Lifer Do-Over and Over 600 Birds

Top End ~ Part Three

I came up with the phrase, “Lifer Do-Over” in the 1 March 2016 Blog. A Lifer Do-Over is getting a second, more conclusive look at a life bird. Wanting this second look means I am questioning the original tick. Something that I do not want to do. While I might be pretty sure, I am not positive. And I do want to be positive!

Several days ago, Lynn and I saw a very pale, streaky headed Cisticola at Fogg Dam. Lynn also had heard the distinctive call from among the reeds in the vicinity of where we saw it. But did she “see” that bird make the call? No, she did not. Therefore, we had doubts. Granted, Cisticolas are one of the hardest identifications in Australia. They are right up there with Swinhoe’s vs Pintail Snipes (yes, we finally did get a photo of the tail feathers. We got Swinhoe’s Snipe in Broome). So, although we had Zitting on our eBird list that day at Fogg Dam, we wanted another look for our life lists.

Over the following days, we tried in multiple places for Zitting without success. We saw a few suspects, but nothing conclusive. We saw some lovely birds though, and here are a few of them.
White-bellied Sea-eagle
Crimson Finch
Australasian Darter 
Orange-footed Scrubfowl 
Rufous-banded Honeyeater
Black-necked Stork
Wandering Whistling-ducks
Arafura Fantail
Then on Sunday (Mother’s Day) we went birding with our new friend, Laurie Ross. We went to the flood plains area of Holmes Jungle Nature Reserve. At the bottom of the hill, Lynn and Laurie heard one. We did not locate it and we continued birding the grasses along the road. We saw other Cisticolas, but every really good view looked like Golden-headed and we did not hear any Zitting calling. After about an hour we had worked our way back to the original spot where they had heard the call and yes, they (and even I) heard it! AND this time we saw the Zitting Cisticola perched up on the grass and calling. Seen and heard, finally! It was pretty far, but three of us were on it with eyes (binoculars) and ears. Then it flitted off into the thick jungle of grasses not to be seen again. But we got it! As Laurie said, “One hundred percent tick.” I am really, really grateful.
Looking down on the flood plains at Holme's Jungle Nature Reserve. There be Zitting Cisticolas down there!
Lifer high ensued and we took our time hiking back up to the vehicles. We had had to park on the main road since the reserve doesn’t open until 8am and we had arrived at 6:30am. Then in Troopi’s air-conditioned comfort, we headed into town. We were going to the Darwin Botanical Gardens where we had a slim hope that we might find a Rufous Owl. Several days ago, Lynn, Robert, Edith and I had tromped and slogged for several hours through a swampy area in Palmerston that had recently had a Rufous Owl. We saw not hide, nor feather of one.

So we were not really that optimistic when we walked into the Botanical Gardens. Then we checked the “book” of recent bird sightings and YES, a Rufous Owl had been seen there only four days ago! With our hopes higher, we hurried down the Rainforest Boardwalk. As we walked into the shadows, Laurie told us that we were now in the area for seeing them, and about where they had been reported in the book. He was saying they often roost low, just as I was looking up behind us and saying, “It’s higher than you think.” Yes, I was looking at a Rufous Owl. I am so very grateful. What an awesome bird.
Rufous Owl! 

Yes, owls are raptors. They have very serious claws.
The bird called a couple of times and when it did, the sun light shone through its throat giving a very bizarre appearance as if a light was switching on inside the owl.
I also want to mention that on 5 May at Fogg Dam Lynn saw her lifer Rose-crowned Fruit-dove and that bird put our “Couple’s Year List” at 600 (and now with the Rufous Owl, 601). Since our beginning date was dictated by our return to Oz last August, our “year” had to start on 20 August 2015 and it will run through midnight 19 August 2016. We will see how we go. Whatever the numbers are, I am so grateful for this opportunity!

Very crap photo BUT it is a recording shot of our 600th Couple's Year List bird. Rose-crowned Fruit-dove!
Peace. Love. Birds.