Saturday, 29 October 2016

Go North 04 -- The Tip

Bamaga to The Tip is just 40kms or so. There were plenty of people about but we managed the stock shot.

After the walk out to the tip and back, we had lunch. The tide went out while we were there revealing the usual mudflats/sandbanks so a bit of lightweight birding was indulged in.

Whimbrel Numenius phaeopus
Grey-tailed Tattler Heteroscelus brevipes
Greater Sand Plover Charadrius lechenaultii
Red-capped Plover Charadrius ruficapillus
Eastern Reef Egret Ardea sacra dark morph
stand-off with a Silver Gull Larus novaehollandiae
Eastern Reef Egret Ardea sacra dark morph

Saturday, 22 October 2016

Go North 03 -- Seisia

Leaving one car at Weipa, all five of us loaded into the 76-series and made our way north to the tip of Cape York. We stopped the first night at Bramwell Resort [cattle station]. Best bird was a Palm Cockatoo. The image below was taken in the relative dullness of early morning and against a cloudy sky. I exposed the image +1-stop and applied a lot of exposure compensation [+3.5] in Photoshop.

Palm Cockatoo Probisciger atriums
The second night was spent at the "caravan park" at the Jardine River ferry which we used first thing the next morning on our way to Bamaga and its neighbours of Injinoo, Umagico and Seisia. We stopped at the Seisia Caravan Park, right on the beach, for several nights. Ethan and I visited Injinoo and its creek on the first night.

Masked Lapwing Vanillas miles miles the race in northern Australia
Azure Kingfisher Alcedo azurea ruficollaris northern Australian race
Common Sandpiper Tringa hypoleucos
Eastern Reef Egret Ardea sacra white morph
Striated Heron Butorides striatus
"Going ..."
"Going ..."
We were gone before we found out if the Striated Heron actually managed to get the fish down!

Saturday, 15 October 2016

Go North 02 -- Weipa

Ethan and I caught up with the others just as we got to Weipa to hear the news that the 60-series had a touch of overheating! A job for the next day. One workshop had a three day waiting list just to be seen so we checked out another who dealt with the problem. However, the following day the problem recurred and it became a radiator and water pump transplant requiring the vehicle's presence in Weipa for a week whilst parts were sourced from Cairns.

Thus, while that was being sorted, Ethan and I were able to bird a bit of Weipa. We stayed in the caravan park [there is only one] which was pretty good. It has a westerly-facing beach which had plenty of activity and was close to various lakes around town.

Green Pygmy-Goose Nettapus pulchellus
Black-necked Stork Ephipiorhynchus asiaticus
Black Kite Milvus migrants trying to outpace a jet!
Osprey Pandion haliaetus
 Almost the entire time we were walking in the shallows and mud of low tide, a pair of Ospreys were hunting and diving into the water, sometimes quite close, say 50 metres. We saw two fish captured.
Three Red-necked Stints Calidris ruficollis on the left
and one Red-capped Plover Charadrius ruficapillus
Lesser Crested Tern Sterna bengalensis with the orange beaks
Crested Tern Sterna berg with the yellow beaks
Whiskered Tern Chlidonias hybridus in the foreground
Darter, female Anhingas melanogaster to the right
Terns in the background
Whiskered Tern  
Gull-billed Tern Sterna nilotica with snack
Little Egret Ardea garzetta
Finally, the stars of the day. Weipa beach is renowned for the presence in the evening of significant numbers of Frigatebirds, both Great and Lesser, "surfing" the on-shore breeze as they gather to communally roost. It is a pretty impressive sight to see about eighty of these birds wheeling across the sky without one wingbeat by any of them.
Great Frigatebird, male Fregata minor
Great Frigatebird, female
Lesser Frigatebird, female
Lesser Frigatebird, male Fregata ariel
Magic. t1,250 and be there.

