Monday, 29 September 2014

Beware of sticks

When you are walking along very slowly keeping a lookout for all those birds in the treetops, you tend not to pay attention to what is at your feet. Besides, a stick is a stick. I was about 3 metres away when I noticed the stick and did a quick stop.

Not often you see a stick as straight as this

Lowland Copperhead Austrelaps superbus

Even though he/she was warming up, there was still enough energy to flatten the neck. ID anyone? My scanty knowledge tells me it is not Brown. I couldn't get past to take a pic with the light behind me. You know how it is! A few handfuls of thrown sand falling as rain moved it on.

***Update: Museum Victoria have identified it as a Lowland Copperhead Austrelaps superbus

Thursday, 25 September 2014

Creeping through the trees

After an exciting morning viewing 30% of the world's migrant wader birds, PW and I made our way to Giffard Flora and Fauna Reserve for lunch. Whilst enjoying the view in a sheltered glade, we were privileged to have a White-throated Treecreeper serenade us for many minutes and give us some excellent views for a few. Their call is described as "rapid, high-pitched, penetrating piping ... continuing interminably"Pizzey & Knight. This is certainly true.

Gippsland has two treecreepers as residents. White-browed and White-throated. As you can see in the pic, W-T does not have an eyebrow. The W-T female has an ochre dot on the neck so our mate was a male.

White-throated Treecreeper
As we were watching the W-T, Peter spotted a pair of "small, confiding birds of much charm"Pizzey & Knight  Yes, Jacky Winters. Typically, one was sitting on the top of a fence post and the other on a stump about one metre high. I was able to openly approach them to 3 metres or so before I chickened out and took a picture.

Jacky Winter

After the birds we went for a short walk checking out the Lady Finger and Wax Lip Orchids.

Wax Lip Orchid

Lady Finger Orchid

There were plenty about. We had to be careful about standing on them.

Another magic day.

Friday, 19 September 2014

Swiftly does it

PW and I went to a well-known parrot location in Heyfield to see …..

Hang on. Something ambiguous about that sentence. Was it a well-known parrot or a well-known location? Or both? The parrot is well-known in Heyfield since last Monday when HBW and BLEG saw them on the well-known Heyfield Golf Course. The parrot is the Swift Parrot, an endangered species that breeds in Tasmania during the summer and migrates to and fro the mainland in autumn and spring getting as far “up” the Qld border. Peter invited me to be a second pair of eyes to spot these swift parrots.

We perused the fulsomely free-flowering box trees ...

... but it seemed none of Monday’s visitors had stayed. See Pearsondale Birder. There were Rainbow and Musk Lorikeets flitting/zooming all around with their screeching/chatter but no Swifties. No trouble spotting a Crimson or an Eastern. Duck when the Miners fly past. When you can only base an id on a Simpson & Day painting, it is a bit hard to know if you’ve "got on to one" at first. I had one potential but the bins showed it to be a Musk Lorikeet. Easily confused.

Against the sun. A redheaded parrotty lorikeety bird in there?
I think.
Ah yes. Just a Musk Lorikeet. Just! But very nice.

Ah well. Not to worry. We had a stroll around the course. Beautifully tended greens and fairways. Great rough and bush beautifully tended by a recently retired greens-keeper. Lots of pathways and plantings. Orchids ready to provide a spring profusion.

Had a cuppa. Perhaps the nectar flow had picked up during smoko. Before calling it quits decided to have “One more look. You never know.”

Well you don’t know and there they were. We first spotted a pair “sprinting” across an open space between two rows of trees. Then, standing still and silent, heard the quiet “clink, clink” Simpson & Day, “pee-pit, pee-pit, pee-pit” Pizzey & Knight, tinkling chatter Slater of the Swift Parrot. Located an obliging pair who we watched for 20 minutes or so as they systematically worked amongst the flowers. Once seen, and with a few Swiftie mates flying in and out, we realized there were at least 20 around, in small groups of 2 to 6. And, indeed, they are swift in flight.

Swift Parrot x2.
Perhaps immature?
On his first flight back home?
Magic birding. Thanks Peter.

Monday, 15 September 2014

Jack ventures into the murky world of LBJ ID [how a 600mm lens helps]

Yesterday I ventured out Heyfield way with the Heyfield Birdwatchers and the Birdlife East Gippsland folks. Nineteen in all. We set off from Maffra at 9am stopping at the Port of Maffra until 10.30 including a cuppa. Next stop was Bellbird Corner, looking superb in spring green, and a chance to get my head slightly around the id of LBJs [Little Brown Jobs], especially with the help of a 600mm lens. There were plenty zipping around the foliage, especially the acacias, and I managed a couple of 'keeper' images.

Brown Thornbill

This is a Brown Thornbill with beautiful scalloped markings on a rufous forehead and a red eye.
Striated Thornbill

This delightful fellow is a Striated Thornbill with striations on the forehead, a dark eye and obvious striations on the ear coverts [where the ears would be to the uninitiated]. They are not as obvious on the Brown Thornbill.

After Bellbird Corner, we ventured to the Glenmaggie Flora and Fauna Reserve near Heyfield. Here all we had to do was get out of the car. A Yellow Thornbill family were feeding their young ones in a nest above the cars!
Yellow Thornbill

Having joined Birdlife Australia last month, I discovered that the June issue of their magazine had a guide to identifying LBJs. Missed it by that much. Once home, I went on-line to the Birdlife Australia website and found a pdf of the 92-page mag Australian Birdlife - June 2014 and downloaded it. The guide is very helpful.

The fog is clearing!