wedge-tailed eagle

Raptors

Order: Falconiformes. Family: Accipitridae – hawks, eagles, buzzards, harriers, kites and Old World vultures Black-shouldered Kite (Elanus axillaris) White-bellied Sea Eagle (Haliaeetus leucogaster) Swamp Harrier (Circus approximans) Whistling Kite (Haliastur sphenurus) Brahminy More »

hyottoko mask

Japanese Cultural Night #2

Saturday Night Live. Last night I went out to the second Japanese Cultural Night at the Ski-jo up the road(Furano, Hokkaido, Japan). The last one was a few weeks ago so I More »

ski furano

Furano Skiing 3

Skiing at the Furano Zone. I woke up this morning an looked out the window and there was about ten centimeters of fresh snow on the cars. Which was a very good More »

kobe

On to Hokkaido

Arrived in Furano. I am so tired. My eyelids are drooping and my shoulders feel like the weight of the world is upon them. My head feels heavy and I am almost More »

oasis hummingbird

Best Bird of the Year 2010

Best Bird of 2010 I saw a post on 10,000 birds about the best bird of 2010 so I was curious as to what defines the “best” bird of the year. I More »

Pacific Gull

2010 Birding Photography Retrospective

2010 Looking Back Well here we go again. Another year bites the dust. I can remember doing my Overview of 2009 just like it was yesterday. The new year of 2010 started More »

la hoya skiing

South America Overview

South America I flew into Buenos Aries from Sydney after a horrendous 14 hour flight. It took me a few days to readjust my body clock. Meanwhile I was really enjoying going More »

Snowy Egret

More Chicama Surf, Birds

More Surfing and Birds at Chicama, Peru. This morning after my surf at Chicama, I saw an Egret down on the rocks below the hostel. I had seen a couple of them More »

American Oystercatcher

El Chaco, Paracas NP

El Chaco Birding. El chaco is the town and port at the entrance to Paracas Nature Reserve in Southern Peru. This morning after I arrived here, I went for a walk along More »

Andean Lapwing

Bird of Lake Titicaca, Bolivia

Copacabana and Isla del Sol, Bolivia. The Puna Teal is found on the Andean altiplano. Its Chilean name is Pato puna. They have a black cap that extends to below the eyes. More »

b7d-8065

Oxley Highway

New England Birding.

The Oxley Highway goes from Port Macquarie, through Wauchope, Walcha, and joins the New England Highway at Bendemeer, near Tamworth. It has some great rugged bush and winding roads through the mountains.

Ellenborough Reserve

This is a nice camping spot by the river. Good for walking, birding and fishing.

ellenborough river
Ellenborough River

Red-browed Finch
Red-browed Finch

Brown Cuckoo-dove
Brown Cuckoo-Dove

Stockyard Creek

There is a nice rest area here where there were dozens of Satin Bowerbirds grazing on the grasses.

male Satin Bowerbird
Male Satin Bowerbird

female Satin Bowerbird
Female Satin Bowerbird

White-browed Scrubwren
White-browed Scrubwren

Mummel Gulf National Park

Mummel Gulf is way up on top of the mountain, with huge trees and fern trees scattered throughout.

Mummel gulf NP.
big trees

annapuri

Ski Plan Japan

Hokkaido Skiing Itinerary

I had to plan an itinerary for my mate Andy, so I thought I may as well share it with everyone because it would be helpful for others.

Rusutsu

Rusutsu is sick. Wide-open powder and plenty of trees. There is no cheap dirt-bag accommodation so you have to stay at the ultra-expensive hotel or some mid-range pensions. Here are a few recommendations.

1. Pension Sky Be
http://www.powderhounds.com/Japan/Hokkaido/Rusutsu/PensionSkyBe.aspx

2. Ohisama House
http://www.powderhounds.com/Japan/Hokkaido/Rusutsu/OhisamaHouse.aspx

3. Pension Lilla Huset

4. Pension Clydesdale

More Options for hotels

To get there, take the bus from Sapporo Airport , Niseko, or Sapporo.

Kiroro

Kiroro has got some great powder runs. But there are only expensive hotels there. So unless you are a super-rich yuppy, then the only option is to stay at Otaru and catch the bus up the hill each day.

