Wednesday, April 1, 2009

April Fool's Day, plus drongo

Didn't get a pinch and a punch for the first of the month, but did catch a bird or two trying to make an April Fool drongo of me in Tyto today. Not, however, the Spangled Drongo above. It was on best behaviour, though not quite at the species' spangliest.

First up, a Shining Bronze-Cuckoo making a rare appearance and almost passing itself off as a Little Bronze. But the immature bird, quiet (as are all cuckoos at present) and rather plain, carried a telltale bright green sheen on its back (precisely: wing coverts). They are slightly larger than Littles, but I've found the species' shade of bright green is a surer identifier. Sorry, no picture.

Further along the track, much activity and several high-pitched calls as a minor wave of small birds, including Sunbirds, Dusky, Yellow, and Brown Honeyeaters, Varied Trillers, Rufous Whistlers, and Red-browed Finches came through - with a surprise higher in trees: first Mistletoebird for months, but sounding squeakily Sunbirdish. Surprise in part, too, from total absence of the species recently in spite of mistletoe flowering aplenty. Again, no picture.

Then, worst trick of all: Grey Goshawk glided briefly across my line of sight at bird hide, vanished into nearby paperbark, emerged obscured soon after, vanished again, popped up distantly twice more during the morning, and never offered any chance for a picture.

But the cuckoo and Mistletoebird did mean a flying start on the April count. March brought 97 species, against 89 for February and 109 for January. I'll expect 120 this month. And a nerdish observation. The difference between the March and February figures would suggest some effect from the floods. But the 10 per cent margin could be wholly explained by the fewer days: 28-31. The 109-89 Jan-Feb difference was, however, largely seasonal.


mick said...

Nice photo of the drongo especially showing off the shape and colour of the tail. Also a very nice start to the month for your bird species count. Also about the drongo - last year I got some photos of a drongo with the feathers on either side of its head raised and looking like little tufted ears. I checked with some other birders and one had seen this also but didn't know why. Have you seen this and do you know what it might be?

Tyto Tony said...

Hi Mick: Birds have great control over most feathers. Mating displays, aggression, preening, sunning, etc. At a guess I'd say aggression, but my guesses don't carry high success.

Denis Wilson said...

Hi Tony
Nice photo of an in-between Spangled Drongo. Not your photo if it is moulting, or something.
Its great fun to run into a mixed feeding flock like that.

Tyto Tony said...

Hi Denis: Seems at times and at certain angles black birds absorb so much light they actually lose reflective colour intensity. And, yes, it was good to bump into a wee wave. Haven't been many such lately.

Anonymous said...

Hi Tony, I am always interested in your sightings at Tyto and I especially enjoy your often amusing, but nonetheless very useful behavioural descriptions. In spite of no picture the hints about the Cuckoo ID are appreciated - I need help and practice!
Have you seen Rufous Fantail recently? We saw a couple yesterday, our first sightings for the year, which coincides with cooler nights and very dry weather.

Tyto Tony said...

Hi Barbara: No Rufous Fantails seen here for some weeks. Probably a few in the patch of rainforest to southwest, but most paths in still too swampy.

Shining moment catching up with shy Flycatcher

Chased pair of Shining Flycatchers back and forth along section of tangled mangroves at edge of small wetland (mostly dry, but muddy!) in ...