Friday, 23 June 2017

Bird Bath Birds -- Australian King Parrot

These birds visit during winter and often have a quick pitstop at the bird baths. All these images were taken from the same vantage point -- a 25cm-wide opening in the patio doors. The bird bath is about 6 metres away.

Australian King Parrot Alisterus scapularis

Wednesday, 21 June 2017

Block Birds -- Crimson Rosella

Whilst I was checking a boundary fence on my block, three of these delightful birds with a lovely call and magnificent colouring visited a patch of grass just a few metres away and started to eat the seed of a millet-type grass. I stood there and kept taking pictures. I have also learnt from the June edition of Australian Birdlife that 85% of large parrots are left-footed!

Crimson Rosella Platycercus elegans

Saturday, 10 June 2017

Invasion of South Australia 04

Days 09-11

Next to last stop was Innes NP at the tip of the Yorke Peninsula. We camped at Cable Bay Campground and first thing next morning, we walked the road to Cape Spencer without seeing or hearing a Western Whipbird. So we transferred to the West Cape Road and did the walking thing again. This time success with several birds heard and a few photos taken. Then on to Royston Head looking for Rock Parrot. Jack P saw a pair but by the time the other 8 of us had arrived the birds had flown over the edge and out of sight. Most walked the loop to the light seeing an Eastern Reef Egret and a White-bellied Sea-eagle and we gathered back at the cars to see Phil running up and announcing that Dan was baby-sitting a pair of Rock Parrots. This was several hundred metres along the cliff tops where Dan was crouching about 30 metres from a pair on top of a bush. We stopped, all had excellent looks with bins then we slowly moved closer taking multiple photos until we reached Dan then we continued to edge closer. Eventually one flew, joined a third and finally the second one flew when we were only 10 metres away. A special moment. Lots of emus around. Adults and half-size youngsters.

Emu Dromaius novaehollandiae

Rock Parrot Neophema petrophila

Eastern Reef Egret Egretta sacra

Rufous Field-wren Calamanthus campestris

Silvereye Zosterops lateralis

Leaving Innes NP towards lunchtime, we arrived at Gluepot just on dusk and Eagle-eyes Phil spotted a Spotted Nightjar at least a hundred metres in front of the car seeing just the eye shine. We were able to pull up about 30 metres from the bird and approach it to within 3 metres before he/she decamped.

Spotted Nightjar Eurostopodus argus

Next morning we specifically searched for Black-eared Miners with the simple remit of taking a photo of every single one we saw for later determination of separating BEM from Yellow-throated Miners [which have genetically swamped BEM] and the many hybrid birds. Let me tell you it took four hours of running through sandy bush hunting down calls of Miners then trying to get a look. Eventually we saw a few dozen and scrutiny of the images on computer at our last camp for the trip, Hattah [again], showed we had seen two birds we were happy to ID as true Black-eared Miners. Gluepot has a good sheet explaining the differences and a handy table making it easy to place any bird in the genetic spectrum. It is probably fair to say that there are probably no true, 100% DNA BEMs now. Due to the ubiquity of mobile phone signal, within 20 minutes or so of sending Rohan Clarke our images via text messaging, we were able to get confirmation that our images were true BEMs. We live in an amazing world both technological and natural. So pretty exciting and satisfying to tick BEM.

Black-eared Miner Manorina melanotis
This bird is a hybrid at best. Note the faint yellowing of the neck.
Other birds we saw included ...

Southern Scrub-robin Drymodes brunneopygia

Major Mitchell Cockatoo Lophochroa leadbetteri

White-browed Scrub-wren Sericornis frontalis

At one of the bird hides we came upon this delightful Inland Snake-eyed Skink Cryptoblepharus australis. 

Our last night was camped at Hattah and we had another go at seeing Striated Grasswren but saw lots of Mallee Emu-wrens and took lots of photos of them. A great bird and a great way to end the trip.

Jacky Winter Microeca flavigaster

Mallee Emu-wren Stipiturus mallee

Magic. f"anything" and be there.

