Monday, August 31, 2009

Kite leads a show of wings

Wings on show in Tyto reflect some interesting looks at bird life. First, wingtips of Whistling Kite (Haliastur sphenurus) gleam in the morning sunshine as the bird cruises low over the wetlands.

Then, Olive-backed Sunbird (Nectarinia jugularis) begins to open wings as it dances on aerial fig tree roots in the shadows of the Tyto lookout. The bird flittered between three of us standing under the lookout roof, and perched briefly on a tripod.

Finally, Australasian Grebe (Tachybaptus novaehollandiae) trails a wing during a quick stretch and preen on the main lagoon. A quirk of wave angle and light gives the bird three reflected heads.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Hobby's my bird: birds my hobby

Seldom see Australian Hobby (Falco longipennis) in the wetlands, and even more rarely does one drop in and take the time to scrutinise the prospects of an easy breakfast. Bird didn't much fancy what it saw and took off before I could get closer than about 50 metres. I suspect its home base is along trees that line the southern boundary of Ingham airstrip, which abuts Tyto's southern edge.

Plenty of Brown Goshawk (Accipiter fasciatus) sightings over past few months, but this bird popped up while I was trying to catch Rainbow Bee-eaters in flight on the coast at Lucinda yesterday. Put paid to my bee-eater hopes (which weren't panning out anyway!).

And while posting birds up trees, here's a shot of Tree Martins (Petrochelidon nigricans) atop a Leichhardt tree. Unlike the many more or less locally resident Fairy Martins and Welcome Swallows, Tree Martins appear for a month or two and depart for better aerial pickings elsewhere.

Which also suits the aerially competing White-breasted Woodswallows (Artamus leucorynchus) to a T (or a tree). This quartet today grouped snugly together (as is their habit) near the tree that supported the Tree Martins earlier in the week.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Kingfisher shows flying colours

Forest Kingfisher (Todiramphus macleayii) shows some of its marvellous colours in taking off from scrubby brush on the edge of Tyto's main lagoon. Action came courtesy of another birder walking up the lookout knoll and spooking bird at just the right moment for me. Most days I'd not be so thankful for the intrusion.

Also glistening, but with less colourfulness, an Australasian Darter (Anhinga novehollandiae) sleekly glides toward touchdown on the waters of Tyto's entry lagoon. This bird and a Little Pied Cormorant share the small lagoon's spoils and drive off any others of their respective species that drop in.

And here's a bird that's had me flying about over the past few days. Black-faced Monarchs (Monarcha melanopsis) don't often turn up and when they do, unlike this bird, they tend to be juveniles. Much stomping of lantana and chasing through undergrowth today brought sightings and no worthwhile shots. Having more or less given up, I finally got this long-distance shot from the track (which most sensible visitors stick to! Could there be a lesson involved?).

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Python pauses on pandanus

One day after commenting about pythons on another post (this is for you, Bronwen), and referring to their liking for pandanus, this Amethyst turned up in Tyto today. (It did so well away from the numerous visitors attending a Tyto Expo weekend, who were ferried around the lagoons by a fleet of golf buggies.)

How to find such snakes? Stand still frequently and listen carefully. Even small reptiles will make some noise if moving about on dry litter. This snake crunched through pandanus for some minutes before emerging and ascending the bare trunk it's semi-wrapped around.

No picture, but even louder noises in waist-high grasses yesterday - and seemingly coming from a large animal - signalled the purposeful progress of a particularly fat Red-bellied Black snake. Even from 30 metres away, the snake's swift flow through and high up in the grasses was audible and visible.

Most birds, naturally, ignored the many visitors, who, in turn, just as naturally failed to see most of the birds, but enjoyed the scenic beauty of their surroundings. Naturally, the skies were brilliantly blue through both days.

Got this Red-browed Finch (Neochmia temporalis) early today before the buggies began rolling around the place.

Same with this Red-backed Fairy-wren (Malurus melanocephalus), which paused just long enough on sunlit branch.

Not a lot of action out on the water apart from this Little Pied Cormorant (Microcarba melanoleucos) taking off after I appeared. They are very wary when in the water and almost nonchalant once parked up in trees.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Warbler poses as Little Bittern

Having lost all the Little Bitterns - departed during the floods and yet to return - Tyto is pressing Australian Reed Warblers (Acrocephalus australis) into service. Results so far are very encouraging, as can be seen in above picture.

Some might argue the deception will fool no one. Recent 'sightings' suggest otherwise. These include 'Grass Owls' (perhaps Pheasant Coucals or Goshawks) flying at noon, 'Yellow Thornbills' (probably Fairy Gerygone - Gerygone palpebrosa, above) high up here and there, and Lewin's Rails (almost certainly Buff-banded Rails) also out in the noon light.

