Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Saturday, June 15, 2019

Chiming and charming - Butcherbird esPied

Townsville Common Conservation Park, bund wall, Thursday morning. Probably only Butcherbird in the park and one of two that popped up unexpectly in adjacent Cape Pallarenda Cons. Pk last month.
First of possible series - "Birds in one line'.

Friday, June 7, 2019

Nutting out questions about mannikins

What's in a name? Nutmeg Mannikin (Lonchura punctulata)? Or Scaly-breasted Munia? Or Spice Finch? Still Nutmegs for most these days. But Munias may come out on top. An interesting question about finches, mannikins and munias in the Townsville area has been their fate in the wake of Cyclone Oma's aftermath 12-day, two-metre deluge flooding the region. My numbers have been roughly 60-70 percent down since March, though flocks of juvenile mannikins are now showing up. But adult numbers remain down. Not sure why. Working on it.

Ironically, a cemetery nearby is part of  home base for a flock of mostly adult Zebra Finches. A happy conjunction of life and death.

Meanwhile, counter to the trend with small seed-eaters (granivores), Peaceful Doves are everywhere locally in their usual abundance. Perhaps a combination of size and more generalist diet meant they avoided the likely fate of many adult finches during and right after the deluge.

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Busy bedlam without boss at Bowerville

Busy, busy, busy in Bowerville lately. Seems the apprentices have been let loose on a few local structures. But the boss is missing. Jobs get started at one end of the main building. Some trainees work at one entrance. Others at the other.  One pops up atop the walls. All squabble. All go off huffily. One hops back. Two. Three. Four. Busy, busy, busy Great Bowerbirds.

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Some mornings hold extra magic

Some mornings come full of extra magic. Today started with Little Bronze Cuckoo snatching Tussock Moth caterpillar from foliage above the road.

Soon after, what's on the road but another Tussock caterpillar, probably same species, but with tan coloured tussocks on its back rather than the white of the cuckoo's victim.

A few paces down the road, the Eastern Ospreys were seen changing places on the nest where the female mostly has been sitting for about three weeks. I think she's pictured returning to the nest later in the morning. Hard to tell, since the pair are almost identically plumaged.

Further walking up the road brought wayward frog into view. Seemed content to be rescued from near certain death as roadkill and sat sedately in safer surroundings for photographs. Efforts to ID species brought up hundreds of pink-spotted items of kitsch online, but nothing that looked anything like above. An expert has been consulted. Juvenile Cane Toad. See my pink blushes?

To top things off, Brown Snake - after crossing near same stretch of road - stuck around for closeups. Asking for it to make a kill for the camera was possibly pushing the morning's magic a bit too far.

Thursday, May 9, 2019

Missing the target has its compensations

Chasing Little Kingfisher up and down Townsville's Mundy Creek, near my unit in Rowes Bay, lately  - for no more reward than glimpses of blue and white blur streaking off in the distance. But there have been some bonus sightings, such as Little Pied Cormorant, above.

Spangled Drongo spangled nicely in the morning light today.

Male Red-backed Fair-wren popped up from the long grass nearby.

Magpie paused briefly from its foraging alongside upper reaches of the creek.

And elsewhere this morn, Bush Stone Curlew family stayed still just long enough for family portrait.

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Hacking Sea-eagle shows off healthy tongue

Probably not a smoker, so White-bellied Sea-eagle's hacking cough from dead bough on nest tree in Townsville Common may have come from something bony only a big scavenger would eat.

Diet must be healthy enough, given colour of long tongue.

Coughing at an end, almost time to head off and see what's on morning menu.

Also busy hunting overhead these days, adult Brahminy Kite and immature offspring.

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Beware that snake in the grass ...

Life was looking bright for male Red-backed Fairy-wren near Jacana hide in Townsville Common.
Quiet patch, no worrying competitors, industrious partner. Nest built, two eggs laid.

Then. Grass nest robbed overnight. Dastardly snake in the grass. Bury one's head in grief? That's not the way in nature. Just got to get on with grooming and life.

Also getting on, companionable White-lipped Green Treefrog, resident of Payet's Tower viewing platform. Resident indeed for so long it's initiated colour change to better match shaded interior on the upper deck of the tower.

Change also elsewhere in the conservation park. White-bellied Sea-eagle pair had mighty nest in dead tree collapse a few months back. After some delay new building began. Nothing so grandiose as previously, but they're calling it home and may even have laid first egg therein. Time will tell.   

Thursday, April 4, 2019

Flights and frights of kites see off Sea-eagle

Immature White-bellied Sea-eagle stirred more spirited response than bargained for after swooping mixed mob of egrets and ibises on part-flooded airport grassland in Townsville today. Suddenly found itself under attack from first five Whistling Kites, then pair of Black Kites.

Minutes of defending itself often while flying upsidedown didn't hold much appeal and the much bigger bird sideslipped away to more peaceful air when the kites flew off, mission accomplished.

Elsewhere today, male Magpie Lark in Pallarenda Cons. Park hopped up on rail, revealing loss of left foot. Bird appeared to be coping well - as they often seem to under such disadvantage.

Also disadvantaged, earlier in the week, Squatter Pigeon found itself on Lake Ross dam side wall rocks with nowhere suitable to squat in hiding. After some uncertainty it chose to fly off.

In somewhat similar circumstance but very different habitat, Barking Owl in Town Common Cons. Park chose after taking early fright not to take flight.

After many a suspicious stare and glare the bird accepted my presence close by - and some minor harassment from smaller birds. It even settled to unconcerned preening as I said my thanks and goodbyes.

Sunday, March 31, 2019

Wizard lizard gizzard: Burton's curtains for Keelback

Burton's Snake Lizard found across track yesterday in Townsville Common Park carried big surprise.

The wizard lizard coughed up multifolded Keelback snake longer than its digestive track.

Lizard loses big meal. Keelback loses everything. Fly attends feast.

Friday, March 29, 2019

Sunday, March 24, 2019

Male Jacanas just carry on parenting capers

Carry four youngsters under your arms? No problem, if you're a male Comb-crested Jacana. Spotted bulky bird on lagoon in Palmetum Botanical Gardens, Townsville, with too many legs, but only two on water plants.

Seconds later four young Jacanas were free to forage with father (females free of parenthood).

Make all four vanish in a flash? No, problem. Male uttered shrill orders and the quartet disappeared into debris beneath him (above) on edge of lagoon. My short, very careful search found not one bird.

But it caused male to flop 'broken' wings and splosh invitingly about - an easy meal for a predator. Soon after, perceived danger passed, male sounded the all clear, picked his 'invisible' four up, and carried them to other side of lagoon.  

Last straw too much for Double-barred Finch

Townsville Common Cons. Pk, track to Jacana hide, today. Flew off a second later with lighter load.