Thursday, December 31, 2020

Young Darter's sharp starter for 2021

Here's to taking flight for 2021. Just have to get these wing things up and flapping a bit more. Big decision to make first. Is it better to sharpen up before first quitting the branch?

Or stay soft and a bit downy? Downy? Mmm, doesn't sound the best direction to take, does it? Sharp and up it is then.

Friday, December 25, 2020

Great expectations fall into chastening hollows


Yeah, gidday. One of my less than many readers got in touch the other day. Not seeing much effort on the old blog lately. Was I OK? Touching, such concern for my wellbeing. Anyway, all's well with me. Can't say same for bloody Blogspot. Changes to assist mobile users have stuffed up my blog workflow. That's part of it. There's also a desire for more depth. Citizen science with touch more sci.

So, settled in for daily look-in on Barking Owls and Tawny Frogmouths pairs that began breeding in late October. Tawny Frogmouth male sat in clear view from scores of walkers and drivers daily passing by in Cape Pallarenda Conservation Park. Female Barking Owl settled inside big hollow stump in Townsville Town Common Conservation Park, watched over by male. Weeks go by, tick males' presence each day. Day 50 comes and goes. Nothing changes at or near nests. Then it does. Male owl not on duty. Male frogmouth not on nest. Sneaky scrape on owl nest trunk. No female owl appears. Gone. Check all about frogmouth nest. Male on nearby branch. With female, suddenly there after 50 days unseen. No youngsters. Lesson? No sure things in nature. Better luck next year perhaps. Though owls have now failed three years running. 

So, to the pictures. There's me, out from behind binos. But beware. It's not the real me. Look closely, it's me flipped. Left is really right because picture is shot via mirror in local cemetery (no, I've no idea why toilet block has external mirror).

And there's Mr Frogmouth sitting stolidly on duty during his fruitless days under the baking sun.

And Mrs Frogmouth suddenly returned from who knows where to again sit beside her mate.

And two Barking Owls, one consistently failing to meet my eye since quitting watch over the nest. 

And there's Mrs Owl, back in the days - and nights - of expectation. 

The birds just get on with life, the watcher feels an ironic and somewhat chastening hollowness. 

Sunday, December 6, 2020

Snipe triggers smiles on Sunday surveyors' dials

Latham's Snipe takes break from busy morning feeding close to tower hide in Townsville Town Common this morning and by so doing in plain sight pleasing members of Birdlife's regular monthly Sunday survey team. Also present, two, later three, Sharp-tailed Sandpipers. Nothing remarkable about their presence, ordinarily. However small wader (shore bird) numbers notably low through all the 2020 post-wet season. Seems also unlikely that migrating Yellow Wagtails will drop in by the rapidly drying remaining pools. Low numbers of Australasian Pipits seen lately indicate lack of suitable conditions for the Wagtails.

Sunday, November 29, 2020

Tawny Frogmouth nears end of sitting down on the job

Male Tawny Frogmouth casual look at things from vantage point in Cape Pallarenda Conservation Park. Been sitting all month, on daytime duty. Female should be close by, to take over the night shift. But search of the area has turned up nothing. Should be seeing her sometime soon, all going well. 

Sunday, November 15, 2020

Lucky call closes months of taking it on the chin

Having taken months of failure on the chin, got lucky when visitor to Payets Tower innocently checked call of species eluding me and there, close above - a Black-chinned Honeyeater. One of three on the morning, all typically shifting almost nonstop through the paperbarks just outside the tower. Eighty frames and just the one worth keeping. If at first you don't succeed . . . 

Monday, November 9, 2020

Wandering Whistling Duck takes care to the air

Adult Wandering Whistling Duck dragging its feet at Melaleuca viewing area in the Town Common Conservation Park. Flight never intended to go far because of the need to look after six immatures the parents have been shepherding among the water lilies. For more than two weeks the Whistlers and 6-7 Jacanas had the area much to themselves. As other pools hard by to the north have dried an assorted 200-400 ducks, teal, ibises, lapwings and lesser standouts have moved in. No rarities as yet, but fingers crossed . . .

Friday, October 23, 2020

Somewhere over the rainbow . . .

