Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Long time no see, Mr Pardalote

After almost six years and several probable distant hearings finally found a Striated Pardalote (Pardalotus striatus) this week, on a mound of excavation spoil at the northeast corner of Tyto. More 'plink plink plink' yesterday but no sighting. Leaves me 10 unseen birds on thealltime list of 235. Should be a doddle to add the rest by 2070.

Meantime, a few familiars from the hide for last time in 2009. Opening with Crimson Finch (Neochmia phaeton). Not much depth of field because main effort going to trying for crakes further off in the scleria.

White-browed Crake (Amaurornis cinerea) steps into the open.

Spotless Crake (Porzana tabuensis) steps into the half open.

Finally, Rufous-throated Honeyeater (Conopophila rufogularis). Almost a miracle picture (for me), full frame, handheld, manual focus 600mm= at 1/80th. Pity it's not sharp. Here's to crisper efforts in 2010! All the best. 

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Just the spot for Spotless spotting

Spotless Crake (Porzana tabuensis) in front of Tyto hide in patchy light yesterday. The birds were out and about again in worse light today. Increasing evaporation this month has thickened the weed mat, providing them with secure footing. But the birds remain difficult to close in on.

And the thickening growth may have discouraged this Water Rat (Hydromys chrysogaster - pictured earlier in month) from further burrowing through the water and weeds.

Another clump of weeds in another wetland near Ingham. But a very big nest builder. This Saltwater Crocodile nest is 10 metres from a well-used vehicle track and 200 metres from a busy road. No sign of the crocodile at picture time, so I'll (very) carefully keep a distant eye on things. The probability is the Wet will flush the nest and eggs away from the old river channel before the estimated 60 days left to hatching.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Fancy flight and flight of fancy

Fancy flights and a failed flight of fancy stock the pre-Xmas blog stocking. First up, Green Pygmy Geese (Nettapus pulchellus) take off - trailing a few drops of water - across a scleria backdrop at the main lagoon yesterday.

Near perfect group of Magpie Geese (Anseranas semipalmata) flukily fills the frame. Lucky, uncropped shot offers range of wing variation and positioning. Not something to plan for. Unlike shot below of MG cruising over the lagoon.

Hard to plan for in-flight shot of immature Nankeen Night-Heron (Nycticorax caledonicus). Just the one bird, probably, and no set routine or favourite roost. But something spooked this bird the other morning and in its flap it scarcely noticed me watching an Oriental Cuckoo nearby (yes, the one that I missed in flight).

And here's a Comb-crested Jacana (Irediparra gallinacea) passing beneath me at the Tyto lookout. Plenty of to-and-fro always with the species, but usually too far off.

Finally, today's picture that's just plain off. You can possibly see the plan, but nothing quite panned out. Didn't persist because parent Bush Thick-knee (Burhinus grallarius) was getting a bit toey. Season's grittings ...

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Little Bittern in the hand, sadly

Found a sad rare bird in the hand today. This Australian Little Bittern (Ixobrychus dubius) tangled with barbed wire fencing at a small wetlands near Ingham overnight. Still alive when unhooked, the bird had suffered too much damage. The vet did what I had feared would fall to me. 

Imagine the suffering of any bird or animal caught in such terrible position. It's even sadder when the species is of limited and perhaps declining numbers. Today's was the second Little Bittern I've found barbed in two years. Use of unbarbed top wires would stop many such deaths.

But it's too close to Christmas to end with notes of gloom. So here's a happier pair of birds on wire. First, juvenile Welcome Swallow (Hirundo neoxena) finds Tyto footbridge wire walking and wing stretching harder than simply sitting and waiting to be fed.

Rainbow Bee-eater (Merops ornatus) contents itself with merely looking glorious, in a subdued sunsetty way, as it waits for prey to rise from the western end of Ingham airstrip.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Oriental too fast for Cuckoo chaser

Quest for in-flight pictures of Oriental Cuckoo (Cuculus optatus) got a wee lift yesterday when the above bird flew into view and sat briefly high in a tree some 30 metres away. But it took off so suddenly I was caught out  changing camera settings. The species' hawklike shape in flight makes it unmistakable. At rest it offers hints of several other cuckoos, though mainly smaller species.     

This immature Fan-tailed Cuckoo (Cacomantis flabelliformis) showed out last week amid the many Brush Cuckoos (Cacomantis variolosus) seen in numbers for several weeks. 

Here's an immature Brush showing some tail spread in a somewhat messy setting at Tyto today. Pity the Oriental is never so obliging!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Willie doesn't give fig for Koel comfort

Too handsome to deserve being called common, male Asian (formerly Common) Koel (Eudynamys scolopaceus) hunches attractively in Tyto today as it takes a break from feeding Sandpaper Figs to female. 

