Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Lesser Sand-Plovers

This post is for World Bird Wednesday.

Although the tide wasn't yet full, it had already covered most of the Mullens roost site.
The smaller shorebirds were having to move from where they had first roosted and these ones flew in just ahead of me. They were not sure that they really wanted to be that close to me but when I stayed very still they settled down and let me get some good photos. They are Lesser Sand-Plovers (Charadrius mongolus) which also used to be called Mongolian Dotterels. This is their non-breeding plumage.

Monday, December 26, 2011

What a Difference...

What a difference a day makes! This was Christmas morning when we had planned to kayak on the highest tide of the year.
Even though others braved the rain and threatening storms I decided I'd prefer nice weather.
Today - one day later - the sun was shining and everything looked different. The only problem remaining was wind that made the sea a little too rough for comfortable paddling! I did kayak - but had a few stretched muscles when I got back.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Christmas in Queensland

Season's Greetings to everyone who reads this blog!
Christmas in this climate can certainly be different! It's summer and raining! We've had 152mm of rain dumped on us from ex-topical cyclone Fina in the last two days. - that's just over 6 inches in the old scale. My house is built on a very flat block of land and when it rains the rain makes huge puddles! This is the one on the front lawn photographed yesterday afternoon between showers.
By this morning most of the water has drained away into the sandy soil but there are still showers. It's the highest tide of the year and we were all planning on kayaking around to one of the bird roosts. It's not my idea of a nice kayaking day so I'll wait on a decision by the others!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Small Shorebirds

This post is for World Bird Wednesday.

When I walked out to Mullens the other day the bigger shorebirds were all at the far side of the roost. Since I had walked out instead of kayaking there was no way I could get closer to them. However the smaller shorebirds were in their preferred roost site at the southern end of the roost and all I had to do was wade through some shallow water. They were standing in shallow water in among the saltmarsh plants. Red-capped Plovers and Red-necked Stints were roosting together. Both of these birds are only 15cm (6 inches) beak to tail. Red-capped Plovers are an Australian shorebird and stay here all year. Quite a few were showing their beautiful red caps. Red-necked Stints are the smallest of all the shorebirds that migrate from the arctic to spend the summer here. They only show their red necks just before they migrate north - that is in March and April.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Mangrove Tree

This post is for NatureFootstep Waters.

After all the rain and showers and winds, this morning was perfect. I was walking down on the shoreline very early and this mangrove tree was silhouetted against the early morning light with the sea almost like glass - perfect reflections and almost no ripples in the water.
It was lovely and warm - quite different from the northern hemisphere cold and snow!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Australian Wood Duck

This post is for the Bird Photography Weekly.

Over the last few weeks there have been several groups of Australian Wood Ducks (Chenonetta jubata) wandering along the side of the road. I have been in the car driving somewhere or other and no camera with me until the other day when this group was walking along immediately opposite my house. I don't know what they were finding to eat right there but they were all pecking at something!
This is a male
This is a female .
By the way - they might look nice in the photos but if a group decides to spend the night on your driveway they leave quite a mess to clean up the next morning!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Whistling Kite

This post is for World Bird Wednesday.

This Whistling Kite was sitting high in a tree close to where I put my kayak into the water at Crab Creek. It looked very beautiful against the blue sky but when I zoomed in it looked very rumpled! It was doing a very thorough preen of all its feathers and looked like a very fluffy feather duster! Or maybe it was just having a "bad hair day"!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Shorebird Count at Crab Creek

The other day I kayaked over to the Crab Creek roost with friends to do a count of the shorebirds. We counted almost 400 birds with the majority being Bar-tailed Godwits. The Godwits were lined up along the sandspit with most standing out in the water a little way. I was doing a second check on the bird count when I thought I saw something different. Finding one different bird among a couple of hundred others is not easy so I took lots of photos. There was definitely one bird that was smaller and moving differently from the Godwits but it was not until I got the photos home and had a good look that I could definitely ID it as a Sharp-tailed Sandpiper.
On the way back to the boat ramp I took a photo of the other kayakers with me. Sitting down so close to the water gives a different perspective to the everything else on the water.
For more bird photos visit the Bird Photography Weekly.

Saturday, December 10, 2011


This post is for Scenic Sunday.

