Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Fishing for apologies with the Ospreys

Not happy, Man! (Ospreys upset at being relegated to second banana by near invisible dragonfly.) We're top dogs, um, birds in the Common. And don't you forget it. We demand an apology, on page 1 (Ha, little do they know it's the only page)! And better pictures.

Don't deliver and we'll plaster your Troopy in fish-fuelled corrosive poop till all your paint peels. (I would perhaps have argued the toss but the Troopy's only done 440,000km, so it's barely run-in and must last many years yet.)

Apologised in person yesterday and explained I'd need a flyover to meet their demands. Male wasn't keen but his missus said OK, slapped her two big whingeing fledglings with half eaten breakfast fish and did a circuit. Now bugger off, she said. And so I did.




Sunday, November 27, 2016

Putting things right with Common insects

Think insects got sold short in Townsville Common coverage yesterday. So went to great lengths to put matters right today. After titanic struggle manhandled reluctant cicada into plastic bag, transported it five kilometres to prime shedding spot, Threatened to nail it to tree if it didn't sit still a spell. So, lo, back view to complement yesterday's Rainbow Bee-eater victim.

Not content with this endeavour, did a little bark-prising and found well-mannered cockroach. Just had to wag finger close to its head and all movement ceased for minute or more. Local spiders failed to respond similarly. They'll learn in time.

And here's the third in insect atonement. An Osprey isn't an insect, you say? Ha, look closer.
Up by the bird's head. See it? Big dragonfly.Not easy to come by, these trained dragonflies. Almost rare as Daenerys Stormborn's sheep barbecuers. Summer is coming to the Common!!!

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Some cicadas must lose the game of sums

The cicadas outnumber the Rainbow Bee-eaters by hundreds to one at the Townsville Common these days. But long odds don't count for much when an insect's number is up.


Elsewhere, a different numbers game. Water fast vanishing from underneath wetland birds. Above, a tiny selection of hundreds of egrets, spoonbills and ibises on one of freshwater reedbeds lowest points. Many of the Great Egrets bearing breeding colouring, mostly with blackening bills.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Woodswallows forgo fork to breed and feed

First morning of retirement village life in Townsville and I'm greeted by White-breasted Woodswallows feeding varied diet to two youngsters at the Town Common..

Seems parent birds chose to nest in hollow at end of dead branch,rather than in substantial deep fork of trees with upright habit, such as many paperbarks.

What the food service lacked in speed was offset by variations of flying prey.

Not sure butterfly wings count for many calories.

Very slim pickings here.

Something a bit more substantial.

And perhaps flying ants for dessert.


A last hurrah on my last Ingham morning in Tyto Wetlands, finally caught up with Lovely Fairy-wren. Little bugger wouldn't stop forage-flitting through thick regrowth. Easy for him. I had to crash through. It could end only one way. Lost him. Here's to chasing and losing birds  whereever they may be. Even if it means Tyto Tony becomes no more than Tryto Tony.


Monday, November 21, 2016

It's time we heard from the birds

Not so cute! Not so cute!? Whaddya mean? Got my eyes, yes? That'll do for now. Nobody calls any child of mine 'Not so cute'. Come back in two weeks and you'll see!

Sit still! Sit still! Who are you to tell me to sit still? I'll fluff and flounce and fling my feathers any way I please. So there. Oh, all right. But you'd better be quick about it.

Sing? Sing? It's not enough that I'm going out of my way to cling to the green stuff and look pretty? You want singing as well? Go see my cousin across the way, now there's a singer for you.

Barking Owls, Crimson Finch, Golden-headed Cisticolas

Friday, November 18, 2016

Leaden Flycatchers stick to site in the open

Stern talking to didn't stop Leaden Flycatcher building nest low on open branch in small paperbark almost on major Tyto track. But female, above, stopped flitting away when I began talking to it as I approached. Male - sharing sitting duties, mainly in early morning - not so keen on conversation. The birds - or other pairs - have used the same tree for more than six years, without previously building in such an exposed position.

