Monday, September 16, 2019

White-bellied Sea-Eagle behaviour raises questions

Behind this picture today of White-bellied Sea-Eagle family togetherness may hide an altogether different one of a cheating, food-hogging, faithless father and a neglected partner and juvenile. (And this in the same family from which three weeks ago a second juvenile had to be rescued after being pushed or falling from the nest.)

Just an hour before above image was taken the male tucking into unidentified lunch in TownsvilleTown Common Conservation Park was seen carrying large fish or turtle away from Freshwater area. But instead of flying to above nest the bird crossed the wetland and soared on thermal up and over ridge of Many Peaks range. It reappeared minutes later without prey and stooped without luck upon Magpie Geese on distant pool before being lost track of. Seems it later brought another catch to the nest - and ripped into it without any sign of sharing. Or ... or there may be a third breeding pair I'm unaware of and above male may have case for suit against me.

On firmer ground with juvenile from the second known nest site perched on branch  behind Melaleuca viewing area and getting close to launching into first flight. Its more forward sibling took off unseen last week and, as has been their way, has not been seen since.

A notable difference between the two breeding pairs has been the many noisy vocal interchanges I've heard for about three months between the above juvenile's parents and near total silence from the top picture's adults. Perhaps explainable by close proximity of the silent birds' nest to a well-used walking/cycling track. Or not.

Friday, September 13, 2019

Friday 13 turns out lucky for Tern, Osprey and Darter

Friday 13. Unlucky for some. Lucky for some. CaspianTern whizzed in and out again with one of the fish the 50 or so Pelicans camped on the water this week have failed to scoop up.

Eastern Osprey made typical splash entry and came away clutching probable Tilapia.

Australasian Darter speared its fish and surfaced close by but swam off behind long grass before swallowing it.

Meantime, many of the Australian Pelicans were busier bathing than fishing.

Lucky me, catching some of the catches at Melaleuca viewing area, Townsville Town Common Conservation Park this morning.

Sunday, September 8, 2019

Crow woe can drive one stark raven mad

Remember those Torresian Crows from last week? They were actually these Australian Ravens photographed yesterday in the Townsville Town Common Conservation Park.

It's all in the pink throat patch below the bill.

Now you see it ...

... now you don't.

And the longer hackles. But not in young birds.
And the bigger bill. But not in young birds.
And in the calls. But not to most ears.

Makes a difference knowing all this, doesn't it? No? Well, no matter. The birds don't care anyway.

Thursday, September 5, 2019

Bee-eater takes flight but others show no fright

Rainbow Bee-eater took flight this morning in the Townsville Town Common but a few other birds have been more camera friendly lately.

None more so than immature White-eared Monarch. Almost perched on lens today. Too close to focus. Naturally, whizzed away far beyond reach when it did decide to go. So, picture from earlier in week.

Yesterday, male Leaden Flycatcher had plenty to say along fire break between road and golf course. If the bill was turned a little more the bird might present as one of those bird or rabbit illusions.

Bit of a puzzle with juvenile Black-necked Storks this week. Three youngsters became four  yesterday. Seems a loner turned up and more or less joined the regular trio. Today, loner alone. No sign of juniors. Above, female parent yesterday.

Much smaller and harder to gain focus on, Fairy Gerygone two days ago stayed still long enough for an almost sharp shot.

And here's a reminder of the golden rule: don't be lured to eating fruit and berries because the birds in the bush are gobbling them up. Here's an Australian Raven chomping into Black or Deadly Nightshade. Black is deadly and ripe Deadly is black. Stick to Blackberries and leave black berries well alone.

Last, reminders of Tyto Wetland days in Ingham with one of the Common's Crimson Finches. Not many to be seen for a few months but they're popping up here and there these days. Not always quite so prettily as this male.

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Stone the crows! Gravel-voiced pair hit road too early

Torresian Crow (updated 8/9 to Australian Raven after maturing juveniles revealed telltale pink patches on necks) siblings quit their Townsville Town Common nest too early yesterday morning resulting in some anxious moments on the road through the park before I guided them into safer spot.

Though unable to fly well, four hours later they were high in eucalyptus and being fed by parent.

Youngsters doing well elsewhere include White-bellied Sea-eagle juvenile (parent above) rescued last week from beneath nest (this week flapping vigorously for carer Deb Carter) and its sibling still in nest near Freshwater Trail.

Meanwhile, meet Snaggletooth, Freshwater Crocodile snuck up upon beside Ross River the other day. Got to within three metres but could not capture more than part of jaw and head.

Today, caught Red-bellied Black Snack snoozing in the sun along the earth dam wall between Freshwater and Bald Rock in the Common. Barely pink in northern habitat.

Thursday, August 22, 2019

Young Sea-eagle owes thanks to rescuers

Every day's a fight for life in the wild. And few have the odds so stacked against them as young raptors. The survival rate for those getting to one year is about 30 percent. That's for those making it through the chancy days and weeks of life in the nest. Falling from the nest before being able to fly isn't any way to improve the odds. So juvenile White-bellied Sea-eagle above will owe thanks to several people should it survive an unknown number of lonely cold hours in the undergrowth below its nest in the Townsville Town Common Conservation Park.

Three regulars passed the bird's plight along through a series of often frustrating phone calls and discussions about assistance before Deb Carter of Bird of Prey Rescue raced to the rescue from the other side of Townsville.

She found the bird, though intially seeming healthy enough, was very thin. It may therefore have out of the nest for longer than we thought. But towel and baby blanket in hand she quickly gathered the bird up and carefully cradled it in her arms on the walk back a kilometre or so to her car.

Here's hoping for survival. It may be however that the bird cannot be returned to the nest. In which case it may end up being reared and trained for return to the wild by Deb. At least this young bird has beaten its encounter with a common cause of death in the wild. Thanks to all involved. All in all a mostly uplifting morning.

Saturday, August 17, 2019

Brown Snake proves an obliging subject

Wonder of wonders! Went out today geared up for snakes rather than birds and found an obliging 1.4m Brown Snake waiting patiently for me.

Very patient in fact. Lay motionless for series of long shots alongside much-used track between Pellarenda and Jacana hide in Townsville Town Commmon Conservation Park.

Sensed that I needed look at other side of head.

Must always get good look at the forked tongue. Then slid quietly away when I was done.

Bit like Red-bellied Black Snake a few days earlier. Apologies for single frame from bad video but be thankful I cut 50 seconds of boring inaction while I walked around another co-operative reptile.

And here's a placid Water Python happy to have me get close. So placid it didn't move when unaware passing hiker planted size 11s within 1.5m of its head. (Amazing what some fitness freaks miss seeing in their heedless headlong matches.)

But Freshwater Crocodile basking within 20 metres of popular Ross River walking path not so keen on posing for closeups. Stayed in place for an hour between being photographed as I birded in Ross River Bush Gardens and my eventual drive through suburbia. But hit the water in a hurry when I tried sneaking within 10 metres.

White-bellied Sea-Eagle behaviour raises questions

Behind this picture today of White-bellied Sea-Eagle family togetherness may hide an altogether different one of a cheating, food-hogging,...