Friday, December 31, 2010

Pick of the day, pic of the year

Final Tyto stroll for 2010 found one Crimson Finch (Neochmia phaeton) standing out among the usual plenty. Sometimes the bird is only part of the picture. 

Too much to expect hyperactive Red-backed Fairy-wren (Malurus melanocephalus) to adopt artistic pose. Sprayed sedge an unwanted species.

Much easier to catch Rufous-throated Honeyeater (Conopophila rufogularis) in front of hide. Nest nearing completion.

Female Rufous Whistler (Pachycephala rufiventris) stayed in paperbark just long enough for quick shot.

Finally, two images to wrap up the year:

Brown-backed Honeyeater (Ramsayornis modestus) in paperbark by Tyto hide.

And my picture of 2010, Striated Heron (Butorides striata) with muddy catch near a coastal boat ramp.   
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Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Rain sets Rufous-throateds back

Boxing Day flood of about one metre washed through wetlands and apart from spreading problem weeds did little damage. But the teeming rain washed some nests from the trees.

Rufous-throated Honeyeater (Conopophila rufogularis) among those starting again today.

Here's a sunnier effort taken from the hide a wee while ago.

And a fluffier look, also taken from the hide.
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Saturday, December 25, 2010

Crimsons counter cyclone blues

Super wet Xmas morn at edge of Cyclone Tasha, so festive cheer needs a boost.

How about two cheers for Crimson Finch (Neochmia phaeton)?

And another for Chestnut-breasted Mannikin (Lonchura castaneothorax)?

Greetings to nature lovers everywhere.
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Thursday, December 23, 2010

Olive-backed Oriole heads tidy-up

Super Wet set in last night, bit of flooding around Ingham today. More on way. Time to tidy up held over pictures, headed by maturing Olive-backed Oriole (Oriolus sagittatus), showing plumage changing about the head.

Sought better images of Silvereye (Zosterops lateralis) for months, but the birds stayed high in the trees before quitting the wetlands altogether. 

Still a few Brush Cuckoos (Cacomantis variolosus) in Tyto, mostly heard rather than seen lately.

And plenty of Pied Imperial-Pigeons (Ducula bicolor) in the area, though more often in small flocks overhead than perched in rain trees.
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Saturday, December 18, 2010

Two heads not always better than one

Two heads may often be better than one but not usually in bird pictures. Bush Thick-knees (Burhinus grallarius) above look well matched, but all too seldom do the heads show equal appeal. Nothing remarkable in the observation. It comes simply because a few pair pictures have cropped up.

Here's two Pied Oystercatchers (Haematopus longirostris) at Lucinda yesterday. One's almost sharp! Plenty of terns and various shore birds out on the sand bars. None close enough to camera (which came close to disaster when I became stuck in clinging mud).

Trip to coast in part to check on Striated Heron (Butorides striata) nesting by Dungeness boat ramp. Three juveniles in nest tree wouldn't gather for group portrait, so two had to do.

Back at Tyto, Wandering Whistling-Ducks (Dendrocygna arcuata) look to be enjoying bit of morning splash and dash. Some creatures appear to enjoy life more than others. Appearances, of course, are deceptive.  
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Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Jacana plonks eggs on pool weed

Nesting no big thing in world of Comb-crested Jacana (Irediparra gallinacea). But usually the eggs are plonked on growth or debris more substantial - and less exposed - than Azolla, in a shallow creek pool.

This is probably the male, today seeming to avoid going near the new-laid eggs, yet never quitting the pool. Not sure if he's accepted responsibility for sitting, and the rearing. Presumed female egg layer, seen briefly, lacked colour: may be young, and unwise in egg plonking. Time may tell.

Meantime, here's another Jacana, showing off those toes!!!   
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Sunday, December 12, 2010

Hello, hello to Yellow-faced fellow

Lively Yellow-faced Honeyeater (Lichenostomus chrysops) stopped darting about in flowering Euodias long enough on Friday to be identified and join the Tyto species list. Common enough species, but never ticked here before.

But nothing came of weekend efforts to get more sightings or better pictures. Still, two species new to the list in three days (three in two months: Superb Fruit-Dove, Common Tern) may owe more to La Nina than to coincidence. A few more newcomers to the all-time list would compensate for the wet-weather reductions in overall species and bird numbers.       

Pacific Baza bulletin: All four thriving: juveniles sticking more or less together, though smaller bird originally rescued from ants a week ago (presumed male, above, two days ago) still more venturesome.       
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Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Willies thriving; mozzies diving

Almost time to quit the nest for these three Willie Wagtails (Rhipidura leucophrys), handily located beside bench on southeastern section of Tyto track. Not pictured, hundreds of mozzies lining up for lingering photographers. 

Elsewhere today, terrible picture of Superb Fruit-Dove (Ptilinopus superbus): a first for Tyto list.  Female showed up briefly with Scaley-breasted Lorikeets. 

