Friday, August 29, 2008

Let's take a little walk

'Black' Butcherbird...rufous morph (sorry about the picture)
Little Shrike-Thrush ... delays the quest

Come for a little birding walk with me. We'll gloss over most of the trees and plants and concentrate on living things.

Nearly 8am at Tyto carpark, warm (say 20C), greyish light, low cloud, mild breeze. Promise of later sunshine.

Brown Honeyeaters, Yellow Honeyeaters, House Sparrows, Bar-shouldered Doves, Spotted Turtle-Doves and Indian Mynas in the carpark plantings and backing eucalypts.

On the bike (you walk, I ride), toward the first lagoon. Darter, wings outstretched, takes warmth from the feeble sunlight. Agile Wallabies crop grass. Near hairless joey pokes its brick-red head from one pouch. Withdraws shyly. Fairy Martins hawk for insects and dip to the water.

Turn right toward north boundary (suburbia) and routine daily survey in Birds Austalia's preferred format: 2-hectare, 20-minute count. Dry creek lined by small trees to left, open ground right with 20+ Bush Stone-Curlews - beyond survey limit - standing around. Whistling Kite opens count, then Fairy Martins (5), Masked Lapwings (2), Peaceful Doves (2), Crimson Finches (8), Red-browed Finches (6), Willie Wagtails (2), a Straw-necked Ibis, White-browed Robins (3) and a Black Butcherbird.

But it's not black. The bird's an immature rufous morph, race rufescens. Cracticus quoyi adults are black but one nest may offer rufous, and black. More to point, the species isn't numerous in Tyto and photographic desire takes over. Twist and turn, duck and dodge, miss chances, lose bird, refind, lose again, get distracted by juvenile White-browed Robin. Finally emerge almost 45 minutes later with so-so pictures of Butcher, robins and Little Shrike-Thrush (another distraction).

'Gimme food'. 'Gimme food'. 'Gimme food'. White-browed Robin proves immune to pester power.

Onward to main lagoon lookout. Forest Kingfishers, Green Pigmy Geese, Australasian Grebes, Comb-crested Jacanas, Wandering Whistling-Ducks, Pacific Black Ducks, Little Pied Cormorants, Great Egret, Intermediate Egret, Black-necked Stork (juvenile triplets), Royal Spoonbills, Yellow-billed Spoonbill, Black Kite overhead, and Welcome Swallows and White-bellied Woodswallows.

To the hide. Find professional guide, photographer, cinematographer and Tyto instigator and visionary John Young seeking responses from resident Little Bitterns (2 heard), Spotless Crakes and White-browed Crakes. No sightings or sounds for me (apart from on John's hi-tech toys).

Chat away (birds, snakes, butterflies, more birds). Spot Australian Reed Warblers, White-throated Gerygone and one Little Kingfisher. Plus lovely green/black male Cairns Birdwing (butterfly), and a White-lipped Treefrog on the bulrushes. At a distance, Grey Teal, a pair of White-necked Herons and four White Ibises.

Quick look at Brown-backed Honeyeaters completing a nest near the hide and at a noisy Yellow Oriole and John gone. I follow some Olive-backed Orioles along the southern creek track. Hello to Bumpy Rocketfrogs in their stump and out southwest on a wide fire trail (access for firefighters).

No sign of the Southern Boobook (first for me: 225 on my Tyto list, of 235 total) harassed by a Spangled Drongo two days ago. But Mistletoe Birds, Sunbirds, MacLeay's Honeyeaters, a lone Fairy Gerygone and the Drongo show up.

Back on to inner lagoon circuit, look for migrant Latham's Snipe. None. Across western end and White-gaped Honeyeaters dash to and from small island. Chestnut-breasted Mannikins in the bulrushes, Nutmeg Mannikins in bushes and a plaintive Horsfield's Cuckoo atop a nearby tree.

No Collared Sparrowhawk in the usual hiding spot down the planted levee but two Sacred Kingfishers dart away. White-winged Triller works water's edge shrubs for insects.

Return to base of lookout and take southern track back toward Brown-backed Honeyeaters' nest. Surprise Common Tree Snake lying in feeble sunshine. Quickly vanishes. Surprise Buff-banded Rail almost below BBs' nest (didn't tell you I'd glimpsed rail first time around!).

No Azure Kingfisher in last big pool on creek. Get four Metallic Starlings, new seasonal arrivals from Papua New Guinea, as compensation.

Movement in gauvas leads to Graceful Honeyeater taking material from part-built nest (possibly BBH). Lose Graceful and turn to find a big Common Tree Snake moving around a tree trunk. Tiptoe up and get poor picture as snake changes mind about ascending tree and drops into long grass.

Walk (bike gets parked here and there) on and see dark head. Male Leaden Flycatcher. Another dark head. Northern Fantail, which sits on felled tree in sunshine. I sit on same trunk. Fantail won't turn to suit camera. Nor will a Silvereye, which pops up from the grass and devours a small insect.

After much singing a male Rufous Whistler appears, followed by a Varied Triller, a White-bellied Cuckoo-Shrike and a Helmeted Friarbird. (Talk about no buses and then three at once!).

A Ulysses butterfly beams its blue brilliance along the creek, and a Wanderer (Monarch) flitters by before I quit my log and head back to the carpark. Always room for more on the list and a Blue-winged Kookaburra makes an excellent final sighting.

What have we forgotten? Probable chunky Red-bellied Black snake diving from sight, Rainbow Lorikeets streaking overhead, Rainbow Bee-eaters 'pirrip'erring in the distance, Tawny Grassbirds sticking to cover, Golden-headed Cisticolas likewise.

That's it. Four hours, a great fun chase to be continued another day, 65 birds seen, plus snakes, butterflies and wallabies and three pictures more or less keepable.

Hope you enjoyed the walk.


Snail said...

The number of times I've driven through Ingham and told myself that I really should stop and visit the wetlands ... but never have.

Now I am absolutely determined to spend time there.

But in the meantime, I'll have to visit via your blog!

Mosura said...

Enjoyed the walk and the great variety of wildlife. Now I'm off to rest my feet.

Tyto Tony said...

Sorry in advance, but, yes you must stop in, so very, very few snails turn up here. Care to speculate?

Sore feet? We finished early today!

mick said...

A great walk and an even greater bird list. Enjoyed the photos too thanks

Gouldiae said...

G'day Tony,
Wow! That's all I can say you lucky b.....

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