Saturday, October 19, 2019

Knotted Keelback kicks up stink after road rescue

Bird in the hand worth two in the bush, so what's a snake-in-hand worth? Not two in the grass. Palmful of foul fluids, that's what. Keelback (Freshwater Snake) also gives firm hint about getting knotted after being plucked for its own good off the road in the Town Common, Townsville. Talk about ingratitude.

Also on the road, two of three Lesser Black Whipsnakes writhing together with no apparent purpose. No typical upright coiling tests of strength between males, no pheromone-induced breeding frenzy. The three soon departed the road, leaving behind yet another mystery of nature.

Meanwhile, on the mud at Pandanus viewing area Masked Lapwing enjoys brief respite from aerial blitz by pair of fellow Lapwings. Something about the unwanted bird's dirty face perhaps?

And a Glossy Ibis feeding peacefully in the distance had feathers ruffled by low-diving pair of passing Glossies. The bird's resentment could almost be felt from 50 metres away. 

Saturday, October 12, 2019

Getting old and taking things lying down

The old back won't take lying down efforts to capture small shorebirds at eye level but is willing to allow me lying back with big lens propped on elbow or raised knee. The birds learn to ignore the chatty creature in the long grass. So, mud, messy gumboots and floundering mishaps at Pandanus viewing area, Town Common, Townsville. And the birds . . .

Red-kneed Dotterels (top, adult; above, post-juvenile and juvenile)

Pied Stilt with long legs forward for gentle landing.

Two for one offering from Sharp-tailed Sandpiper.

Plenty of preening keeps Glossy Ibis looking its colourful best.

And, courtesy of Sue Rutherford, I'm caught lumbering out of swampy long grass on another day and in another part of the Common. The gear changes, the ugly mug remains the same.

Sunday, October 6, 2019

Birds - treasures at little cost in times good and bad

Times are tough all round these days so free things that bring joy must be treasured. And what gives more joy and costs so little as time with nature's colourful wonders, birds. Today, a few recent sightings.  Enjoy! Above, Black-necked Stork, with fish, Melaleuca viewing area, Town Common Conservation Park, Townsville.

Young Blue-faced Honeyeater looking to give bottlebrush a licking, Town Common.

Crimson Finches (male, top; female above) take short break from seed-seeking, Town Common.

Purple Swamphen (Pukeko to Kiwis) stands out in fast-drying habitat at Ross River dam borrow pits.

Orange-footed Scrubfowl at home amid leaf litter in Cape Pellarenda Conservation Park.

Magpie family trio out and about and obligingly almost underfoot at Cape Pellarenda.

Rainbow Bee-eater perches near nest tunnel at side of road, Town Common, Townsville.

Thursday, September 26, 2019

Raven gulls slow Sea-Eagle and chicken Swamp Harrier

Quickfire chain of conflicts beside and above earth dam wall, Town Common Conservation Park, Townsville, today.  Youngish White-bellied Sea-Eagle disputed possession of Tilapia with Swamp Harrier.

Fish left behind as birds squabbled across the sky. Australian Raven saw chance, flew down and off with the fish.

Magpie Lark took over from sea-eagle and launched attack on intruding harrier, driving it away.

Sea-eagle returned for fish. Too late. The fish had flown!

Monday, September 16, 2019

White-bellied Sea-Eagle behaviour raises questions

Behind this picture today of White-bellied Sea-Eagle family togetherness may hide an altogether different one of a cheating, food-hogging, faithless father and a neglected partner and juvenile. (And this in the same family from which three weeks ago a second juvenile had to be rescued after being pushed or falling from the nest.)

Just an hour before above image was taken the male tucking into unidentified lunch in TownsvilleTown Common Conservation Park was seen carrying large fish or turtle away from Freshwater area. But instead of flying to above nest the bird crossed the wetland and soared on thermal up and over ridge of Many Peaks range. It reappeared minutes later without prey and stooped without luck upon Magpie Geese on distant pool before being lost track of. Seems it later brought another catch to the nest - and ripped into it without any sign of sharing. Or ... or there may be a third breeding pair I'm unaware of and above male may have case for suit against me.

