Saturday, 12 November 2016

Go North -- 06 -- Chill on the Beach

After picking up Erica's car we ventured to the eastern coast of the Cape into the Iron Range NP and camped for several nights at Chilli Beach. During springtime there is a constant and consistent on-shore easterly trade wind. This has the disadvantage of driving, and keeping, algae on the shore hence the edges can be a bit squishy underfoot, the odour can be offensive and you generally want to avoid it. But once the tide has gone out, the exposed sand banks are a delight. Quite a few birds about, 4WDs on the beach, folks fishing and birders birding. A delightful, restful place.

Australian Pied Oystercatchers Haematopus longirostris
Lesser Sand Plover Charadrius mongolus
Pacific Golden Plover Pluvialis fulva
Common Sandpiper Tringa hypoleusos
Eastern Reef Egret Ardea sacra light and dark morphs
Beach Stone-curlew Esacus neglectus

Two Beach Stone-curlews came winging in, did a small amount of courting for several minutes then go down to it.

Magic. f8, t1250 and be there.

Saturday, 5 November 2016

Go North 05 -- Seisia -- Spotted Whistling-Duck

Once back in Seisia, we chilled for a day before moving south back to Weipa. Dolby and Clarke mentioned Spotted Whistling-Duck at the Umagico Water Treatment Plant. We had been unable to locate it on our visit to Injinoo Beach. We pulled up Google Earth on the iPad, turned on the satellite image and there it was, a six-bay, square body of water, back off the road a few hundred metres in the bush. Spotted Whistling-Duck is described as a rare vagrant to the Australian north coast dating from Weipa Sewage Farm in 1995 but more have been sighted over recent years and the comment in Morcombe was that they "may now breed". Resident or not, if we could find some it would be a BIG tick.

We found the WTP with no trouble and there, in the first bay we looked, were 17 Spotted Whistling-Duck. They quietly swam away from us to the other side of the water [like all ducks do] and when we ventured a little too close they all flew into the next bay. A great tick. The sun was just right making for some great images.

Spotted Whistling-Duck Dendrocygna guttata

There were also the dirtiest Australian White Ibis, Radjah Shelduck and Masked Lapwings you ever did see. The exposed red earth of the site made a great source for colouration!

Australian White !?! Ibis Threskiornis molucca
Masked Lapwing Vanellus miles
Radjah Shelduck Tadorna radjah
Australian Brush-turkey Alectura lathami
Back at the campground, we were constantly being on our guard against the marauding Australian Brush-Turkeys who were (1) scavenging anything and (2) in full territorial defence. The northern Australian race has a lovely lilac neck collar on the breeding male, unlike the vivid yellow one on the more southern race.

A constant presence in the trees was the Australasian Figbird. Here is a male in full colour and, I think, an immature male. This is the local race flaviventris with the bright yellow neck and belly.

Australasian Figbird  Sphecotheres viridis