Monday, January 26, 2009

Black Bittern finally poses

Wary Black Bitterns (Ixobrychus flavicollis) had till today been too quick for me since they arrived as usual with flooding rains and overspilling of Tyto's main lagoon. The birds stand in shaded areas close to culverts and drainage pipes, waiting for whatever the outflow provides. Once flushed they commonly fly off to a tree from which they can keep an eye on any intruding threat.

This month brought four birds, almost certainly two pairs, though the birds stood alone. Each flew off when disturbed and seldom looked back, let alone took up any nearby position. There were territorial disputes, with one of the males (pictured) showing little tolerance for the other. My last few sightings suggest the bullied pair has quit the scene.

So photo opportunities had been limited to long-range shots, fast deleted in hope of something better. Which finally arrived today, but only after I saw a female fly from a favoured spot and vanish through the trees. 

This male then rose from close by and - against recent experience - stayed briefly low in a tree watching me and issuing croaky grunts bordering on barking before scrambling higher through the branches and taking off after the female. Now I must hope to sneak closer in next few days.


Denis Wilson said...

Great shots, Tony.
I know you have been stalking these birds for a long time.
Not sure of what to look for, for the male/female differences.

geoff from yea said...

Fantastic work on the Bittern. I can see i need to visit Tyto in the wet season to see a range of birds i missed in August

Tyto Tony said...

Hi Denis

Male is darker backed, with more yellow streaking in neck, breast. Female brownier backed, less yellow streaking on front.

Hi Geoff

You'd need gumboots or thongs, or (as I do) wear 'crocs' (clogs). And it's hard work getting more than 40 species in a full morning, with very few standouts :-((

March-April's the go!

Duncan said...

Terrific, Tony!

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