Friday, September 29, 2017

Shining moments around foot of tower

Shining moments below Payets Tower in the Common yesterday included surprise visit by female Shining Monarch. Quick flit through trees close to pool's edge and the bird darted off northeast. No sign of male partner but no surprise there. The glittering blue-black males seldom leave heavily shadowed creek fringes, habitat hard to find even at the conservation park's wettest.

Osprey appeared overhead almost at same time. Made three circuits of the pool without ever seeming likely to take the plunge for fish, though a few hefty splashes tell of sizeable targets.

White-bellied Cuckoo-shrike struck better luck chasing sizeable insect targets in trees around the tower. Chose always to eat them away from the camera.

And Tawny Grassbird popped up out of para grass dying after recent killer dose of spray by Parks and Wildlife, which wants visitors to see more than high grass at the four main viewing areas. Prediction: Grass back bigger than ever within a year. Watch this space!

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Hobby and Kestrel offer differing views of passion

Hobby lacks intensity enough to describe my daily passion, but Australian Hobby at least offers link between obsession and its targets. This young female speeds after large dragonflies from two favoured vantages at the Pandanus viewing point in the Townsville Common Conservation Park (yes, I know, it's a mouthful).


Bird sitting in place today but no big dragonflies.  Images from past two days, with no catches recorded before high Sun cast underside of bird in darkness.

Sun did better job on back of female Nankeen Kestrel today. Minutes earlier she rejected male, then flew to another tree and allowed him to mount. Brief blurred (too distant) flurry and away he flew. Female allowed slow walkup to close beneath  5m tree.

Another allowing close-ups this morn, Little Bronze Cuckoo. Wasn't, however, willing to 'watch the birdy' and persisted in looking high left and right. These things can drive one cuckoo (sorry: corn for brekkie).

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Taking some of it with a grain of . . . grain

Fancy a bit of grain for brekkie? Not true grain, but digital noise from cranking up sensor speed to capture action.

Can't freeze birds without much more expensive gear, but it's fun trying.

Immature Brown Honeyeater took plunge several times yesterday in the Common.

Fast settings also slowed passing Striated Pardalotes. Plural? Second bird tucked away, bottom right.

And Black-chinned Honeyeater, another species not so often seen.

White-necked Heron usually to be seen. Not so easy to catch victim of swift strike.

Common Tree Snake not a rare sighting, but not seen one looped so tightly on twigs before.

Enough grain, here's my favourite recent Crimson Finch. Never tire of this species.


Monday, September 18, 2017

Centipede in midnight bed - should one leg it?

What to do when Scary Thing turns up in bed with you after midnight? Grab it inside fistful of sheet and reach for the bedlight, mumbling 'Bloody Geckos (Asian House variety) and reach inside sheet ready to hurl intruder back outside.

Ouch, intruder bitey. Fling on to carpet and see many legs in motion. Upturned microwave bowl stops runaway Giant Centipede - all 46 legs, two of them adapted as venomous black fangs (on show above) - in tracks. Pop into fridge. Return to sleep. Take pictures as Mr Scary warms up later in morn. Return to leaf litter under back hedge.



Friday, September 15, 2017

Egret flaps, Ibises stand out, Neon Bee shines


Oops, toes too long, twigs too tiny, Intermediate Egret fights for balance in the Town Common today.

But casting shadow of its head on inside of wing is a nice touch.

Sharing fast-dropping small pool with the egrets, Australian White Ibis stands shadowed in shallows.


Unlike Straw-necked Ibis, on rock in city park (and sitting in picture folder for weeks: awaiting 'right' opening).

And ... and a bright blue bee. A Neon Cuckoo Bee. It's not just birds that sneak eggs into other species' nests.

Colour here curved to max to show bee as it looks in strong late morning sunshine. Extremely neony!

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Monday, September 11, 2017

Happy brush with Black-faced Monarch

Caught briefest glimpse of Black-faced Monarch in the Common two weeks ago but took till this morn to confirm sighting. Bird's breakfast capture bit of a bonus.


Ditto with White-throated Honeyeater and juvenile Brush Cuckoo. Lucky to get almost clear view of the juvenile and even luckier with food transfer.

But pairing of Barking Owls just down the road seems to have lasted only two days. One bird for a week became two together on Saturday and again yesterday. Back to one this morn. Sitting in trees almost over the top of the dust and noise of the park road possibly didn't appeal to the presumed female (left in pic).

And here's a mystery (sort of) guest. Huh, that's just a Tussock Moth caterpillar, cry you one and all. Yep, but many lack scientific identification. This may be one such. Caterpillar crawled into view of Troopy's seat cover. Probably from off my shirt. Week-long search turned up no more caterpillars, nor any (flightless) females. Night mothing with torch-lit white sheet to find males might be necessary.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Ravens too quick for Channel-billed Cuckoos

Channel-billed Cuckoos are back and looking to sneak their eggs into raven and crow nests. The two seen today are possibly birds heard over weekend near Town Common entry gate. Bad news for the biggies, Australian Ravens have already reared early young this season. And the once-dominant Torresian Crow - a later breeder - is less common hereabouts nowadays. But I saw a Pied Currawong - another parasitised species - across town the other day. Near Anderson Park, whose tall gums draw many Channel-billeds seeking night-roosting. Watch out, Currawongs!

And watch out, young Black-shouldered Kite. Bird enjoying bit of preening in the morning sun yesterday found itself under fire from three White-breasted Woodswallows, offended by the Kite daring to sit atop 'their' tree. Kite flinched and flinched again before surrendering the perch. Next time seen, the immature's streaky breast may be as adult white as the Woodswallows'.

Plenty of white on show this morning with White-throated Heron waiting patiently for me to move away from nearby pool so it could get back to feeding. Mud in many pools ankle deep a few days ago is fast drying out.


Which is good news because of a sudden Magpie Geese - missing since our wet week late in May - are returning. None two days ago; 190 yesterday; 600 today. Sorry, hard to capture image of 600, two, plus a few, have to do.

And finally down to one. Nice little male Olive-backed Sunbird. Like the colour? It's done with HDR plugin comes with latest version of Gimp. (You didn't need to know that, but there's some showing off involved).

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Don't have to tell these brown birds to put back into it

Busy, busy, busy. None busier these days than Brown-backed Honeyeaters.

Nesting, nesting, nesting. No birds nesting more these days than Brown-backed Honeyeaters.

Maddening, maddening, maddening. Trying to capture Brown-backed Honeyeaters in flight.

Or in sharp focus on their quivery nests at end of low, light branches or foliage. And these birds are building around a large acacia pod on a small tree totally open to view and close to much-trafficked parking area. MTC

Life in the sticks stacks up for birds

Sticks. Some birds need stacks of them. Whistling Kite returns towards nest after seeing off cheeky young Brahminy Kite that ventured too ...