Sunday, November 28, 2010

Smaller Shorebirds

A couple of weeks ago while out at Inskip Point I took some photos of a group of Ruddy Turnstones (Arenaria interpres), Sanderlings (Calidris alba), and a Red-necked Stint (Calidris ruficollis). I have only seen Ruddy Turnstones and Sanderlings at Inskip - not further south on the bay. A group of 5 of both were walking along the edge of the water out on the far side of the sand island at low tide. The photos that I took give a good opportunity to compare the sizes of all 3 species of bird. In the first photo the Ruddy Turnstones are the darker colored birds at the rear of the photo and the Red-necked Stint is right in the foreground - and unfortunately a little out of focus. It is also interesting to see a range of plumage on the birds as they had recently returned from their breeding areas up north and were still changing into non-breeding plumage. All photos enlarge when clicked on and I have left the photos quite large. No Red-necked Stint in this photo.
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Thursday, November 25, 2010

Flowers and Birds

Yesterday, I went for a walk along the path beside Schnapper Creek that is often called the flower walk. Everything down there was very wet but also very green with all the recent rain. The most beautiful flowers that we found were these little Christmas Candles (Burmannia disticha) which were growing right where I had found some a couple of years ago.
I also saw a number of Native Lasiandra shrubs (Melastoma malabathricum) which were making a beautiful splash of color among the Paperbark trees.
There were birds everywhere - but unfortunately most of them did not have time to sit and have their photos taken. The only ones that came close were a couple of Peaceful Doves (Geopelia striata) that were walking along the path towards me and were very busy picking at seeds from the side of the path.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Kangaroo Paw

Kangaroo Paw is the name given to a flower that comes from south western Australia. Kangaroo Paws are from the genus anigozanthos. They have become very popular as a garden flower. The ones in my garden are very tall with the flower stalk being well over 2 meters. The flowers are a green color, although other colors are also common. These flowers are not nearly so bright or spectacular as others in the garden but the birds love them. Honeyeaters - especially Blue-faced Honeyeaters and Noisy Friarbirds - come and grab at the flower stalks and then swing them over and walk over the stalks to get to the flowers.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Backyard Bird

Once again there are good high tides early in the morning which should be great for kayaking. However, once again we are having some very bad weather - high winds and quite a lot of rain. So the best I can do is post photos of a Kookaburra that sat on a low branch in my backyard. I walked quite close without it moving at all - it just watched me with a very bright eye! The second photo is a crop to show that bright eye!
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Thursday, November 18, 2010

Frogmouth - update 2

I first posted photos of the Tawny Frogmouths in the nest on October 27. I posted a second photo of them on November 9. They have certainly grown bigger since then! When I looked up at the nest this time one of the juveniles was sitting up in front of the adult. I went to the other side of the nest and there was another juvenile lying down along a branch by the adult. However, when I went to get in the car and leave there were two little heads peering at me over the branch. I don't know if baby number one had joined baby number two or if there are maybe three up there. They looked just as curious about me as I was about them.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Christmas Bells

Christmas Bells (Blandfordia grandiflora) are a common sight in the Wallum area around here. They have been flowering for several weeks now and every time I saw them as I drove along I thought that I should stop and get photos - and didn't! Then my neighbor told me that they were flowering just behind her house. There is a wide strip of land there that has been cleared and burnt and then bulldozed over to make a fire break and these flowers had come up in that ground. The red and yellow form is the most common but there were straight yellow ones and then ones that were mainly yellow but with a wash of orange/red. I don't know if there will be any left until Christmas time - maybe in areas where it is damper and not so sunny.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Counting Shorebirds

All the shorebird roosts that we monitor and count present challenges but one of the most challenging is the one we call the Airport Roost. It is a sandbank with mangroves growing on both sides of it. I have kayaked in to the side closest to the land but I have never managed to get out there without disturbing some of the birds into flying off. On the other side you must sit in the kayak and count from there. You can come in close enough to see the birds fairly clearly.

However, Terek Sandpipers and Grey-tailed Tattlers use this roost. They roost on the sand, on exposed mangrove roots and in the open branches depending on the tide height. Terek Sandpipers and Grey-tailed Tattlers are easy to distinguish if they have their heads up - the Terek Sandpiper has a bill that turns up slightly and the Grey-tailed Tattler has a straight bill. There is a also a difference in the color around the eye. When they are roosting with their heads tucked under their wings it is much more difficult. The Terek Sandpiper has darker orange colored legs, but this is hard to see at a distance with only binoculars. In this photo two Grey-tailed Tattlers have their heads up. There is a Terek Sandpiper on the right of the photo - and the others I am not sure of!
Now, spot the different bird in this photo!
There is a Pacific Golden Plover on the left of the photo. This is the only time I have seen a Pacific Golden Plover roosting in a tree. There were other Pacific Golden Plovers there as well but they were all on the sand.
For more bird photos visit the Bird Photography Weekly.

Friday, November 12, 2010


The other morning I kayaked up Mullens Creek a little way. The water was very still and the reflections were beautiful.
As I came around a bend in the creek a number of shorebirds flew up from the side of the creek. They don't usually use this spot as a roost and I had unfortunately disturbed them. Most of them appeared to be Whimbrels and they flew off across the creek to another roost site where they usually roost in the mangroves. I heard the splash of a fish jumping as I was photographing the birds flying off and when I looked at the photos at home I had managed to catch the fish jumping.
There were a few mangroves flowering. It was a species I could not recognize so I took photos and have had friends, who have been volunteering in the mangrove watch program, to ID the plant for me. They say it is a Yellow Mangrove (Ceriops Australus). (I have just had a comment from a reader to say that this is the River Mangrove Aegiceras corniculatum. IMO mangroves are NOT easy to ID!) (The close-ups of the flowers could be a lot clearer but the tide was running in and I have not worked out a way to keep the kayak still in the one place and take photos at the same time!)

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Frogmouth - update

Here is another photo of the Tawny Frogmouth that is nesting in a tree at my friends' place. I still can't see how many young ones are in the nest as they jostle so much that there is only one head clearly seen at a time. The adult sitting on the nest is pushed almost out of the nest and onto the branch. The previous photos were taken on the 27th of last month and these ones on the 7th of this month so the young ones have certainly grown since that time. Another few days and I will try again and hopefully this time find out how many young ones are up in that nest. I love the wide-awake eyes of the young one. I can just imagine the parent telling the baby that children should be asleep right now!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Variegated Fairy-wren

It is quite easy to see these little birds flitting through the bushes but since their preferred habitat is down in among the bushes it is not so easy to get photos of anything except the stems of bushes and a flash of color behind. This is only the second clear photo of a male I have even managed to get and there is still a piece of grass and a shadow across the bird. I have photographed a female several times - she doesn't seem to mind posing for the camera! It is only the mature males that have the brilliant coloring. The younger males are more like the females so there are always lots of little brown birds fluttering through the bushes.
Male Variegated Fairy-wren
Female Variegated Fairy-wren

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Thursday, November 4, 2010

Sulphur-crested Cockatoo

Of all the birds that come into my yard this one has to be the noisiest and most destructive. This one sat up in the tree demolishing seed pods and when it had finished I had a mess to clean up under the tree. It was not worried about me right under the tree photographing its antics - just watched me out of those bright eyes as closely as I was watching it.