Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Bustard busted, but unflustered

Big birds, big surprise. Couple of Australian Bustard (Ardeotis australis) along Orient Station road this week.

Not spotted one near Ingham before, though probably they've been present, unreported.

This is not a Bustard flustered, both birds being relaxed, so long as the Troopy rumbled along slowly after them.
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Monday, May 28, 2012

Miss the strike, catch swallow-up

Missed the strike but caught the swallow-up as Red-bellied Black Snake devours probable Rocketfrog, Orient Station yesterday. 

Puffing up never wins against determined snake.

Snake inexorably moves forward over victim.

Only two pitiful  toes to disappear. Followed by pathetic last croak from inside snake.

Moving on ... another frog on the air?
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Sunday, May 27, 2012

Silver linings amid grey days

Mostly all grey last three days, here's to silver (and other) linings, starting with - what else? - Grey Fantail (Rhipidura albiscapa), at Jourama Falls this week.

Mangrove Robin (Peneonanthe pulverulenta) presents warmer greys in morning rays: coastal woodland beside mangrove habitat, before the days clouded over.

Immature Dusky Moorhen (Gallinula tenebrosa), drably alone and a bit lost: Tyto main lagoon this week.

What we want: White-breasted Woodswallow (Artamus leucorynchus) and unclouded blue: Tyto early this week.    
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Thursday, May 24, 2012

Rufous, rueful follow grassbird gaffe

Oops! It's boohoo after booboo. Thought Little Grassbird had turned up two days  ago - after four-year absence. Small wet bird acted the part, though didn't look totally right. Moderators queried the ID, then passed my mistake to all and sundry, some of whom got to right ID more quickly than me. 

Young Rufous Songlark (Cincloramphus mathewsi) today in Tyto looks rather different dry and under reasonable light. Sorry. Feet of clay and all that.

If only I had someone to tickle me under the chin and tell me there, there, life's like that, we all make mistakes. Tried doing it the Chestnut-breasted Mannikin (Lonchura castaneothorax) way but found scleria stems a bit unforgiving. 
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Monday, May 21, 2012

Swampy looks wrong over wetlands

Quick fly-past from Swamp Harrier (Circus approximans) by main lagoon in Tyto yesterday but bird had eyes right - thus wrong - throughout the brief encounter. 

Two other raptors showing out in past few days, pair of immature Collared Sparrowhawk (Accipiter cirrocephalus). Interaction between them hints at sibling relations. Not a common sight locally so unusual to have two appear at same time.

Efforts at capturing dragonfly (Hemicordulia australiae) in flight have all failed. Birds sometimes seem to listen, dragons never!

And still can't train White-lipped Tree Frog (Litoria infrafrenata) for action shots.  
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Friday, May 18, 2012

Grebe goes it alone on lagoon

Male Australasian Grebe (Tachybaptus novaehollandiae) busy on main lagoon lately, sticking close at first to pair of Green Pygmy-geese, striking out alone mostly in past few days. Perhaps he's unaware of grebes on ponds across the other side of Ingham. 

Never wanting for company when small schools of fish are being herded, Little Black Cormorants (Phalacrocorax sulcirostris) are mainly hunting alone recently. Pickings have presumably dropped off after the Wet's aquatic breeding flush.       

A few more Intermediate Egrets (Ardea intermedia) are jumping into action on the main lagoon as outlying ephemeral pools in the area start to evaporate, though coastal showers are slowing the process.
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Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Tawny Grassbird stands out

Plenty of noise and sightings from Tawny Grassbird (Megalurus timoriensis) these days though as usual the birds seldom stand out from their habitat of blady grass and twiggy small trees. Bird above posed briefly in Tyto yesterday.

As did Little Kingfisher (Ceyx pusilla), with small catch. Stared resolutely away in spite of encouragement to turn for the camera.

Elsewhere, Mangrove Robin (Peneonanthe pulverulenta) seen wrestling with a monster wriggler of unknown identity. Passing honeyeater spooked the robin, which polished off prey within deep cover.

Finally got a reasonable image of Rufous Fantail (Rhipidura rufifrons). Quicksilver species rarely sits still, so above image from Seymour River, just north of Ingham came with more than a little luck.

