Tuesday, March 30, 2010


The rain finally stopped! Or at least it turned into showers and it's been possible to get out on the bay. Unfortunately the clouds kept rolling over and everything then turned very dark. I still haven't got the photos of Godwits in breeding plumage that I want. Guess I'll have to wait until next season now. This photo was taken at the Mullens roost two days ago. The clouds had come up and also the wind. This always makes it challenging to try for photos from the kayak.Yesterday I kayaked over to the South Crab Creek roost site. There were still quite a number of Common Greenshanks there although they were showing very little breeding plumage. It will be interesting to see if any spend the winter here.This is a good place to find Pacific Golden Plovers. I found quite a few but they kept moving off when I approached. However, there were also numbers of Red-capped Plovers and Red-necked Stints in the same area and they decided to come over and investigate. They eventually scattered around just in front of me and this made the Pacific Golden Plovers settle down and I was able to get quite close. There was almost no wind and the reflections were great. Some of the Stints were showing some breeding plumage.The group of Pacific Golden Plovers were in different stages of breeding plumage. There was one in almost full breeding colors - very spectacular!On another part of the roost site there was another group of these same birds roosting in among the saltmarsh plants with some more Godwits.As I was paddling around the site it started to rain again. There was full sunshine but still rain coming down. It didn't last long. The BOM (Bureau of Meteorology) is predicting an increase in showers by the week-end. Nothing is perfect!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Red-backed Fairy-Wren

It's always a thrill when a tiny bird comes close and watches me as closely as I am watching it. This little Red-backed Fairy-Wren popped up out of the grass in front of me when I was walking down the bush track at Inskip Point the other day. Then it flew up onto a twig close by and looked at me, and sang and even preened before it flew off. This is a tiny bird - only 12-13cm. This is either a female or a young male but my bird books only say that they are very similar so I can't be sure which. I will re-post a photo of a male that I posted last April to show the difference in the coloring.For more bird photos go to Bird Photography Weekly.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Little Egret

I took these photos last week of a Little Egret. The photo shows the breeding plumes on the back of the head. Meanwhile it has rained nearly every day for more than 3 weeks and that makes it very difficult to get out and watch the shorebirds. Of course we are lucky that the recent cyclone was north of us and we didn't even get any of the heavy rain. I am still seeing numbers of Bar-tailed Godwits in breeding plumage. (This next photo was taken yesterday.) I wonder if the Godwits have delayed their departure rather than flying directly into the path of the cyclone. All members of the QWSG who regularly count shorebirds have been asked to keep a special watch for flagged Godwits from New Zealand that left just when their migration path would have put them on track to meet the cyclone. Some of them may have been driven back onto the Queensland coast.For more bird photos visit the Bird Photography Weekly.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010


I am hoping some of my more knowledgeable blogger colleagues may be able to supply a name for this fungi. I saw it as I was walking along a bush track and at first sight thought it was a flower. It's rather beautiful I think.The weather continues to be very windy with rain and showers every day. Today is the 18th day since we've had a totally fine day. I've tried to go out and watch the birds and take some photos on a few days but have always ended up clutching my camera under my coat and scurrying back to the car. This was Inskip Point just before another heavy shower came through.The sea has been very rough and unfortunately someone was caught in a rip close to here just the other day. These boys were swimming right below the surf patrol at Rainbow Beach so they should be safe - but it's certainly not my idea of a pleasant swim in the sea!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Bar-tailed Godwits - again!

At this time of year the Bar-tailed Godwits are changing color so quickly they are worth watching every day - and certainly worth a second post. I still haven't managed to see one with full breeding plumage up close enough to get a good photo. However, I have had a good chuckle at the way so many of them are waddling because of the extra weight they stack on right before migration. Then the other day while taking photos I got some with the birds in flight and realized that you can clearly see the fat bodies. The first photo shows their long beautiful wings. The next two photos are taken at an angle where the wings are hardly visible but the lovely plump bodies are easy to see. The birds need all this fat because they fly directly from here to the Yellow Sea area of China without a stop. The fat supplies the energy on this long flight.For more bird photos visit the Bird Photography Weekly.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Norman Point

What a difference a few days makes. The first photo was taken on Sunday and the second photo on Wednesday - both looking east from Norman Point in Tin Can Bay.
This next photo was taken just an hour ago this morning. Five minutes after this the rain had set in again.
This photo zooms in on one of the boats out in the bay. My Dad loved all sailing boats. He had vivid memories of traveling on a sailing ship when he was a young boy.
There were numbers of Bar-tailed Godwits feeding out on the flats. All were at slightly different stages of moult into breeding plumage. All were feeding voraciously and hurrying from one suitable feeding spot to another.
This group of Godwits was in the curve of the bay just south from Norman Point this morning. It was raining and I was trying to keep the camera sheltered. Most of the Godwits were sleeping but even then one was still on the look-out for food.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Curlew Sandpiper

It has been raining for the last nine days! Some days have also been extremely windy. We are lucky not to have had the extreme weather that other parts of southern Queensland has been having but we have still had a total of just over 300mm of rain in this time. None of this weather is any good at all for kayaking out on the bay even though there were very good high tides during this period. The only day that looked good was also the day that a tsunami generated by the Chilean earthquake was predicted to hit the east coast of Australia. I was doubtful that any but an extreme situation would impact on the waterways inside the bay - but no-one had any idea of what height the waves might reach. Since I usually kayak by myself I decided to play it safe and not go out. The tsunami just didn't eventuate so by afternoon when the tide was low I decided to go out to Inskip and see what shorebirds were around on the low tide.
The shorebirds are all getting ready for their northern migration and so are extremely busy feeding whenever they can. By walking slowly I was able to get quite close to this Curlew Sandpiper (Calidris ferruginea) without disturbing it. It just kept feeding across the sand and mud. Some of the time it probed with its beak down into the water - some of the time it just pecked off the surface of the mud - and sometimes its beak pushed down its full length into the mud. It was not showing any red breeding color that will eventually cover all its front.
At low tide the sand flats out at Inskip are always covered with small creatures. Although the soldier crabs are always there in huge numbers most of the shorebirds ignore them unless they find very small ones. (Bar-tailed Godwit and Silver Gull surrounded by crabs.)
I also found a little trickle of water running down into the lower parts of the sand flats with dozens of these tiny fish swimming up it. I am not a 'fisherperson' so have no idea what they
For more bird photos visit the Bird Photography Weekly.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Lesser Sand-Plover

Some photos I am NOT pleased with but the sighting I am very pleased with - so here are the photos. The bird is a Lesser Sand-Plover which I photographed back on the 11th February and the interesting thing about it is the white flag on its leg. I have only just heard from the person who keeps the records that the bird has apparently lost a second flag and it was possibly flagged in Shanghai, China. I always find it fascinating to hear where the migratory shorebirds have actually visited on their journeys up and down the flyway.
The second photo shows the flagged bird as it appeared with others on the shoreline.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Female Zebra Finch

I followed a new bird noise in my yard the other day and found this female Zebra Finch perched in a tree. The male is a much more striking color but both have the distinctive red beak and legs. It is the first time I have seen any of these birds in my yard and I am told they are uncommon down here on the coast. For more bird photos visit the Bird Photography Weekly.