Saturday, February 18, 2017

Red and black brings on brown study

What's black and red with a tricky bit(e) of white and presents a watcher's brown study?

It's the male Red-backed Fairy-wren - with a grub (the tricky bit(e)).

Two brown birds. No male here? Not so fast. Bird on left shows small black patch under upper breast feathers. Last of moult? New colour emerging?

The big question: why do I never see enough blotchy birds to equal the numbers of black and red males here today and gone tomorrow?

Monday, February 13, 2017

Beauty's in the eye of the be(camera)holder

Here's the question: isn't this post-sitting (all right, lying) Possum just the cutest thing?

So, what about the same Possum, showing (I think) pouch-dweller spine outward? Be better if the baby didn't look like something from the butcher, right?

How about Curl Grub? On way to becoming one of several species of moth. Sort of cute, but not so much when inspected closely?

Can't go wrong here. Big Dragonfly. Must be cute. Even as it tears head off prey. Then again ...

The big test. Lesser Black Whipsnake. Little bit dangerous. Among fastest things on no legs in Australia.

Not so cute? Not for many, I accept that. But I can't get enough of them. Depends on how we look at things, doesn't it?

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Life's perks are walks in the parks

Life's a walk in the park these days. Well, more accurately, in the parks. And there's driving too, but you get the picture(s).


Pheasant Coucal seldom so still as this male which emerged from stand of bamboo before deciding to take to cover again.

Laughing Kookaburra barely has time for giggle with three impatient mouths to feed tucked away shyly and slyly in the shadows.


Unlike parent and immature Magpies on the hunt together. Though junior still having trouble telling wheat from chaff, so to speak.

Meanwhile female Wood Duck continues to walk alone, unable or unwilling to fly. Nor will it take to water if approached too closely, preferring to walk away quickly even when there's a pond close by.

But Mrs Magpie Goose knows where she wants to be. Bang in middle of small lotus pond bang in middle of big park, bang in middle-ish of city. Her only problem appears to be sister/aunt/midwive persisting in sharing nest platform and walking over sitter, until honked out of it.


Monday, February 6, 2017

My crass mass frass class

Are we sitting up straight, class? See the hairy, crawly mass?


The caterpillars march nose to bottom in lines en masse.

The hairs can really hurt you, so let them pass.

The caterpillars chomp leaves and leave lumps of frass. Frass is caterpillar plop, but plop is crass.

Now on your tablets or laptops enter Bag-shelter Moth (Ochrogaster lunifer) and learn more.


Saturday, February 4, 2017

Stroppy Willie disturbs the peace

I'm having a pretty good morning snatching stuff from above the water at Payets Tower when this bleeding stroppy Willie Wagtail turns up and gives me the old shirtfront.

Mad? I was flamin' hopping, I'll tell you. First off, it's my patch. The bird's a bloody blow-in. Room for both of us, I said. No, little bastard wanted the lot.

Then ... then it went for my throat. What could I do? Bigger than me. And trouble. Always trouble with black and whites. Aggressive? I'll say. They'll all have you, quick as that.

All peace and quiet over the pool one minute. Next thing, whammo-bammo, they're into you. I'm thinking of packing it in and heading back into the forest. But these dragonflies go down a treat, so guess I'll stay and see if Uncle Blue-wing mightn't give Warring Willie a whack or two for me. Family's gotta stick together, I say.

Monday, January 30, 2017

Serving up honeyeaters after sweet spell of tennis

Pinched nerve in back meant more tennis watching than birdwatching last week and the equivalent of honey eating with a bit of comfort food. So seems only fair to give a few other honeyeaters their due. Brown-backeds so busy building nests (still) it's surprising the best of today is simply a bird on a branch. 


Lots more going on with Yellow Honeyeater from a week or so back. Young bird showing taste for the unfortunately named Stinking Passion Flower. Perhaps others can sniff a pong but it's always escaped me.

Brown Honeyeaters singing away in greater numbers over the past fortnight. Bird above is from much closer to home: parking area garden outside my retirement unit. 

Bonus thrown in: small monitor (Yellow-spotted or Goulds) posing between breaks in scratching at some scent in the lawn beside my patio the other day. Welcome sight also near patio, Bush Stone-curlews (parents plus midsized junior) but they're much less welcome midnight screamers. So no picture for them!

Monday, January 23, 2017

Wandering Whistling Ducks waltz in

Five hundred Wandering Whistling Ducks waltzed about on the water at the Melaleuca viewing spot in the Townsville Town Common this morning

That's 492 more than the total for several weeks, when a family of two plus six persisted on the Borrow Pits - the only pools of any size - even after the young were mature enough to fly off.

But Magpie Geese numbers are falling off. Seems many of the birds that rushed in after recent rains have moved off the open pools and into the wide expanses of flooded grasses, or even to pastures greener (or tastier). Above bird appeared to join some ducks just for the company.


Got a bit closer to this pair over the weekend. Big bump on bonce reveals male in front.








Monday, January 16, 2017

Green Pygmy-geese back on water - and in trees

Water, water everywhere. Well, not quite yet. But the seasonal pools at Townsville Common started to refill with a weekend of needed heavy showers. Among wetland species returned today, six Green Pygmy-geese, three of which landed on one branch after taking to the trees upon being scared off the water.


Puddle on the road provided water enough for Double-barred Finch's morning wash. Splish-splash and the droplets fly.

Male Varied Triller tied up with more serious business, collecting spider web for nest building. There's more rain to come, meantime there's work to be done.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Of skinks and snails and purple hen tales

Among some odd sightings lately, Purple Swamp-hen drinking at roadside pool a few metres from the local beachfront. Only one of the species I've seen since moving to Townsville from Ingham (where the birds - Cane Coots - win few friends by dining on young sugar cane shoots).

From the middle of severely burnt blady grass patch, snail survivor. So what? So, this is the first live snail I've found for years. It was struggling for purchase in a sea of ash. And it had survived dozens of Black Kites, Kookaburras and Lapwings. Imagine how gently I picked it up, gave it a wee wash, let it goob over my hat, and set it down safely in a patch of unburnt grass. 

Nothing odd about a Spangled Drongo, this one from from the Sustainability Centre walkway next to my new abode. But certainly something odd about 16 of them almost on top of each other in the Town Common yesterday and again early today. One or two appeared to be youngsters begging to be fed. The local birds usually get about in threes. I can't resist it: maybe it was just a local branch meeting.



And here's a trusting young Black Kite that's taken a liking to standing about in a newly burned patch elsewhere in the Town Common. Wouldn't let me too near while we were both on ground, but allowed me close when it flew to old tree nearby.

Monitors don't usually allow anyone this close. But neither do they like risking turning their backs on a perceived threat (ditto with snakes). Quick chat, few pictures and we can be on our way(s).

Small skinks, though, operate differently. First instinct, run. Then stop. Has the threat halted? Yes? Don't run. Is that big thing a threat at all? Seems not. Well, then. No more running. Pictures? Sure, why not? Which do you think is my best side? 

Little dragons by and large, or by and small, don't trust the skinks' instincts. They run. And mostly keep running.