Monday, August 29, 2016

Jaq-ing up companions along the creek

Here's my friend Jaq (gender-neutral), Comb-crested Jacana (Irediparra gallinacea). We enjoy long chats by the final Water Hyacinth pool where Palm Creek's eastern fork dribbles out over 100 hectares of hymenachne at Mungalla Station. Jaq shares the pool with a shy little Saltwater Crocodile and - recently- a sun-loving big Water Python. Plus about 20 other bird species. I talk to all, but Jaq's the one that sticks around.

Sunbathing on the banks of the creek a bit upstream most mornings these days is a biggish Saltie, not a chatty type but willing to listen across 40 metres of water. But shouting from 50m just isn't the same as jesting quietly with Jaq.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Horsfield's Bushlark makes the dust fly

Warm days and dusty cattle tracks draw Horsfield's Bushlark (Mirafra javanica) out to compete with Australasian Pipit (Anthus novaeseelandiae) for a share of pasture pickings.

Got close to the dust-bath action the other day at Mungalla Station.

Dust flies as bird wriggles in.

And feathers dance as breeze picks up.

Mustn't leave Pipit out of the picture. One on a post from awhile ago.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Whole lot of sniping going on

Since they first arrived about two weeks ago, migratory Latham's Snipe are popping up in numbers on wetlands near the coast east of Ingham.

Got a bit closer to some of 24 on roadside pool at the Orient Station today, so intent on feeding they didn't flinch as I walked up openly toward them.

Unfortunately fence marking boundary between public road and private land prevented me taking full advantage of birds' interest in feeding above all else.

Later, got bit offside with presumed property owner when chasing Red-backed Kingfisher in tree on unfenced portion of grazing land.

He invited me to leave. I did, with my best pictures of a species uncommon to the area.

No need quit the road for head shot of immature Black-necked Stork (Jabiru).

Nor for Yellow-billed Spoonbill, tucking in near the snipe.

Afterword: Trespassing birdwatchers risk upsetting helpful property owners. Orient Station, however, has long tried to deter all birders from using the 7km public road through the property with ambiguous Private Property signs beside the road. Over the years I've helped farm managers with info about sick stock, dog and croc sightings and rubbish pickup. I figure we're more or less square.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Australian Raven alights to lighten the gloom

Bit of biz in the big smoke today so headed off in the dark for spot of birding soon as automatic gate opened at Townsville Common. Lot of light cloud and light drizzle and dark unidentifiable birds in the early gloom. And things stayed dark - but in a good way.

Australian Raven dropped on to pandanus beside the Troopy and proceeded with fussy morning toilette. ((Bird didn't budge at my presence, or flinch from low-power flash. Because ... and this is point to note, I was there first. In other words, it chose to enter my space.)

Bush Stone-curlew little less unconcerned at having photographer approaching. But stopped for a bit before walking quietly into deeper cover, along with its mate (imagine second bird out of focus to right of picture as you look at it).

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Standing out comes naturally to some

One or two birds go out of their way to help the photographer. But few oblige quite so enthusiastically as White-breasted Woodswallow doing a few stretches atop the Troopy in the Tyto carpark the other morning.

Another species with a habit of standing out is the White-eared Monarch, noted forager of outer foliage. Came upon three together today at the western end of the wetlands. Probably rather scruffy adults and an immature.

Hard for the scores of Willie Wagtails not to stand out. Not so often caught with tail fanned, though they are fantails, not wagtails.

Sunday, August 7, 2016

You can't beat the call of the wild - or can you?

Just as well there were few sightseers about in Tyto this morning as I engaged Pheasant Coucal in all-out silly noises competition. I claim the bird started it. Probably reverse claim made once my opponent went to ground. 'Yeouwch' was formerly my best Coucal call. Much wider repertoire these days. Sometimes I even imagine the birds take this sort of thing seriously. More likely they're actually calling attention to the nutter beneath them making funny faces and even stranger noises.

But ... but there is more to this than meets the ear. Here's a terrible picture of an Olive-backed Oriole in Tyto today. The bird gave forth a series of the usually wide variety of Oriole sounds, and then brought out a superb Pacific Baza 'ee chew'. Had me looking hard for the nonpresent Baza until the Oriole repeated the call. If I work on my calls for another, say, 20-30 years I might fool some bird some day. Meantime, birding will continue to call, every day.

Monday, August 1, 2016

What's black and white and red and blue and grey?

Tidy-up post for July pictures, that's what. Here we go:

Spangled Drongo, Great Egret, Red-backed Fairy-wren, Shining Flycatcher, Bustard, Purple Swamphens

Friday, July 29, 2016

Brown Honeyeater spans saga of the footbridges

Few people know that the dominant bird species in Tyto these days, the Brown Honeyeater (Lichmera indistincta), is a keen student of human behaviour and a student of folly and lover of drollery. Here is one bird's story:

The man drives a white ute. Not a you-beaut ute, a workaday ute. All the men drive white utes. They drive along the grass track and look for things to do.

Some months ago a man saw a thing to do. He stared at a wooden footbridge. It was showing cracks in some planks.

The man drove away. Another man drove by a month later. He saw the cracks too. He drove away.

Some months later a man drove up to a footbridge. He stared at the cracks. He drove on and stared at another footbridge. And then another.

He got a spray can and put a white mark on some cracked planks. He did all four bridges that have wooden planks.

Several months later another man came. He stared at the white marks. He got out of his white ute and marched on to one bridge. He stomped on the most cracked plank. One end fell to the dirt just below. He went away.

Later, another man in a white ute came and put up two signs saying the bridge was closed.

A month later a man came with a white ute and new planks. He took out the spray-marked planks on three bridges and screwed in new planks. He did not do the fourth bridge. He took away one sign.

We suppose another man will come for the other sign.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Mangrove Robins hide behind my back

Braved mozzies and mud after Mangrove Robins (Peneonanthe pulverulenta) today. Found three, parents feeding nearly mature youngster. Never in two hours up close in front of camera. Three times right up close behind me - surrounded by low-growing mangroves. Above, distant shot of immature bird.

Here's probable parents pictured many weeks ago. In the interim failed to find nest, or, indeed, any hint of nesting.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

On the green stuff and in the pink

Not your usual visitor to grassy dunes, Galah (Eolophus roseicapillus) chomped away on choice bits of mown strip of Coral Sea foreshore at Forrest Beach east of Ingham yesterday.

Hinchinbrook Health Care outpost just across the way, but bird clearly so in the pink as to need no care. Indeed, not a care in the world.