Friday, January 29, 2010

Agile Wallabies a-bound and abound

Quick circuit of main lagoon today brought almost 50 bird species, though most in low numbers, and many Agile Wallaby shots. The problem is catching  them in new poses. So the morning walk under threatening low cloud wasn't a total success. But they are cute, aren't they?

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

One Bowerbird builds many questions

What's in a picture? 1000 words? Here's a Great Bowerbird (Ptilonorhynchus nuchalis) in Tyto 'obviously' selecting bower material. Er, perhaps not. Bird picked up scores of twigs for more than 10 minutes. Discarded all. Flew off and began seeking prey in paperbarks. So. Fastidiously choosy? Thinking of bower-building? Or nesting? Playing?

Some pictures may lead to 1000 words through 100 questions. Many more pictures and observations may yield answers.

No question about activity of this male Rufous-throated Honeyeater (Conopophila rufogularis). No surprise catching bird gathering nesting material near Tyto hide, They build cup nests in paperbarks (some of which ring the hide) often over water. Hard to see in upper foliage and further disguised by birds' secretive flight into one tree and through it into the nest tree.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Rainbows lighten up the grey days

Plenty of grey around North Queensland with Cyclones Neville and Olga collapsing into rainy lows. So a bit of colour needed. And what's more colourful than Rainbow Lorikeets (Trichoglossus haematodus), specially on Rose Gum flowers? Beetle is bonus, unnoticed at time.

Not so gaudy, but every bit as noisy and scarcely less numerous lately, Scaly-breasted Lorikeet (Trichoglossus chlorolepidotus), on Euodia (Corkwood - also popular with Ulysses butterflies).

Sunny or grey, January shaping as lowest species count in Tyto in recent years. December usually the -100 month: but 114 last month; 99 this month. Why? Who knows? Not me!

Friday, January 22, 2010

Zitting bird finally does some sitting

Zitting Cisticola (Cisticola juncidis) sits on barbed wire south of Ingham, as per yesterday's teasing hope. Found pair of the hard-to-locate species yesterday. 

Longer search today came up with three pairs, at different sections of the unsealed road. Possibly a territorial arrangement, maybe not. Not great pictures, but strong wind and distance made things awkward.

Quick note on voice. Guides mostly go for 'lik lik'. To my ears, insecty' 'sick-sick', or 'sick, sick, sick', or even 'sick, sick, sick, sick, sick' is closer.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Zebras come out of hiding

Seen no Zebra Finches (Taeniopygia guttata) for years anywhere near Tyto, or indeed Ingham, but came upon three small groups along a grazing land road today.

Knee-length grasses hid them most of the time. So it became one of those mornings when the barbed wire was a blessing.

The wire also supported several Horsfield's Bushlarks (Mirafra javanica). Managed to bring the old Toyota Camry hide to a halt without scaring the above bird off. 

Finally, a teaser. Found a rare pair of birds today. Stood for more than 30 minutes watching and hearing them whizzing above and about me in the open grasslands. Too fast and erratic in flight for any hope of a picture. Perhaps on the barbed wire tomorrow...    

Monday, January 18, 2010

Tame stranger ducks into wetlands

Not so wild stranger ducked into Tyto today. Tucked away sunning itself in grasses beside reedy section of main lagoon was this hefty presumed Mallard descendant.

Almost tamely allowed close approach for above full frame shot, then paddled off with a few defiantly loud quacks. Probably be long gone tomorrow. 

Seems the season for farmyard escapers. Came upon four attractive white Muscovy types wandering along a road in a light industrial estate the other evening. Happily, the Muscovy pair earlier reported setting up to breed near the info centre moved on.

Also moved on, after latest rains, Purple Swamphens (Porphyrio porphyrio). Finches and mannikins pleased to see them go as they were all competing for the seeds of the grasses surrounding the above pair.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Junior Cassowary steps out with dad

Junior steps out in lock step with big daddy Southern Cassowary (Casuarius casuarius) today near Wallaman Falls, west of Ingham. Males do all the upbringing, usually of three juveniles. More sometimes, by theft of other young. After laying several huge green eggs, the bigger - and bossier - females evidently feel they've done more than enough in the short relationship.

