Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Perfect Weather For Kayaking

Not every morning is perfect for kayaking and photographing birds but if you wait one is sure to come along! Last week I got one of those lucky ones - sunny, no wind, and a morning high tide - and no one else to be seen on the whole of the bay! As I was taking my kayak off the car I heard a dog barking out on the water. The dog was on a boat that had been in the same place for some time. I kayaked out to the bird roost and then saw that the boat was slowly moving down the bay.

When I looked at it closely I could see the dog standing out on the front. The boat looked to be very comfortably set up with a solar panel also on the front and an extra cover over the back to shield from too much sun. Because there was no wind the boat was being moved with a motor.

It looked very peaceful - but rather slow as was obvious when someone else in a ' tinny' with a good fast motor went passed.

All the usual shorebirds were at the roost but even though I was still quite a long way out on the bay they disturbed and flew. I paddled in a little closer and looked for any movement. Pretty soon I realized that there were Pacific Golden Plovers along the shoreline but these birds are really good at finding cover that hides them as long as they don't move. That red bill is a Pied Oystercatcher - also well hidden!

There were more birds a little further along standing on mangrove roots and here there were Grey-tailed Tattlers with them.

Another small group of birds was a little further along the beach. There were more Grey-tailed  Tattlers with the Pacific Golden Plovers and the birds were again using the vegetation to hide in rather than simply fly off.
One of the Pacific Golden Plovers was still showing a little bit of breeding plumage down the front.

For more scenery from around the world visit Our World Tuesday 

and for more birds visit Wild Bird Wednesday.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Half Tide at Mullens

Mullens foreshore is a great place for a walk if you don't have much time. These photos were taken a couple of weeks apart but on a similar tide. I did not see any birds on the first walk so saved the photos for later when I did see birds!

These are commonly called Soldier Crabs and there can be thousands of them walking over the sand. I hadn't seen any for some time - I guess crabs must also have seasons or cycles? They are very quick at moving away if they hear/feel steps close by. Sometimes they just head for the nearest puddle of water and quickly disappear. It's really surprising how quickly they can 'sink' under the sand.

These photos were taken a day ago. The morning was overcast and as I left home there was a quick shower of rain. Down on the foreshore it had cleared a little. Looking north-east there was blue sky and sunny patches.

Looking south it was very dark. There were a number of Gull-billed Terns swooping down and picking up food from the sand or shallow pools of water.

There was quite a strong wind blowing and shorebirds usually find a sheltered area to rest or feed . Apart from the Terns this was the only bird I saw. From a distance I thought it might be a Red-necked Stint but as I got closer I could see it wasn't quite the right size or shape. It was against the light which made ID harder.

I moved away a little and tried to get the light shining on the bird - but I had only one quick chance before it flew off. I managed one photo with it partly obscured by a small mangrove plant and one more photo as it was stretched out just before it flew. It was a juvenile Sharp-tailed Sandpiper which is not a species I usually see here on the foreshore. 

For more scenery from around the world visit Our World Tuesday

and for more birds visit Wild Bird Wednesday.


Monday, October 6, 2014

More Backyard Sights

The 'net is a wonderful invention - it sends text, photos, sounds, and video - but so far! - no smells. So please use your imagination on this post.
These Banksia roses have been blooming outside my kitchen window for a few weeks. There are some dead blooms but plenty more buds still to come out. The perfume is delightful - especially in the early morning and late afternoon.

Down the back corner of the yard I have citrus trees planted. This tree is a very large one - a Pomelo (citrus maxima) - and in full blossom right now. Pomelos are the largest of all citrus fruit - 15-25cms in diameter(5.9-9.8 inches) and weighing 1-2 kms (2.2-4.4 lbs). The fruit is usually a white color and tastes like a mild sweet grapefruit but without any of the bitterness of a grapefruit. It was originally grown in southern and south-eastern Asia.  I love the smell of citrus blossoms and so do the bees!

