Monday, December 30, 2013

End of the Year

Queensland's weather is hot! This makes the winter delightful but sometimes the summer becomes a bit excessive! Yesterday was one of those days - 38 degrees (100 degrees F.) under my verandah and 33 degrees (91 degrees F.) in the family room before I turned on the air conditioner. Added to that we have had no decent rain for five months. I have watched thunderstorms build around me - (and taken lots of cloud photos!) and then move somewhere else before they started dropping rain.

Nevertheless, I would rather it remained dry and the clouds moved elsewhere than have the troubles that have happened close-by in the last couple of days. Two days ago a thunderstorm had been hanging around the south of Fraser Island. There was one very big lightning strike on the Island and then without any warning the lightning struck right in the middle of a group of holiday makers on Inskip Point. One man was killed instantly and his son was tossed up and thrown down a few meters away. Here is a link to the news article and a video from the site. Then last night something similar happened on the Sunshine Coast but this time the lightning struck a caravan and two men were lucky enough to only need taking to hospital.
(I frequently post about going out to Inskip Point to see shorebirds - but NOT between Christmas and New Year! I don't know how many campers are there this year but it was reported a couple of years ago the numbers were going to be limited to 3,000! That must hardly leave room to walk! AND I have heard that there is always a BIG party for New Year's eve! I don't think any birds would stay around with that kind of noise!)
The bush around here is also very dry. I don't know how the fruit-eating birds are managing. This male Koel came down and tried to make a meal of cherry tomatoes that had self-seeded in a weedy patch of garden.

I have a number of these hibiscus shrubs in the garden. They are the old fashioned kind that grow if you just poke a cutting into the ground! They are also the only things that are flowering at present. These little White-throated Honeyeaters (Melithreptus albogulans) were on the flowers the other afternoon. These birds are only 13-15cms (5-6 ins.) and some of the cutest that come into my garden.

For more scenery from around the world visit Our World Tuesday

and for more birds visit Wild Bird Wednesday.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Colour for Christmas

These birds came down for the seed that some friends of mine scattered around. The pink and grey birds are Galahs and the Crested Pigeon has no intention of being pushed away from the free food. In the foreground are Red-winged Parrots.

I often hear Red-winged Parrots flying over my house but they seldom stop down for a visit. This is a male with the female out of focus behind him.

This is a female by herself.

They all ate happily together until a big bossy Sulphur-crested Cockatoo came down.
And to finish here is a Rainbow Lorikeet hanging from the seed pod on a Golden Cane Palm.

I wish everyone a happy holiday season!

Go to Stewart's Wild Bird Wednesday for your Christmas Day birds.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Exploring the Creeks

Much of the land around where I live is very flat. It is crossed by several channels which only have water in them when it rains. However, down at the level of the bay the tide fills up these small creeks and makes secret little waterways that hide between the mangrove trees. The largest of these creeks is the Mullens Creek and I paddled up this creek a long time ago. However, Sarah told me that she had explored the other two - Burton and Marion - and they were well worth a look. Both these creeks run off the larger Mullens Creek. At first they wind through the mangroves, but as they go inland they run between deeper channels which are covered with bush. During flooding rains there must be a lot of water coming down. There are small trees over the creeks and fallen under the water. We stopped when the fallen branches choked the creeks and it was not possible to kayak around or under them. By that time we were up behind houses which we recognized. I wonder if the people living in them have ever seen these secluded little creeks.

I got under this small broken tree but had to lie back on the kayak to do so.

This Little Black Cormorant was sitting high in a dead tree beside the creek.

The best bird which we saw was this one. It flew across the creek when we were going up stream and then when we were coming down again it flew back. All I could see as it was flying was a large brown/rufous colored bird. As I drifted slowly down the creek I could see it sitting high above and I got good enough views with the camera to ID it as a Nankeen Night Heron (Nycticorax caledonicus). This was a new bird for me. It usually hides during the day time but we must have disturbed its sleeping place as we paddled underneath the trees.

When we got back down to where we had parked our cars the tide had come in a lot further than I expected. It was up to the edge of the parking area.

The little sandy track to the boat ramp was well and truly flooded.

Thanks Sarah for leading me on a very interesting kayaking trip. 

For more scenery from around the world visit Out World Tuesday

and for more birds visit Wild Bird Wednesday

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

The Best Time of the Year

This is the time of year I like the best. The migratory shorebirds are here from the northern hemisphere and the tides are very high. Last Wednesday was the highest tide for the month - there will be one a little bit higher in early January and then they start to decrease again. With a very high tide like this the roost site at Mullens is full of water and what could be nicer than a large bay of water and almost no wind. Every direction I looked the reflections were perfect!