First time I've caught up with two Koels in noisy partnership and in tree low enough to encourage long waits trying to get clear pictures (with limited luck). The dense foliage of the young fig tree was no help.

Nor was the Willie Wagtail throwing itself on the female Koel's back to drive the bird away from its territory. Only the female Koel drew the angry chattering and physical attention. Koels parasitise larger birds, but Willies don't care for cuckoos. 

Monday, December 14, 2009

Bit of patter before a Pitta pity

Frustratingly close to catching up with two elusive species in the rainforest behind Ingham Airstrip today. Well, did catch them, but lacked any 'up', as in up close. So, will open with better couple of birds on sticks. First, male Rufous Whistler (Pachycephala rufiventris) lines up in the morning sunshine.

Second, Red-browed Finch (Neochmia temporalis) intent on higher issues.

And the first of today's distant efforts. Noisy Pitta (Pitta versicolor) in forest considerably darker than it appears. Pittas commonly pitter-patter along amid leaf litter but are more often heard than seen. In part because they spend a lot of time up in trees and birders spend a lot of time looking for them on the ground. Ventriloquial birds, that's what they are.

Second distant shot, immature Nankeen Night-Heron (Nycticorax caledonicus), announced its arrival with a strangled 'grawwwk'. It then flew low to forest creek bank, peered in, and dived out of sight! I didn't see it emerge. Don't know if it was splash-showering or hunting, perhaps for freshwater mussels (not equipped for chasing fish underwater). Next sighting, image above, taken from 40 metres away. Tried stalking close. Bird off. Just one of those mornings...  


Friday, December 11, 2009

Standing out by standing around

Time to clear out some images that have stood around too long. First up, Bush Thick-knee (Burhinus grallarius) stands easy between cane train tracks near Ingham. Bird happily stood still till I tried lying down for more interesting angle. Quickly gone. It wasn't about to stand for any arty stuff!    

Standing tall in a shallow pool by the Bruce Highway just south of Ingham, a second year Black-necked Stork (Ephippiorhynchus asiaticus) coming into adult plumage. The parent birds and one of two other siblings are members in good standing of the Tyto Wetlands frequent fliers club. 

Finally, Royal Spoonbill (Platalea regia) stands watchful close to the Tyto hide. Not taken from the hide itself because its slatted upright boards - spaced for breezy ventilation - stand too far apart to hide those inside. Some birds will stand for shifting shadowy figures inside the hide, many will not. 

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Yellow Honeyeater digs in

Yellow Honeyeater (Lichenostomus flavus) about to enjoy a juicy catch after much effort dragged fat prey out from its tightly curled leaf home at Tyto today. Honeyeaters are partial to insect prey, Yellows particularly so. Bill length and shape helps tell the story.

So no trouble seeing that a Brown Honeyeater (Lichmera indistincta) spends more time chasing nectar with its more delicate bill and tongue. 

Brown-backed Honeyeater (Ramsayornis modestus) - in typical quizzical pose - will, with others of the species, take over flowering paperbarks and drive other honeyeaters away, but more usually enjoys a general diet.      

Sunday, December 6, 2009

'Reddy' theme for big picture change

Get 'reddy' for bigger pictures. Should be able now to click on any to enlarge because I've finally twigged to benefits of Blogger's new editor. Opening with Comb-crested Jacana (Irediparra gallinacea). And throwing in a choc box shot from distance at Macknade Wetland early today (below).

And here's a male Red-backed Fairy-wren (Malurus melanocephalus) carrying a red 'love token' near the Tyto hide. Well, most of the bird anyway! All another male (below).

Finally, pair of Metallic Starlings (Aplornis metallica) near Ingham today. Trick of reflected light shows strange colour on head of right-hand bird.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Stacking up some aerial shots

Stack of Magpie Geese (Anseranas semipalmata) about the place at present. They don't always present so obligingly stacked as this shot from earlier today. Nor have too many presented overhead as did the one below.

Also caught in midair, an Intermediate Egret (Ardea intermedia) sets off beady-eyed to drive another away from its patch near the centre of the main lagoon (parts of which are again drying after last month's unseasonal 250mm of rain).

Plenty of Purple Swamphens (Porphyrio porphyrio) lately, though proving difficult to sneak up on. Seems they always have the odds stacked in their favour. For the present ...

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Sea-Eagle plunge misses target

White-bellied Sea-Eagle (Haliaeetus leucogaster) turns away empty-taloned after sending wings whirring in all directions at Tyto yesterday.

While lining up an egret in flight, I heard alarm calls and panicked flurries. Plunging form filled the viewfinder as I turned. Didn't expect to see it almost in the water below me. Bird had tried to ambush group of flying cormorants fighting over a fish. Eagle missed target and just avoided feet-first splash. Then it was gone, out of sight high to west. Hard work being a top predator!

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...