Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Birds and Reflections

This has been a strange summer - far too much heat and far too much wind! I have not had nearly enough chances to get out on my kayak and photograph the birds. So when the weather report suggested two good days at the end of last week I decided to try for one of them. Sunrise is about 6am right now so a high tide at the same time seemed a bit of a gamble to me. The next day the tide would be nearly an hour later and plenty of daylight by that time for bird photos. It looked perfect when I got down to the bay. No wind and the bay was beautiful. (Nothing is ever quite perfect! I had forgotten to take down insect repellent - and decided I didn't have time to go home and get it! I went home covered with bites that were turning into red welts!!) It is magical to kayak over clouds reflected in the water. This is the view from the airport roost looking towards Poverty Point on the other side. Poverty Point is a popular camping spot for people with 4 wheel drive vehicles to get down there.

There were still lots of Grey-tailed Tattlers, a few Terek Sandpipers and a number of Pacific Golden Plovers. I was hoping for good photos of Pacific Golden Plovers in breeding plumage.  Before I got close to the roost the Tattlers had flown - some to the other side of the bay and some to the water in behind the sand spit. The Plovers walked over the sand spit and joined the Tattlers in the water. It should have been perfect but good lighting and still water made too many reflections for me to get the photos of the birds without a cluttered background.

This is the only photo of a Pacific Golden Plover without too much color and reflections behind it.

For more scenery visit Our World Tuesday 

and for more birds visit Wild Bird Wednesday

Monday, April 7, 2014

My Patch (2)

This is the second part of the trip in the plane that I was lucky enough to take the other week. Many thanks again to Rod who made it possible.
(Remember all photos enlarge when clicked on.)
From Inskip Point we flew south along the Strait and then out to Rainbow Beach on the sea coast. Part of Rainbow Beach is quite high above the sea and has spectacular views.

Some of the best views are up on the sand blow where sand from the cliffs along the beach has blown up and is still moving inland.

Further south we came to Double Island Point. On the north side of the point there are shallow lagoons where the water color contrasts with the deeper water just off shore.

The light house at Double Island Point sits high on a rocky head-land. I hiked up to the light house last year with Sarah and Graham and told about it here. It was even more spectacular to see it from the air - and considerably less effort on my part too!

As we circled around the Point we could see the beach on the south side and the low land where 4 wheel drive vehicles drive over to the the northern side and the beach which goes back north towards Rainbow Beach.

The colored sand cliffs look amazing against the dark blue color of the sea. Behind the cliffs is part of the Great Sandy National Park.

We flew back as far as Rainbow Beach then crossed the land to come out over Carlo Creek and the caravan park and boat launch. This is also an area where there are always some boats at anchor. It is a good sheltered area for when the bay gets very rough.

On the southern end of Tin Can Bay town we flew past Crab Creek and I got good views down over the shorebird roost at that place. Shorebirds roost around the shallow sandy lagoon behind the mangroves that line the creek and the bay.
We flew on towards Cooloola Cove and the airport and as we flew in I had the best views I have ever had of what we call the Airport Roost. The birds roost on the strip of sand and also in the mangrove trees at the center bottom of the photo. There is also a glint of water in the lagoon behind the roost where mangrove trees are rapidly growing up and filling in the watery area. The hangar at the airport is the building visible towards the top right of the photo.

It is this roost that I have been getting more bird counts and photos of over the last 12 months or so. Until now it has been rather neglected on counting days - there is just too much to count for only 4 people!  I have seen over 30 Pacific Golden Plovers on this roost this season and right now they are going into their spectacular breeding plumage. None of them yet has a full black front and face and some of them have very little black at all.

For more scenery from around the world visit Out World Tuesday

and for more birds visit Wild Bird Wednesday.

Monday, March 31, 2014

My Patch!

