Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Life in the sticks stacks up for birds

Sticks. Some birds need stacks of them. Whistling Kite returns towards nest after seeing off cheeky young Brahminy Kite that ventured too close. But on the way home, why not stop off for a bit of extra for the relatively modest nest high in eucalyptus?

Young White-bellied Sea-eagle not so long ago stood upon stack of sticks vastly outweighing the kite's. Parent birds lately heard honking from their massive creation in Townsville Town Common Park. Be no surprise soon to see them carrying fresh stocks of sticks to the nest.

Then there's those that stick to standing stock still on sticks. Nankeen Night Heron, in early morning light, for example. Or Little Pied Cormorant.

Pheasant Coucal not sticking totally to the theme, half on, half off.

White-bellied Cuckoo-shrike goes one better, all on and all off.

Little Friarbird, meanwhile, sticks to daily preening routine, stock-in-trade for all birds whether from the sticks or the heights.

Saturday, March 9, 2019

Bushlark hunt thankless tale of bogeys and birdies

Can be thankless job trying to help travelling birders find that one species they're chasing. Some bogey birds seem always to be there yesterday and tomorrow for those desperate to see them and ever here today for those trying to help. Thus, Horsfields Bushlark amid samphire this morning beside road to Bald Rock in the Townsville Common. One of six for me, yet seemingly a species unsighted in three mornings by English visitors.

Also in the same patch - and worthier image - Australian Pipit ruffling plumage after skiff of rain whizzed by.

Tawny Frogmouths come high on some lists of must-sees. Female in small paperbark in Pallarenda Conservation Park yesterday watches unseen, often with male partner, as visitors come and go. But no guarantee that two directed to the site today will have seen the bird/s.

More generally many would love to capture Rainbow Bee-eaters - in all their splendour. Finding the birds isn't the problem. Finding them in exactly the right place (low down, close up, in focus, cleanly backgrounded) not so simple. Above image close as I've come for several months. Two out of four ain't bad.

Saturday, March 2, 2019

Snake-bitten frog lives to croak another day

Frog distress calls and sinuous thrashings told the tale even before sighting of Common Tree Snake and Green-striped Burrowing Frog in life and death struggle beside track to Bald Rock in Townsville Town Common Conservation Park today.

Snake held on. Frog swam. Snake dragged frog back into grass. Frog fought. Snake regripped. Frog sensed moment. Snake bit again. Too late. Frog gone.

Snake stood sentinel for many minutes. Frog long gone.

Sunday, February 17, 2019

Young Peregrine drops in with peer and grin

What does a peer and grin (of sorts) add up to? Peregrine Falcon, naturally. This juvenile made an  infrequent species appearance in Townsville Town Common Conservation Park today.

First image bit messy. Quick clone job bit tidier but far from full fix.

Peregrines breed less than three kilometres away on Castle Hill, a sandstone outlier looming over the inner city, harbour, inner suburbia and the airport. It also looms over many of the city's Rock Pigeons. And Peregrines love fat feral pigeons.

So why waste much time in the Common, harassed by solitary cheeky White-breasted Woodswallow, and looking down on Peaceful Doves or Rainbow Bee-eaters when flocks of chubby pigeons are closer to home? Lesson juvenile yet to learn. 

Sunday, February 10, 2019

Groping to explain Whistling Kite's missing Groper

Groping for words to go with pictures of Whistling Kite homing in on fish thrown up on sand at Pallarenda in gusting break during the 10 days and 1.5 metres of rain in Townsville.

Caught bird coming in to land beside what appears to be small Groper. But didn't notice the fish when taking pictures. Nor when Kite fed on portions of entrails (oh, all right, guts). Nor when it flew and Silver Gull dropped in to grab a bite. So didn't think too much of it when unable to pinpoint where the birds had landed. I'd missed little photographic catch-of-the-day.

Did better with mating dragonflies flying over pool in the Pallarenda parking area. So what? Well, it's a minor macro miracle, using 600mm from 5m to roughly manually focus on flying insects and thus enable very quick autofocus.

Another capture of note recently. Nothing to be proud of about the image but Little Egret's taking of Eastern Striped Skink isn't something seen too often. Water rising quickly into its habitat probably led to skink's demise.


Monday, February 4, 2019

Ill wind blow for Frigatebirds, bonus for birders

Short break in Townsville's persistent monsoon low downpours (or, lowdown pours) allowed quick outing just up the road this morning to look for Lesser Frigatebirds, making unaccustomed showings along coastlines as they escape harsh weather out on the Grreat Barrier Reef.

Found 15 floating effortlessly over Pallarenda township and foredune. Only 3-4 males amid the birds, but probably not much to read into the imbalance. Though the males all somehow avoided being photographed.

Also a bit uncommon near the road into Pallarenda, Plumed Whistling Duck.

And, close by, solitary Royal Spoonbill.

More rain expected tonight, adding to about 1.2 metres over the past eight days. Feel some guilt out and birding as thousands - mostly on city's south side of Ross River - are evacuated or in danger of being flooded out. But that's the random luck of major weather events. And I drew short straws in Ingham with cyclones and/or floods in '07, '09 and '11.

Here's to sunnier days.

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Junior Bush Stone-curlew survives days of rain

Took my eye off these two Bush Stone-curlew eggs for a wee bit and 'hey presto' they were gone from trim gardens close to my overnight parking spot.

Along with stroppy protective male (presumed).

And less threatening female (presumed).

Five days later (four of them filled with rain) and much noise today close to my studio unit in Rowes Bay, Townsville. So, junior's about six days old.

The commotion possibly marked demise of second youngster. No signs, however, of marauding cat or goanna. Interrogated junior's companions but no answers from them.

Life in the sticks stacks up for birds

Sticks. Some birds need stacks of them. Whistling Kite returns towards nest after seeing off cheeky young Brahminy Kite that ventured too ...