Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Pied Butcherbirds

My friends Sarah and Graham have a delightful yard full of big trees, stretches of grass, and areas of closely packed low shrubs and bushes. The birds love it! Sarah keeps me up-to-date with the birds that are regularly seen.  The other week she told me that there was a family of Red-winged Parrots with a couple of very young ones - and did I want to try for photos?  Of course! Their back yard has numbers of large eucalyptus trees with lots of holes suitable for nesting holes. She also said that there had been King Parrots and Pale-headed Rosellas around.
However, the only birds that came close while I was there was a family of Pied Butcherbirds (Cracticus nigrogularis). If you look carefully in that last tree there is one of the birds perching on a branch up against the sky.
The first bird to come down close was a young one. It looked so small and cute down among the grass but it must have broken some unwritten adult rule because one of the adults came down and gave it a good pecking! The young one didn't know what to do except to crouch down submissively among the grass.  As soon as the adult moved off a bit the young one flew back in among the bushes and stayed there.

There was a second youngster which was a little bigger and kept out of the way on bare branches above us.

Here is the adult. Look at that hook on the beak. It makes a good weapon and one of my birding books says that a Butcherbird is more dangerous to small birds than a bigger Hawk.

Butcherbirds have a most melodious song - as well as other quite piercing sounds! They get very tame - especially if they are fed! This is a youtube video of a couple of birds singing to attract the attention of someone inside that feeds them. Towards the end of the video a magpie comes in and warbles briefly.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uMotkPv1eMw

For more scenery from around the world visit Out World Tuesday

and for more birds visit Wild Bird Wednesday.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Tree Changes

This Leopard Tree (Caesalpinia rerrea) is in my back yard. It is not native to Australia but loves our hot dry conditions so grows fast and becomes very tall. I find it interesting because it has its own timetable for change. All during the winter it keeps its green leaves. Then in late spring it suddenly starts dropping leaves. They are small and light so get into everything! Here it is - leafless - on the 10th of November.

Without leaves it is easy to see birds among the branches. This is a White-cheeked Honeyeater showing well against the sky and a Brown Honeyeater hidden among the branches.

Here is the same tree only two days later and the leaves are beginning to show. Bigger birds are still easy to see. This is a Common Koel ( Eudynamis scolopacea) - a migrant from further north and a cuckoo. Koels are so noisy but not always easy to see. I have seen them quickly disappear among the leaves but had not until now seen that they climb around more like Lorikeets and Parrots than other perching birds.

Two days later again and the tree is now covered with new bronze colored leaves.

 Birds are still easy to see. This is a Figbird - a young male because it has the red around the eye but the front is still speckled with juvenile feathers.

Less than a week later the tree is now green and the leaves hide whatever birds make use of it. I can hear them - but not see them! 

For more scenery from around our world visit Our World Tuesday

and for more birds visit Wild Bird Wednesday.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

High Tide at Mullens Roost

Walking around to the Mullens roost becomes more interesting when the tide is very high. Just how deep is the water around that tree and would it be easier to scramble through the bushes behind the tide line?

High tide makes the roost look very beautiful.

I couldn't seen any shorebirds on my side of the roost until I walked around the south end. Then there were a few Red-capped Plovers and Red-necked Stints. Both of these shorebirds don't mind people coming quite close - which really helps a photographer!

Something disturbed the shorebirds on the other side of the roost and they all flew up then settled down again on that side.

However, a small flock of Lesser Sand Plovers flew over to my side - flew back again - then finally settled on my side.

I have never been able to get really close to Lesser Sand Plovers unless I have been in the kayak. Then I have been able to float to within a few feet of them. These ones let me close enough to get some recognizable photos but not close enough for really great photos.

For more photos from around the world visit Our World Tuesday

and for more bird photos visit Wild Bird Wednesday.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Inskip Point

I went out to Inskip Point very early the other morning. It was soon after sunrise and the air was very still. On the south side of the point there was almost no movement on the water.

On the north side of the point  - which is the channel between the point and Fraser Island - there was also very little wind or wave movement. The tide was not full for a couple of hours but there was plenty of water already. I watched a number of sailing boats motor down the channel. It was interesting to see them all stand well out to sea. Were they waiting for more wind to get up? After a couple more hours it was quite a brisk wind.

Quite a number of other boats went down the channel while I was there. I don't know a lot about how boats show their country of origin but this one had an Australian flag flying above it and a USA flag flying from the back.

Two of the fishing charter boats also went down the channel out to sea. These charter boats leave from the Carlo Island wharf and go well out to sea. My brother - whom I would describe as a keen fisherman! - has been out on both these charter boats and said he had a great time on both.

