Monday, May 31, 2010

Little Kingfisher tests the reflexes

Tested reflexes by trying to catch Little Kingfisher (Ceyx pusilla) on the dive yesterday.

Bird won 149-1. Well, almost one. And maybe it was 249 duds.

Anyway, just near enough to encourage more efforts.

Meanwhile, Shining Flycatcher (Myiagra alecto) juveniles doing well.

Female parent was doing almost all the feeding.

Male now doing some, because one juvenile chasing it.

May species count: 112, very slightly down on most of previous six years.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Comedy with not so old Chestnut

Colours bit muted for a clown, but this Chestnut-breasted Mannikin (Lonchura castaneothorax) could be auditioning for best comic dance in the Tyto Follies.

Same bird, a split-second earlier. Timing's all in comedy.

No laughs from this Carpet Python the other day. Though some seem to grin when open mouthed, snakes offer little humour.

Many honeyeaters today and yesterday found large Amethystine Python in pandanus no joke. It proved camera shy, so snake-cringers can relax.

Meanwhile, Shining Flycatcher juveniles doing well with parent female (above) doing almost all the feeding.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Pretty slick stuff, this oil!

Tyto hand rails got a splash of wood oil the other day. Small hydrocarbon slicks then showed out alongside a footbridge.

Pretty enough when first seen. Applied severe lighten and contrast to the original image. Even prettier, yes?

And the slick's fast disappearing. No such magic with BP's calamity.

Also looking slick, Black-fronted Dotterel (Elseyornis melanops) on the edge of a favourite muddy patch at northeast of wetlands.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Shining end to Butcherbird threat

Life and death drama for Shining Flycatchers (Myiagra alecto) after juveniles left nest on Friday. Saturday brought Black Butcherbird (big appetite for little birds).

But in more than an hour of searching neither Butch (ignoring throughout Shining parents' fluttering, rasping protests) nor I could find the youngsters.

Yesterday, no dramas. Parents on job (top two pix). No sign of Butch. Shining end!

Bit of shine from Green Pygmy-goose (Nettapus pulchellus) trailing glistening droplets as she takes to the air from the main lagoon. Three pairs settled in now.

Looking pleased with life, Magpie Goose (Anseranas semipalmata) wings over the lagoon. Most of the birds have quit the wetlands.

Not looking so sharp, Forest Kingfisher (Todiramphus macleayii) tucks in ready for landing on bush below lookout.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Varied Eggfly varies the chase

Chased butterflies instead of birds for sunny spell yesterday. Varied Eggfly (Hypolimnas bolina) provides in-flight action around the main lagoon.

Cranked up ISO and shutter speeds to slow things down a bit.

Female quarry stops for taste of swamp lily.

And here's a Ulysses Swallowtail (Papilio ulysses) from holdover folder. Hopes for worthy flight shots of species have died out.

Shining Flycatchers (Myiagra alecto) full fledged yesterday.

Today, both capable of flying 15-20 metres and sooo hungry!

For those hungering after facts: Nest build: 30 days; sit 15 days; feed/fledge 15 days.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Coming to a Shining finish

Watch on Shining Flycatchers (Myiagra alecto) nearing end. Two young almost ready to begin wobbly walks around edge of nest.

Parents hunting hard much of day to sustain them.

Happily, the hunting goes on well away from the nest. Most pictures have been obtained without risk of giving away exact location.

Fortunately, the main hunting area is close by two small footbridges and major walking tracks.

Even so, only the rarity of the breeding in Tyto led me to many quick checks on the nest. Too much temptation to hang around and risk driving birds off or otherwise putting the parents or eggs in harm's way.

And now for something completely different. Masked Lapwings (Vanellus miles) cruised noisily by main lagoon today. The blue skies are back!

Monday, May 17, 2010

Tree gloom, green bloom, fig boom

Azure Kingfisher (Ceyx azureus) starts dive from tree gloom to fish doom. Three days sunshine marked Ingham's annual Italian festival, but the Azure stuck to the shadows. (Click any pic to enlarge).

Snuck closer through the trees.

Bird just wouldn't pose right for the light.

Did better with Chestnut-breasted Mannikin (Lonchura castaneothorax) feeding on blooming green water weed.

Crawled to within five metres along track close to temporary pool.

Today, grey skies and spotty drizzle. Above Australasian Figbird (Sphecotheres vielloti), one of many suddenly keen on figs from tree shading the Tyto lookout. Usually tasteless and dry, figs were indeed juicier today.

Updates: Shining Flycatchers still feeding two chicks. Jacana families all OK.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Brahminy heads shaky showing

Trip to Townsville yesterday meant chance an hour or two through the Town Common, a magnet for birders. Notable sightings of several raptors chasing various prey. Notable lack of luck capturing anything. Above Brahminy Kite (Haliastur indus) best of a shaky showing.

It was sharing perch and launch tree about 50 metres from the Freshwater Lagoon's formidable concrete bunker of a hide with an immature Brahminy, which I mistook at first for a Little Eagle. Junior took up positions almost impossible to photograph. And every dive it made for insects took it behind cover.

Even this Australian Brush-turkey (Alectura lathami) near the hide refused to get into the clear. To be unkind, could be because such looks really shouldn't be paraded in the open.

Back at Tyto, male Shining Flycatcher about to feed demanding throats. Picture from earlier in week but same story today.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Spotless Crake not so easy to spot

Immature Spotless Crake (Porzana tabuensis) peers from out of cover beside a Tyto track. In maturity the drab grey back will give way to chocolate brown. The eyes will glow red. Ditto the legs. Worth waiting to see.


Always worth waiting to see: Rainbow Lorikeet (Trichoglossus haematodus), scratched up from the holdover file.

Ditto this Red-tailed Black-Cockatoo (Calyptorhynchus banksii) crunching into green almond down the road from Tyto.

Updates: Male Comb-crested Jacana stays glued to surviving youngster. Three other families: four, three and two immatures. Plus two youngsters now independent.

Shining Flycatchers still feeding probably three hatchlings.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Pairing up poses problems

Often have picture or two tucked away waiting for complementary image. Above Northern Fantail (Rhipidura rufiventris) from last week strikes a great pose, but hides almost all the plumage details that identify the species.

Today, this bird obliged, presenting helpful view of soft breast streaking and delicate lower colouring.

Seldom any difficulty identifying Willie Wagtail (Rhipidura leucophrys). Hoped to partner above bird with flight picture, possibly with prey being taken.

All came to nothing much. Time to clear the file and move on.

Moving on even more quickly this morning from this idea. Four-in-one - Agile Wallaby and Great Egret mirrored - seemed promising, from a distance!

Updates: Male Comb-crested Jacana still almost glued to surviving youngster. Shining Flycatchers now feeding x? hatchlings.