Young cormorants and darter in touching relationship

Too chilly in Townsville this morning for birding in shivery shade. Riverbank by Palmetum Botanical Gardens promised desired east-facing warmth. And where were the birds? Sitting - several in clustered nests - along the sunlit Ross. Juvenile Australian Darter stands (below) in a nest touching two others holding pairs of Little Pied Cormorants (above) and close to another with three young cormorants.

Youth also on the water, with immature Comb-crested Jacana treading daintily across waterlily leaves.

Nearby, immature male Rufous Whistler shows breast and head markings about to become bolder mature colouring.

Not so young or close to the camera but always boldly coloured, Azure Kingfisher, one of a pair teasing with fast showings - and goings.

Finally, chance encounter between a Pacific Black Duck and seeming quizzical Freshwater Turtle wanting to know where the bird's right eye is. 'Gone'.

Barefaced blag of birder's bicycle at Bald Rock

This is Bald Rock. Serene. Scenic. Witness to mountain bike exercisers below and around it every day. And birders, on foot and bicycle. 

Home to many Brown-backed Honeyeaters: juvenile above.

And  Brown Honeyeaters - though not in the numbers elsewhere in the Town Common.

So peaceful (juvenile Peaceful Dove above). 1.7 kilometres from the Freshwater parking area, nearest point of legal motor vehicle use. Nobody living within about 4km. No need, obviously, to lock a bicycle left leaning against a tree while the rider goes birding. Right? Think again. Today, bike gone. And new foot pump. And new tube. And repair tools. And bug spray. Slow walk back to Troopy.

Possibly not crime of the year. But one can dream of chaining someone to Bald Rock. And having an eagle eat his liver. Just the once, mind. For eternity might be overdoing it.

Slurpee time for Magpie Geese pigging out

It's slurpee time for the Magpie Geese in the Townsville Common - thanks to the unstinting industry of the feral pigs ploughing into Bulkuru sedge (water chestnut) for the tubers relished by both species.

Birds swooped down in recent early morning chills to follow up the snorting good work by about six sturdy pigs, five of which logged off at 7.15am today.

Not interested in tubers but enjoying fringe benefits, Yellow-billed Spoonbills,  two photobombed by Masked Lapwing.
White-necked Herons another bird turning up to snap up anything showing life on the mud.

Nearby, solitary Red-kneed Dotterel joined scores of sedentary Black-fronted Dotterels on an area abandoned by the tuber brigades.

Darter catches the early sunlight and the eye

Struck gold early today with female Australian Darter displaying in the early morning sunlight at Aplins Weir on the Ross River, Townsville.

Male Cotton  Pygmy-goose finished second in the beauty stakes.

And male Little Bronze-cuckoo fittingly came an attractive third, after some cosmetic help.

Messing about along the river's banks

Ratty, Mole and Co loved messing about in boats. Without boat, next best is messing about on riverbanks. One river running through Townsville City, so been messing about along Ross River. Above, female Magpie Goose preening in paperbark growing alongside a footbridge.

Waiting hungrily below, Short-necked River Turtle (a natural Greeny), one of scores on view (and thousands along the Ross). Stand for a while looking down on the river and the turtles hurtle (speed is relative) closer in hope of easy feed.

Downriver the other day, Pacific Black Duck adult looks caring but all is not as it seems. Duckling should have been elsewhere with seven siblings and parents but had become separated, maybe ducknapped. It paddled off upstream alone soon after in search of family.

Also alone one day in the same area, where Aplins Weir holds the freshwater Ross back from the tidal Ross, Australian Pelican looks ever bit as content to be on the river as ever were Ratty, Mole and Co. Musn't be too bo…

Ballad of the bold Brolga seeing off the Birder

Brolga family out for wander
Spy a birder over yonder

No worries, says the mister,
I'll  soon see off this blister.

Up he comes with low hisses
But fearsomeness he misses.

Worry not, says birder man,
Now with pictures in the can

You can forget hokey heroic
And stalk back to mum and chick.

Townsville Common early today

Female Blue-winged Kookaburra masters bill and coup

Old female friend crashed in on recent morning scout for early birds at entry to Townsville Common. Sudden rush of wings, rustling in bushes and Blue-winged Kookaburra emerged with breakfast firmly lodged in long-broken bill.

She's not merely a survivor but appears to be queen of a territory centred on the entry gate. But even so familiar a sight has - along with other kookaburras - been less often on show lately, perhaps because Forest Kingfishers are about in considerable numbers and outcompeting their larger cousins.

Hard by the entry gate, and  escaping the attention of predators (bar those with neat little new waterproof, shockproof microscopic-function cameras), Large Brown Mantid hangs around for a minute before returning to dangling upside down under fig leaves awaiting passing prey.

Upside down because sitting about on branches is not such a good idea. It's one thing to have a neat little new etc. etc. poked right in your face, it's altogether another as a vulner…