Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Inskip in Mid-Winter

It had been a few weeks since I had been out to Inskip to look for shorebirds so I tried to make sure that the weather would be suitable for photos. The previous day had been perfect and the weather report was for "mostly fine and sunny". I checked outside my back door as soon as it began to get light and the sky looked clear. However, by the time I got out there a big bank of cloud was covering Fraser Island and rapidly moving south. It was dark - definitely not mostly fine and sunny! Weather like this gives interesting sky photos - but not great bird photos, unfortunately.

It was nearly 7am by the time I got out to the Point, and already there were fishermen and vehicles on the sand. The barge was also waiting to take vehicles over to Fraser Island. However there were still birds roosting on the sand. The first birds I saw were a group of Terns. The photo shows (from the left) a Gull-billed Tern going out of breeding plumage, a Crested Tern also in non-breeding plumage, and four young Caspian Terns.

As I was watching the Terns a line of Pelicans flew in from the north going towards the sand island out in the bay.  They joined the Pelicans already roosting out there. Western Queensland has been drying out and the Pelicans that have bred out there are moving to the coast. We have recently seen a big increase in their numbers around here.

A little later another group flew in from the same direction but this time a group of smaller shorebirds were also flying towards the island. They are just visible flying closer to the water.

There were groups of small shorebirds - mostly Red-capped Plovers and Red-necked Stints - roosting in the dry sand. I also saw numbers of Double-banded Plovers - with one "early" bird well into breeding plumage. They will not migrate back to New Zealand where they breed until it gets lots warmer over there!

Further along the point there was quite a large group of migratory shorebirds roosting close together. These birds are young birds that do not migrate until they are 2-3 years old.

There were at least 150 Grey-tailed Tattlers (paler grey on top and white below) with a few Bar-tailed Godwits (the larger birds in the flock) and a few Great Knots (smaller than the Godwits but also with heavily patterned feathers down their backs).

For more scenery from around the world visit Our World Tuesday

and for more bird photos visit Wild Bird Wednesday.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Lake Alford

I had an extra trip in to Gympie yesterday. (Gympie is my nearest bigger town and a bit over 50kms away.) I would much rather have been out looking for birds but decided to take my camera in with me and make a quick stop at Lake Alford before I came home. Lake Alford is a well maintained park on the highway just south of the business district in Gympie.  The water in the lake/pond is kept moving and aerated with fountains.

I didn't see any new birds but these are not ones that I see out where I live at the coast
Pacific Black Duck (Anas superciliosa)

Male Hardhead (Aythya australis) 

Dusky Moorhen (Gallinula tenebrosa)

While I was there a father with a very young daughter came and sat down at the edge of the pond with a loaf of bread. The birds knew what to expect and before he even had the packet open they started to make a rush for that area of the pond. Even the Black Swan joined the rush! I do occasionally see Black Swans on the Bay.

Australian White Ibis are very common everywhere!

This juvenile even came into my back yard the other day when it was raining.

For more scenes of our world visit Our World Tuesday

and for more birds visit Wild Bird Wednesday.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Double Island Point

I have lived here for 10 years and during that time I have only seen Double Island Point from around Rainbow Beach. It is the most southerly point visible along a long line of beach which curves away to the south east. So although the other parts of the National Park that I visited with Sarah and Graham were interesting and beautiful, the high point of the day for me was to finally see Double Island Point close up.

We reached it by traveling from the south along the beach. After so many miles of sandy beach this rocky headland is magnificent. This photo is looking south from the point.

This photo is looking to the east along the southern edge of the point. With sunshine and a blue sky the sea is a mixture of blue/green  colors.

I am told that this area south of the point is a favorite place for surfers. There were two people surfing there that day and both appeared to be on longer boards.

Of course, I was looking forward to going to the top of the Point and seeing the lighthouse up there. I had been warned that it was a steep climb - and it was! The track was well made - but the lighthouse is at an elevation of 96 Meters (314 feet). (And, unfortunately I am not as fit as I would like to be!) This is the view south from about half way up.

There are also views looking down the steep rocks to the sea below.

