Sunday, 24 November 2013

Wader mystery revisited

I posted a photo of two small wading birds, photographed at Mungalla Station near Ingham Qld, a fews weeks ago (see Mungalla Station part 2).

In this post, I had assumed the bird on the far left was a Red-necked Stint and wondered what the apparently smaller bird just to its right might be. The sizes can be judged relative to the Sharp-tailed Sandpipers on the right.

Since then, I have re-examined the original images and run them past a few colleagues and the longer we look at them the less sure we are.

The main problem is that the legs are not black. I initially passed this off as due to mud but closer examination makes this questionable. The legs appear to be a dull yellow. As you can see from the image above, the late afternoon light gives an exaggerated yellow in the photograph so I went back to the original raw files and neutralised the colour-balance. Here are the only 4 images I took of these two birds with no other manipulation (apart from colour balance neutralised).

Click on the images to show full size (100% resolution of original images, heavily cropped)

And here's the "smaller" bird by itself taken just a few minutes before the sequence above.

So, any suggestions for what species they may be?

Update 25 Nov:
Thanks to all those who emailed me on this. Consensus of opinion is that the two birds are Red-necked Stints, most likely first year birds with worn plumage (it's a long way from Siberia your first time!)

Saturday, 16 November 2013

Lorikeets go to University

Visiting Deakin University's Waurn Ponds (Geelong) campus last week, I couldn't help but notice the high-pitched chattering of a flock of small lorikeets in the the car park. I was without camera so could not capture the activity but I made sure to have the camera in the car this morning and made a brief detour on the way through Geelong to see if they were still there...

…and they were. At least twenty Purple-crowned Lorikeets were feeding among the eucalypts in the car park. Like most parrots, they are extremely affectionate birds.

Purple-crowned Lorikeet, Waurn Ponds

It was impossible to count and difficult to photograph them because they were rarely still and most often sitting or feeding in the tops of the trees and among the dense foliage.

Purple-crowned Lorikeet, Waurn Ponds

Occasionally one or two would come out to provide a better view.

Purple-crowned Lorikeet, Waurn Ponds

The resident Red Wattlebirds were persistently and aggressively defending their territory, taking the odd moment to grab feed of their own

Red Wattlebird, Waurn Ponds

and even squabbling among themselves.

Red Wattlebird, Waurn Ponds

Also feasting on the flowers were several Rainbow Lorikeets,

Rainbow Lorikeet, Waurn Ponds

In this one, the bird took off just as I hit the shutter.

Rainbow Lorikeet, Waurn Ponds

They are seriously quick because the next frame is completely empty (@7fps). I also like this shot because it shows the difference between the take-off techniques of parrots from passerines. Shots I've taken of small passerines show they jump into the air before opening their wings, where this bird is clearly still holding onto the branch while it's wings appear to be in full flight.

Rainbow Lorikeet, Waurn Ponds

The other common residents, New Holland Honeyeaters, hung around, unusually quiet…probably happy to not be the the primary focus of the wattlebirds.

New Holland Honeyeater, Waurn Ponds

Birding and Natural History Blogs - Australia

Birding Blogs - Worldwide