Thursday, July 30, 2009

Thick-knee trots over sands


Beach Thick-knee (Esacus magnirostris) trots over the sands at Taylors Beach, near Ingham, as I looked - in vain - for coastal waders on a low-tide morning this week. Blame, in part, the sand. Surging floodwaters early in the year washed sand over former areas of mud and sea grass. So the beach flats hold fewer feeding attractions.


Here's the only other bird that came close to the camera. No surprise that it's a Red-capped Plover (Charadrius ruficapillus). Not too many beaches up and down the coast without a pair of these plovers running busily here and there.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Heron hot-foots it for food

White-faced Heron (Egretta novaehollandiae) stalks through a shallow pool at Tyto. All that muddy water must make it hard to see prey. But the heron has a sneaky secret. It sometimes wiggles a foot forward and back, feeling through the mud for food.


Little Pied Cormorant (Microcarba melanoleucos) gives some wing feathers a brisk airing as morning sunlight floods its paperbark perch. The cormorants spend much of the day defending their stretches of lagoon from rivals ofthe same species, but ignore competition from the resident Snake-necked Darters.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Great Egret makes great swallow


Eastern Great Egret (Ardea modesta) makes a great catch and swallow look easy at Tyto today.


After lightning grab the bird strode away from the water, released the fish and regathered it head-first.


Quick juggle and down it goes.


Then, with fish still bulging within the lower neck, it's back to fishing.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Cuckoo happy on the ground


Horsfield's Bronze-Cuckoos (Chalcites basalis) spend more time on the ground than other cuckoos. (Yet are often seen in the open at the top of trees, after being first heard issuing their slightly melancholy whistling call.) They also appear more often than other cuckoos to take over care of their own young. After the parasitised parents have done the early hard work!


Here's junior today, with, I think, an Orange Dart (several similar species). The parent bird was taking caterpillars from the grass - and not doing much sharing. So I don't know if the butterfly was natural prey or just unlucky collateral damage as the juvenile learned the ropes.


Also popping up on the ground, a pair of Bush Thick-knees (Burhinus grallarius). Thick-knees??? Well, as I've just found, the accepted name guide for Australian birds, Chrisitidis & Boles 2008, drops Stone-Curlew in favour of Thick-knee. First time I've noticed the change. Not sure many birders use it. And, as you may see, the knees aren't that thick!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Getting it in the neck

Getting a sore neck looking up at birds does have some compensations. Some birds have their best feature tucked away under the bill. Male Rufous-throated Honeyeater (Conopophila rufogularis) leads off these examples from the past few days in Tyto.


Mature Spectacled Monarch (Symposiarchus trivirgatus) has plenty of colour to offer those peering up from down below.


Straw-necked Ibis (Threskiornis spinicollis) doesn't often demand neck-stretching exercises from observers as it walks by with straw-like plumes showing on its neck.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Egret enjoys large catch



Intermediate Egret (Ardea intermedia) comes up with tasty catch in Tyto, just as I was pondering their failure to grab anything large enough to be clearly seen before swallowing. Can't recall seeing many such big prizes, which Great Egrets routinely take.


Less lively tucker for Olive-backed Sunbird (Nectarinia jugularis), though this wild passionfruit didn't pass the taste test. Can't blame the bird for shunning sour green fruit.


Male Red-backed Fairy-wren (Malurus melanocephalus) isn't interested in eating its portion of African TulipTree flower. "Look at me in all my colourfulness," is the signal to female wrens. Can't say I've noticed many respond positively.


Red-browed Finch (Neochmia temporalis) almost a tasty catch in quest for better pictures of the shy little birds. Can't get them to pose long enoughand turn heads to me!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Crimson (Finch) tide to wane



Crimson Finches (Neochmia phaeton) are prominent all over open Tyto areas, coinciding with the departure of almost all the Nutmeg and Chestnut-breasted Mannikins. Here's my last tribute for the time being to the striking Crimsons.

From now on I'll be seeking better pictures of the less obliging Red-browed Finches (Neochmia temporalis).

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Honeyeaters enjoy varied diet


Honeyeaters enjoy a varied diet, though not quite so wide-ranging as this series might indicate. Starting with Brown Honeyeater (Lichmera indistincta) tucking into red bottlebrush at the Tyto carpark.


Next, Macleay's Honeyeater (Xanthotis macleayanus) dipping into rotting bananas set out in and around a pig trap.


Last, White-gaped Honeyeater (Lichenostomus unicolor) appears to be seeking an end to iron deficiency. Perhaps the bananas are too sweet.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Grey Goshawk out of hiding



What's big and grey and lives in the trees? Well, one answer would be Dumbo. But around Tyto at the moment one right answer is Grey Goshawk (Accipiter novaehollandiae). Plenty of sightings, mainly at a distance and viewing rapidly departing rear end. But yesterday brought a change of fortune. Bird rose from creek growth and perched on relatively open branches. Didn't take long for the honeyeaters and Willie Wagtails to chase the threat away. Similar story today, without any chance, however, of pictures.


Here's another big and grey bird up a tree. But White-faced Heron (Egretta novaehollandiae) prefers prowling along the water's edge. Standing about part-hidden in paperbarks - with tongue hanging out - lasts little longer than it takes for me to walk from the scene. In general, all herons are shyer than egrets. I have no idea why this should be so.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Darter glistens in early sunshine



Australasian Darter (Anhinga novehollandiae) sunning in a paperbark island at Tyto today. Several birds active in the lagoons these days. Elsewhere, close to Ingham, I recently spotted four rapidly maturing juveniles on a big messy nest visible from the highway.


At the same Cattle Creek site, large flocks of Intermediate Egrets are thriving on the large areas of silt and mud deposited by the massive floods of January-February.


Another mud lover is the oft-unloved White Ibis. But they grow more attractive the closer one gets.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Tree frog walks from snake's jaws



Muted barking in trees 30 metres across swamp grasses led me to Common Tree Snake trying to eat big pale-hued White-lipped Tree Frog in Tyto today.


First strike got frog behind front leg. Some blood flowed down side. Grip later shifted - before my arrival - to rear foot. Usual frog defence: make a lot of noise and either wedge into crevice or try to walk away.


Frog won - as I was changing lenses! Makes it Frogs 4 Snakes 0 for my sightings over recent years. But in all cases the frogs were large and the tree snakes moderate in length (about 1m).


No great pix from any of the four contests, but above, from three years back, is best.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Macleay's Honeyeater going bananas

Up close with a Macleay's Honeyeater (Xanthotis macleayanus) today in Tyto. Three birds (sorry, Snail, only got this one) and a pair of White-gapeds were picking at bananas in a pig trap.

Two other closeup holdovers: Black-fronted Dotterell, and Magpie Lark.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Friday, July 3, 2009

Who needs a flash new camera?

Had to trot out with old Panasonic camera today at Tyto after brain fade yesterday deleted some great pix from my Canon CF card. Will try using Media Recovery (after buying external CF card reader tomorrow) to get pix back. Anyway, today's Little Bronze Cuckoo (Chalcites minutillus - above) almost makes me wonder why I needed flash new camera and lovely 300L IS lens. Just joking, good old FZ30 seldom this sharp (because I was very close to bird!).


Here's something more like typical effort. Whistling Kite saw mature Black-necked Stork seeing off this maturing stork, and decided it also should play the bullyboy.


Earlier in week almost got a decent Fairy Gerygone shot.


Found this Northern Fantail looking up.


And chased after this Varied Triller, without getting a clean background.