Wednesday, 29 July 2015

Australian Wood Duck

The Australian Wood Duck Chenonetta jubata used to be called the Maned Duck. Yeah yeah. Right. They are always changing names. I discovered last weekend that the Black-winged Stilt is actually the White-headed Stilt.

These following images of an accommodating [relatively] pair were taken on the Macalister River at Maffra. The male has a mane!!

Downside to the species:
* defecating everywhere [especially paddocks - can't be good for bovine or ovine health]
* having a pathetic drawn out 'waaa' for a voice Simpson & Day

* they are a pretty bird
* and the boy has a mane!

Australian Wood Duck drake with mane
Australian Wood Duck duck
Her again

Thursday, 16 July 2015

NT Road Trip 2015: Part 32: Alice Springs

Alice Springs

I spent three days in Alice taking the opportunity to ...

  • visit Trephina Gorge [100km east],
  • visit the Water Treatment Plant twice [once in the afternoon, once at daybreak],
  • visit Olive Pink Botanic Gardens for a late post-poo-ponds breakfast and a look at their resident Western Bowerbird,
  • chat to Mark Carter [birding guide extraordinaire] about setting up a Birdlife East Gippsland Facebook page a la the Birdlife Central Australia Facebook page,
  • chase down a Redthroat at the Old Telegraph Station and
  • attend, on my last night, a Birdlife Central Australia branch meeting - just because I was there. The feature of the meeting was a presentation on Princess Parrots, last seen at Newhaven about 4 years ago. The images were superb. 

Trephina Gorge had heaps of Crimson Chat Epthianura tricolour.

At Emily Gorge, on the way to Trephina, there was one little puddle left with a small mob of Zebra Finches drinking. I walked past the pool and on my way back, a Brown Goshawk whizzed in, grabbed a Zeb and alighted in trees just at the gap entrance. All the honeyeaters were going off at this bird so I was able to easily find it having it's breakfast and got some terrific images.

Brown Goshawk Accipiter fasciatus

The WTP had about 40 species of residents. I met a keen birder doing a Big Year [he was at 404 species on May 26]. We had a very enjoyable 2 hours birding the area. Even the workers there are bird-sensitive. The foreman drove up and told us where we could find Crimson Chat. Cool. Obviously, over time, good relationships have been nurtured between Power and Water and the birding community. Here is the WTP Crimson Chat. Got a bit closer to him! The Stilts had a juvenile in tow and the avocet were just adorable. 

Black-winged Stilt Himanoptus himanoptus
Red-necked Avocet Recurvirostra novaehollandiae
Black-tailed Native-hen Gallinula ventralis

Olive Pink Botanic Gardens [OP] was next. An aside: Olive Pink was a Tasmanian who, amongst other things mostly botanical, was an activist for aboriginal rights from the mid-1930s. I met an aboriginal at Lajamanu, Jerry Jangala, who told us that his first sight of a white person was Olive Pink on a horse at Willowra about 150km northwest of Alice Springs. Jangala was a young boy at the time. He is now in his eighties. Small world. Apart from a very nice cafe, OP has avifauna as well as flora. I found the Western Bowerbird's bower, sat down on a bench near it and waited a few minutes until two WBs zoomed in. At one point a Pied Butcherbird came to have a look and it was on for young and old. The bowerbird won. Their purple patch on the back of the neck [the nuchal crest] is stunning. 

Western Bowerbird Chlamydera guttata
Bowerbird 1 : Butcherbird 0

The Old Telegraph Station is always a good birding spot. Brown Goshawk [again], Redthroat, Splendid Fairy-wren, Grey-crowned Babbler were the standouts for me.

Brown Goshawk ... again
Redthroat Pyrrholaemus brunneus
Splendid Fairy-wren, female Malurus splendens
Grey-crowned Babbler Pomatostomus temporalis

So, that's it. Birding as part of my trip to the NT. It was all magic. You had to be there!!😉

Tuesday, 14 July 2015

NT Road Trip 2015: Part 31: Kunoth Bore

Newhaven and Kunoth Bore

On the way out of Newhaven I stopped for a cuppa on a junction and was entertained by the zitting and seep seeping of Thornbills. I was able to get these images of an Inland Thornbill [distinguished from two other locals, the Brown TB and Chestnut-rumped TB, by the dark striations on the chest] and Western Gerygone [life tick]!!

