Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Yellow Wagtails sticking together, sticking around

Three's not often company among Eastern Yellow Wagtails (Motacilla tschutschensis) at Mungalla Station but today a trio of birds stuck together through four shifts to various sites along the road in from the highway. Sorry, no trio picture presented itself. (Above, one I can almost always count on.)
First time I've seen three birds getting on well and sticking relatively close together (10-20 metres apart) as they foraged along the roadside, being forced to move as station traffic travelled the road.

In its usual spot, at the waterhole that marks the eastern end of Palm Creek these dryish days, the only Yellow Wagtail that can be counted almost every day its looked for.

The bird moves from typical dry, patchy pasture favoured by Australasian Pipit (Anthus novaeseelandiae) to wet areas of dead water hyacinth (sprayed from helicopter some weeks ago).

The birds would in a normal Wet season have flown on south by now. It appears likely North Queensland will get only patchy rain this season and the Wagtails may stay until ready to fly off north to Japan and/or Russia about the end ofApril.

Time enough to have one, or even a trio, come close enough for 'the' shot. Meantime, this post offers the recent best.


Friday, February 5, 2016

Corella, Cockatoo brighten the roadside


Helping keep a roadside trim this week, Little Corella (Cacatua sanguinea) - one of six on the ground -  tucks into its morning greens.

And further along the road, Red-tailed Black-Cockatoo (Calyptorhynchus banksii) - one of eight - makes a meal of old coastal (Indian) almond.

Monday, February 1, 2016

Here's our World Wetlands Day outing

Tomorrow is World Wetlands Day.  Here is what it's all about. I know most couldn't make it. So I've done some looking for you:








Enjoy the outing?

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Friday, January 22, 2016

Some quail being alone, others don't flinch



Brown Quail (Coturnix ypsilophora) upset at losing contact after covey of three flushed at Orient Station this week walked and ran 100 metres back up track to cattle grid where the birds had been feeding, all the time sending out low calls. It then turned and ran back the way it came. Not a bird happy finding itself alone.


Unlike this Zebra Finch (Taeniopygia guttata) feeding roadside and surprisingly alone. Bird continued to feed as I drove near. We then played wee game of hide and seek around and under the Troopy. Zeb numbers have been lower than past years along the Orient road, in spite of dry conditions expected to favour their presence.


Meanwhile, much nesting going on in Tyto Wetlands. Yellow Honeyeater (Lichenostomus flavus) just one of many birds and species building apace without worrying about the missing Wet. Perhaps they're even enjoying a time of patchy light and less often heavy showers and much sunshine.


Sunday, January 17, 2016

Take a butcher's at this colourful lot

But it's brown, why's it called a Black Butcherbird? I'm glad you asked. In North Queensland - but not too far north - Cracticus quoyi race rufescens comes with either black or rufous young, in the same nest sometimes. The rufous birds change to black in their second year (note black emerging on bird's left wing. They'll also stick around and help their parents feed the next generation.

But it's brown, why's it called a Grey Teal? I'm sorry you asked, because I've no idea. Possibly because calling it brown would confuse it with Chestnut Teal. The species confuse themselves and others by hybridizing sometimes.

But it's black, why isn't it called the Yellow-streaked-necked-male Bittern? Ha! They get it right sometimes, though the female isn't really very black.

Don't ask me how the Darter managed to escape the colour determinists, though it did get saddled with the tag Snake-bird, which, I'm pleased to say, nobody has ever used in my experience. I'd much rather go for Very Twisty Neck Bird, but that's a bit colourless.

And there's obviously too much white everywhere and it's such a boring colour anyway the colour must come from a really really exciting name, such as Intermediate Egret. Not Great or Little or Reef. All too dull, dull, dull. Intermediate, now that's a name with zing. Like a Bill Shorten zinger! Talk about colourful. But actually something in this picture does bring him to mind ...


Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Cassowary surprise on Mt Fox road

Out into drought country today for look at Ingham's modern(-ish) volcano, Mt Fox.

Road up the range runs through patches of rainforest. What else runs through rainforest? Big birds with big built-in helmets. Young male Cassowary feeding on seeds (and ignoring sweet lemons on ground nearby). Tried for close-up, but passing truck spooked bird.

What sits on dead branches above rainforest and dry-country trees alike? Rollers, or Dollarbirds (because of their big wing windows). Couldn't cash in on flight pictures because bird took off and didn't return.

And what soars majestically above Mt Fox? One of the six Wedgetail Eagles on view during the morning. (But missed any pictures of less common Varied Sitellas high in trees at base of Fox.)


Bonus rainforest bird (from last trip to Wallaman Falls), Superb Fruit-Dove, heard but unseen today near Cassowary area. 

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Let's give more credit to a great survivor

What's wrong with this picture? (Apart from the freak-of-the-sun huge catchlight in the cow's eye).

Here's a little clue. One of 5-6 similar 60cm clues in the long grass.

Slightly bigger, 90cm, clue floating in the shallow water.

What's wrong? No Big Momma on show. She's hiding a very broad 3.5m frame under the water close to her presumed progeny sunning on the mud. Scientists recently added 2hrs to Saltwater Crocodiles underwater capabilities, making it about 7hrs lying motionless.

What's wrong? The cow isn't scared. It doesn't know just 2kms upstream a large cow had to be destroyed recently after a big male croc grabbed her head.

What's wrong? Perhaps even people who often encounter crocs don't give them enough credit as a predator almost unchanged through 90 million years of survival.

And guess what was lurking in the water just below my egg-sitting Carpet Python at Mungalla Station this morning? A slender 3m croc in a great shadowed tangle of fallen cottonwood limbs. They deserve more respect.


Thursday, December 24, 2015

Grand Unifying Theory: a birdbrain proposal


We've talked till blue in the face.

Looked at the biggest questions from orthodox ...

... and extraordinary positions.

Time someone took flight at the biggie: the Grand Unifying Theory. Here's a modest thesis: Scientists can't find God. And scientists can't find dark matter or dark energy, which together make up about 96% of the universe.

The answer's black and white: God must be both. So. Sorted! Consider it my little contribution to world peace and Xmas cheer.

More startling revelations to come ...