Friday, July 29, 2016

Brown Honeyeater spans saga of the footbridges

Few people know that the dominant bird species in Tyto these days, the Brown Honeyeater (Lichmera indistincta), is a keen student of human behaviour and a student of folly and lover of drollery. Here is one bird's story:

The man drives a white ute. Not a you-beaut ute, a workaday ute. All the men drive white utes. They drive along the grass track and look for things to do.

Some months ago a man saw a thing to do. He stared at a wooden footbridge. It was showing cracks in some planks.

The man drove away. Another man drove by a month later. He saw the cracks too. He drove away.

Some months later a man drove up to a footbridge. He stared at the cracks. He drove on and stared at another footbridge. And then another.

He got a spray can and put a white mark on some cracked planks. He did all four bridges that have wooden planks.

Several months later another man came. He stared at the white marks. He got out of his white ute and marched on to one bridge. He stomped on the most cracked plank. One end fell to the dirt just below. He went away.

Later, another man in a white ute came and put up two signs saying the bridge was closed.

A month later a man came with a white ute and new planks. He took out the spray-marked planks on three bridges and screwed in new planks. He did not do the fourth bridge. He took away one sign.

We suppose another man will come for the other sign.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Mangrove Robins hide behind my back

Braved mozzies and mud after Mangrove Robins (Peneonanthe pulverulenta) today. Found three, parents feeding nearly mature youngster. Never in two hours up close in front of camera. Three times right up close behind me - surrounded by low-growing mangroves. Above, distant shot of immature bird.

Here's probable parents pictured many weeks ago. In the interim failed to find nest, or, indeed, any hint of nesting.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

On the green stuff and in the pink

Not your usual visitor to grassy dunes, Galah (Eolophus roseicapillus) chomped away on choice bits of mown strip of Coral Sea foreshore at Forrest Beach east of Ingham yesterday.

Hinchinbrook Health Care outpost just across the way, but bird clearly so in the pink as to need no care. Indeed, not a care in the world.

Monday, July 18, 2016

Search for broad-bill leads to broad blue behind

Came upon this male Blue-winged Kookaburra (Dacelo leachii) the other day while chasing up claim of Broad-billed Flycatcher - very uncommon this far southeast - in the area of old Mungalla Station homestead. Perhaps got quick look at Broad-billed. More views needed to be sure.

Expect more views of the Kookaburra too. Because he's probably expecting. Wee way down the track and in fork of solid eucalypt an aerial termite nest is now a nesting chamber.

No sign of a female. Rear view suggests passage of food to his mate. Not specially flattering, but he emerged and flew off in a blur of useless images. We'll watch progress as search goes on for the flycatcher.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Little good big but good Little comes of long lensing

Walked into Tyto yesterday jauntily carrying light 300mm lens and looking forever upward, seeking uncommon raptor seen lately at tantalising distance - and found only Little Kingfisher (Ceyx pusilla) almost beneath my feet. Wrong lens for wrong bird. Today, slogged in with 600mm lens and hefty tripod and got reverse result - no LK and high overhead Square-tailed Kite. on  which the 600 too slow to focus given need to hand-hold.

Not all lost. Did get seven extra species to go with yesterday's 70. And no walk in Tyto is ever anything less than balm for senses and soul. And it's all an excuse to run series of Little Kingfisher shots from corner of Palm Creek at Mungalla Station.

And boring stuff too. Above shots are with 600 on tripod about 20 metres from bird. Can't get closer because of intervening creek (and possible crocs).

But adding a 1.4x converters turns 600 into 840mm lens. And that makes quite a difference, does it not? Feather detail counts.

And another thing: Notice the well camouflaged camera. Stand still long enough and birds will often accept the intrusion as more natural than someone all camo'd up. Talking to them in normal voice can help. Do not whisper!

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Focus on fishing takes tern for the better

Continuing the fishy theme of late, did better with Whiskered Tern (Chlidonias hybrida) fishing in pool at eastern outlet of Palm Creek in Mungalla Station today.

Gave up trying to swing 600mm lens on gimbal and dug out 300mm lens and went back to handheld efforts. Huge increase in auto focus speed and much easier to find bird in viewfinder.

For all that, only one sequence scored bird with fish in focus (more or less).

Morning also offered a lesson for those thinking of messing about in wetlands in crocodile country. Above, scene across pool. Something not quite right with shape of mud in shadow.

Gumboots on, walk around eastern end of pool and take closer look.

Hello, telltale patterns of quick turn in mud. No sign of exit from water and mud.

And here's the victim. Well, the remains, of turtle seeming about to lay eggs (one mid-left under water).

Saltwater crocodiles don't need much water. And they certainly don't need much invitation to attack the unwary. The message? Look sharp!

Monday, July 4, 2016

Egrets land to down 'flying' fish

Just two egrets on the main lagoon most of yesterday morning. Fishing's not been great for them lately but they scored big catches within few minutes, and eventually scoffed same, unlike grebe of previous post. First up, Intermediate Egret (Ardea intermedia) flies away from persistent photographer.

Barely had it got fish down before Eastern Great Egret (Ardea modesta) dropped in alongside it - opposite main lookout - and after much juggling swallowed the catch.

Sure these two birds are not the same? I hear your question. It shows how deceptive they can be when not standing around with necks extended. In the field it's hard to see differences in gape length below eye and bill ratio. So, take my word for it.

No such problems with Grey Heron (Ardea cinerea), flying overhead later. No surprise to see it without large fish. The species tends to pick up smaller stuff mostly at water's edge.

Friday, July 1, 2016

Vagrant Huskies swim into focus on main lagoon

Bit of a diversion today in Tyto with pair of tame but uncollared huskies detouring from somewhere to somewhere else by way of the main lagoon.

They swam close by me where I'd been trying to talk Cotton Pygmy-geese into doing more or less what the dogs did. Much shaking of water and they went off down the track toward the wetlands' entrance.

Dogs caused a few birds to quit the immediate scene, but only one Little Black Cormorant obliged by flying overhead close to me.

Other action nearby included Australasian Grebe grabbing more than it could swallow. Snatched the fish in weedy shallows and - unlike behaviour of some other species - carried it out to deeper, clear water, probed at catch a few times and either lost fish or realised size really does matter.

Touch of local colour last evening showed neighbourhood Peacock at his best. Just three weeks ago he looked drab and scraggly-tailed. Tail almost back to full glory and drab no longer applies.
And an Intermediate Egret flight shot from earlier in the week. Concentration on Tyto this week brought on in part by trying to ensure most accurate possible list and count of birds in the wetlands, as promised near start of June. No true rarities popped up. Species count ranged between low 50s and mid 60s. Final species count for month: 125.

Bigger count tomorrow. Quick slosh in political quagmires. Malcolm's DD matches mate David Cameron's disastrous Brexit misread. Senate turmoil all on again!!!

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...