Monday, 10 October 2016

Go North 01

Last year when my step-daughter, Erica, made some comments about going to the tip of Cape York Peninsula, I made a [mostly] serious reply of volunteering to go as well. Time passes and you forget most of the things you say. Then, in mid-July, Erica rang to say they were planning the trip, was I still keen, could I leave in mid-August? Thus a rendezvous in Mossman on 19 August and we were away. Just two Landcruisers, her 60-series and my 76-series. 40yo and 4 yo! One of the boys alternated daily travelling with me and the other two with Erica.

Cape Tribulation, Bloomfield Track ....

a BIG saltie
Yellow-spotted Honeyeater
... Cooktown, Battlecamp Road, Laura, then north up the Cape York Development Road. Ethan and I were keen to get some serious birding done but were very aware that it wasn't a birding trip so we confined ourselves to dawn walks and any water we saw and any water treatment plants available! So not much birding, sort of.

Our first target was the Golden-shoulderd Parrot restricted to a small area around Musgrave but specifically to Artemis Station where the owners have modified their farming practices to fit in with the required habitat of this highly endangered bird. And very successfully too. A good synopsis of the story is here.

As arranged the previous day, Ethan and I were at the main house at 7am and the Shepherd's son, Trevor, took us to a dam where GSPs had been seen. He then went on to feed some stock so it fitted in fine with the station management tasks. We got our chairs, drinks and some breakfast eats and sat next to a tree near the edge of the dam with the rising sun to our left and waited. Lots of the normal dam visitors visited. Bar-shouldered Doves, Peaceful Doves, Double-barred Finches, Whistling Kites, White-faced Herons, Wedgies, Laughing Kookas, Rainbow Lorikeets, Bowerbirds, Woodswallows, Cuckoo-shrikes ....

Then five Golden-shouldered Parrots flew in landing in the top of a dead tree not too far away. Over 20 minutes they made their way down to the edge of the dam allowing lots of opportunities for viewing with the bins and camera. The to top it off, some Masked Finches and a Leaden Flycatcher arrived to make the morning complete.

Once satisfied with the birding about 10 o'clock, we made our way back to the homestead, reported our success and continued heading north chasing Erica to Weipa.

Golden-shouldered Parrot
F, M, F, M, F

Masked Finch, race leucotis
Yellow Honeyeater

Saturday, 8 October 2016

Blue-winged Paradise

Back in June, Heather Alexander alerted me to the presence of Blue-winged Parrots in paddocks to the east of the RAAF Base at Sale. You beaut. You never know when there may be an Orange-bellied Parrot accompanying them. Subsequently, the next morning we rendevoused at the site on Hearthall Road. It was cold and foggy. There had been a frost. First bird up was a Flame Robin.

not a Scarlet Robin Petroica boodang but a
Flame Robin Petroica phoenicea -- thanks to John H for correct ID

Next bird up was a Blue-winged Parrot, exactly where Heather said they would be. Just a few but it was still foggy.

Blue-winged Parrot Neophema chrysostoma
Once Photoshop has been utilised, the same image becomes a whole lot better.

Is it cheating to use Photoshop?
The fog lifted fairly quickly so we were soon able to see the birds with better clarity and colour.

Here are some on the ground. About 20 I think. There were 72 in the flock [edit: I originally wrote 47 but checking my ID of Flame Robin on eBird -- see above, I discovered we saw 72]. They did a bit of flying about between fence and food but relatively unperturbed by our presence about 40 metres away.

Then, last but not least, in full sunlight rising from behind the camera, a full fence of BWP. Have a go at deciding which birds are male, female and juveniles.

In this last image, my grandson, Ethan, and I spent quite a while carefully determining the gender and age of those on the fence line using our bird guides and, of most help, the Birdlife Australia guides [here and here] to differentiating the OBP from the BWP, Elegant Parrot and Rock Parrot. We do not have the last two as residents in Victoria so the choice is easy. See if you agree!

Magic. f8 and be there.