Thursday, February 8, 2024

Gulls lively during high tide surge

Surging high tide spilling into temporary lagoon at Cape Pellaranda  this morning provided some easy pickings for Silver Gulls that usually hang around for scraps from Townsville beach-casters. And action aplenty for bird photographer!

Wednesday, January 31, 2024

Rainbow Lorikeets brighten January gloom

Dismal outside. Still catching up on sleep after Cyclone Kirrily knocked power out and neighbour's generator roared for near two days and nights. No posts all month. But sun did shine earlier in January. Mostly one morning, on raucous Rainbow Lorikeets in now mildly tattered gum. So, some colourful cheer to spite today's wet gloom and forecast of worse to come for rest of week.  

Sunday, December 24, 2023

Here's to Galahs as Santas and tricky Osprey captures

If there was to be a Santa among birds, my vote goes to the Galah. Pretty, fun-loving, colourful - what's not to like? And this bird wandered my way at Pallarenda just in time for Xmas greetings to faithful blog followers.

Also at  windblown Pallarenda this week, Eastern Osprey seeming to be taking fish from the surf. Looks that way, doesn't it?

Truth is fish was taken in clearer water away from surf and bird merely chose to fly off low over breaking waves to some unseen feeding post out of my sight.

Here's the bird waiting patiently for glimpse of the eventual catch. 

Merry Xmas and happy birding in 2024 to all!

Friday, December 8, 2023

Black-necked Stork turns black-hearted

Ooh, look! Kindly young Black-necked Stork sees eel struggling in mud and carefully picks it out for revival on bank.

Checks vitals by vigorous palpitation with bill all along eel: thus comes the jab in Jabiru.

Caring love has no bounds, bird decides eel needs to be washed down. Sacrifices smoothness of gullet to help eel feel better: would better be called Black-throated Stork.

Oh dear! It's forgotten to cough eel up. Maybe better called Black-hearted Stork!

Town Common Friday 8/12/23.


Sunday, November 19, 2023

Ravens rip into red-meat repast

Australian Raven rips into dead rat on the mud beside fast-vanishing water at the Melaleuca lagoon viewing area in the Townsville Town Common Conservation Park yesterday (18/11/23). The relish for red meat repast contrasting with mostly disinterest in the scores of Barramundi that lately died gasping in the hot deoxygenated shallows. Eyes, yes. Otherwise, not interested. But of interest, two or three wild pig families foraging through the lagoon's bulrushes also turned their noses up at the fish, showing determined preference for rooting through the mud. And no Dingo tracks have been visible anywhere near dead fish.  


Saturday, October 21, 2023

Wet and dry times helping Town Common birders

Wet mud's turning dry and firm in the Townsville Town Common wetlands as El Nino starts taking charge for now, and many months to come. The conservation park will look even drier this and next year because last year's high water levels carried through early in 2023 and killed off much para grass and other weeds. 

Bonus for birdwatchers has been ease of scanning broad areas of flattened dead stalks and more readily seeing several regular migratory species standing out more than usual. I'm hopeful conditions continue to attract late migrants such as Yellow Wagtails, due in 2-3 weeks. We'll see!

Most prized of recent weeks has been a Banded Lapwing, usually drier country bird. 

Latham's Snipe were, on schedule first seen early in August.

Curlew Sandpiper (downcurved bill) found recently tucked away in groups of Sharp-tailed Sandpipers.

Ditto Red-necked Stints. And Red-kneed Dotterel.

Pacific Golden Plovers as content on pasture as wetland mud.

Australian Pratincole often on dry-country coastal roads.

And Australia Pipit another bird happy mostly on dry and cracked habitat. But also very good to birders as it attracts migratory Wagtails. Fingers crossed for November-December!  


Wednesday, October 11, 2023

Water Rat caught napping snapping up fish

Water Rats seldom caught napping and snapping up fish, but I got lucky lately. Spotted movement, snuck up and sat in the open close to Ratty's hideyhole. Got close look at exit, 50-second swim, return with fish firmly captured and fast polished off. All bit blurry because using slow 800mm lens but them's the breaks.

Tuesday, October 10, 2023

Counting Black-throated Finches - they're counting of us

The annual Black-throated Finch (Southern subspecies) survey is coming up on October 21-22 at sites around Townsville. Waterholes will be watched from 6-9am on Saturday and Sunday. How many BTFSs will be counted? Chances are similar numbers to last year. Possibly slightly fewer, maybe many fewer. The historical trend is down, down, down. But, but, but . . . 

There are signs of things coming together in search of increases in BTFS numbers. They include:

An 11-hectare trial area in the Ross Dam catchment to undergo reshaping, weed removal (some carbon capture), selected grass and tree planting. 

Funding on offer for selective flora control and grass and tree planting, contingent on a 500-hectare offset in the catchment.

Enthusiasm for greater BTFS coordination between Queensland Parks and Wildlife and Townsville City Council being expressed at several levels.

Expansion of an existing offset with noteworthy BTFS activity reported privately.

On a smaller scale, encouraging reports of good numbers of BTFSs in outlying spots dotted about the Bohle Plains. 

And some encouraging positivity for my pet grass, Chionachne cyathapoda, which I argue is a corner stone for successful revegetation and consequent species increase, of paramount importance for not just BTFSs but for other birds, including the Purple-crowned Fairywren in the Northern Territory. 

Elsewhere, miner Bravus earlier this year reported 449 BTFSs banded by its eco consultancy in the other major stronghold of the species, the Galilee Basin. 

Am I slighting those in PhD land? Nope, they've done the hard yards. Cheers to the Black-throated Finch Recovery Team and all the willing volunteers out there this weekend. You're counting the birds and they're counting on all of us! 




Sunday, October 1, 2023

Worst pictures ever . . . but this Lapwing's a lifer!

The worst pictures ever in about 16 years of blogging but who cares when it's a lifer. Just checked back in crumbling edition of Slater's guide and find - as I suspected - that Banded Lapwing seen yesterday was a first for me. 

The inside back page of the Field Guide to Australian Birds bought well used at an op shop in 2002 shows in fading pencil on tattered soft cover 511 species, a total seen in my almost clueless early years of birding. No pencil mark against Banded Lapwing (Vanellus tricolor).

Making sighting even more special, the milestone bird is well north of its usual range. Not so uncommonly, my sighting resulted from combined efforts of other birders. So often the case! Also of note, that 511 is a considerably greater figure than my total of species seen since I stopped driving long distances and settled down in Ingham and latterly Townsville in 2004. 

Now the challenge is ... better pictures! Another lifer. It's what we live for.

Next day (01/10/23). Meant sploshing through bit of deep mud, but below the reward for getting closer to desired picture quality. 

Gull cometh the raw prawn with me

 Silver Gull with Banana Prawn, Cape Pallarenda, Townsville, Feb 2024