Soon after I moved up here I began thinking how great it would be to get an aerial view of this place. In the past 10 years I have kayaked most of the bays and waterways, walked all the walking tracks within reach, and driven on the more inaccessible tracks with friends in their 4 wheel drive vehicles. However, a flight over the area has still been an unachievable goal! Until the other week, that is! A friend was kind enough to take me and two other friends for a flight to view all our favorite places from the air. Thanks Rod! It was a dream come true!!
Rod has a Cessna with 4 seats which he keeps at the little airport just a few blocks away. We waited for a day without too much wind, with nice clear skies, and with a tide high enough to cover all the sand flats and show the bay at its beautiful best! As you can tell I am still enthusing over the experience! I kept my camera up to my eye and pressed the shutter button nearly continuously! I came back with over 400 photos and have managed to cut these down by about 2/3 - and still need to do a lot of editing. Over the next few weeks I want to show the most scenic and recognizable places - along with some bird photos of course!
All photos enlarge when clicked on
We started with a flight over Cooloola Cove which is the place where my two friends and I all live. This was much better than looking at it from Google Earth!

We then flew northwards with the bay on our right (east) and much further east the waters of the ocean.

Tin Can Bay was beautiful with the sun glinting on the water. The marina stretches along Schnapper Creek, and Norman Point - which is a favorite fishing and swimming area - is at the eastern point.

As I said I kept the camera up and kept snapping photos.When I examined the photos at home I saw that I had picked up two of the dolphins in the water next to where they are fed each morning for the benefit of the tourists. (bottom right of the photo between the tourist launch and the waterside cafe)

We continued up the Strait until we reached Inskip Point and the southern end of Fraser Island. This photo shows the Strait looking north with Fraser Island on the right of the photo. The sand Island just off Inskip Point shows clearly and if you click on the photo to enlarge it you can just see a little bit of one of the barges that takes vehicles over to Fraser Island.

I asked for a good view of the sand island - if possible! I had the 70-300 lens on the camera and kept changing this as needed. I am delighted with this view of the island with all the birds standing around the edge. There is quite a large group of pelicans on the northern end of the island - but I can only guess at the rest of the shorebirds standing around. I am sure that there are shorebirds in other photos but when they are standing close to mangrove trees it is hard to be sure which are small trees and which are large birds. The white sand on the island made everything very clear.

This is Inskip Point and the barge loading vehicles to take over to Fraser Island. There is quite a large tourist bus driving along the point to the barge. Tourist buses to Fraser Island are all 4 wheel drive and high off the sand.

Inskip Point is on a narrow neck of land with Pelican Bay on the bottom of the photo and then the beach stretching along to the town of Rainbow Beach and the colored sand cliffs.

If you are not tired of all this scenic detail come back for a continuation next week!!
The birds I am including this week are Little Egrets. There seems to be quite a lot around the bay at present. The first photo was taken the other morning when the dark heavy fog clouds were just beginning to lift.

The second photo is a Little Egret showing breeding plumes and sharing the tree with a Little Pied Cormorant.

For more scenery from around the world visit Our World Tuesday 

and for more birds visit Wild Bird Wednesday.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Terns at Inskip

Regular readers of this blog will realize that I enjoy going out to Inskip Point. There is always something to watch out there - whether it is a boat leaving early in the morning and slowly moving up the Strait...

...or simply the barge waiting at the end of the spit for vehicles to take over to Fraser Island.

Of course there are always some birds - even if often they are over on the sand island where it is impossible to get more than a distant photo of them. The other morning I could see numbers of terns over there. Their white color showed up well against the darker color of the shorebirds.

It was early in the morning and suddenly they all took off and headed out to sea where they would fish for most of the day. As soon as they flew over I could see that most of this flock were Common Terns (Sterna hirundo). They are one of the migratory terns which come down here for the summer. The ones we commonly see are Sterna hirundo longipennis - the more common European form is rarely sighted. Common Terns  breed up in Asia and they will soon be leaving here.

