structures comes with their seize, and they like to decorate their bowers with white objects. Examples being bones, shells, stones etc.
- Great Crested Grebe, this species has a vast range, which encompasses vast areas of the Old World. Subspecies australis is sometimes thought to be a possible split. The only reason I heard was the fact they wear the same plumage troughout the year instead of shifting in summer-and winter plumages
- Common Coot, equally widely distributed in the Old World (but in Africa only occuring in the north), which is common nearly throughout its range, including in Australia
- Cotton Pygmy-goose, found almost entirely throughout S Asia through to New Guinea and NE Australia. It's rather patchily distributed in Australia, while it can be a common bird elsewhere in its range. This was my last edition to my Australian birdlist, which ended around 610-615 species (710 species were seen thoughout my year of travelling)
Shipton's Flat, a return to the famous Roberts brothers (see my newsfeed from my visit in late December 2014) finally produced Bennet's Tree-kangaroo and a Northern Quoll which I failed to find during my first visit to this area:
- Lovely Fairy-wren, endemic to coastal NE Queensland (almost totally confined to Cape York Peninsula). A new species on video for the IBC. A fairly common species which can be found along forest edges and clearings of rainforests. It spends most of its time in the trees, unlike the other species of fairy-wrens (of Australia at least)
Darwin Harbour, this harbour is next to tracks of mangrove forest, which are notoriously difficult to penetrate in N Australia. A short cruise with Sea Darwin offered me the best chance to see the Chestnut Rail. Although this tour doesn't focus to look for the species the owners told me they see the species often when they do their regular Darwin Harbour Tour. This tour includes a visit to the mangroves, and it was low tide at at the time of the tour. I saw three birds (a pair and a lone bird) around midday. A few locations near Darwin are said to offer a good chance to see the species, but both timing (low water early in the morning are best) and luck are needed. In addition, Sea Darwin also do turtle cruises (april-sept.) to Bare Sand Island around full moon. A wonderful experience, where Flat-backed Sea-turtles can be seen laying eggs on the island. This species only lays its eggs on Australian soil
- Chestnut Rail, a near endemic to Australia. The first video of this species on the IBC. This rather large rail occurs along coastal NE Western Australia and N Northern Territory, and possibly to extreme NW Queensland. Outside of Australia, this species can only been found on the Aru Islands (Indonesia), south of W West Papua. It's exclusively found in mangroves, which makes it rather difficult to see due to the inaccessibility of this habitat. The best chances are at low tide in the early mornings at most accessible locations (but see above at Darwin Harbour)
Kakadu National Park, the largest national park of Australia, which doesn't need much of an introduction:
- Blue-winged Kookaburra, occuring in N Australia and S New Guinea. Most people in Australia are unaware of the two present species of kookaburra on the continent, this one being the more beatiful of the two (to my humble opinion). This species is less numerous then the Laughing Kookaburra (see location Deniliquin) which is native to the eastern half of Australia (it has been introduced to SW Western Australia). The Blue-winged Kookaburra is generally a bit more shy as the Laughing Kookaburra, and the former doesn't normally venture in urban areas, being more tied to tropical woodlands. Here a pair on the ground and here the male slamming a piece of food on a fallen trunk
- Chestnut-quilled Rock-Pigeon, endemic to a restricted range in the Top End in Northern Territory, Australia. This species is a sister species to the White-quilled Rock-Pigeon (see location Victoria River Roadhouse). Like the latter species, the Chestnut-quilled Rock-Pigeon is a sandstone escarpment specialist. A reasonably common species in a habitat which can be difficult to reach, it can be best sought in the early morning before the heat starts to set in, when the birds take shelter and are harder to find
- Comb-crested Jacana, occuring from W Indonesia to N and E Australia. This is one of only eight species of jacana's worldwide, which are known by their ability to walk on lilies and other floating vegetation. This is possible because of their long toes, which spread the weight of the bird over a larger area. This is a common species in its Australian range, where it can be found along the edges of lakes, swamps and lagoons
- Partridge Pigeon, endemic to NE Western Australia and the Top End in N Northern Territory. This is the first video of this species for the IBC. There are two widely separated subspecies, the one in the Top End (smithii) having a red cere around the eye and the one of the Kimberley (blaauwi) having a yellow cere. This reasonably common species spends most of its time on the ground, which sometimes make it a bit tricky to find. But with perseverance it should't pose a real problem to find it. A good strategy is to drive along roads in open tropical woodlands where it favours patches of grass
- White-lined Honeyeater, endemic to a restricted range in the Top End in N Northern Territory, Australia. This is the first video of this species for the IBC. A fairly common bird of the area, where it can primarily be found in wooded areas and gorges at or near sandstone escarpments
- Rufous-banded Honeyeater, occuring in New Guinea and N Australia in two disjunct areas, namely the Top End and coastal Cape York Peninsula, Queensland. Only the second video of this species for the IBC. This species can be found in woodlands and bushes along/near swamps, mangroves and in riparian (riverside) forest, where it is a common bird
- Helmeted Friarbird, as the Horned Friarbird (Philemon yorki, see location Daintree River) has recently been split off, this species can in the northern Top End, in N Northern Australia. Outside of Australia it can be found from the Lesser Sundas (Indonesia) to W New Guinea. The habitat of this species in Australia consists of sandstone escarpments (subspecies ammitophila) and mangroves (subspecies gordoni)
- Brown Honeyeater, a common bird which can be found in New Guinea and large parts of Australia. It can be found in many types of wooded areas, including urban areas. Its song and calls are very loud and it behaves very conspiciously
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