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Kingfisher catch one in a 1000

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One picture's worth  a 1000 words? Well, here's one worth 1,000,000. It's taken roughly 1000 failures to nail a Forest Kingfisher creating splash on Ross River at Aplins Weir, Townsville, and emerging in sharpish focus with catch, albeit ill-defined.

Here's one of six birds sporadically trying their luck yesterday from high perches in paperbarks edging the riverbank close to the weir wall. Forest Kingfishers don't in my experience dive deeply, preferring to splosh on fish. Most dives are aborted without strike and anyway aim for insects above the surface rather than fish under it.




They don't  often let their guard slip enough for close approaches. So preening sequence of bird in front of Payets Tower in the Townsville Town Common Conservation Park last week came after slow stalk towards busy bird.

Also from Town Common, early morning bird greeting those with eyes to see just before entrance to the park. Eyes to see? Sounds ever so slightly critical? There is a…

'Disembarking' Sea Eagle lands big catch

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White-bellied Sea Eagle sends chunk of bark flying as it lands big Tilapia along Ross River in Townsville.

Getting up to scratch with Australian Raven

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Getting up to scratch with interesting and little remarked feeding behaviour by Australian Raven picked up again lately with reappearance of shredded spider leaf nests on the Townsville Town Common Conservation Park road. Bird sat down yesterday for vigorous grooming after landing (below) on the road with small nest and fast finishing off the small inhabitants as they scurried in vain to hide under the road metal.

There may be seasonal elements to the spiders' breeding (beyond scope of this post) and the Australian Raven's liking for the prey, since remnant nests hadn't been seen on the road (where birds can see and run down or uncover fleeing spiders) for some months. Ravens began building or patching up nests about this time last year. As unlikely as it would seem, perhaps breeding and spider-hunting are related? Side note: quick scan of guides finds no mention of tufty crest showing on yesterday's bird.

Herein heron woes back up from here on in

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What's wrong with this picture? Well, not close enough (9 metres, not 6); too high above bird (not eye level); lacks killer moment (no prey capture). Too harsh? Too bad, another almost.

Another image of the Striated Heron moments earlier at the Ross River Bush Gardens.

Then there's the Town Common morning when the  prey's taken - by White-necked Heron. What's wrong? Bird, tolerant enough of camera, not close enough. Prey tantalisingly unclear.

This morning, again in the Town Common, Australian Raven gets stuck into leaf-sac spider's nest. The behaviour seems seasonal and somehow related to breeding. What's wrong? Poor light, wary bird too distant, no eye level (comes the time when backs refuse to lie down and take it any more, and lying on mud amid grass and reeds isn't what it used to be).


Young cormorants and darter in touching relationship

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Too chilly in Townsville this morning for birding in shivery shade. Riverbank by Palmetum Botanical Gardens promised desired east-facing warmth. And where were the birds? Sitting - several in clustered nests - along the sunlit Ross. Juvenile Australian Darter stands (below) in a nest touching two others holding pairs of Little Pied Cormorants (above) and close to another with three young cormorants.

Youth also on the water, with immature Comb-crested Jacana treading daintily across waterlily leaves.

Nearby, immature male Rufous Whistler shows breast and head markings about to become bolder mature colouring.


Not so young or close to the camera but always boldly coloured, Azure Kingfisher, one of a pair teasing with fast showings - and goings.

Finally, chance encounter between a Pacific Black Duck and seeming quizzical Freshwater Turtle wanting to know where the bird's right eye is. 'Gone'.

Barefaced blag of birder's bicycle at Bald Rock

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This is Bald Rock. Serene. Scenic. Witness to mountain bike exercisers below and around it every day. And birders, on foot and bicycle. 

Home to many Brown-backed Honeyeaters: juvenile above.

And  Brown Honeyeaters - though not in the numbers elsewhere in the Town Common.

So peaceful (juvenile Peaceful Dove above). 1.7 kilometres from the Freshwater parking area, nearest point of legal motor vehicle use. Nobody living within about 4km. No need, obviously, to lock a bicycle left leaning against a tree while the rider goes birding. Right? Think again. Today, bike gone. And new foot pump. And new tube. And repair tools. And bug spray. Slow walk back to Troopy.

Possibly not crime of the year. But one can dream of chaining someone to Bald Rock. And having an eagle eat his liver. Just the once, mind. For eternity might be overdoing it.