Smile Hotel Otaru, Dormitory L, and Otaru Guesthouse Harvest are close to the station and reasonably priced.

Sapporo

You can stay at Sapporo and ski a couple of resorts close to the city such as Kokusai and Teine.

Hotels near station – APA Hotel Sapporo Susukino Ekimae , Nest Hotel Sapporo Odori. Toyoko Inn Hokkaido Sapporo-eki Minami-guchi, Richmond Hotel Sapporo Odori.

Niseko

Niseko can get crowded and tracked-out early. But if you know what you are doing and get out of bed early then there is some of the best skiing in the world. Here is my secret tip. Stay at Annupuri and ski that side before all the maggotts do the traverse over from Hirafu. If you want you can buy an all-mountain pass and ski hirafu and hanazono as well.

Alex gate 9
Annupuri Gate 9

For a room, have a look at the Niseko Annupuri Youth Hostel

Also, have a look at Moiwa. Some great powder skiing there, and there is a reasonable lodge right at the bottom of the lifts.

Furano

There are two parts to Furano, Kitanomine and Furano. It is a nice place because it still has the feel of a Japanese town, not a resort.

Place to stay include: Furano Alpine Backpackers, Furanui.

Kitanomine ski resort
Kitanomine

Kamui

Close to Asahikawa, this resort has some fantastic powder skiing. Although, it may be hard to find a room at the resort, you may have to stay in Asahikawa.

Best Plan for a month

Fly into Shin-Chitose. bus to Niseko. Stay in either Annupuri or Moiwa.
Bus to Rusutsu, stay at pension near lifts.
Furano, with day trips to Kamui and/or Tomamu.
Sapporo, ski at Kokusai/Teine.

surf

Air Time

Bonnie Hills.

I just happened upon the Junior State Surfing Titles at Bonnie Hills on Sunday. The surf at the contest site was really crappy, but down the beach a few grommets were catching some better waves.

air time
Air Time

off the lip
Off the lip.

cutback
Cut back.

Kingscliff

Kingscliff Birds

Cudgen Creek.

Cudgen Creek at Kingscliff on the North Coast of New South Wales has always been a favourite place of mine. In the afternoon I went for a walk along the creek from the breakwater as far as the track goes along the northern edge of the creek.

young Blue-faced Honeyeater
Blue-faced Honeyeater (Entomyzon cyanotis)

There were quite a few Blue-faced Honeyeaters in the flowering banksia trees. This one is a young one with the green around the eyes. As they get older the green becomes blue.

Osprey
Osprey (Pandion haliaetus)

There is an Osprey nest at the breakwater just near the coast guard building. I saw about four Ospreys in the vicinity and they seemed to love roosting on top of the crane that is doing work on the bridge.

Bush Stone-curlew
Bush Stone-curlew (Burhinus grallarius)

A big tick for me, the Bush Stone-curlew. And it was just in the park by the beach at North Kingscliff. I could not believe my eyes when I saw the signs saying do not go near the Bush Stone-curlews. I rushed back to my car, grabbed my camera and rushed back. Luckily I just had enough sunlight before it went behind the houses.

angourie

arrawarra and angourie

Northern Rivers.

The swell had dropped at Arawarah just north of Coffs Harbour. It needs a lot of swell for it to break here. And it is not the hollow.

Arrawarah Headland
Arawarrah Headland

Sooty Oystercatcher
Sooty Oystercatcher

The swell had picked and the wind had changed to the South-west by the time I got to Yamba. The point is a classic set-up at Angourie. It has not changed in fifty years.

Angourie
Angourie Headland

The surf was about three or four foot and the bigger ones were going a bit wide.

Angourie surf
Off the top

Angourie surfing
In the barrel

Beach Stone-curlew

Beach Stone-curlew

Urunga.

Urunga is at the mouth of the Bellinger River. There is a footbridge that goes from the caravan park, across the lagoon, and up to the south end of the river mouth.

Urunga Lagoon Footbridge
Urunga Lagoon Footbridge.

