Monday, January 30, 2017

Serving up honeyeaters after sweet spell of tennis

Pinched nerve in back meant more tennis watching than birdwatching last week and the equivalent of honey eating with a bit of comfort food. So seems only fair to give a few other honeyeaters their due. Brown-backeds so busy building nests (still) it's surprising the best of today is simply a bird on a branch. 


Lots more going on with Yellow Honeyeater from a week or so back. Young bird showing taste for the unfortunately named Stinking Passion Flower. Perhaps others can sniff a pong but it's always escaped me.

Brown Honeyeaters singing away in greater numbers over the past fortnight. Bird above is from much closer to home: parking area garden outside my retirement unit. 

Bonus thrown in: small monitor (Yellow-spotted or Goulds) posing between breaks in scratching at some scent in the lawn beside my patio the other day. Welcome sight also near patio, Bush Stone-curlews (parents plus midsized junior) but they're much less welcome midnight screamers. So no picture for them!

Monday, January 23, 2017

Wandering Whistling Ducks waltz in

Five hundred Wandering Whistling Ducks waltzed about on the water at the Melaleuca viewing spot in the Townsville Town Common this morning

That's 492 more than the total for several weeks, when a family of two plus six persisted on the Borrow Pits - the only pools of any size - even after the young were mature enough to fly off.

But Magpie Geese numbers are falling off. Seems many of the birds that rushed in after recent rains have moved off the open pools and into the wide expanses of flooded grasses, or even to pastures greener (or tastier). Above bird appeared to join some ducks just for the company.


Got a bit closer to this pair over the weekend. Big bump on bonce reveals male in front.








Monday, January 16, 2017

Green Pygmy-geese back on water - and in trees

Water, water everywhere. Well, not quite yet. But the seasonal pools at Townsville Common started to refill with a weekend of needed heavy showers. Among wetland species returned today, six Green Pygmy-geese, three of which landed on one branch after taking to the trees upon being scared off the water.


Puddle on the road provided water enough for Double-barred Finch's morning wash. Splish-splash and the droplets fly.

Male Varied Triller tied up with more serious business, collecting spider web for nest building. There's more rain to come, meantime there's work to be done.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Of skinks and snails and purple hen tales

Among some odd sightings lately, Purple Swamp-hen drinking at roadside pool a few metres from the local beachfront. Only one of the species I've seen since moving to Townsville from Ingham (where the birds - Cane Coots - win few friends by dining on young sugar cane shoots).

From the middle of severely burnt blady grass patch, snail survivor. So what? So, this is the first live snail I've found for years. It was struggling for purchase in a sea of ash. And it had survived dozens of Black Kites, Kookaburras and Lapwings. Imagine how gently I picked it up, gave it a wee wash, let it goob over my hat, and set it down safely in a patch of unburnt grass. 

Nothing odd about a Spangled Drongo, this one from from the Sustainability Centre walkway next to my new abode. But certainly something odd about 16 of them almost on top of each other in the Town Common yesterday and again early today. One or two appeared to be youngsters begging to be fed. The local birds usually get about in threes. I can't resist it: maybe it was just a local branch meeting.



And here's a trusting young Black Kite that's taken a liking to standing about in a newly burned patch elsewhere in the Town Common. Wouldn't let me too near while we were both on ground, but allowed me close when it flew to old tree nearby.

Monitors don't usually allow anyone this close. But neither do they like risking turning their backs on a perceived threat (ditto with snakes). Quick chat, few pictures and we can be on our way(s).

Small skinks, though, operate differently. First instinct, run. Then stop. Has the threat halted? Yes? Don't run. Is that big thing a threat at all? Seems not. Well, then. No more running. Pictures? Sure, why not? Which do you think is my best side? 

Little dragons by and large, or by and small, don't trust the skinks' instincts. They run. And mostly keep running.   

Monday, January 9, 2017

Sunbird builds up to do the biz

Hang on a mo, I'll soon be finished, said Mrs Olive-backed Sunbird yesterday morning.


See, almost all done, she told me today.

A wee bit of this and that here and there and me and him can do the biz. (Him, as usual standing about doing nothing, though he was maybe keeping watch). We'll watch progress.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Black Kites feast on fiery offerings

Still flickers of flame here and there but the Black Kites' days of fried pickings following Saturday's fire on the southern corner of the Town Common are near done - for now.

However forecasts and rumbling clouds daily hint at rain without delivering more than a spit close to Townsville. The city swelters and suffers water restrictions with stricter regimes almost certain.

There's been debate for years over reports of kites extending fires by carrying blazing twigs and dropping them on unlit areas. Some say 'tool use'. Others 'chance, unintentional event'.

A smart kite would bet on more fires to come. An even smarter one would know a hoon with matches.

Monday, January 2, 2017

Great Bowerbird get hopes (and hops) up

Caught tail-end of excited Great Bowerbird hopes (and stiff-legged hops) near Town Common entry gate yesterday. But missed the most colourful nape crest flashing by male.

And didn't get close enough during the action to get chaser and chased (chaste?) together. Didn't actually get close early enough to swear that chased was a female, and not some cheeky trouble-making male come to steal bower material or otherwise cause trouble,

Will keep an eye on things and see what develops. The bower builder will just have to chew things over a bit longer.

Meanwhile, later in the day what developed was warmish grass fire. It swept right through almost all of the first of my planned 500-metre radius bird listing areas. In consequence all that met the eye this morning was blackened ground, much charred lower foliage, burning logs, and seven Black Kites mopping up crispy treats. It'll make for interesting listing, compared to unburnt areas. Assuming some areas do remain fire-free this season. It wouldn't take much - chance or design - to blacken hundreds of hectares.

Can't be sure what may have befallen grass dwellers. Hiding in holes can't be a very sure survival method. And climbing trees has several limitations, not least as seen with Frilled Lizard, surprised on road the other day.

Easy to sprint up first tessellated section of Morton Bay Ash. But then comes the smooth section of bark. Life in the wild means taking rough with the smooth - and smooth with the rough.