On firmer ground with juvenile from the second known nest site perched on branch  behind Melaleuca viewing area and getting close to launching into first flight. Its more forward sibling took off unseen last week and, as has been their way, has not been seen since.

A notable difference between the two breeding pairs has been the many noisy vocal interchanges I've heard for about three months between the above juvenile's parents and near total silence from the top picture's adults. Perhaps explainable by close proximity of the silent birds' nest to a well-used walking/cycling track. Or not.

Friday, September 13, 2019

Friday 13 turns out lucky for Tern, Osprey and Darter

Friday 13. Unlucky for some. Lucky for some. CaspianTern whizzed in and out again with one of the fish the 50 or so Pelicans camped on the water this week have failed to scoop up.

Eastern Osprey made typical splash entry and came away clutching probable Tilapia.

Australasian Darter speared its fish and surfaced close by but swam off behind long grass before swallowing it.

Meantime, many of the Australian Pelicans were busier bathing than fishing.

Lucky me, catching some of the catches at Melaleuca viewing area, Townsville Town Common Conservation Park this morning.

Sunday, September 8, 2019

Crow woe can drive one stark raven mad

Remember those Torresian Crows from last week? They were actually these Australian Ravens photographed yesterday in the Townsville Town Common Conservation Park.

It's all in the pink throat patch below the bill.

Now you see it ...

... now you don't.

And the longer hackles. But not in young birds.
And the bigger bill. But not in young birds.
And in the calls. But not to most ears.

Makes a difference knowing all this, doesn't it? No? Well, no matter. The birds don't care anyway.

Thursday, September 5, 2019

Bee-eater takes flight but others show no fright

Rainbow Bee-eater took flight this morning in the Townsville Town Common but a few other birds have been more camera friendly lately.

None more so than immature White-eared Monarch. Almost perched on lens today. Too close to focus. Naturally, whizzed away far beyond reach when it did decide to go. So, picture from earlier in week.

Yesterday, male Leaden Flycatcher had plenty to say along fire break between road and golf course. If the bill was turned a little more the bird might present as one of those bird or rabbit illusions.

Bit of a puzzle with juvenile Black-necked Storks this week. Three youngsters became four  yesterday. Seems a loner turned up and more or less joined the regular trio. Today, loner alone. No sign of juniors. Above, female parent yesterday.

Much smaller and harder to gain focus on, Fairy Gerygone two days ago stayed still long enough for an almost sharp shot.

And here's a reminder of the golden rule: don't be lured to eating fruit and berries because the birds in the bush are gobbling them up. Here's an Australian Raven chomping into Black or Deadly Nightshade. Black is deadly and ripe Deadly is black. Stick to Blackberries and leave black berries well alone.

Last, reminders of Tyto Wetland days in Ingham with one of the Common's Crimson Finches. Not many to be seen for a few months but they're popping up here and there these days. Not always quite so prettily as this male.

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Stone the crows! Gravel-voiced pair hit road too early

Torresian Crow (updated 8/9 to Australian Raven after maturing juveniles revealed telltale pink patches on necks) siblings quit their Townsville Town Common nest too early yesterday morning resulting in some anxious moments on the road through the park before I guided them into safer spot.

Though unable to fly well, four hours later they were high in eucalyptus and being fed by parent.

Youngsters doing well elsewhere include White-bellied Sea-eagle juvenile (parent above) rescued last week from beneath nest (this week flapping vigorously for carer Deb Carter) and its sibling still in nest near Freshwater Trail.

Meanwhile, meet Snaggletooth, Freshwater Crocodile snuck up upon beside Ross River the other day. Got to within three metres but could not capture more than part of jaw and head.

Today, caught Red-bellied Black Snack snoozing in the sun along the earth dam wall between Freshwater and Bald Rock in the Common. Barely pink in northern habitat.

Knotted Keelback kicks up stink after road rescue

Bird in the hand worth two in the bush, so what's a snake-in-hand worth? Not two in the grass. Palmful of foul fluids, that's what...