The tide was so high the water reached right up to the bush line where the entrance over the sand spit comes in.

The shorebirds were all roosting in the places they prefer and I got good record photos of Godwits, Great Knots, and Gull-billed Terns. It is always harder to get good close photos of the Eastern Curlews. These are the biggest shorebirds and they are the "flightiest"! However, this time they roosted just behind a little spit of sand where I could let the kayak float in close on the in-coming tide and they didn't feel threatened enough to fly off. The first photo shows the kind of vegetation which grows on the swampy land just beyond the high tide mark and the other photos are crops taken from the wider views.

Meanwhile, the tide was still coming in and I heard the small shorebirds fly over to the north. On these very high tides there is one sand-bank in that direction still left out of the water. I kayaked back over there and sure enough they were all there spread out along the edge of the water. I can get much closer to the birds when I drift in on the kayak. I think it might be because when I am sitting on the kayak I don't look so tall and threatening from the bird's eye view! There was also a pair of Pied Oystercatchers roosting with them.

This photo shows the difference in size between the Oystercatcher and a Red-capped Plover.

This photo is of Red-capped Plovers by themselves.

In this photo Red-necked Stints are roosting with the Red-capped Plovers.

There was one patch of color on the sand bank - this flowering Pigweed - which is a Portulaca Sps

For more scenery from around the world visit Our World Tuesday

and for more birds visit Wild Bird Wednesday.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Bullock Point

This is all that remains of the Bullock Point Jetty. It was built in the 1960's for a company that was sand mining on Fraser Island for the minerals Rutile and Zurcon. Sand mining on Fraser was stopped in the 1970's and the jetty was used only occasionally from then on. Finally it was deemed too dangerous and in 2010 the main jetty structure was removed.

Now, only the birds use the old posts. When I was out there the other day this Pied Cormorant was deciding where it wanted to perch.

Eventually it sat on a post right next to this female Australian Darter (Anhinga melanogaster). 

The Cormorant proceeded to preen its feathers from every possible angle while the Darter looked on.

Then the Darter did some preening as well.

However, it really looked as if the last word was with the Cormorant!

For more scenery from around the world visit Our World Tuesday

and for more birds visit Wild Bird Wednesday.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Shorebirds at Low Tide

  I had another post ready to go - but at this time of the year I don't get too excited about bush birds! There are thousands of shorebirds around the bay just waiting for me to find them and photograph them! So! - this morning I went out to Inskip Point to see what was around at low tide  - which was a bit before 8am. Even if there were no birds close enough to photograph I could have a look at what the tides were doing to the sand around the point and see if there was any recent build up to make up for all the sand that was washed away in late winter. It looked as if the steep edges were being rounded and filled in but no other return of sand that I could see.(Nothing exciting enough to photograph!)
The weather forecast said mainly sunny - but the clouds were coming over and the sunshine was only intermittent. Looking east along the channel to the open sea.

Looking west out to the sand island - there were numbers of pelicans out there and lots of terns.

I have recently seen lots of jelly fish in the bay and there were a few washed up on the Point.

There was a single Pelican roosting out at the end of the Point but it decided to swim off rather than let me get close.

The wind was quite strong and all the shorebirds that I could see were moving around quite fast as they fed in the soft sand. This Whimbrel and Bar-tailed Godwit were busily feeding just below where the bush track comes out onto the Point.

Further out along the sand this group of shorebirds were feeding quite close together - 2 Godwits, a Crested Tern resting, a Red-capped Plover and ?? I needed to get closer photos to ID the other small bird.
With very slow movements I managed to get close enough. Red-caped Plovers are always so inquisitive that they seem to convince other shorebirds that it is safe to stay where they are. The other small bird was a Sanderling which seemed just as interested in me as I was in it.

Further out on the sand flats I could see another group of smaller shorebirds. I took a while to get close to them as they were feeding and moving all the time. The first photo is of a Red-necked Stint on the left of the photo and a Curlew Sandpiper on the right. Then I managed a closer photo of the Curlew Sandpiper by itself.

To finish off the morning I got a photo of a Grey-tailed Tattler feeding at the edge of the water.

For more scenery from around the world visit Our World Tuesday

and for more birds visit Wild Bird Wednesday.