Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Inskip Point 2

When I go out to Inskip Point it is to see birds, but for most people Inskip Point is the gateway to the southern part of Fraser Island. There are numerous signs along the road to warn of driving conditions and restrictions before tourists even start over to the island. These two signs caught my eye the other morning. This one - warning of crocodiles - has been up since a big crocodile was sighted somewhere on the western side of the island a couple of years ago. Saltwater crocodiles are top predators and people are definitely part of their food chain! When I first came here about 10 years ago there were no known crocodiles this far south. However, the sighting of one on Fraser Island and two that are seen every now and again in the Mary River just north of here, have definitely changed my attitude to wading happily through any deeper water!

I don't remember seeing this sign warning about dingoes - but maybe I just haven't been looking! There have been a number of recent warnings about how aggressive dingoes can be when they have young ones. There are definitely a lot of dingoes on the Island but I also occasionally see them around here as well. Lots of people - especially tourists! - forget the dingoes are wild animals and also predators!

There was a lot of fog around when I first got out to Inskip Point the other morning. West across the sand island was very dark but there were a lot of birds visible out there - mainly pelicans and cormorants from what I could see.

Looking east the sun was shining through a thick bank of fog and creating an interesting lighting effect.

The early morning sunlight gave a yellow tint to both the birds and the sand. It also enhanced the color on the front of the Curlew Sandpiper. That red color is the remnant of the bright red breeding colors. The other birds are Double-banded Plovers - some with breeding colors and some without. I posted photos of these last week.

As soon as I saw the color on the Curlew Sandpiper I wanted to get better photos of these birds. I saw at least 3 birds with this color on them. However, there was constant movement among these little birds and the ones I wanted to photograph seemed to be constantly hidden behind another bird or else turned away from me. This photo caught a Curlew Sandpiper on the left (with what looks like an orange flag on its leg!) and a Terek Sandpiper on the right. I needed other photos of both these birds!

The Terek Sandpiper surprised me as I have not previously seen one at Inskip. The Terek Sandpiper has an upturned bill and orange/yellow legs. Usually I see them roosting in mangrove trees - often with Grey-tailed Tattlers. They also look bigger roosting in the trees than this one did walking around with these smaller birds!

I also wanted a better photo of the Curlew Sandpiper with the flag on its leg. I moved only very slowly and the birds settled down. In this photo the Curlew Sandpiper has its head tucked down sleeping and the Double-banded Plover on the right is sleepily blinking at me. Right after this the young dog which I told about in my previous blog post came romping along the sand and everything flew up! (Stewart mentioned some time ago that he helps to flag birds down in Victoria. I think the Victorian flag color is orange - so is this one of "your" birds Stewart? And yes, I have reported this sighting through the proper channels!)

For more scenes from around the world visit Our World Tuesday 

and for more birds visit Wild Bird Wednesday.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Inskip Point

Those who live by the sea know that it is constantly changing and also changing the land that it washes against. This past week the sea has changed Inskip Point!  About half of the Point has been washed away. Apparently it happened very quickly and while people were there to see it happen. Chanel 7 TV local news had a little video showing what happened and it is still up on their Facebook page -LINK
(Sorry! That video link is not playing at all for me this morning!)
Here are my photos of what the Point is like now - but unfortunately I cannot get the same perspective as the TV news has with their view from a helicopter. The barges to Fraser Island are now picking up vehicles right at the end of the point where the sand now drops into the water very steeply.

The photos above were taken last week a day after the wash-out and it appears to me this morning that there might even be a little more washed away.

I was out there soon after sunrise this morning - before there were people or cars around. There were numbers of Terns roosting on the sand. These are Caspian Terns - the largest Tern we see around here.

There were also numbers of Crested Terns which are so common here that I didn't even try to get photos of them.  However, they are out of focus in this photo of Double-banded Plovers which were also roosting out there.

The Double-banded Plovers, that we see here, breed in the braided river channels in South New Zealand and spend their winter here in Australia where it is lots warmer. They will soon return to New Zealand for the breeding season and this morning I saw numbers of them in breeding plumage and nice and plump ready for their flight. With shorebirds - fat is energy! - and they burn it all up on their migration flights.