I was intent on getting photos as they flew down the channel between the spit and Fraser Island and then I realized that it was a very big flock and I would need to zoom right out to get any idea at all of the extent of the flock. Even then I only got about half of the flock. (Click on the photo to see a much larger view and to see the terns as more than tiny black dots!)

As the main flock flew over a few came down and joined a mixed flock that were roosting on the spit.

Even these did not stay long as the barge and more traffic disturbed them.

For more photos from around the world visit Out World Tuesday 

and for more birds visit Wild Bird Wednesday.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Get Ready!

Get ready all you bird watchers in the northern hemisphere. The shorebirds are returning for the northern summer! When I went out to Inskip Point the other day most of the birds were showing some breeding colors and some were really brightly colored.
The area of sand out on the point is so much smaller after the big wash-out that happened last year. There really is not enough room for people and cars and birds. If you want to see birds roosting right on the point then you must be early! I left home in the dark and was out there just as the sun was coming up. Even then, I wasn't the first out there and the barge was already operating and taking cars over to the Island.
In behind the higher trees the sun was still hidden and the colors were washed out.

A little further along the shoreline the waves were very blue and flecked with foam.

There was a small group of shorebirds and terns right out on the southern end of the point. They were standing on a slightly higher piece of sand where they were still out of the rising tide. I got as close as I could without disturbing them but this put the sun in the wrong direction for bright and beautiful photos. I hoped they might move a little as the tide came in further - but instead they flew off to the sand island in the middle of the Strait.
The Godwits especially were showing bright breeding colors. The males are the brightest with full red fronts. The females show flecks of bright color and a softer wash of color down the front.This photo also has a juvenile Crested Tern (on the left) with black and white "spotty" color and a Caspian Tern on the right. That big red bill is unmistakeable!

The light is very poor in this photo but there is a Whimbrel in the center left with its down-curved bill a big contrast to the Godwits. There are also Great Knots all crowded together.

The Great Knots were heavily spotted down the front and on one of the birds in this photo the bright chevrons of orange color are showing on its back.
Further out on the bay there were groups of Pelicans swimming and Pied Cormorants flying around.

The sand island was packed full of birds - shorebirds and terns.

I hear bush birds as I am walking out to the point but I seldom stop to even look. Instead of sitting in the one place as the shorebirds do they are constantly moving in the bushes - sheer frustration for the photographer wanting a well-posed photo! However, there was a group of little Red-backed Fairy-wrens close to the track and this one stayed still for long enough for a photo.

For more scenery from around the world visit Our World Tuesday 

and for more birds visit Wild Bird Wednesday.


Tuesday, March 11, 2014


The area where I live has extensive commercial pine forests (Pinus elliotii) just to the west. These are not a native species - and in fact my book on native plants lists them as a weed! They grow very well for a plantation timber but their seeds blow everywhere and if left unchecked soon grow into huge trees which take over. When I first came up here this housing sub-division was almost empty of houses and there were large pine trees scattered all over it. Most of them have now been cut down but next door to me there is still an empty block with two very large pine trees on it. The birds all love big tall trees like this. Sometimes birds just perch there, sometimes they nest there, and the parrots are always on the look out for pine cones with seeds just right for eating. I went into my photo archives for this picture of the pine tree with a white Cocky (Sulphur Crested Cockatoo) enjoying the pine cones.

The other morning I saw pine cones all over the ground - I think the Cockies had been sitting up in the tree and feasting on the cones. They usually start eating a cone and then drop the residue on the ground.  This then makes a feast table for the Galahs. Galahs fly over my place most mornings but when they come down onto the ground they are especially fun to watch. They have a walk which is partway between a waddle and a strut! I counted 20+ the other morning - most sitting on the ground and eating from the cones which had fallen there but some also sitting and resting among the branches.

For more scenery from around the world visit Our World Tuesday

and for more bird photos visit Wild Bird Wednesday.