Wednesday, 28 January 2015

A drying wetland near Marlay Point

It doesn't take long with a few hot days, decent winds and 10mm of evaporation each day for those ephemeral wetlands to feel the pinch. I have been visiting the one pictured above, on the Marlay Point Road, most weeks since the Sharp-tailed Sandpipers arrived in September. It almost dried out before Christmas but in early December an Easy Coast Low and 150mm of rain fixed the job for a while. Birdwise, it went quiet. The Grey Teal went to more fruitful water and even the STSs buzzed off for a while. But they are back, starting to fuel up for their coming journey.

The wetland is starting to dry out again. The Black-winged Stilts can walk right across without getting their belly feathers wet. The Red-capped Plovers and their myriad young have lots of mudflats to check out. Red-necked Stint make a potential mis-identification with the young Red-caps. Fifty or so Australian Shelduck have been around for a couple of weeks now. They feed in the deeper areas compared to the  Grey Teal. The shores are dotted with White-faced Herons and Masked Lapwing and there were three Black Swans this morning. I spent an hour standing and crouching [should have brought a chair] by the "shoreline". The Red-caps, Red-necks and Sharpies, over time, all came to within 10 metres or less of me. Neither the ducks, stilts nor swans were bothered by my presence. Mozzie count -- nil! It was very enjoyable. I trust you will enjoy the images.

Top to Bottom: Black Swans, Black-winged Stilt, Sharp-tailed Sandpipers
Australian Shelduck
White-faced Heron
Black-winged Stilt
Sharpies buzzing Stilts
Sharpie close-up
Sharpies buzzing Black Swans
Red-necked Stint
female Red-capped Plover
Magic. f8 and be there.

Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Maffra Swamp

Is officially called the Macalister Swamp Reserve. Although it has a catchment from local paddocks, it is the influx from a flood on the Macalister River that completely fills it. I went for a visit this afternoon with a card in my camera this time! I wondered if the Latham's Snipe would still be there. A sign in the Alistair Fielding Bird Hide says that 200 of these intrepid migratory summer visitors have been seen at one time in a bonza year. I spotted about 10, mostly because they flew away with their typical quick, explosive 'chak' Pizzey & Knight or rasping 'kzek kzek kzek' Morcombe on take-off. But I was able to get some good images; by stealth. I also saw plenty of other birds. A selection below.

Part of the Macalister Swamp Reserve from the walking path
As the season advances and wetlands begin to dry out, the area for foraging diminishes and the species become more concentrated and, perhaps, less discerning as to their feeding companions?

Left to right: Dusky Moorhen, Latham's Snipe,
Purple-fronted Swamphen, Red-kneed Dotterel
Latham's Snipe, Grey Teal
Spot the Snipe
Snipe markings are striking
Australian Reed-warbler
Little Grassbird
juvenile Grey Fantail
Royal Spoonbill
Great Egret in a tree
Magic. f8 and be there.

Monday, 19 January 2015

Great Scott! Great fishing Great Egret!

Spotted this Great Egret in breeding colours doing a spot of fishing. It is his catch that is highly unusual.

 Now that is a very big worm. Now, wait a minute, it is an elver.

Thursday, 15 January 2015

Azure Kingfisher Fishing

The Azure Kingfisher (Alcedo/Ceyx azureus) is one of Australia's two true fishing kingfishers. The other is the Little Kingfisher of tropical NT and Qld.

Fraser and Gray, in Australian Bird Names, tell us that Ceyx [pronounced say-iks] was, in Greek mythology, the son of the Morning Star and husband of Alcyone who, because they were so happy together, joking referred to themselves as Zeus and Hera who, when they heard about this sacrilegious impertinence, sent a wild storm which wrecked Ceyx's ship and drowned him. Alcyone found his body washed up on the beach and leapt into the waves drowning herself. Both were transformed into birds usually said to be kingfishers. The blue of the Azure Kingfisher is regal indeed. His orange-rufous breast and red legs are pathognomonic!

Thank you to Ross Stothers and the Heyfield Birdwatchers for the knowledge about the presence of this uncommon little resident. This kingfisher was spotted in the Herb Guyatt Sanctuary west of Sale.

"It may look like I am basking in the sun but, in reality,
I am keeping a very close eye on the water for a potential meal"

"Ah hah. Spotted a small something."

"Dive. Dive."

"It's hard work flying uphill with a meal
and against gravity."

"I have no idea how those big birds manage.
Check out the Talking Naturally blog in
the blog list to the right or click here."

Gasp. "Here at last. That took all of two
seconds. I must be slowing dow."
For this series of images I manually focussed the camera to a point about where the bird entered the water. Thus the last image is slightly out of focus as the lens was at f6.3 allowing for max shutter speed but minimal depth of field. The bird does have a small fish in it's beak.

Magic eh? f8 and be there. Thanks Ross.

Tuesday, 13 January 2015

Trapyard Hill: A Floral Tribute

My attempts at floral identification has been aided by the Field Guide to Alpine Flowers by I R McCann. Please feel free to assist further!

Scaly Button
Orange Everlasting
Silver Daisy
Derwent Speedwell
Clustered Everlasting
Royal Bluebell
Pale Vanilla-lily
Leafy Daisy
Chamomile Sunray

Hoary Sunray

Monday, 12 January 2015

Banded or Black-winged?

Banded Stilts seem not to come to Sale so I visited their current home at Victoria Lagoon at Holland's Landing to have a look and fix their identification in my mind to counteract any false id I may make in the future. There were several hundred in the shallows with the pelicans, a few teal and about 40 lonely-looking Black-winged Stilts.

They were a fair way away but, suddenly, a hundred or so took to the wing and flew across the lagoon and landed just in front of me. 500mm was too long!!

They didn't stay too long and flew back to the pelicans about 100 metres over on the other side.

In this image [below] the lonely Black-winged Stilts are on the right. They are the ones with the black back on their necks. The Banded Stilts have an all-white neck [and the band across the chest, of course].

Here is an image of BWS from a few weeks ago at Heart Hall Road to the east of the Sale RAAF base.

An individual. At Alice Springs Water Treatment Plant = Sewage Works = Poo Ponds!