 It took me ages to get close to these little fellows. I shuffled forward a foot or so at a time! Then suddenly all the birds on the Point flew up and away. I looked around and there was a dog - off the lead - and having a lovely time! All dogs are supposed to be on leads out at Inskip Point! I looked for the owner and he/she called the dog back and then went back into the bush beside the track - still without putting the dog on its lead!
For more scenery from around the world visit Out World Tuesday
and for more bird photos visit Wild Bird Wednesday.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Flowers, Beasties and Birds

This post is a mixture of things I have seen over the last few weeks and haven't had a chance to yet post about.
It is late winter here in SE Queensland, Australia and the wildflowers are blooming. The Leucopogon are in blossom. This is a small shrub and the flowers are small but I think it has the sweetest perfume of all the wildflowers around here.

Another flower I enjoy seeing is this orchid - common name Bonnet or Tartan Orchid - cryptostylis erecta. The colors of the flowers blend so well with the colors of the leaf litter on the ground that it is not an easy flower to find.

It has been an exceptionally warm winter around here and my lawn and garden are needing a lot more care than they have been getting! The other day this little lizard came out on the concrete path after I had been doing some lawn mowing . It was lying down among the lengths of twine from the bales of mulch that I had been spreading. I thought at first it was a little Blue-tongued Lizard but when it stuck its tongue out it was red/pink. I hadn't known that there was a Pink-tongued Lizard ( or Skink I have been told it should properly be called).

No matter what the season there are always some Pied Oystercatchers around somewhere. I have found that each pair of birds stays in their own stretch of beach. This pair seems to have taken over a territory that has been empty for a year or so. It will be interesting to see if they remain in the same place over the summer. 

For more scenes from around the world visit Our World Tuesday
and for birds visit Wild Bird Wednesday.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Early Morning at Inskip

I went out to Inskip Point early the other morning to see if there were any migratory shorebirds back from the northern hemisphere. The Eastern Curlews, which are the first to return, should be returning from now on but I did not see any shorebirds at all on the Point. There were a few out on the sand island in the middle of the Strait but there did not appear to be any more than the ones that have over-wintered.
When I arrived the sun was still low on the horizon, the shadows were long, and the light was golden. The only birds on the Point were some Terns and a group of Pelicans.

Soon after this the first vehicle drove out and the Terns flew off, but the Pelicans moved out of the way and then decided to stay at the edge of the water.

Pelicans breed in the outback when the rains and floods fill up the rivers and lakes out there. They have had 3 good years for this but now it has dried up again and we are seeing large numbers of pelicans here on the coast. I don't remember ever seeing this number of pelicans around the bay in  the 10 years that I have lived here. I don't know if there are enough fish stocks for this many birds to survive around here. This photo shows pelicans on the shoreline, out on the sand island in the middle of the Strait, and as a distant white line on the other side of the bay. There is also a small speeding boat visible over there. (All photos enlarge when clicked on!)

On the way back to where I had parked the car there were lots of birds calling from the tops of the trees and deep inside the bushes.  This White-cheeked Honeyeater stayed for long enough to let me get a quick photo - even if it was against the light!

I was trying to see what birds were fluttering back behind some bushes when this Eastern Yellow Robin put its head around a tree trunk - then flew off before I was quite ready! 

I hope you are not tired of seeing photos of Red-backed Fairy-Wrens! I go for months without seeing any of these birds - so I am certainly not going to stop taking photos of them when they are so visible right now. The little male bird was hopping around down in the plants on the ground and then fluttered up to this dead bush where the female was waiting for him.

The shadows were so deep around the bush that it was hard to see anything - except the white front to the birds. I saw these ones and initially thought it was another female Fairy-Wren - but when I looked closer at the photo I saw these Red-browed Finches. It is not a clear photo but better than nothing!

For more beautiful scenery from around the world visit Our World Tuesday

and for more bird photos visit Wild Bird Wednesday.