Can't find an owl, but here's a Pheasant Coucal (Centropus phasianinus) doing a very poor impression of Eastern Grass-Owl (Tyto longimembris). More training - and extensive makeup -obviously needed!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Friarbird ducks Myna scuffle

Helmeted Friarbird (Philemon buceroides) gets the message from incoming Common Myna (Sturnus tristis) and makes way atop a tulip tree. You'd think a helmeted bird would have more warrior spirit, but seems Mynas are made of 'sturner' stuff.

Yellow Honeyeater (Lichenostomus flavus) didn't need any incoming bird to encourage a move elsewhere. The Yellows somehow seem to know that I'm after them. They won't face me, perhaps because (sorry) they're yellow.

Also winging away from me, more ruffled than rattled, an Intermediate Egret (Ardea intermedia).

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Baza about - watch out frogs!

Pacific Baza (Aviceda subcristata) didn't spend too long sitting around in this rain tree before launching after a tree frog. Tried to follow the action but bird took off for distant parts, accompanied by pathetic barking from the doomed frog.

But not every frog suffers such a fate. Here's one turning from green to brown among the timbers of the Tyto hide. The smallish tree snakes in the roof of the hide have apparently given up trying to put the bite on large frogs that have called the hide home for weeks.

Sulphur-crested Cockatoo (Cacatua galerita) only too happy to put the bite on many things, including parts of the nest made and erected in Tyto in an effort to attract Ospreys. Here's a cockatoo today coming in to land on the remnants of the nest, only to find me lurking nearby (trying to grab shots of Little Kingfishers).

Monday, August 10, 2009

Mannikins head memorable morning

Some days start well and just keep getting better. Hard to top today's start of Chestnut-breasted Mannikins (Lonchura castaneothorax) sprucing up in one of the new pools near Tyto's entrance. So, two pix for them.

Onwards, to one of many Brown-backed Honeyeaters (Ramsayornis modestus) busy, busy, busy gathering nesting material. (Yellows, and Browns doing likewise).

Nearby, male Rufous Whistler (Pachycephala rufiventris) sang and danced methodically through the cheesewoods in typical togetherness with mate (which didn't pose for me).

Plaintive noises from amid the mistletoe led to juvenile Red-winged (Aprosmictus erythropterus) whingeing at parent, which seemed immune to pleas, suggesting the youngster knuckle down and find its own fare by following mother's example. Later, similar story with male (below) and another juvenile.

Still better to come. Splash and dash from pool announced presence of Little Kingfisher (Ceyx pusilla). Bit of chasing about led to another pool and bird sitting pretty high off water. (Have helped several birdos find the reclusive Littles lately.)

No trouble finding Forest Kingfisher (Todiramphus macleayii). But few of them are willing to sit around when people come by. Picture one of several taken with new 2x converter, which means losing Auto Focus and many, many botched shots!)

No need for 2x when White-browed Robin (Poecilodryas superciliosa) turns up close to the Little Kingfisher pool. Bird jaunted about in the shadows briefly and just as quickly flashed off deeper into the trees.

Last bird of the morn, Rufous-thoated Honeyeater (Conopophila rufogularis) head down and hard at it to gather soft lining for nest in nearby paperbark. (Brown-backed and Rufous specialise in big bulky ovals with verandahed side entrances.)

To round off the outing, a Common Tree Snake sunning as I entered the hide, re-emerged from hiding, tasted the air, decided there was no threat and came from three metres away and almost over my outstretched hand before heading out and up off the bench and into a paperbark.

As I said, the morning just kept getting better!

(Note: used Picasa tools to fast-process all this post. One nit: can't scale images, so some inconsistent sizing.)

Friday, August 7, 2009

Making a quiet splash of life

Out and about on or near the water at Tyto, three to catch the eye. First, Buff-banded Rail (Gallirallus philippensis) looks for breakfast.

Second, solitary (by choice) Pacific Black Duck (Anas superciliosa) sets off to chew a bit of botany.

Third, Willie Wagtail (Rhipidura leucophrys) wanders out on to the water lilies.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Flitting after finch and flycatcher

The quest for top pictures of Red-browed Finches (Neochmia temporalis) goes on. These two entries merit a showing, but don't quite do full justice to the birds.

Indeed, the species might have a case for cruel and unusual caricature after being shot in the round at Tyto today.

Also flitting shy of satisfaction, the Shining Flycatcher (Myiagra alecto) that has been keeping company (more or less) with a Little Kingfisher (Ceyx pusilla) at a creek pool. Here's an earlier picture of the Little up close.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Great Egret flops to win fish

Eastern Great Egret (Ardea modesta) launches from a paperbark today at Tyto.

Bird then made a surprise belly-flop into the deep water and came away with large fish.

Not the standard egret fishing technique. But the big swallow certainly was!

Also flying after leaving the water, a White-browed Crake (Amaurornis cinerea) leaves a series of droplets in its wake.

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...