Saturday, March 31, 2018

Brown Tree Snake flexes muscles in fig tree

Small fig tree just inside entry gate to the Townsville Town Common Conservation Park draws little attention from visitors yet outdoes all other trees in park for the living treasures it attracts. A major factor is the nightlight shining upon it and it alone.

So, curled up this morning after a night presumably targeting dwarf tree frogs, a small but typically feisty nocturnal-hunting Brown Tree Snake. (Close by, one of the frogs that got away.)

Then, show of muscular strength and flexibility as it faced big glass eye pressing towards it. After a tentative strike snake contented itself with flickering tongue and patient watchfulness. The glass eye withdrew and all went off pleased with upshot(s) of encounter. 


Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Stubby-tailed gecko spotted in leaf litter

Quick grab at leaf litter got reptile new to my Townsville list in the bag briefly at the Town Common. At first sight it seemed Northern Spotted Velvet Gecko had sacrificed tail - survival strategy to distract predators with wriggling discard. But the stubby tail is characteristic of species.

Not so stubby toes characteristic of Comb-crested Jacana. Explains how species seems able to walk on water (with help of minimal vegetation) and thus is still known by some as the Jesus bird.

Standing grounded, or, as in this case, samphired, characteristic of Australian Pipit. Bird's-eye view for this species most often means close underfoot. Desired bird's-eye camera angle means photographer must also get grounded.

Or not fully, perhaps. Samphire bokeh behind the bird adds 'colour' lacking from lower angle. And a quirky side note: the bird's feet and legs look almost like organic offshoots to or from the bird. Worth getting bum wet and muddy for, I reckon.

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Osprey takes off with Long Tom after long weir wait

Long chat with fellow Kiwi today on footbridge across Ross River at Aplin Weir waiting for Osprey to launch from Leichhardt tree down into fish-filled seawater below. Nothing happening. Walk under tree. Nothing. Return to footbridge. Nothing. Try for flight shot of passing tern. Turn back on Osprey ...

... And, yes, Osprey strikes - and whooshes up behind my back, over footbridge, and upriver with Long Tom catch to 'feeding' branch in melaleuca  well upstream. Frustrating. Interesting too. Bird didn't do the usual and change grip to carry fish torpedo fashion with head pointing forward.

Much more active at base of weir this morning, Striated Heron (one of six squabbling over perches and catches of small fish)...

... and Little Egret (one of 11, mostly disdaining to squabble over anything).

Solitary Silver Gull, perhaps feeling outnumbered, found nothing much to eat and had nothing to say.

Closer to home, time for a cleanout.

Canon 7D 11, as new, few months old, white/grey import (with Japanese manual)  $700
Canon L 400mm f5.6 nonIS, 7-8 years, little used,  $500
Canon L 100-400 mark1, 7-8y, good cond apart from perished zoom lock band   (elastic velcro strap does  job) $400
Canon 5D3, well used, needs hot shoe repair, possibly replacement head assembly; camera works perfectly otherwise. Prefer swap super short lens, say $1200ish.
Prices set below going rates to discourage unwanted haggling.

Monday, March 19, 2018

Long, long time to find short, short snake

It's only taken nearly forever to find the supposedly common Red-naped Snake. But then I don't live in Ipswich where gardens are said to be alive with the small harmless cuties.

Specially small and cute when found as pint-size (20cm) juvenile under a dead log near the Townsville Town Common entry gate. So, within, say, another lifetime should find a 40cm adult. Lot of logs to be shifted.

No need to shift logs to find bad-tempered Carpet Python sunbathing in Payets Tower. That big lump at the rear helps explain the don't-mess-with-me attitude.

Uncertainly tempered at best of times, Carpets dislike being approached when weighed down with a heavy meal. Argument that the tower is for people not snakes made no headway.

Another Common-dweller appreciative of human structures, Mud-dauber Wasp, in gentle pursuit of gathering nectar (in competition with honeyeaters). Gentle as compared with waspish habit of paralysing prey and popping it into mud nest as food for solitary implanted embryo's first meal.

Kingfishers enjoy frogs. But, what species of frog?  The birds don't care what dwarf green tree frog they're bashing on branches and gulping down. Scan of field guides and online pictures didn't turn up frog with strong black marking from flank and across eye. Questions, always questions.

Monday, March 12, 2018

Huntsman bagged, turtle jagged, mantids snagged, kite ragged, monitor flagged

Wasn't hunting the Huntsman when this Huntswoman turned up in carry bag discarded by the Ross River. She didn't need a bag because she supplies her own to carry her large family of tiny offspring about.

Though looking frighteningly big and speedy to some, Huntsmen merely tickle slightly crawling up an arm - mine. Can't report on the youngsters because all were quickly returned to the bush.

Wasn't after dead Turtles either. But came upon this one initially being ripped into by pair of White-bellied Sea-eagles (their favourite food, I think). My sudden appearance led to killers fleeing and secondary feeders, pair of Australian Ravens, dropping in.

They, in turn, were driven off by immature pair of sea-eagles, which, in their turn, gave way to this immature Wedge-tailed Eagle. The eagle tried to fly off with turtle, dropped it deep in paragrass, .and all ended up missing out. Chances are pigs or dogs sniffed it out later.

As with sea-eagles, Brown Falcon likes to sit and wait for prey (big insects, small reptiles preferred) to appear.

It didn't take kindly to Collared Sparrowhawk collar its crossbar. Odd row ensued. Falcon drove Sparrowhawk to tree. Irked, Sparrowhawk took on much bigger aggressor. But lost out after bit of to and fro in tree and above.

Another loser, today near Bald Rock in the Town Common, Brahminy Kite. Three kites about the place, but no match for 14 Australian Ravens.

In all, saw four ravens take mantids (probably Brown Praying Mantis) from melaleucas within 10 minutes, one doubly successfully with two in bill at same time. Showing off, that is!

Shoving off rather than showing off, Yellow-spotted Monitor close by today decided to swim for it on my approach. Didn't reckon on departing tide. Played dead. Allowed itself to be stroked, picked up and when released swam off sedately. Luckier than the turtle.

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Rufous Owl asks and answers the question

Looking at me? Are you looking at me? Why are you looking at me?

Rufous Owl nearing maturity poses questions yesterday from perch in Townsville's Ross River Bush Garden.

Well, of course I'm looking. Been looking up and down the river for some time. For Rufous Owls.
Now the quest is to find a pair of adults.

And here's a rare find at the nearby river's edge, a spotted pink pig.

More common on the day, Australasian Darter. Yes, I'm looking at you, too!

Sunday, March 4, 2018

White-ear shows up but white ears don't show out

Why doesn't this White-eared Monarch have white ears? Nope, not because birds don't have visible ears (mostly). Juveniles of the species don't acquire the white facial patches until they lose juvenile and immature plumages.

Bird flew in to Townsville Common today more or less out of the blue (blue sky marking fourth day without rain; species unseen for months). Several honeyeaters chasing floral nectar ignored newcomer, which concentrated on digging meatier prey from foliage and branch bark.

And while juvenile behaved a bit differently from an adult in not spending almost all its time fluttering around top and outside of foliage its black and white wing colouring told of change from juvenile to immature status.

Another uncommon visitor recently, juvenile/immature Square-tailed Kite. Adult birds have broad black tail bar, barely hinted at above. Given the species' huge territorial range the young kite may have flown in from hundreds of kilometres away.

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...