Urunga
Looking west towards Urunga and the hinterlands

The Beach Stone-curlew (also known as the Beach Thick-knee) inhabits open undisturbed beaches, exposed reefs, tidal mudflats and coastal lagoons. It’s range extends along the coast of Australia north from Nambucca Heads to Shark Bay.

Beach Stone-curlew
Beach Stone-curlew (Esacus neglectus)

This is the first time I had ever seen of these things, so I was quite excited. I could not believe it at first. I thought it was a white-faced heron but had a double take, then knew what it was, scrambled for my camera, and went madly snapping away until it flew off.

Beach Stone-curlew
Beach Stone-curlew (Esacus neglectus)

I could not work out what was happening with the bill. There was a great big hole in it and it seemed to be all bent and twisted.

feat-003

Mid-North Coast Rainforest

Yarriabini National Park.

I had never been to Yarriabini National Park before. It is on the road to Scott’s Head, Mid-north coast of NSW. Down in the gullies there is the most amazing rainforest with Hoop Pines and Flooded Gums and lots of Bangalow Palm.

Aboriginal Sculpture
Aboriginal sculpture

There is a nice aboriginal sculpture there.

sculpture detail
sculpture detail

And here is a detail of the sculpture.

Flooded Gums
Flooded Gums.

This creek may be Way Way Creek but i am not sure. It wound round and round the area.

Way Way creek
A creek

I did see a Lyrebird and got the crappiest photo over of it. The light was so horrendously bad. I had the ISO cranked up to the max at 12,800, Shutter Speed 1/320, and aperture at f/5.6. I cannot remember if I have another shot of a Lyrebird so I am chucking it in here anyway.

Lyrebird
Lyrebird

I also saw some Bassian Thrush but the photos were too dark and what I thought were Logrunners or something similar but it was so dark I could not even tell what they were with my eyes. doh!

I came back out the back way and ended up at the turnoff to the Grassy Head Reserve on the road from Point Stuart to Scott’s Head.

figbird

Macleay Valley

Blackbird Flat.

I went up the Macleay Valley west of Kempsey to get a way from the long weekend hordes on the coast. It was nice and quiet. A bit of rain and not many people. A very relaxing weekend spent reading and walking.

Macleay River
Macleay River

Lewin's Honeyeater
Lewin’s Honeyeater

Australian King-Parrot
female Australian King-parrot

I wish I had tried a bit harder to get a better shot of this Rose Robin, but it was flittering around all over the place and the light was crap and … excuses excuses.. :)

Rose Robin
Rose Robin (Petroica rosea)

There was a bit of flood damage along the banks of the river from the wild weather last week. The river seemed to have rose about a meter or two.

Blackbird Flat
Along the Macleay River bank.

blackbird flat bird list

Yellow-tailed Black-cockatoo
Grey Fantail
Australasian Figbird
Cattle Egret
Crimson Rosella
Australian King-Parrot
Noisy Miner
Australian Magpie
Pied Currawong
Lewin’s Honeyeater
Rose Robin (Petroica rosea)

surf

East Coast Low

Big Swell at Port Macquarie.

A huge east coast low has been hanging over the coast of nsw and queensland for the weekend with torrential rain and strong winds. This is the result. It is now Monday morning and the sun is out. The low has hit the south coast of nsw and headed for victoria and tasmania.

Big Swell 1
Big waves.

The direction of the low is weird because the normal pattern is for big southerly lows to come from the southern ocean and sweep up the coast, bring wind and cold weather. This is more like a cyclonic low, but heaps smaller and at the wrong time of the year.

big swell 2
Big swell

I personally think that weather patterns are going berserko. No scientific evidence just from own personal observation.

big swell 3
Big Swell.

whale

Booti Booti National Park

Humpback Whales.

Early June and it is time for whale travelling season. This pod of whales was just off the beach at Tiona, south of Forster. You do not usually see them in this close. I think it is time for a whale-watching boat ride from Port Macquarie.

Humpback Whale
Humpback Whale (Megaptera novaeangliae)

Humpback Whale
Humpback Whale (Megaptera novaeangliae)

Humpback Whale
Humpback Whale (Megaptera novaeangliae)