Close by, caught Little Shrike-thrush with insect extracted from cracked bark of Cheese Tree. This and many other species has been busy building and breeding lately. The nests are always tucked carefully away in shadowy foliage, often in Cheese Trees,


Captured so-so images of Welcome Swallow on the wing the other day. But no results from efforts to catch White-breasted Woodswallows on the wing as they come and go near the Tyto hide, building a nest in a major vertical fork (as usual) of a large paperbark. Rubbing failure in - and evidence of the breeding rush - another pair of Woodswallows this morning darted here and there feeding a ravenous youngster.

Grimmer sign of hunger in the wetlands, found this Agile Wallaby feeding near entry track yesterday. Seemed almost unaware and unhampered by gaping surface wound, result of Dingo or dog attack. Bits of ear also missing. Dried wound looked infection-free, so animal appears a lucky survivor.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Mild murmurs mark more 'Moon-I-see' than lunacy

Moon mania. Not so much madness as mild murmurs of 'Seen it' and quick returns to telly.

Cloudless night up this way, with perhaps touch of mild sky pollution from sugar mill chimneys.

If it had been a rare big bird I'd have rushed 100 metres closer. Doesn't work with the Moon. Not same picture, but three processed with minor variations.

And here's another opinion. Just kidding. Latest image of Barking Owl youngster in tree hollow scarcely hints at fine feathers to come. One day soon it'll shine along with the Moon.


Thursday, November 10, 2016

Unwise Barking Owls give up hollow victory

Big grove of big trees full of big, big holes. So where does Barking Owl (Ninox connivens) plonk an egg? Bang in front of any casual passerby - at eye level with the resulting owlet.

Bird or birds then draw extra notice to that boo-boo by messing about on the ground close to hollow long after sunrise.

No wonder their little guy sees world with somewhat jaundiced eye.

And they're a bit tardy with garbage removal. Just as well they've got me to hide their blushes!

Monday, November 7, 2016

Spotless, White-browed Crakes share spoils with few tiffs

Spotless Crake finally finding mud footing firm enough to venture forth with longer-toed White-browed Crakes in front of Tyto hide these drying days.

Didn't hear or see the species for more than two months and began to wonder if some or all had done an overnight bunk. Perhaps numbers of sightings have been unusually low for a combination of reasons: strange Wet season, low breeding output, some departures.

Feeding birds ignored me over the weekend as I crawled close. Even when aching back forced me to sit up the birds stayed close across narrow channel. Added 1.4x to 600mm lens and did some shooting in raw+jpeg. For those interested, first image is jpeg with one light sharpening. Second, same image with second sharpening. Third image, raw converted to tiff, one sharpening. File size increased by about 4.5x raw over jpeg (6mb to 26mb) and another 3x tiff over raw (26mb to 72mb). Good luck trying to spot anything like such differences in images prepared for the blog. But it can matter to printers and the pros.

Another view, just for luck.

And here's the feeding partner. Mostly the two shared without tiffs.


Thursday, November 3, 2016

Jumping into smaller world poses questions

Jumping from birds to a few smaller targets poses questions before and after shooting.

Getting close enough for new macro lens (100mm f2.8 IS 1:1macro) to shine means aiming for 20-30cm distance - without scaring subject away.

Seems few creatures really want to star in blogland. And those that reluctantly sit still for a second or two then refuse to be pinned down taxonomically. So, Jumping Spider may be either Cytaea or Opisthoncus spp. - according to my uninformed scanning of various ID sites.

And that's my best effort. Can't find anything at all like above Leaf Beetle. In fact it took a month to find a second of the species. (Afternote: It's a native cockroach nymph. Thanks, Duncan)

Not doing much better with Meat Flies.

Or Grasshoppers. But they look so good! I'll persist - and hope a few names come along.

And, of course, I'll keep an eye on the birds, such as Reed Warbler - mostly too shy to emerge fully from the Tyto scleria.