Sunday, 31 January 2016

Bird Nerds in Queensland 11

Once Ethan was back, we hit the birding with a vengeance. Ethan suggested that we needed to be at Lake Macdonald at dawn i.e. 5am non-daylight-saving-Queensland time. "That is fine by me", I replied, "But that means getting up at 4.20am". Was that alright by him? "Fine", was the reply. So at 4.20am I was quietly knocking on his door to awaken him but not the other two. He duly appeared just a few minutes later raring for the off. We took breakfast with us and away we went. As we turned off the Bruce Highway, we spotted a bird on top of a lighting pole. It was a Peregrine Falcon!! What a great start to the day. Next was Lake Macdonald and, as we were pulling up, the first birds we saw were a Willie Wagtail having a stoush with a Restless Flycatcher Myiagra inquieta.

The next birds we saw were Australian White Ibis, Straw-necked Ibis and, yes, one Glossy Ibis Plegadis falcinellus. Life tick for both of us. It was a fair way away so just a confirmatory ID image.

We weren't in the bird hide more than a few minutes when a Latham's Snipe Gallinago hardwickii wandered past right in front of the hide. Doesn't get much better Avithera. Aren't they just a great bird.

Then the usual parade of Comb-crested Jacana Irediparra gallinacea with both an adult in breeding plumage [first image] and a pair of immatures [second image]. The non-breeding CCJ has no comb, a rufous cap and a black stripe running down the back of each side of the neck joining as a band on the chest. Quite similar to the immatures in the second image.

After breakfast we tootled off to Wappa Dam. Here Ethan ticked a Mistletoebird Dicaeum hirudinaceum, we both ticked a Cicadabird Coracina tenuirostris, and a totally unexpected Barred Cuckoo-shrike Coracina lineata. The Barred Cuckoo-shrike was pretty special indeed. Ethan has learnt very quickly that when he sees a bird he doesn't know, he takes quick note of its salient features. Recourse to the guides in the car plus the backup of the camera soon gave us the ID.

female Cicadabird

What a great day. Magic. f5.6, t1250 and be there!

Friday, 29 January 2016

Bird Nerd in Queensland 10

A providential trip to Brisbane meant an opportunity to bird the Ruff allegedly at the Nathan Road Reserve site near Redcliffe and Deception Bay well north of Brisbane Airport. A walk through a swamp [no snakes seen] takes one to a small series of ponds with good tree coverage to hide in. I never found the Ruff but I did find several life-ticks.

First life-tick was a Marsh Sandpiper Tringa stagnatilus [here alongside a Black-winged Stilt for size comparison].

A Pectoral Sandpiper Calidris melanotus was the next life-tick.

Some fairy-wrens were knocking about, vocal and active. Here is an image of a male Red-backed Fairy-wren Malurus melanocephalus.

Although this image has a lot of "noise" or perhaps "vegetation", this is the only photo I have ever been able to get of a male Variegated Fairy-wren Malurus lamberti.

Another life-tick was the Mangrove Honeyeater Lichenostomus fasciogularis which I had ticked as a Yellow-faced HE but a local I met there, Steve, assured me that I had made the usual mistake of a visiting Victorian birder. Both species have very similar markings but the Mangrove HE has a little white patch at the posterior end of its yellow mark. This is the best image I got after learning about my new tick!

A small park runs along a waterway next to the Nathan Road Reserve which proved birdful. An adult Pied Butcherbird Cracticus nigrogularis was feeding a youngster ...

... there were plenty of Scaly-breasted Lorikeets Trichoglossus chlorolepidotus  in the blossom of the eucs ...

... Pale-headed Rosella Platycercus adscitus, of which I got some good shots ...

... and to round off a good evening of birding, a Cattle Egret Ardea ibis, which had decided to roost for the night in the garden of a house next to the reserve.

Tuesday, 26 January 2016

Bird Nerd visits Queensland 09

Dawn on New Year's Day was quiet especially at the Maroochy Wetlands. Solo me saw a good crop of birds.

I wonder what this bird with a rufous fantail is called?
Ah yes. Rufous Fantail Rhipidura rufifrons
Plumed Whistling-duck Dendrocygna eytoni

Bar-shouldered Dove Geopelia humeralis

A family of Forest Kingfishers Todiramphus macleayii were eying off the real estate bargains.

The bird above is a Mangrove Gerygone Gerygone levigaster. The bird below is an immature.

It looks like a Grey Shrike-thrush but is a tad smaller and sounds different. The Australian Bird Identification Facebook page pointed me in the direction of a Little Shrike-thrush Collurcincla megarhyncha. Below are other images of the same bird.

Monday, 25 January 2016

Bird Nerd visits Queensland 08

A return visit, solo, to Fearnley Bird Hide at Lake Macdonald yielded a great crop of birds.

There were plenty of Darters around, all drying themselves in the newly-risen sun. Here is one example.

Darter Anhinga melanogaster
This Little Pied Cormorant is one of the dirtier examples to be seen. Not sure why as the water was nice and clear.

Little Pied Cormorant Phalacrocorax melanoleucos
Magpie Geese Anseranas semipalmata a-landing
This is a Wandering Whistling-Duck. At first I thought it was a Plumed Whistling-Duck looking a bit strange [perhaps a juvenile] but a check of the apps showed it was to be a WW-D.  Life tick with this single bird although looking through pictures I had taken at our previous visit showed a pair in the air -- called PW-D at the time. The dappled back and the dark line down the back of the neck are diagnostic.

Wandering Whistling-Duck Dendrocygna arcuata

Hardheads are always nice clean, snappy ducks. They were quite unconcerned at my presence about 10 metres away.

male Hardhead Aythya australis
female Hardhead Aythya australis

There were plenty of Cromb-crested Jacanas Irediparra gallinacea about, thirteen or fourteen. Their feet are HUGE. Two image crops to show just how BIG. No wonder they can walk on water.

Then suddenly, I spotted a chick with one of the CCJs. In this first image you can see the chick, can't you. No? Check out the next image - a crop and magnification.

How many chicks do you think?

Here is another image of the parent walking away. How many now?

Well, there were four. Pretty exciting.

The highlight of the visit was a White-bellied Sea-eagle Haliaeetus leucogaster which flew in and landed in a tree opposite the bird hide. After a bit of jiggling, it seemed to settle in with an occasional preen. After a few minutes I "lost interest" in it [ I recall the Jacana chicks came along] and after about twenty minutes I heard a splash and looking over aw that the eagle had dropped straight down into the water about two feet from the edge. It had something in its talons. It was a large, at-least-25cm-across, freshwater tortoise. The age pulled its breakfast out of the water, had a good look around to see if anyone had noticed [they hadn't] then set about hoeing in to a back leg with the tortoise on its back. Of course, it was only a few minutes since caught so the tortoise was still well alive and as the eagle feasted, I could see legs and head waving about! Nature at its rawest. Anything for a feed and get stuck in.