Also found a Northern Fantail (Rhipidura rufiventris) near the river.
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Saturday, May 12, 2012

Keeping company with calm Cassowary

Most tourists visit Wallaman Falls for plunging waters and super rainbows of Australia's biggest cascade, birders go hoping to see the plunging neckline and cascading colours of the rainforest's biggest bird, Southern Cassowary (Casuarius casuarius).

Few get close in the bird's dense and often prickly habitat. Best view is usually a few seconds from a vehicle as the bird quits the road ahead. But every now and then one gets lucky. 

Like today: 15 minutes from appearance on a side track, a meander down said track, and a slow amble through trees and wait-a-while before the male dawdled off into even denser stuff. And in spite of silly hype about 'dangerous and deadly' animals from would-be Steve Irwins like 'Bite Me's' Mike Leahy (SBS doco series: about two weeks ago teased and provoked a caged Cassowary to attack, an episode the makers should be ashamed of, and an incident for which the exhibitors should lose their wildlife licence) the bird preened and fed calmly with me feeling absolutely safe 7-8 metres away.  
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Thursday, May 10, 2012

Mangrove Robins make the morning

Set off for a morning looking for an uncommon grasslander, Zitting Cisticola, yesterday - and ended up finding even more uncommon coast dweller, Mangrove Robin (Peneonanthe pulverulenta). A noisy, active pair, to be precise. 

Another slice of luck close to the mangroves and unusually low in a eucalypt, bright little Striated Pardalote (Pardalotus striatus).

Also in the area, Brown Falcon (Falco berigora), though image above from an earlier drive through the grazing land leading to the mangroves.
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Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Little Kingfisher talks back

Ha! Take this and the next all you who prick the pride of the Tyto knowall with your banter about the mythical Little Kingfisher (Ceyx pusilla).

My little friend and I enjoyed many magic minutes together this morning at the footbridge to the lookout. Much more peaceful without those southern interlopers, said one of us. And the other agreed. But we both smiled, I swear. (The ALB stayed away again!)

Bit of a turnup today also, with six Sacred Kingfisher (Todiramphus sanctus) seen here and there. 

And here's a male Leaden Flycatcher (Myiagra rubecula) from Saturday at the Osprey tree pool (where the LK was briefly to  be found).

Not too much action at the hide over the weekend but this Crimson Finch (Neochmia phaeton) showed some interest in previous paperbark nesting site, and did a quick robin impression. Apparently it can't do LKs.
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Saturday, May 5, 2012

All gone as Drongo diddles katydid catcher

Lots of Birdlifers up from Townsville today all hoping - and mostly getting - a look at an Australian Little Bittern. Also on show, about 70 other species, not all easily found. Above, White-faced Heron (Egretta novaehollandiae) up and about before most of the birders.

Most got a good look at this Brush Cuckoo (Cacomantis variolosus). Image is same bird,  same place yesterday. Seems to be only BC left in Tyto. Today it had one Little Bronze Cuckoo - also in short supply lately - for brief company.

No longer greeting visitors at the entry (as above), but today standing around under the carpark bottlebrushes, Bush Thick-knee (Burhinus grallarius). It's rather vain so picture does not show scarred left eye. Perils of running around screaming during the night!

Everywhere, as always, though not always accorded as much camera time as they probably deserve, Willie Wagtail (Rhipidura leucophrys). Another image from yesterday of action often seen today.

And after most had long gone this Spangled Drongo (Dicrurus bracteatus) pirated a katydid from a White-bellied Cuckoo-shrike. Nothing dumb about Drongos.
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Thursday, May 3, 2012

Jabirus carry on life in the sticks

Time for spot of rebuilding by local pair of Black-necked Stork (Ephippiorhynchus asiaticus) with the birds this morning heading southwest across the main lagoon at Tyto carrying nest sticks. Just the one trip by each bird. Perhaps more to come.

Rarer sighting yesterday, with immature White-eared Monarch (Carterornis leucotis) showing out around outer foliage of  trees near the lookout. Bit early in the year for the uncommon visitor: some years go by without any sightings.

Meanwhile Little Kingfisher (Ceyx pusilla) keeps popping up along the creekline and also, as above, among the pink lotuses on the lagoon. 
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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...