Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Chastening chase ends the month

Chased after Rufous-throated Honeyeaters (Conopophila rufogularis) today in Tyto under yet more grey skies and passing showers, but above male represents an admission of defeat, dating from earlier in month.

Had even less luck in quest for Little Kingfisher (Ceyx pusilla), above, and by chance on same morning as honeyeater. Azure kingfishers, which were also much in evidence earlier in month, have likewise dropped out of sight in past two weeks.

Shining Flycatcher pair continue work on nest (seems rather laboured build), Comb-crested Jacanas continue sit in sight of lookout, Crimson Finches still busy nesting here and there, but in total things somewhat subdued. Here's hoping for April sunshine and typical jump of 10-20 species in monthly count over March's 97.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Stiffed for kingfisher answers

Forest Kingfisher (Todiramphus macleayii) stiffly alert in Tyto the other day. Bird had been perched unconcerned above a creek pool and allowed approach to almost 12 metres.

Posture changed suddenly to ramrod straight. Bird stared intently up as it shifted about on branch for at least two minutes. No sight or sound to explain reaction. Similar poses when kingfishers squabble last a few seconds. The threat (goshawk? snake? avian paranoia??) passed, bird relaxed. Walk on none the wiser.

Little bit wiser about male Red-backed Fairy-wrens (Malurus melanocephalus). Bird in Tyto yesterday shows better definition of blacks, though pose hides the red.

Also had another go at best of previous images, including cloning out branch acoss tip of tail. Better, but far from perfect.

Shining Flycatchers: male tried nest for size yesterday; also bringing material for female to place. Comb-crested Jacana sitting on 'nest' (minuscule raised patch 50 metres away atop floating leaves: eggs not visible) directly in front of Tyto lookout. And two week-oldish chicks spotted hiding within scleria in front of hide yesterday.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Red-backed Wren too black for hack

Male Red-backed Fairy-wren (Malurus melanocephalus) poses prettily in Tyto yesterday but jet-black plumage poses usual problems.

Tune down the sheen and as black detail emerges light colours blow out. (Tried selecting bird and branch for separate colour adjustments but 'magic scissors' too imprecise along the edges.)

Images not quite worth effort to clone out branch acoss tip of tail.

Mark it down as an almost.
PS: All four look better on Ingham Library monitor as I post this than on my notebook. Might be a lesson there somewhere!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Black-Cockatoo cruises over wetlands

Male Red-tailed Black-Cockatoo (Calyptorhynchus banksii) cruises over Tyto today. The most common of Australia's six black-cockatoos - and the only one in this area - is often heard passing by but is not attracted to the wetland's trees (loves Indian Almonds).


And the red tail? Hinted at in these pictures, after brutal adjusting colour curves. Have been trying for long time to get takeoff and landing shots of birds with tails splayed to show the red or yellow (female) tail panels. Another in the 'one day' file.

Shining Flycatcher nest: still abuilding.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Right little upright mannikin

Standing up for oneself widely admired, but not so desirable for bird picture - as evidenced by this Chestnut-breasted Mannikin (Lonchura castaneothorax) in Tyto today. An upright avian citizen indeed. More generally, immature flocks of mannikins are starting to gather. Soon there'll be groups of 40-50 young birds foraging amid the seeding grasses.


In past years Rainbow Bee-eaters (Merops ornatus) also have gathered in large flocks. But not in the wetlands recently. Have almost given up hope of decent aerial shots.

Even more limited exercise of capturing birds with intact tail-shafts showing clearly has proved trickier than expected. Who said practice makes perfect?

Shining Flycatchers persisting with nest today. Noticed male's only role is to chase Wille Wagtails away. Appears to do nothing toward building.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Shining Flycatcher nest in wrong light?

Female Shining Flycatcher (Myiagra alecto) gets down to adding material to nest in triple fork of bare sapling today. First nest-building by the infrequent visitors in my more than six years in Tyto.

The site amid open pandanus and cheesewood trees, and right alongside main service track into the wetlands, is a surprising choice, even though over a temporary pond. The birds, specially males, love deep shadows along creeks and other treed waterways.

Got quick picture and left after male flew in and took off without going close to nest. Rare to even see a male in Tyto. I'd predict birds won't go on with the project - if I'd a better track record.

And talking of track records, here's an immature White-bellied Sea-Eagle (Haliaeetus leucogaster: 2-3 years) caught cruising briefly overhead the other day. My record of tracking high birds and getting super sharp pix is not great. And unimproved!

