Sunday, 30 November 2014

The Barry Way

I chose to return to Sale from Sydney via Jindabyne and the Barry Way which winds its way south along the righthand bank of the Snowy River. I camped for the night where the road meets the Snowy at its junction with Jacobs River. The campsite was basic with a loo, shelter and level spots right next to the Jacobs River but several hundred metres from the main drag.

The birding was basic too but there were lots of birds about. The background noise belonged to Rufous Whistlers. 

I walked a few metres up the hill from the river and campsites and was immediately buzzed by Dusky Woodswallows! Not a species I associate with such welcoming activity. 

As I was standing watching the Woodswallows, a Brown Treecreeper rocketed off the ground by my left knee. 

Bee-eaters zoomed around providing picturesque portraits in the sun.

As I stood there admiring all the avian activity, I realised that the Woodswallows were being excessively attentive to my presence, occasionally flying right by my earhole. Then the penny dropped. Through the bins I could see that an adult had a morsel of food in its beak.  A-ha! There must be young about. I retreated some steps and crouched on the ground and waited patiently until the adults were happy with my presence and recommenced feeding duties.

Part 2 in a later blog!

North Sydney birding - Tuesday

The following day, last Tuesday, I stayed a bit closer to Narrabeen and went into the Ku-Ring-Gai Chase National Park, Australia's second oldest national park after Royal NP just to the south of Sydney. It is named after one of the area's aboriginal tribes, variously spelt [sounds like] Gurringai, adapted in 1894 for the name of the national park.

I walked several of the tracks but didn't see much birdlife. A family of the local race of magpies, the Black-backed Magpie, was busily teaching all the kids about bush tucker.
"Black-backed Magpie" Gymnorhina tibicen tibicen
"Scrummy. A beetle"
For a comparison here is an image of the Victorian race showing the white back. This one, a female or youngster, was seen in Lakes Entrance.
Victoria's "White-backed Magpie" race leuconata
Back at Narrabeen, I walked the beach again. Four Sooty Oystercatchers and an accompanying Pied Oystercatcher flew in to the shallows where the Lagoon was emptying out to the sea at low tide.

Surf 0: Surfer 1

North Sydney birding - Monday

Whilst in Narrabeen, I took the opportunity to bird in the Warriewood Wetlands, the Scheyville National Park and the Pitt Town Nature Reserve.

The Warriewood Wetlands has plenty of birds but also a fair amount of passing/exercising foot traffic not particularly aware of birds. I hopped out of the car, put on the bins and hat and slung the camera over the shoulder. I could hear whipbirds about and hadn't walked 10 metres when one appeared on a branch just a few metres in front of me. AWESOME. Only the third I had ever seen, closely following the second seen at the Ollerton Avenue Reserve in Moe just the other week. Well, I wasn't at all prepared and organised so only got a couple of very underexposed raw files [lesson: check camera settings before moving off] which Mr Adobe has improved.

Further along the track I quietly approached two birders intensely viewing and photographing a Brush Turkey working on a nest about three metres from the boardwalk and level with it. We talked and snapped for quite a while. Marie told me about Birding Pals, an organisation that places would-be birders visiting an area [usually on business and with a small window of time to indulge their passion] with similarly minded people willing to show them their patch or even chase specific birds for little to no charge. Whilst we were chatting many people passed and no-one saw the Brush Turkey or said anything more erudite than "hello".

I then travelled to the Scheyville National Park to the east of Pitt Town, an area of dry scherophyll forest with a dogwood and black wattle-style understorey. It was Bell Miner central with fair competition from Noisy Friarbirds. I spotted a Variegated Fairy-wren pair too.

Last port of call was the Nature Reserve [= reclaimed swamp with loads of water -- a good facility] just off the main street. It has a bird hide and evidence of a lot of time and effort put in by the Cumberland Bird Observers Club. The usual lake suspects were just a bit too far away but a Red-rumped Parrot in a tree on the short walk back to the car said, "Photograph me". So I did.

Just magic. f8 and be there.

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Surf's up. Surfers down.

Surf 8: Surfers 0.

Narrabeen Beach again at the turn of the low tide with the sun in the west right behind my back.

Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Narrabeen, NSW, on a Sunday morning

An early morning walk on and near the beach at Narrabeen, a northern suburb of Sydney, was invigorating and illuminating. People do lots of different things.

First off was a walk to the beach and along the cliff top.

A pod of dolphins 
Other photographers out at 6am at the Narrabeen Ocean Pool
A great view
 Then I walked inland along the outlet from Narrabeen Lagoon. The things people do.

Pelicans and Little Black Cormorants find a quiet spot to preen and rest.
Ways to fish: #1 -- Solo sitting
Ways to fish: #2 -- with the family
Ways to fish: #3 – solo standing
Ways to fish: #4 – beakily
Bloke boarding quality time
Narrabeen Lagoon vista
Fishing and boarding can mix!

Monday, 24 November 2014

Bizarre Tree Martin behaviour

On the Birdlife East Gippsland camp last week in the Omeo area, we observed Tree Martins picking up leaves and small pieces of straw from the road and flying around with the items for a short while before letting them fall to the ground. They were doing this in groups of two/three birds only a few metres from where we were standing on a gravel road. This happened for a good ten minutes. Some birds flew around us at a height of one to two metres then went back to the spot they had picked up the item. It almost seemed [anthropomorphically] that adults birds were teaching younger birds ... something!

We were fascinated.

Picking up straw
Take off. One each way
I find it very hard to catch martins and swallows in flight
Take off with leaf
Around the chicane we go
Other bird still on road in bottom left corner of image
Leaf still onboard

Geoff Park at Natural Newstead has observed similar behaviour in Fairy Martins just this last week.

Just magic. f8 and be there.

Sunday, 23 November 2014

BLEG Spring Camp at Omeo

A selection of birds photographed during the Birdlife East Gippsland [BLEG] camp based in Omeo. I was there for three of the four days. It was great.

Magic. f8 and be there.

Satin Flycatcher, female

Gang-gang Cockatoo, female

Pallid Cuckoo

Black Snake, sunning

Flame Robin, male

Jacky Winter with the next generation

Nankeen Kestrel

Saturday, 22 November 2014

2014 Hooded Plover Biennial Count -- Take 2

The next day, Saturday 15 November, I drove to the end of a track heading east from Paradise Beach where an oil pipe comes ashore. I walked 4 kms east then 2 west from that point. Still didn't see a Hooded Plover but came across a group of mixed shore birds. Four Pied Oystercatchers, one Great Cormorant [very nervous bird -- the only one to fly off], one Whimbrel [who walked off], one Pacific Gull and five Silver Gulls.

Vast enlargement will see these bird pixels
 I also saw ...

One Shell logo
One set of deer prints 

One seahorse
One dead muttonbird