Friday, July 21, 2017

Crisp morns, cool scenes, sun shines, peace reigns

Crisp morns, cool scenes ...

... sun shines, peace reigns.                                                

Monday, July 17, 2017

When you've GOT to go, you've gotta go

Got up early and got down to waiting for some sunshine to get Australian Reed-Warblers up and going in their stretch of Common Reed (aka Bamboo Grass and got more names). Got good shot of bird near top of reed stem.

And got lucky with bird that had just got lucky.

Also got up close to one of several Crimson Finches getting active in small Pandanus.

Got these shots of Crimsons the other day.

Got Leaden Flycatcher hopping on Pandanus branch.

And got female Olive-backed Sunbird getting into nicely colour-matched nectar-flower.

Got to get Double-barred Finch on to today's list.

Now, got to get to the GOT:
Onya, Arya! Starkest of the Starks. Cracking opening to season 7

Gotta go now.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Young Brolga stands out from the rest

Looks a bit lost in full frame image from Pandanus viewing point in the Town Common but maturing Brolga more trusting than the few others to be seen roaming in the distance.

Walked up on bird yesterday morning and ended openly close to it and chatting about this and that.

Of special interest, much younger bird lately seen with parents more than twice its size. Can't remember ever seeing Brolga near Ingham with any but flying juveniles. Got no help with this question.

Also in the area, returning pair of Bush Stone-curlews. Problem: heavy traffic at their preferred site, hard beside road. Compare distrusting look above ...

... with relaxed pose of one of 24 sunning recently in the city's Anderson Park.

Also on ground for a few days, scruffy parasite-afflicted Magpie Lark. Mud-grubbing species appears subject to both more unwanted passengers and facial diseases.

Not such a risk for Horsfields Bronze-cuckoo, which will feed on and near ground but spends much time calling from atop highest tree in the area. Bird above teased for a week before coming within shot.

Similar story with Sacred Kingfisher, another more often seen flashing off into the distance.

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Luck allows look at Baza launch and lunch overhead

Caught big break after catching up with resident trio of Pacific Bazas in Townsville Common today.

Bird launched from top of nearby tree ...

... flew back overhead with juicy catch ...

... quickly got down to business ...

... and within minutes Green Tree Frog was no more.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Black-throated Finches feel right at home among weeds?

Black-throated Finches no-shows today along the natural beauty of Sachs Creek in Oak Valley southwest of Townsville but showed up fully at home amid rampant weeds and many seeding grasses between nearby old and new highways.

Here's the irony: disappearance of some finch species inland has been put down to, among other things, war won against Rubber Vine (Cryptostegia grandiflora) and Chinee Apple (Ziziphus mauritiana). What's running riot near Townsville, specially through the Ross River Dam catchment? Yep, the terrible twosome. But they offer small birds great protection.

Back in Oak Valley, Blue-winged Kookaburra  pauses between minor scuffles with others of same species.

Pale-headed Rosella too gentle to scuffle. One of seven seen this morning.

And Brown Falcon stretches wings before drifting off over the tree tops to a more secure vantage spot.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Snarky snake turns from defence to offence

Ooo, look, poor old Carpet Python caught in double link fence keeping unwanteds out of airfield alongside Townsville Town Common Conservation Park.

Better help before a predator comes along, perhaps one of the four-wheeling variety: 'The only good snake is a dead snake!'

Ooo, but look, scene's not what it seems. Snake not stuck. Doesn't want any help. Wants closer taste of something in front of it.

Sneaky snake. Trying to bite hand, or worse, of helper.

Ooo, look, set to strike. Time to put Ipod down and speak sternly to snarky ingrate. Wasted words, of course. Bad-tempered, Carpets. Put camera between us. Better snake spittle on lens than teeth in Tony. Taken more than seven months to find big snake in the common. Worth the wait!

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Black-throated Finches rouse old memories

Quick trip to Oak Valley - just southwest of Townsville - yesterday to look for endangered Black-throated Finch refreshed memories. Fourteen years after spotting pair in tree near creek on boundary of the nature reserve found another two birds.

Flash of colour in tree on creek bank about 40 metres away, brief hop and stop. Grab quick burst of shots, lose focus, regain focus, lose birds. Gone, just as they did 14 years ago. Hang around. Nothing. Just like 14 years ago. More trees - and many more newly planted. But no good news for native grasses and, therefore, the finches. Huge contraction in their original (pre-European) range has left a few shrinking pockets of the species struggling against inexorable habitat changes. I've been lucky again - no such luck for the Black-throated Finch.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Raptors ruffled and unruffled

Striking contrast between raptors from recent morning surveys: Nankeen Kestrel neat, unruffled ...

... White-bellied Sea-eagle, less than unruffled, though not ruffled by my close presence ...

... and female Eastern Osprey showing splendid spread of feathers on return to nest tree.

Next morning Baza bonus:

Friday, June 23, 2017

Australian Ravens batter spiders and bowl crickets

Ants? Not so much. Spiders? Yes, yes,yes.  Crickets? Rare treat! Closer look at Australian Ravens ripping into leaf nests this week (earlier post, June 18) came up with bad news for leaf-sac spiders.

Rough counts show 30-40 maturing spiders per nest. Some must escape as nest is pierced after being torn from tree and dropped or flown to road.

So local Australian Ravens (Torresian Crows too? Probably, but only ravens seen) continue to poke into road metal, digging safety-seeking spiders from under loose stones.

Much better than spiders must be biggish, juicy tree (Raspy?) cricket within its near-identical leaf nest, created for protection from dehydration or while moulting (up to 12 times).

Judging by ravens' behaviour and leaf litter left on road the birds don't or can't distinguish between spiders' and crickets' nests.

Rarity of definite cricket nests found prevents even the roughest of estimates of spider-cricket nest ratio.

And the ants? Live nests are so firmly anchored the ravens cannot hope to dislodge them. Perhaps their attacks on old, dead nests have another prey in mind? Questions, always questions.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Tough to stalk the stalk-carrying Black-necked Stork

Here's Mr Sneaky, whose nest is just behind us - somewhere. He's sneaky because he takes different routes out and in on flights to collect grass for nest lining. And he always carries the grass so it covers the left side of his head. How sneaky is that? Tough to stalk the Black-necked Stork.

Nor is it easy walking through high guinea grass and swampy sedges to say good morning to Black-shouldered Kite. Bird considered the friendly greeting, shrugged the black shoulders, and delivered the old cold shoulder.

Much friendlier, fast-maturing Australian Hobby. Gidday, I shouted from Payets Tower in the Town Common. Gidday yourself, bird said. Well, maybe it didn't. But it did cast careless look at me before going back to ignoring efforts by Whitebreasted Woodswallows to move it on.

And old mate White-bellied Sea Eagle put up with considerable inane conversation before letting loose with an excretive expletive and departure as I got too close to perching place near locked gate at turnoff to Bald Rock.

Just across road on the same morning, Rainbow Bee-eater shows at its best in cool early light. But - always a but - it ignored the two perches free of distracting foliage. Easy, sez you, clone em out. Now, there's the problem. All that lovely background is full of subtle colour changes, making cloning nigh impossible to conceal.

The question seldom ever arises with Tawny Grassbird. Here's a bird that delights in tormenting. Pops up for a split-second, dives back into thick grasses. Or emerges from tangle of twigs and poses against the messiest of backgrounds.

Often in the same habitat as the grassbirds, Red-backed Fairy Wrens oblige by moving through trees and clearer foraging spots. Not too sneaky. Not too shy. Not too quick. Only ... only the red and black males don't oblige near so often. However, all things come ...