Anyway, eagle wasting its time really, given the near total lack of prey on or near the main lagoon. Frustrating for both of us since bird didn't hang about and allow time for (possibly) sharper shots.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Finches splash the red about

Plenty of Crimson Finches (Neochmia phaeton) young and old adding their range of reds to the wetlands greenery these days.

The full range of colour splashed about the place much determined by sunshine. However nothing makes most birds shine more than highlights in the eye. It's tempting (and easy) to add same. I have resisted all temptation - in this post!

Immature bird caught today. No glint in the eye for plain youngster.

And a little more red. This Red-browed Finch (Neochmia temporalis) brought glint to my eye. Closest I've come lately to satisfying shot of species. Pity morning glare and shadow proved too much to fix.

Caught these Red-backed Fairy-wrens (Malurus melanocephalus) preening yesterday. Eye problems here: female mostly kept nictitating membrane up as male preened her; his eye, as always with species, lost against black plumage.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Stork roams stalking ground

Young male Black-necked Stork (Ephippiorhynchus asiaticus) takes off from beside entry track to Tyto and drops down closer to its regular stalking ground near the new lagoons and close to football pitch.

The rising two-year-old has made himself at home over the past two months. Bird's comfort zone is about 50 metres. No problems given lack of visitors during wet season. But that will change soon - and football's nearing kickoff. No sign in Tyto of the parent birds (though both seen farther afield) or - for months - of two siblings.

Also few sightings of egrets and herons. Pair of Little Egrets showing breeding plumage turned up briefly for a day. Great and Intermediate (above, earlier in year) Egrets have come and gone overhead without dropping in. Cotton Pygmy-goose only bird of note on main lagoon yesterday. Gone today. March counts shaping lower than usual, even before the front of Cyclone Ului (still days away).

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Salvage work sharpens Whistler

Rufous Whistler (Pachycephala rufiventris) pops in just two metres from the hide. Quick shot and bird's off again. Too sudden to change camera settings. Too close for desirable depth of field. Not much of a picture. But ...

But ... lose the blurry bits, reshape the final image and the picture looks a bit better. Not always so lucky.

Tried various crops with this Red-browed Finch (Neochmia temporalis). To no avail. Some shots just don't have enough quality to repay extra effort

Monday, March 8, 2010

What's black and white and reared all over?


What's black and white and breeds all over Australia? Two right answers always prominent in Tyto.

First up, Willie Wagtail (Rhipidura leucophrys) takes a break from chasing prey out and about on water lilies. Not uncommon behaviour, but hard to capture up close.


Have also been stalking Magpie-larks (Grallina cyanoleuca), seeking flight pictures. But the few birds happy to have me tag along with them for a spell won't fly on demand.

At least the now sunny days bring out the gloss of nature's blacks and whites.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Catching a kingfisher; losing a digit

How to catch a Little Kingfisher. First train spiders to spin super strong line ... Nah. See bird on bridge wire. Shoot dud pictures today against harsh morning light (the rain stopped Monday: sunshine ever since: who sez season should change with equinox?) Start to delete pictures. Notice strand appearing to tether bird. Sneaky wee bit of cloning adds to illusion.

It's a little better than Brown Falcon caught briefly from rolling car yesterday.


And much better than Bar-shouldered Dove caught at start of flight early in week.

February counts: 91 bird species in Tyto: 89 in 2009; 94 in 2008.


Last word: Telstra and Tyto Tony tangle and tango no more. tonyashton1 AT bigpondbastards DOT com loses a digit (bit like Frodo in a way) and gains freedom as tonyashton0 AT gmaildonoevil DOT com. May the satanic $249 modem melt in the fires of hell, or Mordor.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Lookout, look out, look up, look down

When the birds won't come close, what to do? Well, landscape doesn't flee from the camera. Though effective capture isn't so easy! Above, Tyto lookout (seen in a sunnier month) from the west across part of the main lagoon. Complete with Green Pigmy Geese, Agile Wallaby and Intermediate Egret.

Here's a waving mass of scleria framed by the Tyto hide paperbarks, being breezed about during a brief break from rain yesterday.

And the millions spent on Tyto lately must be worth a picture. Lookout tower at end of elevated walkway linking info centre and new restaurant and community complex overlooking northeastern end of the wetlands. From the stalag steel school of architecture.

Theme continues through this one of two footbridges (viewed from walkway). The Muscovy female and her huge male partner love it down there.