Monday, December 31, 2018

Who needs fireworks when nature's such a blast?



Nine o'clock and pre-midnight fireworks for families boom in the background. What can compete?
Too far from poles to dream of auroras, no lightning storms expected. Never fear, nature's here. Day or two early, but fireworks prep began months ago. So, here's Double Happy at the common.

And there's the pot of gold spot at right of picture. I've plenty so have left it all in place for others.

So, 2018. Sometimes it crawled along but suddenly it's ending with dash and splash, just as turtle poised on Ross River stump's about to do. Turtles beside the bank, banks' good names turned horribly turtle!


Lesson from the Common yesterday: big and powerful needs to watch it. Sneaky Black Kite spooks mighty White-bellied Sea-eagle. Panicky plunge from power perch. Mighty eagles? Hmm, a few nations to choose from. Course, Australia fears only All Black Kiwis!

And wouldn't it be wonderful if our leaders' motives carried at least some semblance of the transparency offered by Nankeen Kestrel.

Or the resolution and steadiness of purpose into buffeting headwinds of White-breasted Woodswallow at Cape Pallarenda today.

Meantime, I'll stick to my Hobby even if it means feathers (birds') must fly and bit of blood (often mine) must be shed.

Finally, seeing New Year in, junior Brush Turkey. The only youngster I've seen in two years' birding at Cape Pallarenda, BT paradise. An omen of sorts? Who knows. Here's to 2019 anyway.








Monday, December 24, 2018

Santa works magic on glimpse of Paradise present

Isn't Santa just Christmas? Asked North Pole person (PC post!) to magic iffy shot of Buff-breasted Paradise Kingfisher and Ho Ho Ho job's done.

Seems it's once a year deal only. So I've asked for stocking full of post-processing tips. And a flasher monitor. And digiscoping. And ... Too greedy? Well, aren't we all, this time of year?

Always up for gifts of grace from Red-tailed Black Cockatoos. Female incoming above at Cape Pallarenda Conservation Park yesterday.

And another outgoing after feeding on Xmas mix of tree nuts and fallen seeds.

Earlier present from almost same location in the park, Yellow-throated Miner, beside itself after being told no other member of species seen or listed previously at the site.

Get a close up of my throat, it said. See. See why I'm a Yellow-throated.

And how about a side view? (Bit of a bighead, this bird).

Not, however, so big as Tawny Frogmouth, present at Ross River Bush Garden. One of three shifting from night to night to keep everyone guessing next morning.

Also present nearby, Striated Heron poised on lily pad.

Finally, return to Pallarenda for lovely Lovely Fairy-wren. Female needs some of the Santa magic to perfect the picture.

But  she'll have to do, for the present.









Sunday, December 16, 2018

Young Friarbird chooses to get a hand-up

Hard to thumb a lift if you've no fingers, but no youngster should be left standing in the middle of the road through Townsville Common.

Surprise this afternoon though when very young Helmeted Friarbird chose to leap aboard for hand-up.

No thanks from parents, but they did stop swooping after safe place found for junior.

Thursday, December 13, 2018

Kookaburra's insect fillers fill in for kingfisher

Target Buff-breasted Paradise Kingfisher refused to quit treetops in Townsville Bush Gardens today but obliging male Blue-winged Kookaburra's pounced several times on insects in leaf litter between pauses in our long one-sided chat.

Hard to see the prey among the litter. Close look reveals spiky leg poking up side of upper mandible.

This insect appeared the preferred meal. The many small skinks among the litter consistently ignored.

Nearby, three Tawny Frogmouths in position to look down on unknowing walkers.

And White-browed Robin - after much noisy early calling - deigned to descend from the kingfisher's heights.

Sunday, December 9, 2018

Common cicada goes by many names

Look out for Masked Devils! Noisy devils, they are. Never heard of them?

How about Yellow Mondays? Green Grocers? Blue Princes? Chocolate Soldiers?
Cyclophila australasiae, every last variously coloured and patterned one of them.  Tricky things, common names. Wet Sundays? No, not cicadas, just the tail end of TC Owen clockwising through Townsville.

Thursday, December 6, 2018

Snarky snake not so terribly tearful

Never seen a snake cry? Small Keelback (Freshwater Snake) appears to offer a tear upon seeing me today.

But the dewdrop was deceptive. Snake mostly interested in tearing into me for stalking it.

'Get away and chase some birds,' it hissed on parting. Snarky, some snakes!

Friday, November 30, 2018

Wagtail uncommoners come and gone

Seems the uncommoners have come and gone. Not one Eastern Yellow Wagtail sighted this morn in the Town Common. First miss in 17 days.

Never did get a decent picture of the one yellow bird.

'Blotchy' stuck around longest.

Larger sight on the wagtails' patch of saltwater couch this morn, White-bellied Sea-eagle tearing into long-necked turtle.

Elsewhere, three Brolgas in charge of two fast-drying pools in front of Freshwater hide. Male above.

Along the dam wall, nine Brown Quail, two of which, female (left) and male stayed on track long enough for distant shot.

Finally, not at all uncommon but rarely in the open by day, waterlogged water rat at water's edge beside dam wall.

Sunday, November 25, 2018

Uncommon sightings give way to drier days

Rare week or two with several uncommon sightings showed signs today of settling back to drier days ahead. Pectoral Sandpiper casting reflection in Payet pool yesterday became no-show for first time since last Sunday.

Quartet (possibly quintet) of Eastern Yellow Wagtails down to two yesterday and again today at Melaleuca viewing area. Blotchy bird above was in company with even lighter immature.

Not so many Australian Pipits confusing the wagtail seekers either.

But resident Willie Wagtails (fantails, not true wagtails) hold their places. Juvenile bird pictured today.

Gone though, Pacific Golden Plover, thought to be juvenile bird with worn and thus gold-free plumage.

But sighting of the week came with Brown Goshawk swooping on to broken pandanus with frog clutched in talons. Clutched insecurely as it turned out. Goshawk looked down split second after landing and frog somehow leapt free. Thirty seconds of action at exactly the time I arrived at Jacana hide for lucky frames. 

Whereas hundreds of failed splash-action frames preceded indifferent shot of sopping Yellow Honeyeater on branch at Payets.

And talking of Payets, words of praise for Queensland Parks and Wildlife. Selective chainsaw work has restored great viewing from the tower. Not needed so much in the Dry, as now, but essential for the coming Wet. Well done, rangers!


Thursday, November 22, 2018

Yellow-spotted Monitor digs up mystery prey

Getting hot. So the Yellow-spotted Monitors are enjoying life. And thinking more of food than sex - unlike a few weeks back. But what food? How about unidentified snake?

Came upon monitor digging away at sand hole by road through Townsville Common. Dig, dig,  dig. Head into hole. Out again. Dig, dig, dig. Head... Dig... etc, etc.

Finally, comes up and chews away at slender snake (or, less likely, long, strong legless lizard, or mystery sand worm: or?).

So, did it smell the live prey through the dryish sand? And is the soft egg sac significant? Don't know! Fun, isn't it?

Making 'Hey' while the Sunbird shines

Eye-catching flashes of colour today in Townsville Town Common Conservation Park came from Olive-backed Sunbird darting to and fro across ...