The barge to Fraser Island also arrived soon after I got out there.

Although there there were lots of birds out on the sand island there were only some gulls and terns on the point.  This photo shows Silver Gulls, a Caspian Tern (which is the largest tern), a Crested Tern in the center of the photo and a number of smaller migratory terns - most likely Common Terns but there is not enough detail visible to be absolutely sure.

Before I had been there very long a vehicle going out to the barge disturbed them and they all flew up.

I don't know what disturbed the birds out on the island but they flew up a few minutes later. A number of them were also Terns and they flew straight out to sea.

Some were Bar-tailed Godwits and they also flew down the channel towards the sea. They were possibly going over to Hook Point on the south eastern tip of Fraser Island.

For more scenery from around the world visit Our World Tuesday 

and for more birds visit Wild Bird Wednesday.


Monday, November 3, 2014

Perfect Kayaking (cont)

This post is a continuation of my kayaking to see the airport roost. After I counted and photographed the birds out there I decided to head back inland and kayak around Mullens Creek. Because there was almost no wind I knew I could just sit back and enjoy myself. I am including an image from Google Earth to try to show a little more clearly what this area is like.

The image is quite accurate except that the areas of sand (brown areas) have been filled in with mangrove trees. They have grown up a lot since this image was taken. Remember too that all those sand areas fill up with water on high tide - which of course this was when I was kayaking around there. I have marked my route in yellow and it is about 1 1/2 kms. I paddled down the south side first then where the creek splits I took the northern channel and then around to the parking area.
Down on the creek between the mangrove trees and shrubs it was very still. Much of the time I was paddling over clouds reflected in the still water. When I moved closer to the banks then I was moving over the reflections of the bushes.

The mangroves are bright green in these photos. There are five or six different kinds of mangroves in this area and all of them must have salt water for part of the time to put their roots and trunks into. Some of the trees are out of the water for some time when the monthly and seasonal tides are lower but at times of good high tides they almost look as if they are floating on the surface of the water.
It is so peaceful here - no traffic noise or noise from houses at all. Occasionally I heard birds - mostly Mangrove Honeyeaters - but they didn't show themselves.

The entrance to the north channel of the creek is left of center and well hidden between mangroves.

This is the only boat launch available for boats needing deeper water in which to launch.

Just around the corner is the picnic and parking area.

As I finished tying the kayak on top of the car another couple of kayaks also came in. They had paddled further south to another creek.

I really wasn't looking for birds on this part of my kayaking but if they are right in front of you then they must be photographed! I had seen a number of White-breasted Woodswallows swooping over the water so there must have been insects for them to catch. The way they swoop and glide reminds me of the paper gliders we used to make from our school papers many years ago!

This Magpie was walking around my car when I got back to the parking place. It was looking intently up to the windows which made me think that it might have been fed by people from their cars recently.

When I got home I found a a not so welcome visitor down in my back yard. I thought I had been hearing Sparrows for some days but this was the first one that let me get close for a good look. Sparrows of course are NOT native and they have a nasty habit of taking over from other native species.

For more scenery from around the world visit Our World Tuesday

and for more birds visit Wild Bird Wednesday.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Perfect Weather For Kayaking

Not every morning is perfect for kayaking and photographing birds but if you wait one is sure to come along! Last week I got one of those lucky ones - sunny, no wind, and a morning high tide - and no one else to be seen on the whole of the bay! As I was taking my kayak off the car I heard a dog barking out on the water. The dog was on a boat that had been in the same place for some time. I kayaked out to the bird roost and then saw that the boat was slowly moving down the bay.

When I looked at it closely I could see the dog standing out on the front. The boat looked to be very comfortably set up with a solar panel also on the front and an extra cover over the back to shield from too much sun. Because there was no wind the boat was being moved with a motor.

It looked very peaceful - but rather slow as was obvious when someone else in a ' tinny' with a good fast motor went passed.

All the usual shorebirds were at the roost but even though I was still quite a long way out on the bay they disturbed and flew. I paddled in a little closer and looked for any movement. Pretty soon I realized that there were Pacific Golden Plovers along the shoreline but these birds are really good at finding cover that hides them as long as they don't move. That red bill is a Pied Oystercatcher - also well hidden!

There were more birds a little further along standing on mangrove roots and here there were Grey-tailed Tattlers with them.

Another small group of birds was a little further along the beach. There were more Grey-tailed  Tattlers with the Pacific Golden Plovers and the birds were again using the vegetation to hide in rather than simply fly off.
One of the Pacific Golden Plovers was still showing a little bit of breeding plumage down the front.

For more scenery from around the world visit Our World Tuesday 

and for more birds visit Wild Bird Wednesday.