Wednesday, 7 June 2017

Invasion of South Australia 03

Days 06-08

Whyalla Conservation Park, Lake Gillies, Venus Bay, Middleback Road

After a second night of leaving money behind at the Lyndhurst Hotel, Motel, Caravan and Camping Park, we headed south through Port Augusta to the Whyalla Conservation Park and quickly found both Slender-billed Thornbill and Western Grasswren. The GW was "baled up" for a short time in a large, prickly acacia and gave excellent views but "reduced" photo opportunities.

Western Grasswren Amytornis textilis

From there we headed west to Lake Gilles near Kimba. The next morning we saw lots. Blue-breasted, Variegated and Splendid Fairy-wrens can be an identification challenge. To say the least. When the males are in eclipse plumage, these are best differentiated on the female plumage. There were several detailed conversations as to the ID of specific birds seen. The knowledge of Phil, Dan, Tim and Owen supplemented by Alison, Pete, David, Angus Brad and Matt was amazing to observe and was equivalent to having a portable new Australian Bird Guide by your elbow. Better actually, as the first four were a walking Shazam for Australian birds. I have no images of FWs, Light too dark; Birds too fast. Western Yellow Robin was another lifer bird for me. But no Copper-backed Quail-thrush.

Splendid Fairy-wren, female Malurus splendens

Western Yellow Robin Eopsaltria griseogularis

Restless Flycatcher Myiagra inquieta

After lunch, the group split as nine of us went further west for 200km to see Chuckles and the others went east to get home a tad early or look in other locations. Chuckles is much better dressed than on my previous visit. He is currently being "managed" by site 55 who gather fish off cuts from the cleaning benches and feed him, on the wing, when birders come. He is very well trained.

Laughing Gull, Chuckles Leucophaeus atricilla

There were plenty of other birds at Venus Bay including this South Australian form of the Pacific Gull, photographed on a caravan roof. It has a white eye and sharp lores.
Pacific Gull Larus pacificus georgii
After being hit by a Tawny Frogmouth on the way east, we camped somewhere in Middleback Range and then made our way first thing to search for the Copper-backed Quail-Thrush. Owen and David had seen a flock the previous day and gave us a GPS reference plus additional information including the fact that it was on a slight curve and they had left a rock on the top of posts on each side of the road and a V-can as well. As we approached the curve we saw the posts with rocks and slowed down further except Phil suddenly yells, "Bird. Bird. Copper-backed QT. There. By the post. Stop. Stop!!". And there they were. Exactly to the centimetre where the others said they would be. Amazing. A short chase into the bush found a family of 8 or so who soon settled down and let us have a really good look and take many photographs. Woo-hoo. My camera battery went flat. Boo-hoo.
Copper-backed Quail-thrush Cinclosoma clarum

Saturday, 3 June 2017

Invasion of South Australia 02

Day 05/06 Strzelecki Track

Target birds along the Strzelecki Track were the Thick-billed and Eyrean Grasswrens, Letter-winged Kite, Cinnamon Quail-thrush and Gibberbird. All bar the LWK were seen though not necessarily photographed. Grasswrens are FAST!

Here is a collection of presentable images of birds photographed in chronological order over two days.

Black-breasted Buzzard Hamirostra melanosternon

Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike Coracina novaehollandiae

Budgerigar Melopsittacus undulatus

Chirruping Wedgebill Psophodes cristatus

Cinnamon Quail-thrush Cinclosoma cinnamomeum

Galah Eolophus roseicapilla albiceps

Little Crow Corvus bennetti

Nankeen Kestrel Falco cenchroides

Orange Chat Epthianura aurifrons

Spiny-cheeked Honeyeater Acanthagenys rufogularis

Willie Wagtail Rhipidura leucophrys

Zebra Finch Taeniopygia guttata

Banded Whiteface Acephalocephala nigricincta
Gibberbird Ashbyia lovensis

Peaceful Dove Geopelia placida

Pied Honeyeater Certhionix variegatus

Red-browed Pardalote  Pardalotus rubricatus

White-breasted Woodswallow Artamus leucorynchus
White-plumed Honeyeater Ptilotula penicillata