Saturday, 29 September 2012

Bendelby Ranges

After leaving Gluepot, we headed for the Bendelby Ranges in the southern Flinders Ranges. Most of our time here was spent driving the 4WD tracks but I did manage to get some early morning and late afternoon birding in. We were camped in the middle of an open Eucalyptus-Callitris woodland that provided some great opportunities to find a range of bush birds.

There was a nest at the top of the tree right next to our campsite and we woke at sunrise to the chattering calls of Chestnut-crowned Babblers. As usual, they proved difficult to photograph as they are rarely stationary and seem to remain in the middle of the vegetation high up in the tree but I did manage to capture one bird with its breakfast on a branch at eye height

Chestnut-crowned Babbler, Bendelby Ranges, SA

A group of five Spiny-cheeked Honeyeaters were equally noisy nearby and this one posed nicely in the early morning sunlight.

Spiny-cheeked Honeyeater, Bendelby Ranges, SA

A late afternoon walk along a creek bank revealed more than 20 species of birds, all of which proved difficult to photograph in the low contrasty light but the highlights were:

Chestnut-rumped Thornbill, Bendelby Ranges, SA
Red-capped Robin (male), Bendelby Ranges, SA
Rufous Whistler (female), Bendelby Ranges, SA

Thursday, 27 September 2012

A Day at Gluepot (Part 2)

In addition to the honeyeaters shown in the previous post, we also found several other species...

White-winged Chough, Gluepot Reserve
Australian Ringneck (Mallee race), Gluepot Reserve
Common Bronzewing, Gluepot Reserve

and several species seen easily from roads while driving, including Rainbow Bee-eaters, a highlight wherever you manage to see them...

Rainbow Bee-eater, Gluepot Reserve

and the non-avian highlight of the day was an active Shingle-Back (we were to see about a hundred more of these over the next week but the first reptile of a trip is always fun)

Shingle-Back, Gluepot Reserve

A Day at Gluepot (Part 1)

Heading for the Flinders Ranges for a 4WD trip, my wife and I decided to take the opportunity to spend two nights camping at Gluepot Reserve. While this gave us only one full day exploring the reserve, we made the most of it by driving the loop track visiting each bird hide.

The hides are set up to view elevated watering stations and, while photography is challenging with combinations of low light, backlighting and fixed shooting positions, the bird life was extremely abundant with large numbers of honeyeaters...

Brown-headed Honeyeater, Gluepot Reserve
Yellow-plumed Honeyeater, Gluepot Reserve
Yellow-plumed Honeyeater, Gluepot Reserve
Black-eared Miner, Gluepot Reserve
Striped Honeyeater, Gluepot Reserve
White-fronted Honeyeater, Gluepot Reserve

Sunday, 23 September 2012

More than just Koalas at Kennett River

My wife and I took two work colleagues, visiting from overseas, on my favourite daytrip from Melbourne today: the Great Ocean Road. One of the compulsory stopping points is the Grey River Road at Kennett River (see map). It's the most reliable place along the GOR to see koalas in the semi-wild.

Koala, Kennet River, Victoria

Also commonly seen here (and now, unfortunately, encouraged by feeding) are Australian King Parrots and Crimson Rosellas. The one advantage of the feeding is that the birds are relatively tame and allow you to get very close (all these shots were taken with a 28-200mm zoom).

Australian King parrot (male), Kennett River, Victoria
Australian King Parrot (female and male), Kennett River, Victoria
Australian King Parrot (male), Kennett River, Victoria
Crimson Rosella, Kennett River, Victoria
Crimson Rosella, Kennett River, Victoria

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Pacific Gulls at Ricketts Point

As I have noted previously I grew up in Beaumaris and spent a lot of time on the beaches at and around Ricketts Point. I was close-by late this afternoon after meetings in Melbourne so took the opportunity to avoid peak hour traffic and check out the old stamping ground. There were at least 50 Pacific Gulls on the shore between the point and the yacht club--more than I have ever seen there before--including a range of ages (just missing  4th year birds), so I decided to spend some time trying to capture a few portraits. The sky was darkening quickly with rain storms crossing the bay from the south-west, which made for some interesting low-light photography. All these shots were taken at 1/200th sec or slower.

Pacific Gull (adult), Ricketts Point Beaumaris
Pacific Gull (3rd year immature), Ricketts Point Beaumaris
Pacific Gull (2nd year immature), Ricketts Point Beaumaris
Pacific Gull (1st year immature), Ricketts Point Beaumaris

Feeding attempts were being made on some dubious morsels...this first year immature spent a long time contemplating the remains of a cuttlefish

Pacific Gull (1st year immature), Ricketts Point Beaumaris

...apparently 2nd year birds are not any smarter as this one tried for several minutes to work out (unsuccessfully) how to swallow a tennis ball carcass

Pacific Gull (2nd year immature), Ricketts Point Beaumaris

There were also good opportunities for interesting flight shots (low light always makes it a challenge but sometimes the results are quite pleasing)

Pacific Gull (2nd year immature), Ricketts Point Beaumaris

...if not downright humourous

Pacific Gull (1st year immature), Ricketts Point Beaumaris

A pair of Australian Pelicans eventually broke up the party 

Australian Pelican, Pacific Gull, Silver Gull, Ricketts Point Beaumaris

so I headed back to the point to get a shot or two of the sun setting

Ricketts Point, Beaumaris

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

A whale of a time...

I have commented in previous posts on the serendipity that comes from not leaving home without the camera but today confirmed it for me.

I was stuck at a computer all morning catching up on emails and other loose ends so by lunchtime I was ready to get out in the glorious spring sunshine. I picked up sushi from my favourite shop in Ocean Grove and drove to one of the many car parks along the Ocean Grove beach to sit in the sun and eat. There was not a lot of avian activity bar the usual gulls and the occasional cormorant but as I was finishing eating I noticed a disturbance in the water a few kilometres down the beach towards The Bluff at Barwon Heads. A few minutes of binocular assisted closer inspection (binos are always in the car) revealed two Southern Right Whales...and I had the camera in the car!

So, with camera quickly mounted on tripod, I grabbed a couple of quick record shots then marched down the beach to a better (= closer) viewpoint.

Southern Right Whale, Ocean Grove Beach

Just as I was about to leave, with the whales drifting further offshore, a flock of Pacific Black Ducks flew down the beach.

Pacific Black Duck, Ocean Grove Beach

While it is not unusual to see these ducks flying around the beach and estuary, they then did a strange thing--flying out to sea and turning west passing directly over the whales. I am fairly confident that I am never going to get these two species in the same shot again!

Southern Right Whale + Pacific Black Duck, Ocean Grove the camera comes with me everywhere now :-)

Sunday, 2 September 2012

Sunset at Black Rocks

I was driving home from Geelong along the back roads just before sunset this evening and decided to drop past the Black Rocks end of 13th Beach. There are often several species of small waders here but none to be seen tonight. A bit early in the Spring for Stints and Double-banded Plovers maybe but not even the resident Red-capped or Hooded Plovers could be found. I did manage to find a few birds in flight to keep me entertained for a while though...

Pacific Gull, Black Rocks 13th Beach
Silver Gull, Black Rocks 13th Beach
Straw-necked Ibis, Black Rocks 13th Beach

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