Sunday, August 31, 2014

Mangrove Robin delivers the goods

Where's that man with my morning snack? He can't expect me to do my best mothering on an empty stomach. Hey, I hear something. Food's on the wing at last.

About time too. Wherever have you been?

Yum. Thank you. Hope there's more where that came from.

Off and get it then.  Mangrove Robin (Peneonanthe pulverulenta) at home on two eggs in mangrove fork near coast southeast of Ingham yesterday. 

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Crimson Finch tucks into weed seed feed

Female Crimson Finch (Neochmia phaeton) tucks into hymenachne weed at Mungalla Station today. Above, it's not easy trying to be a tidy eater. Below, quick flick to clean the bill and looking neater.

Also in Mungalla, Australian Pratincole (Stiltia isabella), one of several likely to settle in for a few months' residency, and probably some breeding.

Recent migratory arrival, Latham's Snipe (Gallinago hardwickii) also appears to have settled in for a long spell, feeding in pools alongside Palm Creek.

A longterm resident, Australian Bustard (Ardeotis australis), stands out on track running above the creek. Much male posturing for months so local breeding possible, though I've never seen any younsters running about the Ingham area.  

And another longtermer - always in big numbers - Australasian Pipit (Anthus novaeseelandiae) leaves the dusty ground for a brief taste of the high life.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Splash of blue signals Lovely arrival

Splash of bright blue amid the green understorey in Tyto yesterday signalled rare arrival of male Lovely Fairy-wren (Malurus amabilis). No sightings of species ever so far east in the wetlands. And no sign at all of the birds in years since Cyclone Yasi. Now the challenge is to get a decent picture.

A challenge also often with Pacific Baza (Aviceda subcristata). The specialist frog and phasmid munchers don't mind people getting close, but usually stay high in or atop the foliage. Bird above spent some time on lower limbs in Tyto the other day.

So did this young Yellow Honeyeater (Lichenostomus flavus), when it wasn't busy chasing others away from bottlebrush along the northwestern boundary track. Immaturity shows with yellow at base of gape (bill).

The challenge with Crimson Finch (Neochmia phaeton) has been to get a bird to sit somewhere other than surrounded by grass (natural feeding habitat at times) or background and foreground twiggery. No luck so far.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Wow, that's gotta be the biggest worm in this bird's world

Black-fronted Dotterel steps in for close look at Red-bellied Black Snake as it emerges from shallow pool alongside Palm Creek, Mungalla Station, Ingham. After speeding through the pool, the snake made leisurely progress across pasture and vanished into thick grasses lining the creek bank. The bird's inspection was casual and cursory. No cause for alarm from either party.

And another few images from the water front, at Tyto lately.

Pelican at edge of main lagoon today.

Plumed Whistling Duck on rocks lining front lagoons yesterday.

Sacred Ibises foraging together.

And 'my' Saltwater Crocodile today ...

... and the trap in place close by. Might be empty for some time yet.  

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Paying respects to the Saltwater Crocodile

No sooner do I find a Saltwater Crocodile (Crocodylus porosus) in Tyto - the first for about seven years - than plans are made to remove it. Which might be trickier than some think. Yes, I understand the Hinchinbrook Shire's worries. What if it eats a tourist? Specially when the shire's put out the red carpet and is allowing 48-hour freebies for travellers to park alongside the front lagoons, near the centre of Ingham. But the 2.5m croc - too small to be a real terror - is staying well away from possible interaction with anyone, hauling out most mornings at the western end of a treed island in the main lagoon, about 70m away from any track (and 800m from the freebie zone). And it is an attraction for some. Crocs and people get along in other parts of the shire, though a few menacing big old boys have been trapped and  relocated as part of Queensland Parks and Wildlife policy in the past year or two. Meantime, crocs don't have big appetites at present. So my Tyto mate can look  forward  to more sunbathing before any bait and traps are trundled in. What happened to the last one in Tyto? I think it paddled off down Palm Creek one night - through the centre of Ingham. 

No suggestion that Mungalla Station, not far east of Ingham, remove crocs from its considerable stretch of Palm Creek. I've been surveying birdlife at the station long enough to have become acquainted with a few of the toothy locals. They seldom bask quite so close to the track alongside the creek as the smiler above.

More often, it's a glimpse of a head and  body close to the water's edge.

Today, a touch of waterweed camouflage. Croc must have come up through weed, which stayed draped across its back until it slipped into deeper water as I walked closer. 

So, dangerous? Yes. Creatures of terror? Absolutely not. Just pay them the respect they deserve and let's survive together.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Junior Jabiru grows in confidence

Not so long ago junior Jabiru showed no more than a big head sitting high in a big nest beside Palm Creek at Mungalla Station, Ingham. A few weeks later and young Black-necked Stork (Ephippiorhynchus asiaticus) had to be rescued by Mum after being attacked in the air by an unusually bold Black Kite. In the past two or three weeks, the apron strings have given way to limited self-reliance and independent foraging. Today, enough confidence to allow me within 30 metres before taking off.

Shake the cobwebs out before flight.

Launch into the wind and over the water.

Get those big wings working for some lift.

And up into the somewhat wild grey yonder.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Stubble Quail kicks off high count

High count of 76 species seen in stiff northeasterly gusts at Mungalla Station today didn't bring too many worthwhile pictures but did kick off with closeup of Stubble Quail (Coturnix pectoralis).

And male Leaden Flycatcher (Myiagra rubecula) turned up in sheltered spot along choked creek, in place of the Little Kingfisher being targeted.

Seen today back on usual cattle pad habitat - a reappearance after briefly taking off elsewhere - but this one photographed last week, Australian Pratincole (Stiltia isabella).

Another species seen today but photographed earlier, Nankeen Night-Heron (Nycticorax caledonicus), one of 50-60 roosting by day in a tangle of cottonwoods.

Also, one of 50-60 birds often sheltering around the cottonwoods, Crimson Finch (Neochmia phaeton). 

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Black and red and near impossible to read

What's black and red and near impossible to read with a camera? Male Red-backed Fairy-wren (Malurus melanocephalus), that's what.

But here's a nearly right, in Tyto morning sunshine.

Same bird, with less work on background.

Same species with male plumage emerging.

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