Found the pair of birds at edge of ridge road about 8km before the falls. Missed pictures as I braked car. Both vanished into the thick rainforest, but I found a pile of fresh poo a 'wee' way up the road. Stuck around to do some seed counting (some trees depend on passage through the Cassowary): more than 150 seeds ranging in size between little fingernail and two thumb nails. Reward for effort was reappearance of birds long enough for shaky shots.

And here's a Tony-the-tourist picture of Australia's mightiest one-drop falls, with all-important rainbow colours at base of plunge pool. Picture doesn't show bodies of the many horse flies killed while taking a handful of shots. Also lacks X marks spot for loony BASE jumpers. Somewhere under the rainbow - if they get it wrong. And they have done.     

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Young finch poses as robin

What's going on here? Young Crimson Finch (Neochmia phaeton) in Tyto today hasn't yet learned that posing slantwise across trees is for robins. Seed-eating finches have little need for such insect-spotting poses.

Another young bird, a White-winged Triller (Lalage sueurii), divided its time the other morning between hunting for prey and chasing parents for easy tucker. The trillers, and cuckoos, are doing it tougher after rains and weed spraying have reduced insect numbers.

Here's a bird proved doubly hard to identify. Horsfield's Bushlark (Mirafra javanica) popped up at distance on barbed wire fence near Ingham. Not a Tyto visitor. No reason why the species shouldn't drop in: they just don't. Even after spotting and identifying bird in field guides, still had trouble listing it. Forgot 2008 change of name from Singing to Horsfield's.

PS: Also forgotten, that silly 2010 resolution about not using dud pictures

Monday, January 11, 2010

Brolgas enliven stretch of road

Brolga (Grus rubicunda) appears to be showing off wingspan to potential partner, but in fact was merely stretching wings and things by a farm road near Ingham.

The species never drops in at Tyto (the wetlands lacks anything tempting, vegetable or animal). Seeing about 60 of the graceful charmers on flood-prone coastal grazing land not far from Tyto was a happy surprise. 

Friday, January 8, 2010

Heron on post shows off for my post

White-faced Heron stands up and begs picture be taken at Tyto. The birds can develop some trust in people, but I've never found any around Ingham to have done so. In a past life as a mad golfer in New Zealand have almost brushed against the herons on footbridge handrails. Even this bird didn't let me closer than 20 metres.

Another bird not at all keen on people, even those who admire its delicate colouring, is the Pacific Heron. Not so strange really, I suppose, since the birds mostly prefer their own company and are more likely to be found wading quietly alone through open wetlands. No sign at all for months of their small lookalike, the Pied Heron. 

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Little Little Shrike-Thrush little hungry

Caught this barely juvenile Little Shrike-Thrush (Colluricincla megarhyncha) demanding food from busy parents in Tyto this week. Was aware birds had a nest in the general area, but have decided not to haunt nest areas - except in exceptional cases.

Things rather quiet with many birds vanishing since the latest rain. So to continue with theme of hungry brown birds, here's a young Brush Cuckoo seen exhorting two frantic Brown-backed Honeyeaters to greater effort the other day.

And a holdover, female Figbird. The species has been notably successful lately chasing various beetles. Seems the Orioles, Yellow, and Olive-backed, face stiff competition.

Crocodile nest update: no sign croc; nest may have been near submersion very briefly. May not be able to follow it up if there's more heavy rain soon. 

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Sharper resolution the 2010 resolution

Never rains but ... 2009 ended in sodden start of big Wet, and more sodding modem tears. Might be time to replace Telstra's blue lemon. Anyway, quick mop-up of holdovers.

Carpenter Bee (Xylocopa aruana?) shows off huge eye as it settles, mostly still, on prolific low-growing local weed, name unknown to me.

Wandering Whistling Ducks (Dendrocygna arcuata) also settle mostly still on still morning last month. Not many ducks to be seen today with the lagoon up 30cm-plus in five days.

Just before the rain, caught this Azure Kingfisher (Ceyx azureus) swinging above drying pool along a rainforest creek. Probably be September before any thought of getting dry-footed into same spot.

No problems getting to see White-browed Robin (Poecilodryas superciliosa). Not so easy catching them with caterpillars in sharp focus. Resolution for 2010 is sharper (lens) resolution!

So, final soft shot, of Rainbow Bee-eaters (Merops ornatus). Immature on left not sharing prey with companion, though it looks otherwise.

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...