Next to the Pomelo tree is a Macadamia Tree. The flowers smell like very sweet honey and are attracting bees and bugs of all kinds. Macadamias used to be called Queensland Nuts and were originally from Australia. Macadamias were planted as a commercial crop in Hawaii from the 1920s and are now grown in a number of places around the world.

Occasionally rather unusual birds come through my backyard. I am lucky if I am around to see them but this time it was easy! A couple of little Willy Wagtails were making a big fuss and scolding something that had come too close. When I went out to see I found this Pheasant Coucal (Centropus phasianinus).  This is only the third time I have seen this bird in my area - or at least around town. The photos are not good! They were taken against the sun and then in deep shade under some palms. Although the Coucal is classed as a cuckoo it does not have the nasty habit of nest parasitism but builds a nest for itself in long grass. It is usually seen running across the ground and when it does fly it almost seems too heavy to get up!

For more scenery from around the world visit Our World Tuesday

and for more birds visit Wild Bird Wednesday.

Monday, September 29, 2014

A Perfect Morning

I thought about penning a paean of praise - but then decided it was a bit "over the top" for a blog post! So instead I shall just explain that I was able to get out on my kayak for the first time in five months and it was a perfect morning. The tide was high enough to be interesting, it was sunny with just a few clouds, and there was no wind! What more could anyone want? (Maybe a few less sand-flies close in to the shore would be nice!)
This photo is looking south-east across the bay.
This photo is looking west back towards the parking lot and my car.

 There have apparently not been any huge winds or wild seas over the last few months because the mangroves were still in their usual places and the contours of the shoreline are unchanged. These mangroves are on the south side of the Mullens creek channel. They are Red Mangroves (Rhizophora stylosa). Red Mangroves have the usual tangled roots at the base but they also grow aerial roots from the higher branches. These aerial roots hang down just above the water and sometimes reach right into the water.

 As I came around the mangrove trees at this end of the channel a number of shorebirds started flying off and moving north. The tide was just beginning to cover the low sand and mud just south of this point and I think the birds decided they would move to higher ground. Of course, once one group flew the rest joined them. I counted 30 plus Whimbrels, a flock of about 150 mixed Curlews and Godwits, and about 30 Grey-tailed Tattlers. I have no way of knowing which of these shorebirds are newly arrived migrants and which have been here over the winter. I think possibly the Grey-tailed Tattlers have arrived recently as these numbers are close to what I usually see on this roost during the summer.
This tall old mangrove tree looks as if it might not survive any more big storms but for the present it often makes a good roost for Little Egrets.

As I paddled in closer one of the birds flew off to join other birds on the sand but one stayed and just watched me.

It seemed OK with me getting quite close until a Pied Oystercatcher that was hidden down in some bushes close by began making a warning cry. I did not go any closer because there might have been a nest in there somewhere - but the Little Egret had a good look all around for trouble.

When it only saw me in the kayak it settled down again.

For more scenery from around the world visit Our World Tuesday

and for more birds visit Wild Bird Wednesday.



Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Red-winged Parrots

Most parrots around here are easy to see and hear - but a green parrot against green leaves is not so easy. Red-winged Parrots often fly over my place but they seldom come down and stop in the trees. Friends who live a few blocks away from me have started hanging out a seed "bar' for the Red-winged Parrots that are around their place. However, as soon as these parrots have finished eating they take the seeds away - otherwise the big White Cockies simply pick it up and take it right away. Females and immature males are green with just a thin stripe of red down the side. They are the hardest to see against green leaves.

Males have a much wider piece of red color on their wings and are black down the back.

This male was even prettier. I am told it is a young male still showing some immature feathers.

This is the female again.

This photo reminded me of all those times someone will ask to have their photo taken again because they blinked at the wrong time!

For more scenery from around the world visit Our World Tuesday

and for more birds visit Wild Bird Wednesday.

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.