Sunday, 6 October 2013

Lucinda beach and bush birds

Day 2 of the Digital Photography in the Bush weekend started with a trip to Lucinda. At the southern entrance to the Hinchinbrook Channel (see map) and famous for being the home of the longest jetty in Australia, Lucinda also has a long sand spit that is frequented at low tide by thousands of waders, gulls and terns.

Sand spit at Lucinda Qld
Several of the larger birds were close enough for a half reasonable photograph.

Eastern Curlew + Bar-tailed Godwit, Lucinda Qld

However, with a large group of us, we decided not to venture too close to the spit so not to disturb the birds.

We were entertained by several pairs of Red-capped Plovers nesting or with young chicks on the beach. This male was patrolling the shore

Red-capped Plover (male), Lucinda Qld

while its mate (note the female's lack of the rufous cap) sat on the "nest".

Red-capped Plover (female), Lucinda Qld

This species is one of several small dotterels and plovers that make a nest from a shallow scrape in the sand, occasionally lined with a few shell fragments or vegetation. It was impossible not to get close to this nest as it was half way between the dunes and the shore on a narrow part of the beach but we moved on quickly to reduce the disturbance to a minimum.

We had been told that there was a pair of Beach Stone-curlews hanging around behind the dunes and they were easy to find resting under trees, although not so easy to photograph.

Beach Stone-curlew, Lucinda Qld

Once we identifed that there were three of them (and therefore likely to be a young one with them), we left them alone and headed to the picnic ground in the park along Rigby Street where there allegedly were Varied Honeyeaters. We dipped on the honeyeaters but I did manage to photograph some other birds for the first time.

Australasian Figbird (female), Lucinda Qld
Australasian Figbird (male), Lucinda Qld
Helmeted Friarbird, Lucinda Qld

An ice-cream at the General store was served with advice as to what we could do with the "curlews" (i.e., Bush Stone-curlew) that kept the store keeper and his family awake all night. It was amazing to see these birds, rare and elusive in the south, wandering around the streets and gardens throughout the town but, apparently, they are not a popular with the locals as they are with tourists.

Bush Stone-curlew, Lucinda Qld

We found one pair with a nearly full-grown chick, sitting on the roadside, seemingly unbothered by the vehicular and pedestrian traffic only a few metres away, reliant on its cryptic camouflage.

Bush Stone-curlew, Lucinda Qld

As we got back to the car, we spotted a small bird of prey alighting in a tree a few hundred metres away. Closer examination identified it as an Australian Hobby and two of us decided to see if we could get closer for a photograph. A series of bushes and trees provided enough cover to allow us to get within about 50 metres but the view was obscured by the same vegetation we had used for cover.

Australian Hobby

Not a great shot but I was pleased to finally get a photograph of this species. Common enough around home, I had never managed to be in the right place at the right time with a camera in hand until today. The only way to get closer would encroach on where we had previously seen the Beach Stone-curlews so we decided it was enough for the morning and to head for our next destination, Dungeness, where yesterday's group had seen Striated Heron.

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