Almost as rare, but not photographed, White-throated Nightjar (Eurostopodus mystacalis) flushed three times near track. No recent sightings of the more common Large-tailed Nightjar.  

Pacific Baza bulletin: One parent seen soaring: one junior heard at distance.     
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Sunday, December 5, 2010

Am I my Baza's keeper?

Here's the quandary. Friday morning, juvenile Pacific Baza (Aviceda subcristata) 25 metres below the nest, behind the Tyto info centre. Nest tree one of several towering paperbarks on small island connected by metal footbridges in landscaped lagoon precinct surrounded by Ingham suburbia and football ground. No way to get bird up into the trees. What to do? Interfere only as last resort. Back off. Let nature do its job. Return twice later in day and first find bird on concrete pillar in lagoon and then in small tree beside lagoon. 

Early Saturday morning no sight or sound of Bazas, but late in morning and here's junior in bigger trouble. Bird's travelled 200 metres west from nest island, and become grounded in long grass in an area swarming with green ants. What to do? Nature can be too cruel. Toss plastic parka over bird. Pick all the (now getting angry) ants off. 

No sign of parent birds, so put junior up into the small tree from evening before. Today, juvenile Baza calls coming from deep within trees in flooded section of the wetlands. It's up to the parents now.    
Click pix to enlarge

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

White-browed Crake stands out

High water levels mean fewer sightings of White-browed Crake (Amaurornis cinerea) because many of the birds quit the lagoon scleria for the surrounding flooded bladey grass.

But not all. Bird above ( and, top, on sedge) at lagoon's edge today squeaked and hissed in company with shyer partner for about 20 minutes, mostly, of course, half-hidden by sedge, grasses or other weeds.

Even showed off this small unidentified beetle? reward for all its foraging.

MISSING: Many birds. Species count of 93 for wet November almost 30 below average previous five years. And numbers low within many species.        
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Thursday, November 25, 2010

Common Tern not so commonplace

Common Tern (Sterna hirundo) seldom true to name in any part of its distribution around much of the Australian coast. Bird above - one of two fishing main lagoons this week - first of the migratory species to go on Tyto list (terns are tricky: three days to get a picture giving some certainty of ID!!!)

No uncertainty about these two young Pacific Bazas (Aviceda subcristata) near ready to quit the nest near the Tyto info centre. Limited experience suggests parent birds will soon split up and accompany one each of these two. At some later time the parents reunite, perhaps having to shake off an immature before breeding again.     
Click pix to enlarge

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Baza goes for smash and grab

Smash and grab Pacific Baza (Aviceda subcristata) spreads wide and handsome in tree-top hunt for frogs and mantids. The birds sometimes choose to crash into upper foliage, shocking prey. Pair nesting high behind Tyto info centre amid tall paperbarks come and go mostly unnoticed. 

Also active, until the latest rains reflooded the area, pair of Brahminy Kites (Haliastur indus). Keen interest in weed-free lagoons coincided with schools of fish 'hoovering' surface water. 
Click pix to enlarge

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Woodswallow tucks into tree fork

White-breasted Woodswallow (Artamus leucorynchus) peers out from nest tucked typically into fork of paperbark. 

Brown-backed Honeyeaters (Ramsayornis modestus) nesting in same tree though little activity spotted through past three very wet days.   

Close by, Shining Flycatcher (Myiagra alecto) nesting near creek-side spot used earlier in the year. 

Male - much quicker to quit the nest - has been sharing more of the sitting this time.  
Click pix to enlarge  

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Sunbird bends over backwards

Few headaches lately brought CT scan trip to Townsville yesterday, and some time looking (mostly) for anything interesting in dwindling wader spots. Nothing stood out among Sharp-tailed and Marsh Sandpipers, apart distant Latham's Snipe.

Best sight, female Olive-backed Sunbird (Nectarinia jugularis) at work on dangling nest. 

She even bent over backwards for me - but wouldn't stay still.

Also found young (rufous markings) Little Shrike-Thrush (Colluricincla megarhyncha) nearby, feeding, not gathering nest material.

Closer to home, got unsteady image of Barking Owl (Ninox connivens) the other night (watch out, possums!). Holding heavy spotlight and camera proved bit of a pain.

Talking of pain, and headaches, brain scan showed nothing (well, minimal grey matter) apart from treatable sinus condition. Spray for me, friends.
Click pix to enlarge     

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Brown-backed Honeyeaters in your face

 Hanging around nests for photographs isn't cool but when Brown-backed Honeyeaters (Ramsayornis modestus) start setting up house smack dab over the middle of the main Tyto entry track, well, what can you do?

Takes a bit more effort - and sets up more interesting images - to catch the bird at work elsewhere, above stripping nesting material from a small paperbark.

And here's another BB up a bit too close below the Tyto hide today.
Click pix to enlarge    

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...