Monday, March 28, 2011

More meat for Yellow Honeyeater

No surprise to find Yellow Honeyeater (Lichenostomus flavus) with juicy green caterpillar in Tyto yesterday. Cyclone Yasi and much rain since then have reduced honeyeaters' feed options. So, Yellows and Rufous-throateds have stayed around, but most Browns - keener on pollen and nectar - have left the wetlands.    
Click pix to enlarge

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

AF misses the flycatcher action

Wee trip north today to Five-mile Swimming Hole just south of Yasi-ravaged Cardwell offered plenty of action with Lemon-bellied Flycatchers (Microeca flavigaster) and Leaden Flycatchers (Myiagra rubecula).

Missing in action through much of a frustrating hour, auto focus and/or external flash. Birds came and went, so did camera functions.

But even on best behaviour camera would have struggled for sharp capture of sudden spat between two birds.

And in-flight grabs at prey seldom come out much better than the above. Of course, back at home camera works perfectly. Damn it!
Click pix to enlarge

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Finch sticks around for picture

More super Wet and flooding in Tyto early this week, giving way to weak sunshine from Friday.  

Today, found slight increase - to 31 bird species - over previous Sunday. Notable rise in numbers of Chestnut-breasted Manikins. Very few ducks and cormorants. No egrets or ibises.

This Red-browed Finch (Neochmia temporalis) one of few birds that stayed close enough for a picture.
Click pix to enlarge

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Squelching the numbers . . .

Squelched into Tyto today after 740mm of rain and widespread flooding through the week finally gave way to mostly dry roads and sullen grey cloud. Tracks overgrown and some knee-deep in water.  

Found 26 bird species. Few in usual numbers, apart from White-browed Crakes and Forest Kingfishers. Even Crimson Finches and Willie Wagtails notably reduced. 

But did surprise a Black Bittern in spot flushed from soon after Cyclone Yasi crashed through last month. A creature of habit, possibly partner of bird above, pictured in January.

And while looking back, two views of a Sooty Oystercatcher from my flying visit to NZ.

Painful crawl over volcanic rock on Manukau Harbour foreshore brought little reward!  
Click pix to enlarge

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Old images antidote to cabin fever

Rain, rain, go away! Five days of it. Ingham cut off. Cabin fever setting in. Antidote: take a few unused images.

Sunnier shot, but didn't think it sharp enough: Willie Wagtail (Rhipidura leucophrys) with dragonfly, in Tyto early this year.

Black-fronted Dotterel (Elseyornis melanops) stands amid some morning sparkle. Put picture aside because didn't like the angle.

And two rather wooden Brown Falcons (Falco berigora).      
Click pix to enlarge

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Riding on a (Grey)hound from hell

I'm back!

After the bus trip from hell.

Saw plenty of family and friends in NZ. But not ready to live in manicured green paradise yet. (No, not going to relive the quake tragedy.) So, score cheapish, perfect flight Auckland-Cairns.

Need bus to Ingham. Enter Greyhound office. Omen: snotty child spilling juice all over floor. Two females with attitude booking rides without pausing cellphone calls (another omen).

Three hours to bus time. Steamy morning drags on.
Bus arrives 12.15 for 1pm departure. Driver steaming after hosing outside of bus in futile cooling effort.  12.30: Passengers mill around. Stressed driver flaps about getting fares and baggage in confused disorder. Passengers told to climb aboard, without being given seat numbers. Bad move. Anger later as shifts ordered.

Time drags on. So, too, late arrivals. Driver near meltdown. Some fares too. Incluing disturbed barefooted woman getting home after troubled night in police cell 'care'.

Bus hot. Fares hot. Driver sweating torrents. Counts heads. Loses figure. Recounts heads. Wrong total. Tries again. (Another omen).

Off, finally, and only about eight minutes late. Bus gains tiny draft to assist hopeless cool vents. Bigmouth teen starts first of five-hour series of drama-filled 'OMG - you're freaking me out' mobile shrieks.

Driver mops brow. Again, and again, and again. Hellish bids to amuse and inform begin. Radio blares. Changes. Driver frets. Tries DVD. No  go. Then go. No go. Then sound only. Nobody tells him for 15 mins. More fiddling. Distorted picture. But we're free from his fiddling for a blessed hour.

Teen drama queen raves on. Drunken yobbo up back frets for nicotine. Tries to leap from bus to gulp a few drags during every one of many freight pickups made. And at all the dropoffs and pickups.

Bus trundles on, stop after stop. Finding first gear is a struggle  but we're settled into the ride. More radio blaring and inane info from driver just roll off us. Inured to it all. Just get it over.

More detours, dropoffs and pickups.

Tully, nearing blessed end. Disturbed woman, another very heavy smoker, quits bus and folds arms around small boy who runs to her.

Woman's mother and another youngster approach. Family reunion. Which turns to nightmare. 
Disturbed woman starts screaming at her mother. 'Get away from me! Get away from me.'Then attacks her. Both wrestling on ground under depot roof. Male with mother stands useless nearby.

Young woman on bus leaps out and stops the fight. Fragile peace sets in. But disturbed woman rejects mother's presence.

All on bus glued to events. Ugly cheering. Sick fascination and sicker comment. Little sympathy for the adults and not even much for the children so obviously at risk.

Just let this trip end! (I'm no better than any other on this ride).

Driver loses passenger count. Again! Recounts. Scribbles again. And again. Off at last.

Cardwell. Food stop. Change drivers. 20 mins late. Drivers lose count. Hunt for phantom passenger.

Idiot new passenger holding ticket to Townsville but lacking any money ponders choice of overnighting with friend and being flown ex-Cairns or being stranded penniless down south. Takes 10 minutes to quit bus.

Drunk smoker leaps back on. Fallen in love with it all, he slurs a request to buy further ticket and go all way to Brisbane! Proof that travel soddens the mind.

Ingham at last. Luck changes. New driver drops me right outside caravan park. 

Friends. Caravan cleaned and aired. Home sweet home!

PS: Had great time in NZ. Spent almost all of 16 days with family and friends. Little nature watching and even less birding. So, just one 'oodle ardler' from inner city Auckland.

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...