Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Figbird In A Fig Tree

The other day a friend told me she had seen a lot of small birds in a Fig Tree that was covered with small figs at present. The small birds she had photographed were ones I really wanted photos of as well. When I went down the next day about 10am there were no birds at all in the tree! The following day I left it till the afternoon and there were birds all over the tree. Unfortunately they weren't the ones my friend had seen and photographed but any bush birds that sit still long enough for a photo are good birds!
The tree is a native Fig - not the ones that people usually eat! When I looked up "fig tree" in my  books about local native trees I found that there lots of fig trees that grow locally. Without more experience I couldn't ID it although a friend suggested that it might be a Ficus rubiginosa.


I have taken lots of photos of Figbirds (Sphecotheres viridis) but never before one in a Fig Tree.

There were other smaller birds up in the very top of the tree but I couldn't see them properly in among the leaves. The only other bird I saw clearly was this little Red-browed Finch ( Neochmia temporalis) which was using a puddle to take a drink. I used to call this a Red-browed Firetail but my birdbook says it is a finch!

For more scenery from around the world visit Our World Tuesday

and for more birds visit Wild Bird Wednesday

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Seary's Creek

I went out with my friends Sarah and Graham a couple of days ago. They have a big 4 wheel drive vehicle which lets them get into beautiful areas where I cannot usually go. Thanks Sarah and Graham - it was a great trip!
We first took a quick look at Inskip Point. We hoped that we might see some interesting birds that had been brought in by the ex-tropical cyclone. When we got out there it looked like everyone else from around the district had had the same idea - vehicles and people everywhere! There were a few terns roosting on the point but even those were being disturbed!
Some of them did come back in for a few moments and I was able to get this photo of Little Terns in partial breeding plumage.
Then we drove off to follow the road through the National Park down to where Seary's Creek flows into the bay. If I had thought about it I could have taken enough photos for a whole post about the kind of roads/tracks that go through the Park. Parts of the road were covered with areas of deep dry sand. Other parts had steep rocky drops over low parts that were covered with water. It would be impossible to drive this road without a 4 wheel drive vehicle - and a good driver too! 
We stopped and walked around for a while where the track crosses the Creek. The land all around here is very low lying and when the tide is full in it is very swampy.
The Creek flows slowly through this area. The water in the Creek is stained with tannin and the color when we were there was very dark.
( I have kayaked from Tin Can Bay up to this point on the creek 3 or 4 times. The first time I came here I had looked very carefully at the maps and still managed to miss the passage up through the mangroves. The next time I left more time to explore around the mangroves. I was still very unsure of where I should go but then looked down into the water and realized the clear waters of the bay had changed into tea colored water! I had found the creek! I then paddled upstream until I came to the little bridge which is the crossing for the road.!)
These are Mangrove Ferns. I have read about them but these were the first ones I have seen. They grow from here through northern Australia and up through parts of SE Asia.

The only bird we saw was this Little Egret which was standing on the edge of  one of the swampy ponds.
The road goes only a little way beyond this area. It leaves the Creek and goes over a small rise and comes out on the Bay right underneath the power lines that cross from the other side. It is interesting to look at things from this side. Those small white spots far down the bay are the boats I see when I am kayaking out from Mullens.

For more scenery visit Our World Tuesday

and for more birds visit Wild Bird Wednesday

Monday, February 8, 2016

New Signage

A few days ago friends told me there was a new sign at Norman Point - the most northerly point at Tin Can Bay. Of course, I had to go and see it. It is set under a protecting roof and is big and bright and beautiful! It is double sided with three panels on each side. One panel gives a general overview of what can be expected to be seen around the Strait, one is about the marine Turtles, one about the Dugongs, one about the Whales and Dolphins, one about the Mangroves, and one about the shorebirds. The sign has been put up by Queensland Parks and Wildlife.

I am especially pleased to see a sign like this because when I retired up here about 12 years ago I had difficulty in finding any local knowledge about the wetlands and especially the shorebirds. I was hoping to just enjoy my retirement but I also wanted to know some details about this area - which was totally new to me. I read books, bought a kayak and started exploring. I soon discovered I needed a camera with a zoom lens and so bought a point and shoot with the best zoom I could afford! What I discovered was beautiful and not like anything I had seen before. I shared what I was finding with anyone who would listen! I bought better cameras - (I am now into my second DSLR and a couple of good long lenses.) I also got to know some of the Parks and Wildlife officers. This is a huge area and no-one can be expected to see or know it all so I coaxed some of these Parks people out with me during their free time. I also told them that anything they could do to protect the shorebirds and make more people aware of them would be great!...And please, let me know if they could use my photos for this! This sign about the shorebirds is the result! I am very happy to think that I have helped to accomplish something like this in my retirement. Oh yes! Parks credits me with the photos and thanks me for what I have accomplished. That is certainly the "icing on the cake"!!
Here is the the shorebirds part of the sign.

When I went out there this morning there was a strong breeze blowing and white-caps on the bay.
The only shorebirds to be found was a group of nearly 30 Pied Oystercatchers sheltering in the curve of the bay.

For more scenery from around the world visit Our World Tuesday

and for more birds visit Wild Bird Wednesday

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Shorebirds at High Tide

A good high tide and no wind make perfect conditions to view any of the shorebird roosts around the bay. This time I went with friends around to the Mullens roost. It is possible to view this roost by walking there but you can only see a small number of birds unless you can kayak or canoe to the opposite bank.
We got an early start and were on the water about quarter past six. The reflections were perfect making even a common bird like this Silver Gull look rather special.