Finally, I made it! The lighthouse was built in 1884, flashes every 7.5 seconds and has a range of 26 nautical miles. It was automated and demanned in 1992 and now runs on solar power.

The view from up there is fantastic! This photo is looking northwards. Rainbow Beach is just beyond where the sand blow over the hills is visible.

This photo looks right up towards Fraser Island which shows just where the very low land of the peninsular rises. This is also where the channel is between the island and Inskip Point and if you enlarge the photo you can just see the bay waters as a silvery line behind the first line of land.

Thanks again to Sarah and Graham for a truly wonderful day!

Were there birds around the lighthouse and the Point? Of course! Did I get photos of them? No! I was too concerned about making it up and back under my own steam! So for this week I am showing some Sulphur-crested Cockatoos.
White Cockies fly over my house every morning. For the last few days some of them had been dropping down into my back yard. They had already eaten (or demolished!) the fruit on my Passionfruit vine so I wondered what they were getting at now. When I walked out to where I had a better view I saw them on the ground beside my little Kumquat tree. (This is a  citrus tree with very small fruit that has a sweet rind and flesh.) I grabbed the camera and walked down there to chase the birds off and to get what photos I could manage in the half-light of early dawn. There were eight birds in total and each had a Kumquat! Needless to say there were not too many left for me! Some Cockies were up on the fence and one was swinging from the top frond of the palm tree. Feet hold food just as well as beaks!

One extra bold bird stayed on the fence to make sure I really was chasing them all away.
( Just for interest - do others remember to change camera settings when you are rushed and just trying for any photo possible? I know my camera is capable of much better low light photos but that morning I just left it on automatic and was happy for anything I got.)

For more photos from around the world visit Our World Tuesday 

and for more birds visit Wild Bird Wednesday.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Great Sandy National Park (cont.)

This is where the Freshwater Track comes out on the beach.

Looking north towards Double Island Point the clouds that were so threatening in the early morning were disappearing eastward.

Looking south the beach stretches all the way down to Noosa. Even at this season - which is early winter here in the southern hemisphere- there were vehicles all down the beach. 

 I really enjoyed driving down the beach. With the windows down the sound of the ocean is so close and the breeze is fresh and salty. It's a long time since I have driven like this right beside the sea. As a young child we lived in the far north of New Zealand. Back then, there were a number of places where the only road was the beach. This beach from Noosa up to Rainbow Beach and along to Inskip Point has been used for driving along for many many years. Locals and tourists alike would vehemently protect their right to continue driving along it. I enjoyed it - but - I also know that sand compacted by many vehicles does not contain the same amount of little creatures.
There were 50kph signs prominently displayed at intervals down the beach. There have been a number of deaths on the beach when drivers have hit wash-outs before they could slow down. I saw small streams seeping out from the sand cliffs all the way along the beach. There is a huge amount of water in the water-table below ground level in much of the Park. The darker mineral sands left patterns as the fresh water washed towards the ocean.

There are different colors of sand in the cliffs above the beach and my friends wanted me to see the place called Red Canyon. This is just above the beach and so different from what is around it.

 Camping is permitted in most places beside the beach. However, you must bring everything you need to keep your environment clean. I was surprised at the number of campers we saw - but was told that in the summer there are camps and vans side by side all along the beach!

Many of the campers were there for the fishing.

Wherever there are people fishing you can be sure there will be Gulls hoping for a quick and easy feed. These are Silver Gulls.

I did not want to stop for close photos of Silver Gulls - they are common! So I went back in to my photo archives for these. The second photo shows an adult and juvenile with the juvenile hunched over and begging! 

I also saw a few Terns flying low over the water. Apart from these, this is not a beach suitable for shorebirds. The beach appears to shelve quite quickly and deeply. Also the tide comes right up to the edge of the sand-hills so there are no places for roosting birds. Shorebirds much prefer the still waters of the bay and the great expanses of sand and mud where they find food at low tide.
Once again thanks to Sarah and Graham for such a great day!

For more photos from around the world visit Our World Tuesday

and for more bird photos visit Wild Bird Wednesday.