Tuesday, 17 May 2016

Swiftly getting nowhere

This last weekend [May 14/15] was designated by Birdlife Australia for Swift Parrot and Regent Honeyeater surveys. We checked out suitable environments at Heyfield, Holey Plains and Jack Smith Lake [well, perhaps not JSL but the birding was excellent]. Five of us failed to see either species but these Musk Lorikeets were occupying ideal Swiftie habitat.

These Red-necked Avocets and one Banded Stilt were occupying their own suitable environment as was this single Hooded Plover, all by itself on the shore of the 90-Mile Beach.

Wednesday, 4 May 2016

HBW hangs out at Royal Briagolong, Peach Flat

Thirteen birders "braved" a beautiful, sunny day with a zephyr breeze to visit the beautiful property of Rod and Michele at Peach Flat. It was a stunning day which could not be bettered for birding. After introductions and orientation, we all set off over the creek, through the paddock and over the swing bridge to the back section then either up the hill with tremendous views of the water and buildings or straight back to the morning tea spot past the lakes and their attendant waterbirds - European Coot, Pacific Black Duck, Grey Teal, a Little Pied Cormorant, a lone White-faced Heron and loads of grebes. Now, were they Australasian or Hoary-headed, that was the main question over a cuppa. Out came the apps and it was decided we had some of both. But they are so hard to tell apart.

After smoko, most of the company walked up and over the hill to the grassy flat on George Creek whilst Peter G and I quietly walked back to the lakes, I hid behind a 2 metre-high Black Wattle with camera and scope and Peter continued on around the lakes eventually "driving" the waterfowl close to me. Here are the results.

The images above are of an adult Hoary-headed Grebe in full breeding regalia of "brushed-back grey 'hair' streaked black, a silver eye and a black chin with cream to buff-white forelock and breast" Pizzey & Knight
The two HHGs in the foreground show the variation in head colour but the angle of the light makes quite a difference. Additionally, the bird on the left may be an adult going into the winter plumage OR an immature coming into breeding plumage but it is a bit late in the year for that so probably an adult.

These two images above show an adult and an immature bird. Note that the immature bird has the  border between the grey head and the white cheeks going along the lower border of the eye.
A great family picture with youngster in the middle.
This image has an Australasian Grebe in between two Hoary-headed Grebes. I think the Aussie is an adult going into his/her winter plumage because the cheek has lost it's black colouration and the yellow/gold "tear" in front of the eye running from the eye to the commissure of the beak has lost it's colour too. However, note that the border between the black head and the pale cheek passes through the eye.
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We did see other birds including Eastern Yellow and Scarlet Robins, Jacky Winters, a Restless Flycatcher, Golden Whistler, about 30 Red Wattlebirds in a flock, a Satin Bowerbird [female or immature male], a Nankeen Kestrel, Azure Kingfisher and 21 Australian Wood Duck.

Red Wattlebirds
Jacky Winter
After lunch Rod and Michele introduced us to the Royal Briagolong Croquet Club and its new croquet court which we subsequently christened. After two rounds of garden croquet with all having a turn, Rod and Deirdre got serious and showed the assembled fans just how a game is played and won [by Rod].

We had a great day in delightful company in superb surroundings.

Magic. f8 and be there!