Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Shorebird Count at Inskip

This post is for World Bird Wednesday

We did a Tern count at Inskip Point the other evening. There was a heavy cloud cover coming in from the west which made it harder and harder to see the Terns as it got darker. We counted 702 birds of which most were Crested Terns. The clouds made a beautiful sunset. At first most of the color was right around where the sun was setting but a little later the color flooded all the western sky.
The next morning we were out again before 7am but this early start did not really help as there was a heavy fog drifting from the south and completely covering the sand island. Even the Point itself was misty. It was more than an hour before the mist lifted and the day turned bright and sunny.
We did not count as many birds as we had found the previous month but it was not a really high tide and there were possibly sand spits exposed in other parts of the Strait where the birds could have been roosting. We counted 9 species and 130 birds.
The Double-banded Plovers (Charadrius bicinctus) were showing lots of bright breeding plumage. There were three of them searching for food among the leaves at the edge of the water. There have been very high winds for the past week and a lot of vegetation must have had leaves stripped off.
This bird turned and faced me and the photo shows how it has been putting on weight ready for the migration back to New Zealand. These birds are 17.5-19cm - a bit over 7 inches - in length. It is a long way across the Tasman ocean to New Zealand - (more than 1500 miles) - and there are no places to stop and rest. The fat the birds put on provides the energy for their long distance flight.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Rufous Whistler

I saw this Rufous Whistler (Pachycephala rufiventris) while visiting friends the other day. This is a male - the female is not colored so brightly. She is another one of those brownish birds that are so hard to ID!. It is not a big bird - only 17cms or about 7 inches in length.
I didn't see any of the common birds that I see in my own yard while I was around at my friends' place. They don't live very far away but the environment around their house is quite different. There are lots of large old trees and some dense low plantings that run down to the wet area at the bottom of their property. Possibly the most important difference is that there are no dogs, cats or children near-by!
For more bird photos visit the Bird Photography Weekly.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

5 Minute Birdwatch

This post is for World Bird Wednesday.

The weather has not been good for photographing birds over the last few days - high winds and heavy showers with only brief breaks of sunshine. I could hear birds in the grevillea tree in my backyard so went out with the camera to see what I could get between rain showers. The result - 4 different species in just 5 minutes.
Rainbow Lorikeet (Trichoglossus haematodus)
Noisy Friarbird (Philemon corniculatus)
Little Friarbird (Philemon citreogularis)
Spangled Drongo (Dicrurus bracteatus)

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Varied Triller

The other day while I was trying for some more photos of White-cheeked Honeyeaters this Varied Triller (Lalage leucomela) came into the same tree and sat and looked at me for a few moments. I find that a head-on view is never the best for ID and the bird gave me just one chance of a photo from the side view. I know these birds are around here but I more often hear them than see them. My birding book describes the bird as an unobtrusive small cuckoo-shrike 18-21cms.
For more bird photos visit the Bird Photography Weekly.

Friday, August 19, 2011

More Wildflowers

This is a beautiful time of the year! The days are pleasantly warm although the nights are still chilly enough to need a couple of blankets on the bed. I went for another walk where I had seen all the wildflowers a couple of weeks ago. Close to the car park on the top of the hill the best of the flowers were finished but as we walked down the hill to the more swampy flats below there were flowers everywhere. They stretched in sheets of color on both sides of the track. I didn't take close-up photos of these yellow ones but I think they were pultanaea villosa.
We saw a number of plants of these Queensland Wax Flowers (Philotheca myoporoides subsp.queenslandica). Thanks Denis for showing me how beautiful close-up photos can be.
I saw more Boronia rosmarinifolia - which I photographed last time - and then as we got onto the lower area I saw these Boronia falcifolia.
This flower is Hibbertia linearis - I think! - and there was a little native bee on it. When I photographed the bee from a different angle it appears to be carrying something under its abdomen - and I wonder if they are eggs. Does anyone have any suggestions about this and is it normal behavior for these insects?We walked as far as some waterholes on one of the creeks. The reflections were perfect!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Spangled Drongo

This post is for World Bird Wednesday.

Several times over the last few weeks I have heard a strange bird call out in my yard. When I went out to see what it was the Spangled Drongo (Dicrurus bracteatus) flew off. As well as their own harsh metallic cry they are great mimics. It happened again the other afternoon but this time I went out quietly and the bird stayed in the grevillea tree where it was feeding.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Norman Point

I went around to Norman Point the other morning right on high tide to see what birds might be roosting at the end of the point. There were two Curlews but no other migratory waders. Of course there were the usual numbers of Silver Gulls and some Terns with them. One of the Gulls was a juvenile with brown edges to the back and wing feathers. The adults have bright red bills and legs - this one had a dark bill and the legs were also quite dark.
Pied Oystercatchers always look beautiful against the background of the blue water - and these ones walked out onto a sand spit which showed their reflections in the closer water.
The best bird of the morning was this Forest Kingfisher (Todiramphus macleayii) which was perched on an electricity wire beside the road. I stopped where I was on the other side of the road and wound the window down to take photos. I have frequently see these birds out in the bush but have never been able to get close enough for a good clear photo. This one didn't mind the car stopped on the other side of the road but as soon as someone came walking along the footpath the bird flew off.
For more bird photos visit the Bird Photography Weekly.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

At the Water's Edge

This post is for World Bird Wednesday.

It was an almost perfect morning - still and bright but a bit chilly. The tide was on the way out and the birds were all looking for food right at the edge of the water. I saw migratory birds - Godwits, Whimbrels, Eastern Curlews, - and local birds - Gull-billed Terns, Egrets, and Masked Lapwings. None of them were close enough for good photos of individual birds. It is a perfect environment for shorebirds and recognized as such by its status as a Ramsar wetlands site. In another couple of months there will be hundreds of migratory shorebirds returning to this bay. All photos enlarge when clicked on.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

White-cheeked Honeyeater

The other day I watched this White-cheeked Honeyeater (Phylidonyris nigra) as it fluttered around flowers on a bush. The flowers were looking past their prime but there were numbers of insects around them and the bird appeared to be catching them. It was fast! By the time I had the camera up it was off somewhere else. The only time it sat still was when it rested deep in among the branches where it was quite dark. White-cheeked Honeyeaters differ from New Holland Honeyeaters in their dark brown eye and large white cheek patch.

For more bird photos visit the Bird Photography Weekly.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011


This post is for World Bird Wednesday.

When I was out on the whale watching boat the other day - (which I posted about in the last post) - I saw several groups of white birds resting on the water some distance away from the boat.
When the boat came closer to one group I saw that they were Gannets. The skipper of the boat said that they only saw Gannets in this area during the winter months.
Gannets are wonderful divers and we saw several dive after fish while we were watching. I was not fast enough to get photos of them diving but did manage some in-flight photos.