Rainbow Lorikeet - batwing coral treat

Sunbird, Olive-backer - cocky apple snacker

Brolga up en pointe - rite of springy joints

Thursday, October 15, 2020

Back-breaker bags Brown-backer

Back-breaking crawl got me close to Brown-backed Honeyeater before it twigged my presence in Town Common Cons. Pk, Townsville, today. Time I found technique with fewer twinges.

Much easier on the spine catching Nankeen Night-Heron doing daytime flyover this morning.

Even simpler, walk up close and talk to obliging Pelican.

And yesterday at Pallarenda stood comfortably under tree and clicked away after coming upon Osprey ripping into fresh catch. John Dory, I'm told.


Thursday, October 8, 2020

What's black and white and red all under?

Hazard a bet that it's a WillieWagtail.
Or red on the head and a goose about mistaken mouthful?
Or darting down to mostly green all under?
Or lesser black and whipping black tongue out?

Monday, October 5, 2020

Sharp eyes even without promised whizzbang tech


Still waiting for my pre-ordered in-demand mirrorless Canon R5 camera rushed to market to do battle with Sony's groundbreaking A9. Both offer super fast autofocus on the eye (not sure how systems cope with two - and more - eyes). Anyway, above, some recent eyes, sharp enough even though shot without latest whizzbangery. 

Friday, September 25, 2020

Osprey togetherness bears fish but no fruit

Touch of uncommon togetherness lately for Eastern Ospreys (female on right) near their nest in Townsville's Town Common Conservation Park.

Beginning a second breeding cycle for 2020 - after four months ago abruptly quitting incubation at another nest nearby - the birds were seldom together except when swapping incubation roles. Or on the rare occasion the male (above, landing on favoured perch) brought a fish to the nest.

Such closeness stopped some weeks ago. Unable to see into the nest, I hoped the female (above, early this week) was carrying fish back to feed young, which by my reckoning should have been near fully-fledged.

Events yesterday slammed the door on such hope. No birds near nest early on. Later in morning male arrived with fish. Landed in dead tree away from nest (above). Began to eat. Half and hour later the female arrived, with fish. Landed on branch apart in same dead tree. Ate fish. Neither paid any attention to the nest. Conclusion follows that for whatever reasons there will be no young for this pair this year. 

Irony is that both birds are now unconcerned by anyone approaching them, and the nest tree. 


Sunday, September 20, 2020

Magpie Lark whistles down upon Kite

Whistling Kite finds Magpie Lark whistling down the other day and clearly wishing it elsewhere.

Action came over Rowes Bay Golf Course, close to water hazard residence adopted by two-metre Saltwater Crocodile.

Which has thus far failed to greet me with toothy grin. We live in hope. But keep a safe distance.

Also living in hope, fluttering for prey over nearby salvinia-laden hazard, another Magpie Lark.

And steering clear of the croc's pool, Magpie Goose poses as prettily as the species can manage. 

Tuesday, September 8, 2020

Friday, August 21, 2020

Beware the hazard in the hazard

Hazard in the hazard with two-metre plus Saltwater Crocodile a short slice off the fairway at a Townsville golf club. Snuck around for front-on pictures but got only a muddy blur. Big difference in our reaction times.

Ditto with Yellow-spotted Monitor on road a bit later in the day. Rising afternoon temps will draw more reptiles out into the open. But the warmth doesn't make them any easier to get ahead of.

Did get ahead of flying Brolga the other day. Fluke shot almost exactly filled the frame as the bird passed overhead.

Slightly behind Masked Lapwing today before getting bird in focus. It's a subspecies, Vanellus novaehollandiae, less common in the north than V. miles. Picture shows distinguishing extension of black down back of neck. Pity it only hints at the continuation down to the breast.

Thursday, August 13, 2020

Shining moment catching up with shy Flycatcher

Chased pair of Shining Flycatchers back and forth along section of tangled mangroves at edge of small wetland (mostly dry, but muddy!) in Townsville this morning after hearing male (above) calling.
It helps to know the species - especially the male - usually forages predictably, low, along the edges of heavily shadowed wet areas. So, first catch up with the birds, then try to get ahead of them and wait.
Allow for probability they'll turn back and leave you standing. Several times. Also allow for frustration in failing to get clear sightings most of the time.
As also with Leaden Flycatcher the other day. Great pose, pity about the shadow.
Bit luckier with Buff-banded Rail recently. Only this one shot saw bird's tail cocked enough to clear blade of grass otherwise obscuring it.

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...