Driving down from Maleny to Kenilworth the other day I saw this balloon floating through the air ahead of me. It looked beautiful floating through the still morning air and is not something I see very often.
When I stopped to take photos and looked around I saw a second one further to the east.
The one ahead of me looked as if it was coming down so I drove on a short way and watched it come down very gently onto a farm track.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Common Koel

This post is for World Bird Wednesday.

The Common Koel (Eudynamis scolopacea) is a cuckoo that migrates from Asia down to Australia for the summer. It lays its eggs in cup-shaped nests of large honeyeaters. This is a photo of the male. The female is barred brown and so far hasn't come anywhere close for me to take a photo. Although this bird is often hard to see as it hides among the foliage it is certainly not hard to hear! From a distance the call is not unpleasant but close up - like just outside my bedroom window at night!!! - it is loud and raucous. You can hear its call here.
I took this photo in the late afternoon and the bird's feathers were picking up the golden tones of the sunset sky.
This is a full crop of the above photo showing the bird's beautiful eye.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Early Morning.

This post is for Bird Photography Weekly

It was a beautiful morning with a bank of clouds in the east which eventually covered the sun and muted all the colors.
The only bird I saw along the shoreline was an Eastern Curlew which was standing by itself out on a little rocky island. This is the only shorebird I know that doesn't seem to mind roosting by itself as long as it is not disturbed. If disturbed it then flies off and joins the rest of the Eastern Curlews and other shorebirds at the usual roost sites. This one disturbed before I got anywhere near and then flew off with its usual harsh squawk.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

View from Maleny

This post is for Scenic Sunday.

This photo was taken from the look-out a little way along the Tourist Drive close to Maleny, Queensland. On a clear day the view from here is spectacular as you can see along the Sunshine coast and right out to the ocean. The mountains in the distance are the Glass House Mountains which are deeply eroded volcanic cones.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Good News Story

This is definitely a good new story for the shorebirds in our area! QPWS (Queensland Parks and Wildlife Services) has been installing shorebird signs all down the Sandy Strait and the other day I was lucky enough to go out with two of their people to make some decisions about where the signage will be put around the Crab Creek shorebird roost. Signage is the first step in protecting the shorebirds in our area. People need to know where the shorebird roosts are before they will be careful of what they do in these areas.
I am delighted that signs are being put up around the Crab Creek roost as it is directly opposite a very busy boat launch area. At present there is nothing to show that the birds use this area and I am sure that the roost is often disturbed because people have no knowledge that it is there.
Moyra and Wayne came with a small boat that took us over to the other side of the creek. We had a good look around for suitable sites for the signs - although we did have to wade through shallow water and mud because the tide had dropped quicker than we expected. Then we had to very carefully navigate down the creek before all the water had drained out and left only a few 'puddles'!
Just enough water to get back! Wayne and Moyra in the boat.
This is the sign that has already been placed at the Mullens Creek area where boats are launched.
Congratulations to QPWS for the care they take of our very special environment in this area.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Brahminy Kite

This post is for World Bird Wednesday.

I had just come in from a morning's kayak and was loading the kayak onto the car to go home. It was a beautiful morning but I had not been able to get close to any shorebirds for good photos. I glanced up into the very tall gum tree that stands beside the car parking area when I saw this Brahminy Kite (Milvus indus) sitting up in the tallest part of the tree and quietly watching me. A photo opportunity like this gave my rather dull morning a perfect finish.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Somerset Dam

This post is for NatureFootstep Waters.

This is the northern end of Lake Somerset which is one of the water storage dams for Brisbane. The dam is currently at 98% capacity. It was very early in the morning when I drove past there the other day and fog was still hanging over some of the hills.

Sunday, November 27, 2011


This post is for the Bird Photography Weekly.

I often hear Figbirds (Sphecotheres viridis) sitting high in the trees. However, that's not much good for a clear photo so when this one sat on the electricity wire the other day I walked quietly around the house to take some photos. The bird was so intent on singing that it took little notice of me and I was able to get a series of clear photos. This is a male bird - the female has a grey/brown color around the eye and is streaked down the front.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Red-winged Parrots.

This post is for World Bird Wednesday.

