Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Portrait of Adoring Grey

Bit of a grab bag for Santa's night. Start with the best first on Xmas Eve, shall we? Besides which, pun lodged in my grey matter and refused to be erased. So, Black-faced Woodswallow (Artamus cinereus) strikes ageless pose in the later afternoon light. 

I'm repaying the species with kindness after one of their kind recently took against me. For unknown reason it began buzzing me when I neared its evening perch on a nearby road sign. Odd. (Years ago seagulls launched at me when marathon jogging. Something about the outline and black shorts, I think.)

Onwards and upwards. Garishly awful picture of Rainbow Lorikeet (Trichoglossus haematodus) serves to show why Tropical North Queensland is covered in mistakenly admired Tulip trees. Many weeds, sadly, look oh so attractive!

The profuse seed heads hold huge numbers of feather-light capsules in triple stacks. Lorikeets love them but are fussy about it, feasting for a day or so on some trees, ignoring others, then quitting the area.

The birds carry seeds away of course. But their feeding helps loosen and scatter huge numbers of seeds. The wind does the rest. Some days, tracks in Tyto are almost covered by the thumbnail-sized seed envelopes. No wonder the woodland is full of seedlings. 

Onwards and inwards. The Azure Kingfishers (Ceyx azureus) have flown the burrow. Must have been two or three days ago. I suspected as much yesterday when pictured bird sat and stared unconcerned at me for about half an hour.

It had turned up without calling, and without any fish in bill. Nervy at first, it settled to an occasional head bob. Encouraged, I edged closer on hands and knees, then, clumsily, on bottom, like a rower sliding forward.

If a kingfisher can be amused, this was such a bird. I inched closer till only the pool's width separated us. It never flinched. I asked after the family and got only smug silence as answer. I looked away briefly and it was gone.

Today, I returned. No sight, sound or sign of kingfishers, apart from the tidy hole in the bank. Carefully inserted leafy branch into tunnel. Nothing to feel but the tunnel's earth. And only an earthy smell on the leaves after withdrawing the branch.

Here's the curious thing. I'm not at all downcast about missing the exit of the young birds. It was always going to be a matter of luck. And thoughts of getting good pictures met the reality that professionals would use fixed cameras, motion sensors and auto flashes.

So I count myself lucky to have had about two months off and on with two glorious and secretive little birds. I learned a tiny bit more about them. And a bit more about myself.



mick said...

A nice round-up of birds for Xmas eve! The kingfisher is beautiful - and the mental picture of you inching forward is Great!! Season's Greetings to you!

Denis Wilson said...

Gosh you have all the bright birds today, Tony. Glad your patience was rewarded with at least a great shot of the Kingfisher. Also glad I am not the only one to bump around, when stalking birds.
Seasons Greetings to you, Tony.

Gouldiae said...

G'day Tony,
Ah, the image I have of you sneaking up on the bird will stay with me awhile.
Great report, wonderful birds.

Tyto Tony said...

Gidday all:

Hope Santa treated you right. You'll be happy that I got an invisibility cloak, a time machine and a 400MP Canon with 10-1000mmLLL F1 lens and 200metre flash unit. I'm off after pterosaurs ;-)))

Denis Wilson said...

Hi Tony
Of all those "goodies", I think the Invisibility Cloak will be the most useful. You can sneak right up on all those elusive birds, now.
Just don't stand on any dry sticks to make any noise.
Looking forward to more of your imaginative posts.

Snail said...

Adoring Grey. Groan :)

That's a very noble portrait. They are handsome birds.

I'm a bit late but Merry Christmas.

Duncan said...

I don't mind the pun Tony, I always get a smile from your play on words. All the best for the New Year up there in bird paradise,

Tyto Tony said...

Hi Denis,

As a dry old stick myself I'm always careful to avoid noisy others.

Thank you, Snail, for groaning. It's lifeblood for punsters.

Gidday Duncan, and thanks for your encouragement.

Happy 2009 to all.

Hurrah, hurrah for Radjah Radjah

What's in a name? More in some than others. Take above Radjah Shelduck ( Tadorna radjah ).  Also known as Burdekin Duck. Also now ( Ra...