Western Gerygone Gerygone fusca

Inland Thornbill Acanthiza apicalis

I stopped at Kunoth Bore for the night on the way into Alice Springs. It regularly has Bourke's Parrot come to the dam at dusk and dawn. I sat on the dam bank from before dawn but dipped on the Bourke's. I sat under a scraggy bush with resident Spiny-cheeked Honeyeaters and Yellow-throated Miners and watched Common Bronzewings, Willie Wagtails, Zebra Finches, Cockatiels and Australian Ringnecks come tentatively in to drink from the dam edge. At one point a Hobby went overhead and then, a few minutes later, a Collared Sparrowhawk made three fast passes down my edge of the dam but failed to get anywhere near one of the residents which scattered in a burst of feathers and wing beats. The bird did a final circuit and alighted on a metal rail only 20 metres or so away from me. As I was sitting in a chair I couldn't move much without making a big kerfuffle but got the image below, obscured by bushes, but you can make out the bird quite well.

Collared Sparrowhawk Accipiter cirrhocephalus

I also saw my first Black Falcon [no image] and plenty of other birds too.

Grey-crowned Babbler
Pomatostomus temporals rubeculus

Australian Ringneck
Barnadius zonarius zonarius

Magpie-lark Grallina cyanoleuca
Spiny-cheeked Honeyeater Acanthagenys rufogularis 

Magic. ISO 3200 and be there.

NT Road Trip 2015: Part 30: Newhaven

Newhaven: More

I decided to spend a couple of hours staking out one of the few remaining bores still operating -- Freshwater Bore. I gathered several tonnes of home comforts and settled down.

Two hours later my bird count was Diamond Dove 1, Coffee 3, Zebra Finch ∞+1. That was it. Not as successful as I had envisaged.

Then I went driving. Other birds seen included ....

Crested Bellbird Oreoica gutturalis

Pallid Cuckoo Cuculus pallidus

The owner of Newhaven was a bit of an environmentalist evidently and was an integral part of the [partly?] Federally-funded purchase of the property. There is one rock on the south side of the Home Range near to the original farmhouse and, now, campgrounds upon which he used to regularly climb to survey the surroundings.

Other birds seen in my last two days there included ...

Black-faced Woodswallow Artamus cinereus

Brown Honeyeater Lichmera indistincta

Major Mitchell's [Pink] Cockatoo Cacatua leadbeateri

Red-capped Robin, male Petroica goodenovii

Red-capped Robin, female Petroica goodenovii

White-fronted Honeyeater Phylidonyris albifrons

Red-browed Pardalote Pardalotus rubricatus

Cockatiel Nymphicus hollandicus

Australian Bustard Ardeotis australis

Brown Falcon Falco berigora

Zebra Finch Taeniopygia guttata

My Newhaven list was 59 species in five days. Certainly not stellar but I had an excellent time. There were only two other campers, both of whom were waiting to start their volunteering and knew a fair bit about the place. The rangers/warden folks were very nice. The shower block and toilets were top-class, firewood was provided. Although 400 km from Alice Springs, I highly recommend it as a place to visit, both for birding and just being in a great environment.

Monday, 13 July 2015

NT Road Trip 2015: Part 29: Newhaven

Newhaven Day 02: still Swan Lake

After the Black-breasted Buzzard had left the scene, I returned to birding the Orange Chats, Hooded RobinsAustralasian Pipit and White-winged Fairy-wrens.

The lake had been dry for a while and vegetation was growing over most of it.

I sat down near this bush and just waited.

Orange Chat Epthianura aurifons 

Australasian Pipit Anthus australis
White-Winged Fairy-wren, female Malurus leucopterus
The fairy-wren males with eclipse plumage and females always pose identification challenges except here in Gippsland where we only have one species, the Superb Fairy-wren. At Newhaven, you could see the Variegated FW and the Splendid FW as well as the WWFW above. I have decided she is a WWFW because, on close inspection of the photos I took, she had no eyeing at all and her outer tail feathers have no blue tinge. The other two species have an eye-ring of the same colour as the lores or beak. Of course, this is easy to see on the computer but I find is impossible in the field with a swift moving family of fairy-wrens.

Then a couple turned up in formal wear. Mr and Mrs H. Robin.

Hooded Robin, female Melanodryas cullatta

Hooded Robin, male Melanodryas cucullata