Thursday, 29 October 2015

Painted Honeyeaters revisited

Before having another look for Painted Honeyeaters, I called by to see how the Tawny Frogmouths were getting on. Every picture tells a thousand words.

Mr and Mrs T Frogmouth proudly announce the arrival of twins
Then on to the PH site. I still haven't quite got a male Mistletoebird in sharp focus but getting better.

But what about the Painted Honeyeaters? The site is an excellent one for birds. My list was 36 bird species in 90 minutes. Using the Morcombe phone app, I played the call of the PH so that I would be able to recognise it - my best hope of finding the bird. But no calls at all.

Then I spotted two birds way up in the canopy, pr 30 metres up, which looked good for PH. Took several photos then clapped the bins on them but, nah, they were "just" White-winged Trillers, of which there were several calling a lot of the time.

Eventually, I called it quits and as I was making my way back to the car, I heard one call of the Painted Honeyeater. I went back but couldn't find it/them. However, when I looked at the images of the W-wT on the computer, I realised that my ID of Painted Honeyeater had been correct. Here is the one image which shows the identifying features of pink beak, yellow edges to feathers on wing, white underneath [just like a W-wT] and with the flecking of a male PH. Impossible to see on a bird that does not stay still and always keeps leaves between them and me. Life tick.

Magic. f8 and be there!

Tuesday, 27 October 2015

Rafting in the Mitchell

On Monday week ago, there was a BLEG outing, initially to Macleod's Morass and then the cliff at Eagle Point. Prior to dipping on the Painted Honeyeaters, I returned to our initial birding site because I was missing my hat and thought it may have been left at the parking area. It was nowhere to be seen there so I slowly made my way back to the Bairnsdale-Paynesville Road along the Old Paynesville Road which runs alongside the Mitchell River. And there, in the Mitchell River was .... not my hat .... but a raft of birds.

I estimated that there were 500 Great Cormorants present. They were just smooching about, not too concerned by my presence. The Mitchell River is flowing, slowly, towards the camera.

I saw a small number of Little Black Cormorants but they were almost exclusively Great Cormorants.

The upstream edge of the raft was being kept intact by patrolling Australian Pelicans. There were about 20 or them. I photographed them for 10 minutes or so, one Pelican arrived and one GC flew away. Not much was happening so I departed.

And my hat? It is the same colour as the car seat covers and had been sitting quite innocently on the head rest but blending in superbly with the surroundings. Better than a Tawny Frogmouth!!

Magic. f22 and be there.

Saturday, 24 October 2015

Painted Honeyeaters

Prior to visiting the Tawny Frogmouths, I spent an hour on a bush block where Painted Honeyeaters have been seen in the last week but I dipped badly. However, the noise from the 6-8 White-winged Trillers was distinctive and I got my best ever shots of a male Mistletoebird. A pair had a juvenile trailing along demanding to be fed at every wingbeat [or so it seemed].

Mum feeding youngster
Other birds on the block were Willie Wagtails, Jacky Winters and Varied Sittellas.

A revisit to bird the Painted Honeyeaters is scheduled.

Monday, 19 October 2015

Tawny Frogs

It has been two weeks since the last blog and there is a lot to tell you! [I sound like the Ancestry adverts on the telly which are causing me to hit the mute button]. So I shall work backwards.

After the BLEG outing yesterday to Macleod's Morass South, I went searching for the nesting Tawny Frogmouths. Avithera blogged a beauty about the nesting couple here. I found the site easily but was presented with a forest of young red gums. Oh which tree? The specific directions were spot on, the male was on the nest and I spent just 3-4 minutes taking some pictures from a reasonable distance. There has been vigorous discussion over the last fortnight on Victorian Birders on Facebook about how close for how long does one approach a nest. I suspect no-one would get excited if you put a nest cam in a Common Starlings nest but there is pressure on a fair few of our native species. The majority view is more [distance] is better and less [time] is better too. A nesting Spotted Harrier pair at WTP is being observed intensely by one particular chap who maintains it is okay. Hmm.

