Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Summer Already?

I started my post last week by showing some spring flowers but this week it feels like summer! The temperatures jumped from the low 20s to the high 20s in one week (70 plus to mid 80s in Fahrenheit)! Plus one night I was awakened by the loud repetitive call of the Koel - right outside my bedroom window! The Koel is a summer migrant to northern Australia and is sometimes called the Cooee Bird. I wish I knew how to move it away from my bedroom - or else to persuade it to keep quiet!
Last week I walked around to the Mullens roost on a good high tide. The tide had covered most of the roost and I hoped to see migratory shorebirds.

However, it appeared that the large flocks had still not arrived. Some White-faced Herons flew across the roost and settled at the southern end.

On the far side there was a long line of Terns - mostly Gull-billed Terns. There were a few shorebirds with them but no large flocks.

The only birds I got close to were a pair of Pied Oystercatchers. They were walking across the low-growing salt marsh plants and then walked out in the shallow water. Suddenly one of the birds stopped and began probing down through the water into the soft sand. I have often walked across this roost in bare feet and often I have felt something wriggling under my foot! I wonder if something wriggled under this bird's foot!

For more scenery from around the world visit Our World Tuesday 

and for more birds visit Wild Bird Wednesday

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Inskip

This photo has nothing to do with the rest of the post! I just wanted to show all the northern hemisphere readers that it is spring time here. This is the Banksia rose growing outside my kitchen window!
Now back to the purpose of this post! The best place to go on an early high tide and clear weather has got to be the Inskip Peninsular. As I walk out on the sand I always look over to the sand island first to see how many shorebirds are roosting out there. The most obvious this time were the Pelicans.

At the end of the sand on the Point there was quite a large group of Terns.

As I got closer I could see a mixture of birds. Most were Crested Terns still looking rather "scruffy" as they change into breeding plumage. The large birds with the bright red/orange bills are Caspian Terns and in the foreground of the photo is one Gull-billed Tern still in breeding plumage - very white plumage with a full black cap.

There was quite a lot of early morning traffic going over to Fraser Island on the barge and the birds soon took to the air. Some flew off towards the sea and a few joined the other birds out on the island.

As I walked back along the point looking east the sun was making a beautiful silver path across the sea. I could see a couple of boats well out to sea on the horizon.

There was also a small fishing boat anchored in the channel close to land. I don't know if they were catching anything - or just hoping to like all enthusiastic fishermen!

Walking slowly back along the road to the parking area I was looking for small birds that are often in the bushes close to the road when I heard the distinctive call of a Beach Stone-Curlew (Esacus magnirostris) - or Beach Thick-knee as it is often called. It had been sitting down beside a large piece of driftwood and I hadn't seen it until it moved and started calling. I could hear another bird but did not see it. I assume this is the pair that have lived out at Inskip for a number of years.

This bird stood up - then shook its feathers out - then smoothed them into place again and set off along the sand away from me.

For more scenery from around the world visit Out World Tuesday

and for more birds visit Wild Bird Wednesday.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Mullens

I was lucky enough to enjoy a walk in perfect weather for a couple of mornings last week at Mullens. I really enjoy this place because there are so few people and such wide open spaces. The first morning the tide was quite high.

The next morning I was down there the tide was not quite as high  -  but the water was very still again.

At this time of year the sand flats are almost empty. In a month or so there will be migratory shorebirds probing for food in all the shallow puddles. All that I could see right now were Eastern Curlews in the distance or else flying off well before I got near them. I have found it is only possible to get near an Eastern Curlew when it is surrounded by other migratory shorebirds. I think the ones I saw that morning might be early migrants that have returned from the northern hemisphere.

For more scenery from around the world visit Our World Tuesday

and for more birds visit Wild Bird Wednesday.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Backyard Happenings

Time and patience are required for most things - but some definitely more than others. Back in the end of June I posted photos of the Gymea Lily that was flowering in my garden. This is a re-post of one of the photos from then.

A little more than a week ago the flower head started to open.

Between then and now we have had 3 days over the last week-end of high winds and a lot of rain - 123mm (nearly 5 inches) in all. The flowers that were opening definitely got a bit of a battering!

This morning I saw a Blue-faced Honeyeater checking the flowers for any nectar.


Do viruses cycle between the hemispheres? If so all you people in the northern hemisphere are facing quite a nasty time next winter! There are severe colds and flues going round out here right now and I managed to pick up the cold somewhere. Runny nose, chills and difficulty breathing -  all this kept me miserable and unable to do anything much outside for several weeks! The only interesting birds I managed to photograph were a couple of Galahs that came down onto the grass in the backyard. If this was nicely mowed then it would look like lawn - but then again there would be no dandelions for the Galahs to enjoy! The birds came down for a munch on the flowers and seed heads in a break between the rain storms. There are rain drops on the grass and the birds look a bit damp as well!

