Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Beautiful - but frustrating!

I went out for a kayak on the bay yesterday morning. When I left the water was very still but by the time I started back it was a struggle to paddle back against the wind. I saw some interesting shorebirds - but the frustration came in because I forgot to compensate for the glare off the water and so the photos are good for record shots only. Most of the shorebirds were in non-breeding plumage so I am assuming that they will be staying here all winter. There were good numbers of Godwits and Eastern Curlews and a few Greenshanks and Stints. The surprise were the numbers of Grey-tailed Tattlers which were showing quite a lot of breeding plumage. Maybe some of these will be migrating soon. I must look up my records but I seem to remember these leave later than most of the other migrants. There were also Red-capped Plovers everywhere. I got in quite close to the birds roosting on the shoreline by drifting in on my kayak and as I got in closer I stretched out and lay down sideways to decrease the height that the birds saw drifting towards them. It works well! and is a trick I learned from a visiting friend who showed me how beautiful and peaceful it is to do this out in the middle of the bay on a calm morning! (Thanks Dawn!!) The only bird photograph that was OK was this Silver Gull that flew close overhead. They are common - of course! - but beautiful.We have had a lot of rain over the last couple of weeks - none of it really heavy but quite constant and the result is a lot of water sitting in the low spots. The road down to the Mullens picnic area is seldom smooth or well looked after but I did wonder if the low spots would be too wet to drive through. Obviously others decided the same because there is a new track well above the road. I'm glad I could drive down there - but it would be nice if the original road were better cared for.This boat was anchored close to where I put the kayak in. I did wonder why he wasn't getting out of there on the high tide but maybe he decided the wind was bad enough that he should stay put. The afternoon low tide showed just how shallow the area is.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Pigeons and Doves

When I first came here to live there were Crested Pigeons everywhere. Then a couple of years ago I saw the first Spotted Turtle-Doves. These are not native to Australia but were introduced and can replace the native species. I saw fewer and fewer Crested Pigeons while the others were always somewhere around the yard. - Spotted Turtle-DoveLast Friday (in a brief spell of fine weather!) I saw Crested Pigeons roosting on the electricity wires going in to the neighbor's house. I counted 18 in all - sitting in several groups along the wires. This was one group.They watched me come out with my camera and gradually move closer. Some looked at me from one side and some watched from the other - some simply looked bored as if they wished I would leave!At least I now know that their numbers are not decreasing around here - even if they are not in my yard so frequently.
For more bird photos visit the Bird Photography Weekly.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Garden Birds

It's rather exciting to know that the plantings in my yard are now attracting small birds. When I first came here nearly 7 years ago there was nothing but overgrown grass and weeds. This was a new housing subdivision and everything had been leveled to make it easy to build. I put up wire fences to keep my dog and cat at home then started planting all the perimeters so I could look out at green growth rather than more houses. I noticed as I walked around the nearby streets that grevilleas attracted lots of honey-eating birds so they went in next. That brought in all the bigger honeyeaters and especially the Lorikeets. It wasn't until a year ago that I noticed another shrub that was attracting a lot of small birds. I found out it was another grevillea - Grevillea 'Orange Marmalade'- but with a much less showy flower. I immediately bought one from the nursery and planted it. Now this is where I see the smaller birds on most days. Of course the trees that I planted have also now grown to a good height and the small birds fly up into these if they feel threatened.
The Brown Honeyeaters came into the garden even before I had planted much that attracted them and they have kept coming. They frequently go into the bigger grevillea flowers but seem to prefer the smaller flowers on the Grevillea 'Orange Marmalade'. For the last couple of months White-throated Honeyeaters have also been coming in regularly. I seldom saw them before this. They only come into the Grevillea 'Orange Marmalade'.Now I am starting to look at the front garden again. I planted a number of flowering trees and shrubs there but none of them seem to attract the birds. I wonder if there is room for just a few more shrubs that will bring the birds into that part of the yard as well?
For more bird photos visit the Bird Photography Weekly.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Another Flagged Bird

I went for a walk out at Inskip Point yesterday at low tide. It was a very low tide so there was an extra amount of sand exposed going out to the sand island. There were very few shorebirds out there - most will by now be migrating northwards. I saw a couple of Godwits, a number of Double-banded Plovers and 3 Red-necked Stints. I was watching the Stints when I saw a flash of white on the leg of one of them. Then I had to get closer and try to get some clear photos. It appears that there is a black flag over a white flag and on the other leg a metal band. The color of the flags shows that this bird was flagged in China. I don't know about the band on the other leg. One of the other Stints had a good amount of breeding plumage and the other one showed very little. I don't know if these are stragglers on their northern migration or if they will stay here for the winter. I have been very lucky this year as this is the third flagged bird I have sighted. (These are very small photos as it's impossible to get close to the birds when they are feeding out on the flats!)

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Bush Stone-curlew

I photographed this Bush Stone-curlew Burhinus grallarius) this morning after trying to do a shorebird count at the Crab Creek Site. A group of these birds is living on the Tin Can bay golf course. This morning they were close to the road and easy to photograph. It was an early tide this morning so I was out on the water by 7am. However, the fog was so thick that it was almost impossible to see the birds until I was very close to them. The fog started to lift after another half hour or so but even then the birds were very 'flighty' and disturbed and flew up and away when a Little Egret flew overhead. I saw Bar-tailed Godwits, Whimbrells, Eastern Curlews, Common Greenshanks and Pacific Golden Plovers as well as the usual Australian shorebirds such as Pied Oystercatchers and Red-capped Plovers. However, I was not close enough to get good photos.Because the fog was so thick it had left water droplets on all the spider webs.There was almost no wind and the reflections in the water were perfect.Later when the fog lifted it turned into a hot and sunny day. Then by late afternoon the thunderstorms rolled through and we got over 45 mm of rain in less than an hour. (That's close to 2 inches!) It has certainly been an interesting day.To see more bird photos visit the Bird Photography Weekly.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Black-Breasted Button-Quail

I had a most delightful encounter with one of these birds the other day. ( For the benefit of overseas readers - this bird is only found in the eastern part of southern Queensland and northern New South Wales. It is listed as vulnerable by the Environment Department.) I have frequently seen Black-breasted Button-Quail out at Inskip Point but it has always been a rather brief view as they hurried off into the underbrush. I have been told stories of how they have walked out in front of others - and have rather wondered how accurate such stories might be! Well it happened to me the other day!
I was walking slowly and quietly down the bush track to the end of the point and had stopped to look at another bird when I saw this little bird come out on the track and start towards where I was standing. I kept still and it kept walking towards me. Then it found a suitable patch of soft sandy dust and stopped and scratched until it had made a suitable spot then sat down and fluffed all its feathers out and had a "dust bath". Meanwhile I kept the camera clicking! This series of photos is part of the result. For more bird photos visit the Bird Photography Weekly.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Ruddy Turnstones

I posted about these birds a couple of times last year after I saw Ruddy Turnstones at Inskip Point. The first one I saw had been flagged at Flinders Island by the VWSG. There is some very interesting work being done down that way tracking these birds on their migration by using geolocators. The first report has just been released and it makes for fascinating reading. I won't repeat the details apart from the fact that "four birds flew nonstop 7,600 km. from Flinders to Taiwan in just over six days". Amazing! The authors of the report say that their research is to be published in the April edition of the International Wader Study Group Bulletin.