Monday, 24 August 2015

Pardalotus queenslandicus

Number one grandson, Ethan, has become very interested in birding. He rang to excitedly tell me that he had discovered the nest of a Spotted Pardalote in the foundations of the pool in their backyard in Buderim just north of Brisbane. He had spotted the Spotted zooming in and out of the small hole into the nest and could hear squeaking from inside. A short time later I received an email with some video footage attached and a comment that examination of the video had shown that the birds were Striated Pardalotes. Enjoy.

Thursday, 20 August 2015


After Pettman's Beach we drove through the rain and along wet, gravel roads to Glasshouse. Highlight birds there were an Eastern Whipbird fully out in the open after an hour's calling in the bushes all around us, an overflying White-bellied Sea-eagle and a pair of Australian Pied Oystercatchers.

The whipbird flew out onto a branch towards the end of our visit and, once again, my camera settings were wrong on all accounts. I had just been taking pictures of the WBSE using a custom function setting on the Canon 5D allowing lots of overexposure for a dark bird against a cloudy/blue background. Forgot to change it back to my usual shutter priority mode. The images were grossly underexposed [work that out if you can] and the pic below is a big effort in Photoshop. A good advert for taking images in raw.
Eastern Whipbird Psophodes olivaceus
Over the morning we saw either the same WBSE several times OR several WBSEs. Either way, it is always a thrill to see them. Gippsland seems to be a bit of a hot-spot for this bird which is becoming scarcer.
White-bellied Sea-eagle Haliaeetus leucogaster
A pair of Australian Pied Oystercatchers were spotted quietly feeding on the mudflats of the very recently drained Lake Tyers. Just 10 days ago, the barrier succumbed to the very high level of water in the lake and burst through to the ocean leaving behind lots of mud flats. And the migratory waders will be arriving soon. Propitious! Chris Healey used the scope to observe that each APO had a leg flag with a unique ID which was recorded and the relevant database will be informed allowing us to know when and where these birds were tagged. POs are usually fairly wary birds so I snuck up on them using all available cover but I was still a bit too far away so just started quietly walking towards them across the mud flats which were firm enough to support me.

I got to within 20 metres of them. I also spotted a "baby Oystercatcher" with them. See the third image.
Australian Pied Oystercatcher Haematopus longirostris -- 3D
62 at the back
Not a young one of course but a Magpie-lark sharing a food source.
Magic. Correct settings and be there!

Wednesday, 19 August 2015

Pettman's Beach II

Once we had got over the excitement of beach and pelagic birds, we retreated to the relative shelter of morning tea, kicking aside the Red-browed Finches, Superb Fairy-wrens and their commander, Grey Shrike-thrush.

Red-browed Finch Neochmia temporalis
Superb Fairy-wren Malurus cyaneus
Grey Shrike-thrush Colluricincla harmonica

Monday, 17 August 2015

Pettman's Beach

Birding yesterday with BLEG was a bit cold, windy and wet for starters at Pettman's Beach which is a fair way along a dirt road from the Princes Highway near Wairewa. Whilst the others birded in the relative shelter of the carpark and surrounds, three hardy souls, Chris, Ken and myself, hunkered down at the top of the sand dune overlooking a very rough and tumultuous sea.  First off we spotted a Peregrine Falcon zooming the waves about 50 metres out, the photo images give no confirmation at all, but it was a classic falcon shape. Some Australian Gannets breezed past, a few Crested Terns criss-crossed our panorama and two Shy Albatrosses soared the wind and the waves for somewhere between a few, several and many minutes. What is the word meaning "more than several" but "less than many"? Perhaps five minutes. Enough time for viewing through the bins and taking diagnostic images.

Shy Albatross Thalassarche cauta

Later, at home, I learnt that there is a "Shy Albatross" complex in which there are four speciesPizzey & Knight, but they could be sub-speciesSlater, but they could be racesMorcombe! Diagnostic details are a pale greyish face and neck, a white cap, one metre wingspan and a small black notch on the leading edge of the underwing extending a short way onto the bodyMorcombe, Pizzey & Knight. Each bird effortlessly rode the very stiff breeze up and over the waves without one flap. The Shy Albatross is the only albatross to breed in Australian waters on, wait for it, Albatross Island in Bass Strait!   A lifer for me.

Albatross Island is the little red dot

A flock of 15 or so Silver Gulls flew past hugging the wave tops where they would be sheltered from the wind, relatively. Then 5 Eastern Curlews flew past going upwind and just a few metres off the beach, hence slowly, hence great for images, hence great backgrounds of the pounding surf.

Eastern Curlew Numenius madagascariensis
According to P & K, the EC is a common summer migran .... [wait a minute ... summer migrant ... ??? ... it's August .. 17th ... ??? ... what's going on]  ... ant to the coasts of north, east and southeast Australia from breeding grounds in northeast Asia. P & K defines "summer" as August to May and both it and Slater mention that many birds over winter. So, not an unexpected bird. Still an absolute thrill to see and I was able to get some great images.

Magic. t1250, moisture protection and be there!

Wednesday, 5 August 2015

Bernies Bend

This afternoon, Wednesday, I took the opportunity of my vehicle being at the automotive electrician's for a couple of hours to take camera and binoculars around the Macalister Wetlands Reserve. A path follows the lefthand bank of the Macalister River in a northerly direction from the Maffra-Traralgon Road to the MWR. Rivers have a left and right bank with the handedness being allocated as if one is travelling downstream. I do not know why Bernies Bend is so named but just beyond it, I spotted a bundle of birds on the path. Red-browed Finches, Superb Fairy-wrens and Grey Fantails were darting about every-which-way.

As I approached, they all beat a hasty retreat to the safety of a large Pittosporum in the middle of the grass. So I quietly siddled towards said Pittosporum where they, and three other species, all revealed themselves in due course.

The male wren still has a bit of moult to go. Looks a bit like he needs a good brush.
male Superb Fairy-wren
Two fantails were very busy indeed. They seemed most interested in me as I approached the bush and flew to within a metre of me on several occasions. I wondered if some territorial defence/nesting was going on. 
Grey Fantail
The robin was an unexpected pleasure. He popped out of the middle for a couple of minutes then went back in. Nesting again?
Eastern Yellow Robin
I do not have a good or even half-decent picture of a red-brow. Once again they were too quick for me, but you can see the red brow and the red rump.
Red-browed Finch
The Silvereye was very accommodating, sitting on the branch preening away for several minutes. It was a day to be fluffy.
However, the kestrel came and had a look at me, circling twice about 10 metres above me [you can imagine me frantically trying to get the camera off my arm and into position - wasn't going to happen] then flew off 20 metres to the top of the nearest power pole where he proceeded to eat the rest of the meal I had obviously interrupted. The males have a light grey head whereas the head of the female is the same colour as their back.
male Nankeen Kestrel
 Magic. f8, a wooden jumper, beanie and raincoat, and be there.