Sunday, November 10, 2019

Jabiru adjusts for takeoff with lightening jet propulsion

Getting ready for takeoff, male Black-necked Stork lightens the load at Melaleuca viewing area, Town Common, Townsville this morning.

Job done, the bird decided it wasn't that concerned about my approach across the wetland weeds and would stick around

Not standing around by himself. Close by were juniors one and two. It seems from sightings at the area in recent weeks that the female seldom accompanies the youngsters. The four turned up a few weeks ago just as a family of five - whose nest is known to be somewhere slightly northeast of Melaleuca - began to drift apart, though all the birds have on occasion been seen more or less together elsewhere in the conservation park.

Missed the young birds' departure but here's the male on his way, spooked by some mild alarm from ducks and assorted waders further away.

Not a cause - this time - of the alarm, untidy Swamp Harrier overhead at Melaleuca the other day.
Just missed getting bird into the frame originally. Quick bit of added frame and some clumsy cloning and the picture's a little more complete. Do try this at home. With more care than I care to use it's a great tool.

But some potentially great shots just cannot be easily tarted up. This Little Pied Cormorant has become regular chat partner at the Freshwater hide in the early mornings after claiming ownership to standing rights on the log that's emerged at the water level drops. After fishing (diving underwater and chasing prey) the bird washes by part-rolling busily in the water. No easy way to remove unwanted stalks, I'm afraid.

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

High ISO slows high-speed Sunbirds down

Olive-backed Sunbirds light up the understorey with their nest-building comings and goings near the Freshwater hide in the Town Common Conservation Park, Townsville.

Of possible interest photographically pictures taken at very high ISO (25600) and shutter speed (1/8000thsec). Remarkably little 'noise' on sensor for such high settings thanks to Canon 1DX performance. No postprocessing noise reduction used. Need even faster shutter to stop rapid wingbeats.

Tawny Grassbird in Tyto Wetlands (brief return to my old stamping ground - no Grass Owls seen) on Monday easier to freeze in action while hopping along a branch.

Back in the Common today,  Swamp Harrier stirred plenty of fast wingbeats at Melaleuca viewing area as birds feeding below -  already spooked by two White-bellied Sea-Eagles - took off with the wetland predator's arrival.

No feed for the harrier, and nothing for male Dingo crossing the water in front of Jacana hide early this morning. In fact, egrets and ibises nearby barely turned their heads to look. Lacks that lean and hungry look, so perhaps not fullblooded specimen.

Finish on a Peaceful (Dove) note. One of four birds in front of Freshwater hide this morning taking turns to take fast drink and (usually) take off rapidly away from the dangerous area and activity. But this bird chose to puff up a little and show off its subtle colouring.

Saturday, October 26, 2019

Look sharp to catch Sharpies in action

Sharp-tailed Sandpipers seem under orders to look sharpish and fly sharpishly at all times. Makes life hard for those trying for action pictures with reflexes no longer so sharp. Took three hours sitting at edge of grass island at Pandanus viewing area, Town Common, Townsville, one day this week to finally catch the high wing stretch the birds almost always use on landing.

And didn't get the entire bird in frame for the only takeoff image captured all week. Needed a bit more luck, on top of faster reaction times.

Got the luck today with so-so flight shots of White-browed Crake, the first two of which came as big surprise as at no time did I see the bird in the viewfinder. If in doubt hit the shutter and hope. Once in every year or so the instinct pays off. It's the great plus of digital, almost no cost to taking 500 or so images for 5-10 keepers.

But failed to get anything usable from much aerial tracking of wee Fairy Martins so resorted to the next big bird that came along overhead, Straw-necked Ibis. No beauty, but looking a wee bit sharp.

Saturday, October 19, 2019

Knotted Keelback kicks up stink after road rescue

Bird in the hand worth two in the bush, so what's a snake-in-hand worth? Not two in the grass. Palmful of foul fluids, that's what. Keelback (Freshwater Snake) also gives firm hint about getting knotted after being plucked for its own good off the road in the Town Common, Townsville. Talk about ingratitude.

Also on the road, two of three Lesser Black Whipsnakes writhing together with no apparent purpose. No typical upright coiling tests of strength between males, no pheromone-induced breeding frenzy. The three soon departed the road, leaving behind yet another mystery of nature.

Meanwhile, on the mud at Pandanus viewing area Masked Lapwing enjoys brief respite from aerial blitz by pair of fellow Lapwings. Something about the unwanted bird's dirty face perhaps?

And a Glossy Ibis feeding peacefully in the distance had feathers ruffled by low-diving pair of passing Glossies. The bird's resentment could almost be felt from 50 metres away. 

Saturday, October 12, 2019

Getting old and taking things lying down

The old back won't take lying down efforts to capture small shorebirds at eye level but is willing to allow me lying back with big lens propped on elbow or raised knee. The birds learn to ignore the chatty creature in the long grass. So, mud, messy gumboots and floundering mishaps at Pandanus viewing area, Town Common, Townsville. And the birds . . .

Red-kneed Dotterels (top, adult; above, post-juvenile and juvenile)

Pied Stilt with long legs forward for gentle landing.

Two for one offering from Sharp-tailed Sandpiper.

Plenty of preening keeps Glossy Ibis looking its colourful best.

And, courtesy of Sue Rutherford, I'm caught lumbering out of swampy long grass on another day and in another part of the Common. The gear changes, the ugly mug remains the same.

Sunday, October 6, 2019

Birds - treasures at little cost in times good and bad

Times are tough all round these days so free things that bring joy must be treasured. And what gives more joy and costs so little as time with nature's colourful wonders, birds. Today, a few recent sightings.  Enjoy! Above, Black-necked Stork, with fish, Melaleuca viewing area, Town Common Conservation Park, Townsville.

Young Blue-faced Honeyeater looking to give bottlebrush a licking, Town Common.

Crimson Finches (male, top; female above) take short break from seed-seeking, Town Common.

Purple Swamphen (Pukeko to Kiwis) stands out in fast-drying habitat at Ross River dam borrow pits.

Orange-footed Scrubfowl at home amid leaf litter in Cape Pellarenda Conservation Park.

Magpie family trio out and about and obligingly almost underfoot at Cape Pellarenda.

Rainbow Bee-eater perches near nest tunnel at side of road, Town Common, Townsville.

Thursday, September 26, 2019

Raven gulls slow Sea-Eagle and chicken Swamp Harrier

Quickfire chain of conflicts beside and above earth dam wall, Town Common Conservation Park, Townsville, today.  Youngish White-bellied Sea-Eagle disputed possession of Tilapia with Swamp Harrier.

Fish left behind as birds squabbled across the sky. Australian Raven saw chance, flew down and off with the fish.

Magpie Lark took over from sea-eagle and launched attack on intruding harrier, driving it away.

Sea-eagle returned for fish. Too late. The fish had flown!

Jabiru adjusts for takeoff with lightening jet propulsion

Getting ready for takeoff, male Black-necked Stork lightens the load at Melaleuca viewing area, Town Common, Townsville this morning. ...