Monday, October 29, 2018

Cheeky Chestnut Mannikin - cheeky lens makers' old chestnuts

My, what a big head you've got, cheeky Chestnut-breasted Mannikin. Well it would be, wouldn't it, capturing it with new Tamron 150-600mm (so-claimed) lens at 600mm from about 2.222m. The mock precision hides universal truth. Figures lie. And makers lie. My Tamron is roughly 140-560. My old 100-400 Canon is 95-380. But Tamron lighter and smaller than my Canon 600, easing the load on long walks or awkward scrambling through the bush. The tradeoff? Image quality: super versus not bad. To be expected. Canon $14,000 (coming mk111 $20,000), Tamron $2000. You get what you pay for. Anyway, on with Tamron show. All images from past few days in Townsville Common Conservation Park.

Old mate, male Barking Owl, on watch in favourite tree.

Touch more colour, Yellow Honeyeater on flowering batwing coral tree.

Female Koel finally showing most of herself during long stay in wee patch of macarangas.

Golden-headed Cisticola happy to sing away unworried by prickly exotic weeds.

Nearby, Glossy Ibis drops in and lights up the drying scene.

Male Tawny Frogmouth does daily incubation duty and dead-branch deception.

And Frilled-neck Lizard, seconds before seen mating with smaller female takes to tree and considers getaway options.

As an old pal used to say, Tony (Tami) you'll do me as a rough mate.

Monday, October 22, 2018

Satin Flycatcher quests lead to questions of quality

Satin Flycatcher rarity (previous post) Wednesday. No-show Thursday. Three kms up road Friday. Good picture (above).

Four kms back down road Saturday. Terrible picture. No-show Sunday. Ah, the joys of birding.

So much searching and walking, walking, walking. Leave hefty 600mm lens in Troopy. Revert to tired old 100-400. Image quality plummets. Pallid Cuckoo not only pallid but lacks feather detail.

Pheasant Coucal (one of many males out these mornings but getting little reward in hunt for females) not wholly up to scratch.

And yet. And yet with care and little trick or two things needn't look too bad. So, Brown-backed Honeyeater, busy weaving material stolen from Leaden Flycatcher nest, looks better with extra touch of sharpening to eye.

More care processing colour of Jabiru and fish pays off.

But for the real deal and detail, 600mm pointing from Payet Tower up at Osprey reveals so much more, with less sharpening required, though this image needed some colour adjustments.

Lesson: quality counts - and muscles matter!

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Takes a Sheila to show Aussie birders Satin rarity

Oooh, look! What's that shiny black and white bird? It's so smooth and black on back and head. Could it be a rarely seen Satin Flycatcher in the Common today. Yes, it could. And it took a visitor from Wiltshire way, Sheila Ashley, to see it first. Proving that one good turn deserves another, she and husband Paul were being shown around by Len and Chris Ezzy. I tagged along. Lucky all of us.

Not so much luck involved in seeing a few other species commonly seen lately. Rose-crowned Fruitdove seems content to stay forever close to favourite feed trees near Freshwater hide.

Which is close to where immature Australian Raven was today tucking into fish, without parents or sibling trying to cadge a bite.

Not so many Sharp-tailed Sandpipers at Pandanus viewing area today, but caught some showing off in recent times.

Male Barking Owl certainly not one to show off, but every now and then he glowers for the camera.

More glow than glower from Nankeen Night Heron, missing today from Melaleuca hideout but almost whitewashed me nearby just the other day.

Much noisier and more easily spotted, adult Dollarbird one of four calling and shifting position often this morning near Payet Tower.

But no sign today of immature Spectacled Monarch, above with, I think, Crane Fly.

Crimson Finches seldom fail to turn up, nor did they today.

And one of highlights for Sheila and Paul, apart from the Satin of course, male Great Bowerbird busy, busy, busy about his bower. Happy too, crest-risen, as opposed to crestfallen.

What a pity we're too far northeast for Satin Bowerbird and Satin Flycatcher in one day. That'd just be greedy though, eh?

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Hibiscus Harlequin females flashest

Here's a bug. A Hibiscus Harlequin Bug. On a Coastal Hibiscus at Freshwater in the Townsville Common. And unlike birds, bug females get the flashest colours.

But he doesn't look too bad either. Much more on bugs here:

Back to birds. Sharp-tailed Sandpipers prominent at Pandanus viewing area.

And Black-necked Stork showing out from hundreds of Pelicans, Herons and
Egrets and Stilts at Melaleuca viewing area.

Thursday, October 4, 2018

White-faced Heron strikes again

Week ago missed White-faced Heron's strike, grab and swallow but today did slightly better as similar fish rose and descended to its doom.
Took four return trips to pool in Townsville Town Common before bird obliged with repeat performance. Who knows, our chats together may have helped?

Elsewhere in the Common, former Black-winged now Pied Stilt stood out one morning at Pandanus viewing area.

And Red-kneed Dotterel seemed worth more than one look.

Monday, October 1, 2018

Back off and leave the Brown Snakes be

Meet Mr or Mrs Brown, warming up in the Townsville Town Common. You'd rather not? Wise. But the Browns, and Blacks and Lesser Blacks among others, are out and about. What to do? Leave them alone. Back off quietly. Warn others. In the wild, let the snake slip away. At home, don't play the hero. Call for help. And for repetition's sake, leave them alone! 

Rainbow Lorikeets home in on hollow

  Sometimes it's a good thing getting that hollow feeling. Rainbow Lorikeets discuss property inspection, Townsville Town Common Conserv...