Around at the roost the reflections were even better. This was one of the two Little Egrets that were around there and roosting in the mangroves.

One leg tucked up in front makes a funny looking little pouch under the feathers.

The larger shorebirds were spread out along the water line on the far shore.

I have never yet taken photos that I am really pleased with on that side of the bay. Brownish colored birds and brown colored vegetation are not very dramatic! Also, the water is very shallow on that side and it is not possible to drift in very close. If you get out of the kayak then the birds usually move off elsewhere. This is a line of Godwits.

We then paddled slowly to the far end of the bay where the smaller shorebirds often roost.  We got out of the kayaks to try to get closer to the little birds. These are both sit-on-top kayaks - the red one is a two person kayak.

Red-capped Plovers are very curious and will often come closer to check you out!  These ones were in among the salt marsh vegetation in the shallow water. There is one Lesser Sand Plover in this first group.

There were a number of small birds on the far sand bank and one of my friends walked out in the water to try to get closer. It made a great photo with the reflection in the still water.
A special thank you to the friends who went with me and helped me!

For more scenery from around the world visit Our World Tuesday

and for more birds visit Wild Bird Wednesday


Tuesday, January 12, 2016

On The Bay

I always enjoy kayaking around the bay - and even more so when it has been some time since I have been able to get out there. The other morning it was nearly perfect. There was almost no wind which makes it all so much more beautiful. This is an opening through the mangroves that many of the boats use to get out in the deeper water of the creek.

These boats have been sitting here for months. I have seen the one with the mast and sails move out every now and again but not the other one. When the tide goes out they are resting on the sand.

This is not where I expect to see fishermen. When I first saw them they were out beyond the mangroves and in waist deep water.  As they came in past me I asked if they had caught anything and they said they had.

These birds were strung out along the sand at the Airport Roost.

At first I thought they were all Godwits but when I zoomed in on them I saw Great Knots, Grey-tailed Tattlers, Pacific Golden Plovers and one or two Eastern Curlews.

I heard these Greenshanks long before I saw them. By that time they had moved out to one end of the main flock.

These Pacific Golden Plovers had been walking along the sand to the rear of the other birds but then they moved over the back of the sand spit and into the lagoon behind. The water was not very deep in there as the tide that morning was not very high.

For more scenery from around the world visit Our World Tuesday

and for more birds visit Wild Bird Wednesday


Monday, January 4, 2016

Australiana

This title seemed appropriate for a first post in 2016. I hope it is going to be a good and productive year with fewer eye problems than last year. My specialist reminds me that I still have sight and anything else is really secondary!
These flowers are an Australian native commonly called Kangaroo Paws - from the species Anigozanthos. I think the more common one is red colored but these plants were given to me and they have grown with very little care. All the honey-eaters (birds that feed on nectar) like them and often the birds are so much bigger than the flowers that the stems are bent right over to the ground.

This flower head was growing under a palm leaf and I think that is why it has grown in this rather different shape.

The fresh flowers have this little red center but most of the ones left on my plant have dried out and are forming seed heads,

What could be more Australian than a Kookaburra? I always like the patterns of light and shade on the birds perching on the tree branches.
This one eventually flopped down on the grass. My friend did not look too happy to see this bird and when I asked why she said that they were sitting out on the front veranda and  enjoying afternoon tea the previous day.  There was a bit of squawking in the tree top then the Kookaburra came down onto the lawn with a tiny naked bird in its beak and proceeded to eat it in front of them.! Kookaburras seem to enjoy eating just about anything that moves!

This bird is a Noisy Fiarbird (Philemon corniculatus) and wouldn't really be thought of as an Aussie Icon!  However, these birds are associated for me with hot summer family beach camping holidays. I had grown up in New Zealand and these were not birds I had ever seen or heard before. I can't think of anything nicer than those long ago camping holidays - in among sand hills just back from the beach and under small trees which grew in that kind of habitat. Back then we called them "Leatherheads". This bird had just been cooling off in a bird bath.

For more scenery from around the world visit Our World Tuesday

and for more birds visit Wild Bird Wednesday

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Locals-Again

I took a short walk at high tide along the Mullens foreshore the other day. The bay was as beautiful as  always.

The tide was higher than I expected and around at the boat ramp the water was overflowing the bank and rushing in to the tracks made by vehicles as they maneuvered their boats down the rather basic ramp.

The ripples on the water made patterns of light on the branches of trees overhanging the water.

I have not had any time to go out and look for birds this week. We have had some really hot summer weather. It is a bit too hot for comfort I think but all the plants and grass love it! That means extra work with the lawn mower of course. Yesterday I mowed the back yard and when I finished I looked around and there were birds busily chasing after insects that the mower had disturbed. There were two Magpie Larks (Grallina cyanoleuca) with their bills all muddy from probing into the soft soil. Look carefully at the plumage pattern and you can see the male and female.
Female

Male


I don't often see Magpies (Gymnorhina tibiccin) on my lawn but I have recently heard some juveniles next door. They too came to take advantage of all the insects I had disturbed. These, of course, are Aussie Magpies which are rather different from those in the northern hemisphere! In adults that grey plumage becomes black.

For more scenery from around the world visit Our World Tuesday

and for more birds visit Wild Bird Wednesday