Thursday, 29 March 2012

Sh*t Birders Say

I don't normally do this but as I haven't been out for a two weeks and with the laundry and bathroom to be painted and the back lawn 25 cm high and growing rapidly, I am unlikely to be out in the next 2 weeks so here's something to entertain you...

Just replace binoculars with camera and NAm field guides with Oz ones and that's me...
Oh, and a few more years, kgs and grey hairs ;-)

Monday, 12 March 2012

A rainy day in Lismore

I had the pleasure of visiting Southern Cross University in Lismore and decided to make the most of the preceding day's public holiday checking out some of the local birding haunts in the Northern Rivers area of NSW. 

Unfortunately, the weather varied from dull overcast through drizzling to heavy rain for most of the morning so I just took a leisurely drive along the Tweed River anticipating a break in the weather but it was not until I reached Mt Warning (Wollumbin National Park) that the rain stopped (briefly). I took a couple of short walks hoping for the chance to see some rainforest birds. 

Rainforest, Breakfast Creek, Wollumbin National Park NSW 

It's always a challenge photographing birds in a forest because most of the birds are either in the canopy, so all you see are silhouettes, or on the forest floor so it's very dark. I did manage to find an Australian Brush Turkey running along the forest floor and got one shot off panning a hand-held 300mm lens shooting @ 1/3 second (yes it was that dark!) from the Lyrebird Track lookout. 

Australian Brush Turkey, Breakfast Creek, Wollumbin National Park, NSW

The morning was not a total dead loss though as I did manage to see a large flock of (at least 50) Topknot Pigeons flying over the top of the forest canopy (but impossible to photograph) about 600 metres up the Summit Walk. Of course, once I arrived back at the car park, another Brush Turkey was feeding on the roadside and I managed a few shots before the rain started again.

Australian Brush Turkey, Breakfast Creek, Wollumbin National Park, NSW

The creek also provided a chance for some waterfall shots.

Breakfast Creek, Wollumbin National Park, NSW

Rotary Park Rainforest Reserve, a small remnant of dry rainforest in suburban Lismore is known as a good birding spot. There were a few birds flying around the canopy but nothing close enough to being photographed. However, the resident colony of Grey-headed Flying-fox did provide some photographic entertainment

Grey-headed Flying-fox, Rotary Park Rainforest Reserve, Lismore, NSW

The other main target for the day was Comb-crested Jacana, which I had been told were relatively easy to see at Lake Lismore, and I did manage to find two close enough to the lake shore and out in the open for my first time photographing this species.

Comb-crested Jacana, Lake Lismore, NSW

While I crouched at the side of the lake, a small flock of Scaly-breasted Lorikeets landed in nearby trees

Scaly-breasted Lorikeet, Lake Lismore, NSW

Thursday, 8 March 2012

On the grass

I drove past the Barwon River at lunchtime today and noticed a flock of Bar-tailed Godwits feeding on the edge of the outgoing tide on the mudflats near the boat ramp. By the time I got my camera out they had flown a little further downstream and were too far offshore to get any close-up shots and the sun was behind them from the closest vantage point so I gave up on them but noticed a solo Crested Pigeon and an adult and juvenile Noisy Miner feeding on the mown grass close-by. They allowed me to get reasonably close.

Crested Pigeon, Ocean Grove
Crested Pigeon, Ocean Grove
Noisy Miner, Ocean Grove
Noisy Miner, Ocean Grove

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Lake Victoria, Pt Lonsdale

I went for a walk at Lake Victoria in Pt Lonsdale (see map) this evening. Immediately on arrival at the car park I could see a few Banded Stilts feeding close to the shore but once I got through the gate and closer to the lake shore, I was confronted with a flock of 400+ among Silver Gulls and Red-necked Stints.

Silver Gulls and Banded Stilts, Lake Victoria
Red-necked Stints and Banded Stilts, Lake Victoria

They were so intent on feeding that they allowed me to get fairly close.

Banded Stilt, Lake Victoria
Banded Stilt, Lake Victoria
Banded Stilt, Lake Victoria
Banded Stilt, Lake Victoria
Red-necked Stint, Lake Victoria

There were also 3 Common Greenshank nearby but they are usually quite skittish so I didn't try and approach them too closely. Unfortunately, they were almost completely backlit but there was no way of getting around behind them without wading out into the lake and scaring off the Stilts and Stints.

Common Greenshank, Lake Victoria

The highlight of the evening, however, was the smallest plover chick I have seen. This Red-capped Plover can't be much more than a few days old.

Red-capped Plover, Lake Victoria

While I was watching the plover and chick, a flock of Black-winged Stilts flew in over me onto the pond beside the golf course.

Black-winged Stilt, Lake Victoria
Black-winged Stilt, Lake Victoria
About 20 Yellow-tailed Black-Cockatoos were screeching from the tops of the cypress trees on the golf course and while I was walking back along the track to the car park, they flew past me giving me time for one shot.

Yellow-tailed Black-Cockatoo, Lake Victoria

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Mannerim Magpies

I had to go out at lunchtime today and took a brief side road on my way back. Knights Road in Mannerim on the Bellarine Peninsula (see map) has some of the best roadside vegetation on the Peninsula and is a great place for a range of bush birds.

A family of Australian Magpies was perched in a roadside tree and they were carolling loudly as I drove down the road so I stopped and managed to get a few shots.

Australian Magpie, Mannerim

Monday, 5 March 2012

Wendouree Waterbirds

After a great morning at 13th Beach/Black Rocks, I ventured inland to Lake Wendouree in Ballarat to see the nesting Great Crested Grebes.

The lake is buzzing with birdlife this year with many species of waterbirds roosting, nesting and feeding.

Pacific Black Duck, Lake Wendouree, Ballarat
Pacific Black Duck, Lake Wendouree, Ballarat
Australian Wood Duck, Lake Wendouree, Ballarat
Black-tailed Native Hen, Lake Wendouree, Ballarat
Dusky Moorhen, Lake Wendouree, Ballarat
Eurasian Coot, Lake Wendouree, Ballarat
Little Pied Cormorant, Lake Wendouree, Ballarat

The highlight was seeing the Great Crested Grebes. These beautiful birds are not rare but are rarely seen close-up so, with at least 6 nests all within 25 metres of the walking track along the edge of Lake Wendouree (in the Fairyland section near the Ballarat Botanic Gardens), there is a lot of activity near the shore giving great close-ups of the birds.

Great Crested Grebe, Lake Wendouree, Ballarat
Great Crested Grebe, Lake Wendouree, Ballarat
Great Crested Grebe, Lake Wendouree, Ballarat
Great Crested Grebe, Lake Wendouree, Ballarat

Some of the nests are quite cryptic

Great Crested Grebe, Lake Wendouree, Ballarat

but others are wide out in the open

Great Crested Grebe, Lake Wendouree, Ballarat
Great Crested Grebe, Lake Wendouree, Ballarat
Great Crested Grebe, Lake Wendouree, Ballarat

An added bonus was this male Musk Duck in full display mode. He went through the whole routine for more than 20 minutes including 5 minutes of calling--a shrill whistle. I've heard this call before but never actually seen the bird calling until today.

Musk Duck (male), Lake Wendouree, Ballarat

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