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.

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