Saturday, December 31, 2016

Here's to some 'almosts' and most of all to 2017

Almost into 2017, so here's a few other almosts from the last of the 2016 files, starting with a Rainbow Bee-eater almost but not quite in the right light.

Same story with Torres Strait (Pied Imperial) Pigeon.

Brown-backed Honeyeater almost out from leaves.

Varied Triller almost in clear.

Red-winged Parrot full of twigs - and figs.

Dollarbird almost low enough.

Silver Gull, in fluke full frame, almost at right approach angle.

But Melaleuca Mal, my new Magpie mate, says things are almost sure to get better next year. And even young Magpies are pretty smart. So plenty to aim for from tomorrow. Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Cracking start to the day for young and old

Red-tailed Black Cockatoos can't get enough Casuarina (she-oak) nuts some mornings, cracking into them and digging out the tasty seed within. Other days they fly on by, usually from south to north. But the more common fare is Sea Almonds. Male bird above quitting Casuarina (twiggy background) and preparing for landing amid the almonds.

Female carries green almond away. the birds seldom wait for the fruit to turn a ripe purple. And often chomp and tear away the flesh from one end only before moving on to another. The reward for persisting through to cracking the almond pod (stone) open is a single small seed. I guessthe birds must get some sustenance from the green fruit fibres.

Easier to see where the sustenance comes from for this young Pacific Baza, getting excited by the approach of food-bearing parent. Another of the seeming never-ending cicada supply. So many still in trees you'd think the youngster, one of a pair being fed by both parents yesterday near the Town Common gate, would be able to grab some for itself.

But no, that's what the oldies are for. Hop to it, Ma or Pa!

Meanwhile, as their offspring may be eating something meaty courtesy of deceived parents, Eastern Koel pair tuck into figs, a leisurely life free from the burden of babycare. Koels are, like most cuckoos, lucky: they take the kids back around the equivalent of human teen time. No dramas. Off they go. Happy as. Or, at least, so it seems. Can't see that ever ending happily among us. Though, some parents ... and some teens ... maybe???

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Dingo tops retail jingle jungle, by jingo!

It's jingle jingle in the retail jungle but we, by jingo, are giving you, free, a ... dingo!

Spied her long way off trotting along the airport fence early today. Stood quietly, pretended to be fence post.

She knew there was something up but only took mild fright after I bade her Good Morning. She (typically) looks in need of, say, (Brush) Turkey and the trimmings. Good luck to her.

Don't fancy turkey? What about Pheasant - Coucal, with Praying Mantis stuffing (about to be stuffed).

No? Cicada then. With Noisy Friarbird, feeding up ahead of mass munching.

Passionfruit? Not strictly festive fare, but 'tis a time of Carpenters, and Beelievers.

Looking even more Christmassy, Mud Wasp, so colourful yet so down-to-earth.

That's this year's stocking, bar a parting shot. For whatever reason nearby big cemetery offers toilet-goers splendid mirror image on approach.

With one foot virtually in grave anyway, what did I have to lose? My dignity? And it's slightly out of focus! Merry Xmas!

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Catching some biggies on the wing

Bit of a morning for the biggies in the Common today, starting with bit of luck catching Channel-billed Cuckoos on the wing, and indeed one having caught cicada on the wing.

Two Black Kites showing interest in squashed Cane Toad on drive in, but this bird seemed keener on prey among the tree tops.

Young Osprey upset parent wouldn't deliver latest fish catch. The two immatures spending much less time on nest, without yet seeking to catch their own.

Another fisher - though with very different technique - Pelican off  lifted from borrow pit pools when White-bellied Sea Eagle took off from nearby tree.

The eagle was perched with partner in shady tree overlooking pits, until I walked up from behind them and attempted conversation. Birds undisturbed by voice but took off when I showed myself.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Meet the meanest, baddest honeyeater?

Talk about give a dog a bad name! What about give a bird a bad face. I mean baaad! Real bad. Nasty-tempered bad. Gang bad too!

Look at this face. Not fully matured and clearly already on the way to full gang patch. Once the last of that sissy yellow-green goes from above the eye, the blue terror will be at full glare.

Magpies can be mean when breeding. Even terrorise pets (not such a bad thing, I say). But they sound sublime. Not Blue-faced Honeyeaters. They sound like trouble: all 'woik' and 'oik', and 'watch-it-buddy' (attitude not onomatopoeia).

Used to have them swoop me from palms in Ingham, now they're among my noisiest neighbours in Rowes Bay. The Rowes Bay rowdies, you gotta love 'em. They're baaad, man.


Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Crimsons charting course to the top

Bad news for all those fed up with endless images of Crimson Finches from Tyto. You're in danger of finch flood from Townsville Common.

But it's not my fault. Deep research (10 minutes on ebird) this morning reveals the Crimsons are taking over. From none (yes, none) listed in 2009, Crimsons now rank more or less equal with Double-barreds in sighting frequency and numbers. Left trailing, Chestnut-Breasted Mannikin and Scaly-breasted Munia (Nutmeg Mannikin), which just five years ago ruled with Double-barreds.

What's more (or maybe less, who knows?), Crimsons like water, and Townsville's been particularly dry for 5-6 years.

But so as not to be accused of speciesism, here's the other finch frontrunner.

Can DBs keep up with competition? I suspect they're slightly less adaptable. So, my money's on the Crimsons if the conditions that have brought about the dramatic change in their numbers, whatever they may be, continue. They'll outbreed the others.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Get healthier just by watching Galahs

If human galahs drew lessons from the birds we'd live in a better world. That's not to be, though a few minutes with them is guaranteed to ease tension, lower blood pressure, promote digestion, and generally enhance life. So, get healthier here today:

 There! Bet you're feeling better already.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Sharing the love at end of great week

Great week birding close to new home topped off today with Red-tailed Black Cockatoos sharing the love in morning sun. Four groups (of 5, 5, 4, 4) seen along stretch of road offering ample plantings of coastal almonds, including golf club parking, right alongside entry to Town Common.

At this very entry male Brush Turkey kicked up storm of litter for half an hour the other morning. He moved a mini mound metres down the road, though still a fair way removed from his home mound under trees several metres off the road. Just practising for bigger things, I think.

Bit further along the road, female Blue-winged Kookaburra , one of surprisingly few seen during the week, showed little interest in the many cicadas on the move about her. Nor did litter skinks on the ground hold her attention. No desired fare showed up and finally off she flew.

Not one to turn up a nose at crunchy cicada, White-breasted Woodswallow gets ready to rip into breakfast today. In places up to 20 of the birds - including lot of immatures - were on the road through the Common tucking in enthusiastically. They and the Rainbow Bee-eaters - whose nest burrows are now apparent in many places beside the road - seem keenest on the insects.

Unlike Channel-billed Cuckoo about to gulp down another Morton Bay fig. Four or more of the giant birds appear settled on sticking close to the Pallarenda end of the Common, and thus moving between the (formal) Town Common Conservation Park and the Pallarenda Conservation Park immediately to the north. To the cuckoos a fig's a fig no matter where it grows. By the way, like most native figs they're only for the birds.

Pretty sure another acquired taste would be anything left alive to swim or crawl in the few remaining pools. 50 or so egrets crowded noisily on shrinking muddy hole in front of Freshwater Hide four days ago. Little Egret, above, one of 44 of its kind.

Two days ago, Great Egret had a bit of competition for the morsels clinging to life in the hot, thick water. (Showing off the frills can be part of threat, not breeding display alone). Today, not an egret to be seen. Time to begin the rain dances!

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...