I often hear Red-winged Parrots (Aprosmictus erythropterus) flying over my place but they seldom come down into any of the trees. The other day I heard one - then saw it fly down into a Grevillea bush. This particular Grevillea bush had almost finished flowering and had set seed. The Red-winged Parrots are seed eaters and these seeds must have been just right to their taste! I went closer as carefully as I could and there were two of them in the bushes. I stayed down there for nearly an hour trying for photos where the birds were not half hidden among the branches.
Finally one of the birds hopped down onto the fence - unfortunately in the shade and with a background of my neighbor's shade house. It looked at me as carefully as I was looking at it.
It sat and ate seeds and used its left foot to do this - in typical parrot fashion!
Finally it reached down towards some seed pods lower down and I could get a good look at the feathers on its back. The color was rather splotchy - only just beginning to get the dark color of the mature male.
Then the second bird hopped down to the same place and this one had the typical color of a mature male.
I kept waiting and taking photos and finally it hopped up higher into the bush and into the sunshine. There were some branches and leaves in front of it but the sunshine really showed off the colors beautifully.
I still didn't get the "perfect" photo - one without anything in front of the bird and in full sunshine! - but it was worth waiting for what I did get!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Common Greenshanks

This post is for the Bird Photography Weekly.

I was kayaking the other day when I saw some Common Greenshanks on a sandbank. I let the wind and tide drift me in toward them and was able to get some good close photos. However, the really interesting photos showed the feathers on the backs of the birds' heads. They made a definite line down the middle of the back of the head. It reminded me of that hair style from years ago where both sides were brushed back and towards the back of the head!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Carlo Creek

This post is for Scenic Sunday.

Carlo Creek is only 3 Kms from Rainbow Beach, but where Rainbow Beach overlooks the ocean Carlo Creek is on the Sandy Strait - the waterway which comes inland behind Fraser Island and south to Cooloola Cove. There is a marina at Carlo Creek and a boat launch for private boats. This is also the place where off-shore fishing charter boats leave for their trip up the Strait and out the channel between Inskip Point and Fraser island. It is also a very convenient place for the start of kayaking trips to several of the shorebird roosting sites.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Black-winged Stilts

This post is for World Bird Wednesday.

Over the last few weeks we have seen Black-winged Stilts (Himantopus himantopus) in several places around the bay where we have never seen them before. This last week I saw four at the Crab Creek roosting site, roosting with other shorebirds. Black-winged Stilts live in Australia all year and are only nomadic to different wetlands within the country. They have a most distinctive call which sounds rather like a very small puppy yipping.
When I first saw the birds at Crab Creek they were roosting with a large flock of Bar-tailed Godwits. I had never seen them standing beside Godwits before and their very long legs almost made the Godwits look short and dumpy!
When they flew off their long legs trailed behind them.
They then settled down in shallow water and I was able to get good views of them by themselves.
Over the last few weeks I have had several comments and questions about kayaking with a camera so I thought I would explain what I use and how I use it.
I have a sit-on-top kayak made by Viking. Kayaks such as this are more closely related to wave skis than to the traditional kayak. I wanted something that was very easy to slide on and off - especially if I turned it over when I was out by myself on the bay. I had a shorter and wider model when I first started kayaking around here but - after a white-water kayak, with my son, down one of the rivers in the Olympic National Park in Washington State I wanted something a bit faster and more manoeuvrable! The flat waters of the bay were pretty tame after the white water of the river! Viking kayaks have a seat moulded into the hull of the kayak but I also have a stiffened fabric seat which attaches to the kayak and gives a better back rest.
I carry my camera in a Pelican case which are advertised as unbreakable, waterproof, and dustproof. These cases are totally sealed and on the few occasions mine has dropped off the kayak it has floated perfectly! I have it attached to the kayak with rope and also under some stretchy fastening behind me. When I get to where I want to take photos I can loosen the case from behind me and open it on my lap and take the camera out. Of course I only do this when the water is nice and still! Birds will let you get much closer on the kayak than when you are walking on shore. I get into position some way from the birds and let the tide and wind push me in closer. Waving a paddle around is guaranteed to make any bird take off. I know I have done a good job when I take my photos and then slowly push my way out again levering the paddle against the sand under the water - all without disturbing the birds!