Monday, March 28, 2016

Limping back into action

Broken toe on mend so took trial walk into Tyto today. Slowly in, slowly out, and slow birding in between. So we must do with some holdovers, starting with White-browed Robin (Poecilodryas superciliosa) pausing during morning 'wash' among condensation-soaked leaves of Bleeding Heart.

Another Tyto robin standing out attractively.

And here's a female Red-tailed Black-Cockatoo (Calyptorhynchus banksii) with fruiting Leichhardt trees as backdrop. Fittingly, because group of five birds were feeding greedily on fallen fruit at the time in Tyto.

Also feeding, Australasian Darter (Anhinga novehollandiae) a few weeks back in Mungalla Station. Fish looks a bit too big? No problem. Flick of head, gulp, gulp, and fish was gone.

Horsfield's Bushlark (Mirafra javanica) on Orient Station fence seemed unsure of final destination for prey, carrying it along fenceline with several stopovers. Lost track of bird. Perhaps feeding a youngster somewhere. Image also contains evidence of being 'squared up' in processing. See it?

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Scores of Latham's Snipe - score one for me

Flooded creek at Mungalla Station looks rather lifeless, but hiding in those dead grasses are Latham's Snipe (Gallinago hardwickii) aplenty. How many? Counted 11 today, 15 previously. That's without even getting too close. My best guess? At least 30.

But they've not been lining up for pictures. Just luck that helped me catch sight of this one close enough to roadside to sneak up in the Troopy - and not have the bird fly as I stopped and poked camera and lens across the bonnet. One frame only not obscured by vegetation or blurred by the bird's movement.

And more good luck. No picture, but saw one Yellow Wagtail at another part of creek today. Could be newcomer on way to northern migration, More likely one of summer residents still around in spite of 1000mm rain this month.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Shelduck drops in for waterlogged figs

Looking for Radjah Shelduck (Tadorna radjah) around Ingham would mostly be a waste of time. Finding one feeding happily on waterlogged figs fallen into cattle-trodden mud this week was a surprise.

The bird did not appear injured or exhausted yet allowed rare close approach before keeping wary distance by walking slowly off. Pity the overcast light muted the plumage colours.

Monday, March 14, 2016

Hello, sunny Cisticola, farewell wetted Wagtails

Bit of sunshine after about 10 days rain off and on and minor coastal flooding took me to a weir behind the Ingham sugar mill, looking for interesting fly-ins, but finding only flighty sparrows and a Golden-headed Cisticola (Cisticola exilis).

A charming cisticola, though, and so determined to show off to shining advantage.

But it seems my Yellow Wagtails have been driven away by all the rain. The departure usually comes with the normal deluges in early January. So they stayed an extra two months this year. Image above is one of last and best from Mungalla Station.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Floods bring terns from beach to road

White-winged Black Tern (Chlidonias leucopterus) drops in to mix with smaller Little Tern (Sternula albifrons). Just another morning at the beach? Not quite. The terns are in the middle of a high part of Orient Road, running through Orient Station southeast of Ingham. The local drought's broken with about 600mm of rain in the past 10 days. The first 200mm went straight through the cracks. Much of the past 300mm has backed up and caused minor flooding. It should mean an excellent beef and sugar cane year. And the terns will enjoy a change from the seaside.

Friday, March 4, 2016

A bird's gotta do what a bird's gotta do

A nest-building Crimson Finch (Neochmia phaeton) tries to pick up every white feather it sees. Because the small soft ones are the ultimate in nesting comfort. And she who must be obeyed is fussy about what she'll accept for her coming clutch.
But it seems the birds lack much sense of timing or scale and can't discriminate between perfect bedding and impossibly large challenges. Eventually they find that some feathers just won't fly.

What's in a colour? Young Mistletoebird (Dicaeum hirundinaceum) comes with bright orange bill and gape. Parents carry plain old dull dark grey. Presumably because no one is going to try to poke food into them while inside a dark cute nest shaped like baby's bootee. Possibly also the colour helps parents locate their young after they've first left the nest.

Why the striking pattern? Young Pallid Cuckoo (Cacomantis pallidus) stands out in full sunlight. Soon it will take on the grey tones of a maturing bird. The juvenile plumage doesn't bear much resemblance to honeyeaters and other species parasitised by Pallids. It is said to perhaps offer dappling camouflage as the bird spills out over the small nests the egg is deposited in. It's the first juvenile Pallid I've seen for years.