Sunday, May 31, 2009

Nutmegs spice things up

Nutmeg Mannikins (Lonchura punctulata) seldom stick around when approached by anyone or anything in Tyto. Usually any warning note is followed by a swiftly ascending flock of disappearing twitterers.
 But yesterday a couple of birds behaved more boldly than normal and offered the chance of a few pictures. Of course, in the end I strayed a step too close and even these two birds quickly called an end to the session.

Final species tally for May came to 113 with the very uncommon showing of a solitary Pied Currawong yesterday. A pair spent time in Ingham two years ago, but those birds stayed away from Tyto.

Other uncommon sightings for the week - and the year - came with a pair of Brown Gerygones (usually only in rainforest) and three squabbling White-necked Herons (mostly solitary).      

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Catching up with prey

Juvenile Brush Cuckoo leads off a short series of birds making recent captures in Tyto. Some birds are secretive and in a hurry to devour prey - in case Spangled Drongos or other would-be thieves turn up - but few fight over cuckoos' catches.

Male Varied Triller with green caterpillar.

Female Cicadabird about to make short work of a katydid.

Young Black-faced Cuckoo-Shrike one gulp away from downing a katydid.

Eastern Great Egret takes off with a red-tailed fish firmly in thrall.

Azure Kingfisher speeds off with small fish.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Woodswallow finds good swallow

Black-faced Woodswallow (Artamus cinereus) takes a break from hunting out insects in the coarse bark of a rain tree. The birds do not spend much time in Tyto  and usually catch their prey on the wing, going to ground on occasion. Bit surprising to see one acting like a treecreeper (lacking in Tyto), such foraging left mainly to Little Shrike-Thrushes.

No surprise to see Red-backed Fairy-Wren (Malurus melanocephalus). But this bird stood out enticingly from the dark background. And, almost no post-processing! Not so with male below - trying to attract females with red lure.
Couldn't get close enough for super sharpness. But splendid weather this week has brought the small birds out, so there'll be better shots to come.

Plenty of White-browed Robins (Poecilodryas superciliosa) sounding in the groves. Not so easy, though, catching up with them on or near the ground. 

Simple enough to catch Intermediate Egret (Ardea intermedia) on the ground. This fly-by from yesterday marks a sharper in-flight effort. May the blue-sky days long continue! 

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Chestnuts love their greens

Chestnut-breasted Mannikin (Lonchura castaneothorax) shows signs of breakfast at Tyto today.

The birds love the long green threads of a water plant (unidentified, by me!). It thrives in shallow pools and temporary creeklets after flood waters recede, but does not for several weeks attract the mannikins.

Nor does it draw Crimson Finches, Nutmeg Mannikins or Red-browed Finches, all of which share some similarity of taste with the Chestnuts.

Very different tastes here: Agile Wallaby with Willie Wagtail hanger-on ready to pounce on insects set flying by the browser.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Eager Whistling left Wandering

Whistling up trouble today at Tyto, a parent Wandering Whistling-Duck (Dendrocygna arcuata) - which had six large juveniles in tow - finds itself fiercely rebuffed after trying to link with a two-parent family of 10. 

After being outflapped, outjumped and wholly swamped, the bird retired, possibly to rethink the idea of threesomes. (It's a pity the sexes are too similar to ID.)

Ducks have been seen on the lagoons with up to 24 juveniles. Unlikely all these would be the product of, say, a shared nest. So mergers are okay, but seemingly strictly on terms of an alpha parent. 

Romantics from the past might have whistled up loving monogamy to explain the rebuff, but ducks (and most other birds) are usually up to wandering for a bit on the side. Perhaps today's loser fronted up too boldly.

Latest I and the Bird 100 is a truly bumper edition. Check it out here.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Screeching to (brain) halt

Sharp screech of talons scraping corrugated steel on Tyto's lookout today as a Brown Goshawk launched from hiding place in weeping fig overhanging lookout and rushed in fast glide at immature Comb-crested Jacana.

Jacana dived under water. Goshawk, pulled up sharply, stall-turned into dive, and failed at grab as bird surfaced. And why isn't there any picture of this? Because I was too slow to switch from watcher to photographer.

Earlier in day, a small Collared Sparrowhawk darted from ambush, missed its (unseen) target and paused briefly at distance long enough for sure identification. Grey, and Brown Goshawks have been active lately.  At today's noisy takeoff two metres overhead first issue was ID. And who needs pictures of raptors' back ends disappearing across a lagoon?

Too late the awareness of a Jacana in the Goshawk's sights. Too far off for a great picture, but zero marks for not waking quickly to the potential. In token defence, I've not seen a Goshawk show interest in birds on the water (just above the water - Swallows, Martins - yes). Live and learn, one hopes.

Yet more rain overnight disturbed Little Kingfishers' waterholes. But managed to sneak close for pictures two days ago of bird - but on a handrail.

Northern Fantail at least knows enough to stick with nature.

As also does maturing male Olive-backed Sunbird.    

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Crimson helps beat the grey

Can't beat a Crimson Finch (Neochmia phaeton) to provide a touch of colour when the skies go grey over Tyto (and much of coastal Queensland for a week!). Though mature birds are no longer at their breeding plumage finest, when seen up close (above) the red depth is a revelation.

Not much red yet for this immature Crimson.

No red, either, for female Little Bronze-Cuckoo (Chalcites minutillus), though ID is easier if red eye ring of the male is showing. Above female was accompanied by an extremely plain unbarred specimen, possibly a juvenile nearing independence.

Nothing red about this White-browed Robin (Poecilodryas superciliosa). However it showed welcome readiness to sit around low in an Euodia.

Finally, a holdover from bluer days, Union Jack (Delia mysis) spend a rare moment on a swamp lily. Plenty of the butterflies around, not usually much interest in flowers on the water. 

Friday, May 8, 2009

Capturing agility a fleeting ability

Agile Wallaby (Macropus agilis) numbers getting back to normal after the January-February floods. Easy enough to capture the standard look - erect, alert, and typically bland-faced. Seen one, seen 'em all.

Trickier trying for something a bit different. Haven't managed anything of great merit, but one or two animals have lately shown the right spirit.

But some persist in lying down on the job.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Herons divided, and a big dipper

Eastern Great Egret (Ardea modesta, above and under) and Intermediate Egret (Ardea intermedia) present no ID problems when seen together. But when they've all been away for some months and return as isolated birds doubts can creep in.
Size apart, two differences are the extreme angularity of the Great's neck and the gape, extending behind the eye (whereas it stops under Intermediate eye, below).
No problem in Tyto last few days. Both species dotted about the lagoons, competing for the spoils as two dry weeks herald good times among previuosly flooded grasses and reeds.    

Pacific Heron (Ardea pacifica) and equally shy White-faced Heron (Egretta novaehollandiae) also popping in most days, though less likely to stay once disturbed.

Also standing out, male Black-necked Stork (Phippiorhynchuse asiaticus) taking up one of several great gulps of water. As one of the stars on show, this must be the Big Dipper!

Modem fixed for now. No thanks to Telstra help desk. Old trick. Unplug. Wrap. Cool for 24 hours in fridge. Hey presto! 

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Modem woes strike again

Woe, woe, woe. More modem woes. Library access being used in meantime. May have to get memory stick to file any pix till modem gets sorted out.

Cheers all.

Brown Goshawk drops in for brekkie banter

Gidday. Just flying up this track and thought I'd drop in and have a dekko for bit of brekkie. Scared? Why'd I be scared of you, sta...