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.   

Monday, January 9, 2017

Sunbird builds up to do the biz

Hang on a mo, I'll soon be finished, said Mrs Olive-backed Sunbird yesterday morning.

See, almost all done, she told me today.

A wee bit of this and that here and there and me and him can do the biz. (Him, as usual standing about doing nothing, though he was maybe keeping watch). We'll watch progress.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Black Kites feast on fiery offerings

Still flickers of flame here and there but the Black Kites' days of fried pickings following Saturday's fire on the southern corner of the Town Common are near done - for now.

However forecasts and rumbling clouds daily hint at rain without delivering more than a spit close to Townsville. The city swelters and suffers water restrictions with stricter regimes almost certain.

There's been debate for years over reports of kites extending fires by carrying blazing twigs and dropping them on unlit areas. Some say 'tool use'. Others 'chance, unintentional event'.

A smart kite would bet on more fires to come. An even smarter one would know a hoon with matches.

Monday, January 2, 2017

Great Bowerbird get hopes (and hops) up

Caught tail-end of excited Great Bowerbird hopes (and stiff-legged hops) near Town Common entry gate yesterday. But missed the most colourful nape crest flashing by male.

And didn't get close enough during the action to get chaser and chased (chaste?) together. Didn't actually get close early enough to swear that chased was a female, and not some cheeky trouble-making male come to steal bower material or otherwise cause trouble,

Will keep an eye on things and see what develops. The bower builder will just have to chew things over a bit longer.

Meanwhile, later in the day what developed was warmish grass fire. It swept right through almost all of the first of my planned 500-metre radius bird listing areas. In consequence all that met the eye this morning was blackened ground, much charred lower foliage, burning logs, and seven Black Kites mopping up crispy treats. It'll make for interesting listing, compared to unburnt areas. Assuming some areas do remain fire-free this season. It wouldn't take much - chance or design - to blacken hundreds of hectares.

Can't be sure what may have befallen grass dwellers. Hiding in holes can't be a very sure survival method. And climbing trees has several limitations, not least as seen with Frilled Lizard, surprised on road the other day.

Easy to sprint up first tessellated section of Morton Bay Ash. But then comes the smooth section of bark. Life in the wild means taking rough with the smooth - and smooth with the rough.

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Here's to some 'almosts' and most of all to 2017

Almost into 2017, so here's a few other almosts from the last of the 2016 files, starting with a Rainbow Bee-eater almost but not quite in the right light.

Same story with Torres Strait (Pied Imperial) Pigeon.

Brown-backed Honeyeater almost out from leaves.

Varied Triller almost in clear.

Red-winged Parrot full of twigs - and figs.

Dollarbird almost low enough.

Silver Gull, in fluke full frame, almost at right approach angle.

But Melaleuca Mal, my new Magpie mate, says things are almost sure to get better next year. And even young Magpies are pretty smart. So plenty to aim for from tomorrow. Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Cracking start to the day for young and old

Red-tailed Black Cockatoos can't get enough Casuarina (she-oak) nuts some mornings, cracking into them and digging out the tasty seed within. Other days they fly on by, usually from south to north. But the more common fare is Sea Almonds. Male bird above quitting Casuarina (twiggy background) and preparing for landing amid the almonds.

Female carries green almond away. the birds seldom wait for the fruit to turn a ripe purple. And often chomp and tear away the flesh from one end only before moving on to another. The reward for persisting through to cracking the almond pod (stone) open is a single small seed. I guessthe birds must get some sustenance from the green fruit fibres.

Easier to see where the sustenance comes from for this young Pacific Baza, getting excited by the approach of food-bearing parent. Another of the seeming never-ending cicada supply. So many still in trees you'd think the youngster, one of a pair being fed by both parents yesterday near the Town Common gate, would be able to grab some for itself.

But no, that's what the oldies are for. Hop to it, Ma or Pa!

Meanwhile, as their offspring may be eating something meaty courtesy of deceived parents, Eastern Koel pair tuck into figs, a leisurely life free from the burden of babycare. Koels are, like most cuckoos, lucky: they take the kids back around the equivalent of human teen time. No dramas. Off they go. Happy as. Or, at least, so it seems. Can't see that ever ending happily among us. Though, some parents ... and some teens ... maybe???

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Dingo tops retail jingle jungle, by jingo!

It's jingle jingle in the retail jungle but we, by jingo, are giving you, free, a ... dingo!

Spied her long way off trotting along the airport fence early today. Stood quietly, pretended to be fence post.

She knew there was something up but only took mild fright after I bade her Good Morning. She (typically) looks in need of, say, (Brush) Turkey and the trimmings. Good luck to her.

Don't fancy turkey? What about Pheasant - Coucal, with Praying Mantis stuffing (about to be stuffed).

No? Cicada then. With Noisy Friarbird, feeding up ahead of mass munching.

Passionfruit? Not strictly festive fare, but 'tis a time of Carpenters, and Beelievers.

Looking even more Christmassy, Mud Wasp, so colourful yet so down-to-earth.

That's this year's stocking, bar a parting shot. For whatever reason nearby big cemetery offers toilet-goers splendid mirror image on approach.

With one foot virtually in grave anyway, what did I have to lose? My dignity? And it's slightly out of focus! Merry Xmas!