For more photos from around the world visit Our World Tuesday

and for more birds visit Wild Bird Wednesday.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Bymien Picnic Area

Last week I took visitors from New Zealand out to the Bymien Picnic Area. This place is about 3 kms down the Freshwater Road which is reached from the road to Rainbow Beach. There is a magnificent area of rainforest here with trails through the forest and signage at intervals along the trails naming and describing many of the rainforest species.

This is tropical rainforest so there are many beautiful palms through the forest.

All plants struggle to reach the light above the highest trees. The Strangler Fig starts as an epiphyte high in a host tree. The roots then start downwards and eventually completely cover and surround the host tree until it is dead and the Strangler Fig stands by itself.

I heard quite a number of birds in the forest but they were high in the canopy and impossible to photograph. As we sat eating our picnic lunch this Brush-turkey came and checked us out.

I thought it was being very obliging to sit down in the sun where I could get a good photo. I should have known better!

We were sitting and eating beside the picnic table. The bird first came and tried for crumbs in front of us - then it went away! The next thing I knew, it had flown onto the table where the rest of the food was sitting and picked up a pack of sandwiches. I chased after it but there was no way that bird was going to let me get near. I didn't want the sandwiches after the bird had taken them - but I didn't like the idea of the plastic wrapping being taken away!

For more scenery from around the world visit Our World Tuesday

and for more birds visit Wild Bird Wednesday.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Inskip Point - 2

This post follows on from last week. I decided I couldn't adequately describe tiny birds of about 150mm (6 inches) - such as Stints -  and birds at least 10 times their size - Pelicans.
As I walked out onto the sand at the point I saw a group of pelicans and Terns right out on the end.

I looked over towards the sand island to see if there were large numbers of birds over there but again I saw mainly Pelicans at one end.

A little later I looked over again and there was another large group of Pelicans. From this view I could also see brown lines beside the Pelicans - shorebirds which were too far away for ID. (Click on photos to enlarge to see details.)

The Terns out at the end of the point were mainly Crested Terns looking rather scruffy in their non-breeding plumage. In this photo there is one Gull-billed Tern on the left and a Silver Gull in the rear at the right.

As well as the Crested Terns this photo has a Caspian Tern in the center (with the red bill) some Pied Cormorants, and more Silver Gulls. The Gull on the left next to the Cormorant is a juvenile still showing brown flecks on the plumage.

Suddenly all the Terns took flight - then slowly settled down again. At first I thought they had been frightened by the sail boat  which was beginning to move from where it had anchored over-night.

However, when I looked further to the left I saw that the Pelicans had been disturbed by the rising tide.

They had decided to move out to the little sand island where the Terns had been roosting. A bird of this size coming in to share your space means you must move!

Eventually the pelicans occupied all of one end of the little island.


For more scenery from around the world visit Our World Tuesday

and for more birds visit Wild Bird Wednesday.


Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Inskip Point

Thanks to all who sent me good wishes on my last post. I appreciated all your kind thoughts!

Yesterday morning was beautiful and it was even more beautiful out at Inskip Point. The hint of frost on the dry grass in my yard was nowhere to be found out on the sea coast. It was sunny and very still - and because I was out early there were not too many people around to frighten off the birds.
As usual there were lots of boats around. This one looked as if it had been anchored on the other side of the sand island all night.

The Coast Guard boat was going out along the channel at quite a speed.

The barge to Fraser Island had already made one trip over to the island.

There was very still water over at Bullock Point and the barge and other boats anchored over there seemed to almost float on air.

As I walked out along the sand I only saw some pelicans and terns roosting right out at the end. However, a 4 wheel drive vehicle was going out towards the barge and it disturbed some little shorebirds that I had not even seen until they flew up. I watched carefully to see where they landed - it is a very big expanse of sand and these little birds have a habit of hiding down in car wheel marks.
At first the only ones I saw were Double Banded Plovers that are getting ready to migrate back to New Zealand at the end of our winter. Some were already showing quite a lot of breeding plumage.

A second vehicle going towards the barge made an even bigger flock of little shorebirds fly up and along the sand at the edge of the water. At this time of the year a flock like this will usually include Red-capped Plovers and Red-necked Stints as well as the Double-banded Plovers. They all seem to flock quite happily together and I have to look carefully to ID them all. Red-capped Plovers are year round residents in Australia. Red-necked Stints migrate to Siberia and northern Asia to breed in the northern summer. The ones here now will be juveniles not yet old enough to migrate.

The birds in the front of this photo are all Double-banded Plovers. There are 3 Red-necked Stints out of focus in the middle back.

 Two Double-banded Plovers in the front of this photo and two Red-necked Stints behind them.

Another two Double-banded Plovers and two Red-capped plovers with them - a male and a female.

Walking back to the car park it was not quite 8:30am and the sun was still low enough to wash the sea with silver and to turn the fisherman at the edge of the channel into a silhouette.

For more scenery from around the world visit Our World Tuesday

and for more birds visit Wild Bird Wednesday