Sunday, February 15, 2009

Black Bittern out and upstanding

Upstanding start to the day! Cycle past a creek beside the highway and spot a strangely prominent figure rising from some flooded grass. Immature Black Bittern (Ixobrychus flavicollis) revealing its inexperience, choosing wrong place to adopt the stiffly upright posture of the species when caught unawares.

Bird stayed motionless as I braked on bridge, propped bike against guardrail, doffed helmet, fumbled camera into operation and snatched first few pictures. Bird twisted right and then turned left as I tried for steadier position. More pictures. Luck ran out when I tried to add 1.4x converter. Bird stalked slowly into long grass and didn't reappear.

No way of being sure, but this youngster probably came from a nest over water in rainforest just southwest of Tyto. The parent birds would be the pair often seen in the wetlands once the rains come. As the ground dries out they retreat into the forest and its deep, shaded pools.

Here's another youngster prominently out in the open today. This juvenile White-bellied Sea Eagle (Haliaeetus leucogaster) swept briefly directly over the top of me (picture is full frame deep) near the Tyto hide. The birds get progressively lighter year by year as they go from juvenile, to immature, to subadult, and finally gain the full white and grey of maturity.

And yet another young bird over the lagoon today. Juvenile Caspian Tern (Hydroprogne caspia) did a quick circuit without seeing anything that took its fancy and headed off towards the coast. 

Interestingly, many of the smaller and medium sized species were less apparent today than two and three days back. Perhaps the rush to feed after the flooding rains has abated. It seems likely too that insect numbers were much reduced by birds desperate to feed in midweek after the terrible weather cleared, though yesterday/overnight was the first 24-hour cycle without heavy rain for about 36 days.


mick said...

Your area must really dry out quickly if you can ride your bike around those wetlands already. Interesting birds and nice photos.

Tyto Tony said...

Bikes go under water, Mick. That's why mine squeaks a lot ;-)

Denis Wilson said...

Hi Tony
"First 24-hour cycle without heavy rain for about 36 days." That is quite a statistic.
For a graphic image of the national rainfall in February (so far) see my blog. Your corner is bright purple.
It really stands out.
A nice match to your statistic there.
Good work with the Bittern, Sea Eagle and Caspian Tern. That's my favourite, because they just look so neat (as in "well groomed").

Gouldiae said...

G'day Tony,
Envy, envy, envy - birds galore, and '...first 24-hour cycle without heavy rain for about 36 days.'
I love the shot of the Bittern striking his camouflage pose out in the open - 'Just doin' what me mum taught me.'
In a past life I spent a few years as a bike mechanic. I can imagine what your hubs, gears and bottom bracket look like inside.

Anonymous said...

Tony - fantastic photos of the Black Bittern! The only time I've had a long close look at a Black Bittern here I didn't have my camera; they are such shy creatures. These shots are a delight and I'm green with envy!

Tyto Tony said...

Hi Denis: Even sunnier and drier today. But the blue skies were clear of birds this morn :-(

Gidday Gouldiae: Bike's getting bit like Grandad's axe. Near time to spend more of Kevvie's pre-Xmas cash!

Hi Barbara: No sign BBs today. Take heart, they turn up often near shaded temporary outfalls, and are much easier to find and photograph than Little Bitterns.

Duncan said...

Great stuff as always Tony.

Tyto Tony said...

Hi Duncan: I'm lucky to have places to myself and not be bugged by unthinking types such as you encountered lately.

Gouldiae said...

G'day Tony,
New bike - go for sealed hubs and bottom bracket!

Tyto Tony said...

Good advice. Thanks Gouldiae.

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