Anyway, I had a good look at Mr F, circled the tree taking my snaps then vamoosed. The last time I saw a TF was when I worked for Maffra Veterinary Centre last century. I went to a horse with colic on the outskirts of Sale later one evening and the owners pointed out the TF in the tree above my patient!! It didn't move [as they are want to do] for the entire consultation and treatment! Neither did this one but you can see a half-open eye in a couple of images.

The nest looks like it is suffering from a bit of slippage.

"Just keeping an eye on you mate"

A Tawny Frogmouth post came up on Facebook this morning. Here is the link. Check out their diet!

Magic. f8 and be there.

Sunday, 4 October 2015

Spotted Pards

A couple of days ago, I was walking around the trees at my block when I was startled by a little bird rocketing past my feet from a wombat hole. I thought, "That could be a pardalote. They can nest in the ground" so I peered into the wombat hole but could see nothing resembling a 30mm entrance [the 300mm wombat hole was a tad large!]. Two days later I revisited by quietly sneaking up using the trees as cover and there was a neat little pardalote hole.

A little fella came zooming out and sat in the nearest tree giving me a good look for quite a few minutes.

So the next day, Saturday, yesterday, I went along with my camera and staked out the hole. They are FAST. Way too fast when you have been hanging on to the camera for 30 minutes waiting for them to either come out or go in. At one point, the female sat on a branch about a metre from me and gave me a second appraisal.

So today I went with a plan, lunch, coffee, hat, chair, iPad, iPhone, camera with 150-600 lens, tripod, banana, remote control and sensor. I set the gear up on the tripod about 4 metres away from the hole with the lens focussed on the root about 100mm out from the hole. I sat in my chair in regal comfort a further 4 metres back but with clear view of the target. Camera settings were Av at f14 letting the camera work out Tv [1/320] and ISO [500]. I started off with the shutter being activated with the remote control but it was way too slow. I moved my chair, sat behind the camera and just reached forward and activated the shutter digitally [my finger] when I could see the pards either arriving or leaving. The male stopped on the root twice for at least 10 seconds giving ample opportunity for image capture.

Magic! f14 and be there.

Thursday, 1 October 2015

Heyfield Birdoes -- Den of Nargun and Mitchell River Pumping Station

Four birders met on the corner of Beverley's and Dargo Roads and were graced with a beautiful day of glorious sun and little wind.

Our first stop was just down the road at Iguana Creek at the Angus McMillan Memorial. Just a few species there [6] so we moved on to the Den of Nargun carpark and walked down to the lookout platform above the Mitchell River. The view was just superb in the morning sun. The track is mostly hemmed in by dogwood and tea-tree so you don't get a good view of much outside the "tunnel" you are walking in but we could hear Fantailed Cuckoos, Superb Fairy-wrens, Pied Currawongs, Silvereyes, Golden Whistlers, Spotted Pardalotes, Magpies, Shrike-thrushes and Fantails. Sixteen species in all.

After morning tea, the last birding stop of the day was the Mitchell River Pumping Station, last visited by Heyfield Birdoes about 2 years ago when a Peregrine Falcon made an appearance! After morning tea/lunch, we walked [sauntered is more like it] about one kilometre along the road following the bank of the river. Highlights of the 31 species we saw included a Lewin's Honeyeater, Shining Bronze-Cuckoo, a Noisy Friarbird AND a pair of Wedge-tailed Eagles.  The wedgies hung around the area the whole time we were there. At one point, on our way back to the cars, one was seen to be chased over the river by a very, very agitated mob of three magpies because the wedgie had an immature magpie in it's talons!! The harassment was fierce and the bird dropped its prey into the river. The potential meal did not move at all thus must have been killed by the wedgie during "pickup"! Not a successful take-away meal! We also saw a medium sized raptor circling above us, almost directly into the sun, so plenty of images were taken but computer-enhanced identification has proved non-definitive. I suspect that of the choice of three species it could be [for its size] -- Little Eagle, Brown Goshawk and Swamp Harrier -- BG is the ID. What do you think? {Edit: thank you for input. 100% for Brown Goshawk}

A short side trip to the orchid heaven by the railway line at Fernbank showed some early promise [so the floral experts informed me] and, after a coffee at Wa-de-lock in Stratford, we split up for home after a great day.

Shining Bronze-Cuckoo
Noisy Friarbird
The unidentified raptor