Thursday, April 29, 2010

Cotton allows closer approach

Closer look at female Cotton Pygmy-goose (Nettapus coromandelianus). Male gone.

Female today remarkably unflighty.

Allowed me to walk to lagoon edge, about 20 metres from it feeding alone.

Updates: Comb-crested Jacana still on four eggs. Seems juvenile Jacana quads reduced to three in one family, two in the other. Shining Flycatchers still on x? eggs.


And here's a six-year first: yabby (Cherax spp) on a walking track. But no sign of Dodos ...

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Too close to gorgeous

Came upon this male Olive-backed Sunbird (Nectarinia jugularis) up a bit too close for 300mm lens and 1.4x converter yesterday.

So images are rather soft. And tongue was too quick. But gorgeous is gorgeous. Right?

Also found Cotton Pygmy-goose (Nettapus coromandelianus) twosome (male, left, chasing female) - seldom seen singly in Tyto; rarer still paired - feeding and squabbling among themselves and two Green Pygmy-geese (Nettapus pulchellus).

Easy at a distance (and more so in poor light) to confuse Cottons (front) and Greens (rear). Safest guide often pattern on birds' flanks.

And here's a surprise. Not! Birds Cottons turned up day after I advised visitors of their rarity in the wetlands. Almost enough to make one talk of lack of Dodos, in hope they'll magic into being just to prove one wrong!

Updates: Comb-crested Jacana still on four eggs. Shining Flycatchers still on ? eggs.


Thursday, April 22, 2010

Graceful Honeyeater chips in nicely

Hard to get open shots of ever busy Graceful Honeyeaters (Meliphaga gracilis), a handful of which have begun sounding again in Tyto.

Best view for long time came today as bird foraged, mainly on insect-ravaged corkwood leaves. Oft-repeated 'chip' call identifies Gracefuls from very similar Yellow-spotteds.

But not all the 'chips' fall from Gracefuls. Northern Fantail (Rhipidura rufiventris) also can go for long spells on one maddeningly similar note. Pity, because it means the fantail less often breaks into one of the most cheerfully sweet songs heard in the wetlands.

Sweet scarcely describes the sound of any flycatcher. Above female Leaden Flycatcher (Myiagra rubecula) rasped away near the site of the Shining Flycatcher nest this week. Didn't seem to bother the nest builders, specially the male, which is lately doing much sitting.

Update: Comb-crested Jacana eggs OK. No sign of the two lots of four Jacana juveniles. Probably safe in inaccessible parts of lagoon system.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Pardalote heralds the sunshine

Got first Striated Pardalote (Pardalotus striatus) in six years at northeast corner Tyto late in 2009. Today, first of species seen (or heard) in heart of the wetlands.

Visible near footbridge to lookout for about three seconds after much distant 'witchy-chew'. Twitchy bird landed briefly in corkwood. Switched to taller paperbark. Vanished east.

Sun today, following three miserable wet and grey days. Above, Green Pygmy-goose (Nettapus pulchellus) not so showy under lowering sky. Below, Australasian Darter (Anhinga novehollandiae) reflects a washed-out morning.

Updates: Comb-crested Jacana eggs OK. Ditto, eight juveniles. Shining Flycatchers still at (but rarely on) nest.

Of note: three immature Dollarbirds came and went; ditto small dark Brown Goshawk

Friday, April 16, 2010

Crimsons lead in breeding bonanza

Tyto teeming with tinkling young Crimson Finches (Neochmia phaeton). Plenty more on the way as nesting carries on apace. Why stop with one lot of four or five? Five for Mum, five for Dad. Maybe even five for the country (he smirked).

Also numerous, but not so fixed on nonstop breeding, Golden-headed Cisticola (Cisticola exilis) finds time to sing and enjoy the warmth this week.

Bad news at Shining Flycatcher nest? Well, female turned up again yesterday and today. The epic nest build is back on. Be 2011 before eggs are laid at the present erection (pun if you like) rate.

Found another four young Comb-crested Jacanas today. That's eight thriving in main lagoon system. Above, four more (one hidden behind egg on left) on the way.

Parent resented the attention, but 'threatening' display actually drew me to look for the eggs.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Today the trees are full of Forests

Suddenly Tyto's alive with Forest Kingfishers (Todiramphus macleayii). The pattern repeats every year, yet the day always comes as a surprise.

Today was the day. Yesterday, two or three here or there. Today, six here, six there, and more elsewhere.

For all their numbers, not one bird allowed close approach. On rare occasion Forests will ignore someone walking up. Hope it's soon!

Bad news at Shining Flycatcher nest. No sign of female for three days. Scrambled across to nest. No sign any eggs. Nest not quite fully lined. Appears male and were abandoned.

But the four young Comb-crested Jacanas continue to thrive on the lily pads out in front of the lookout.

Also thriving, Agile Wallabies. Perhaps last year's flooding triggered heavy breeding to replace the losses. Certainly numbers bounced back speedily.

This joey about due to quit the pouch.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Hungry Jacana gets last laugh

No more obsessed with Comb-crested Jacanas (Irediparra gallinacea) than with other birds in Tyto but they have proved rather centre of recent focus. (The junior four all OK today).

Did not set out to capture this Jacana seizing shred of water lily leaf yesterday. The birds do this on occasion, probably a byproduct of their search for insect (larval?) morsels from the underside of the leaves.

My hope was for flight shots when bird reacted to slow sinking by uplifting elsewhere. Got caught unable to use tripod and in blazing sun waiting, waiting, waiting ... Camera got heavier. Bird wouldn't uplift. Sun got hotter, hotter, hotter. Camera heavier, heavier, heavier.

Of course, bird waited till I lowered camera. Uplifted, and strolled off, laughing (I have no doubt whatsoever) at me.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Wren gets ready for the day

Getting spruced up for the day, Red-backed Fairy-wren (Malurus melanocephalus) finds a safe spot deep within a tangle of twiggy branches.

All done, time to find something to eat ...

Oops: Did I post Comb-crested Jacana eggs sunk? Correction: hatched. Long-distance shot from yesterday shows four very young birds and parent. No sign of the youngsters for two days? Probably sheltered within the scleria straight after hatching.

Also good news at Shining Flycatcher nest. Female and male in evidence yesterday and today. Can't risk splashing out to nest (two metres above knee-deep water) to check for eggs for fear of scaring birds away. So, more wait and see.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Lone egret makes a catch

Solitary Eastern Great Egret (Ardea modesta) tosses up catch of the day at Tyto this morning.

Fish part of the bird's take from one of many temporary grassland pools swollen after a fortnight of heavy rain punctuated by dispiriting drizzle. Plenty of fish but almost no birds chasing them. That's what happens when the wetlands gets too wet.

Forest Kingfishers (Todiramphus macleayii) sit out an Easter shower.

Picture taken as I waited in vain for break in weather and chance to photograph Comb-crested Jacana sitting on eggs. Today, eggs gone, submerged by three days' downpours. Also missing: female Shining Flycatcher; though male showed up briefly at nest. Fingers crossed!