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


Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Lake Alford

Whenever I go to town shopping I try to find a few extra minutes to visit Lake Alford and see what birds are around. Birds that live on ponds in the middle of the city act quite differently from ones that live with fewer people and more open spaces around. I find it a bit frustrating to have a pond full of water birds so used to people feeding them that they immediately come rushing over in the expectation of some scraps of food. But - - there are birds there I don't normally see out here on the bay - and - there are occasionally some very nice ones!
The water on some of the ponds is kept well circulated and open.

Other parts of the ponds are almost covered with water plants and water lilies.

The star of the show for me this time was a single 'chick' of which a pair of Black Swans was being very protective.

A lot of Cattle Egrets were nesting in the trees on one of the islands. They made interesting photos if I could just find one to keep still and visible out of the foliage. This is their breeding plumage.

For more scenery from around the world visit Our World Tuesday

and for more birds visit Wild Bird Wednesday

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Kayaking Again!

Carpe Diem - Seize the Moment!
Last week started with heavy rain and wind. I watched the weather charts for each day and each morning looked at the clouds and waited to see the first breezes in the tree tops! Finally there was one morning that looked possible! - Not perfect! - but possible! I loaded the kayak on the roof racks of the car. I heaved a sigh of relief that all the "doom sayers" who keep asking if I can still lift the kayak up are not right!! I scurried around looking for gear that hadn't been used for more than 6 months! Down at the bay the water looked beautiful! Horrors!! Where was the kayak paddle? It is really lucky I only live about 5 minutes away!
When I finally started paddling out towards the airport roost I was intrigued to look down into the water and discover it was tea colored. All that heavy rain a couple of days ago had flushed out all the water in all the little creeks. Creek water around here is always colored by the vegetation that hangs over and into the water. Usually the bay water reflects the blue of the sky but this morning the water was a deeper color with hints of maroon. This photo is taken looking south from the roost. Little mangrove trees are beginning to thicken along the shoreline.

This photo is taken looking north along the roost and shows the foam which always happens when the salt water is mixed with too much fresh from the creeks.

It was great to see a total of 4 Red-capped Plovers. This sand bank was where I first got a good look at these little birds when I was still learning to ID shorebirds. Last year I didn't see them here. Two of them were running along the edge of the water and in and out of the foam.

A single Grey-tailed Tattler flew out of one of the mangrove trees. I wonder where the rest of the flock that usually roost there have gone? The pair of Pied Oystercatchers were still there. Keeping them company on that end of the sand spit were a number of Pacific Golden Plovers. They disappeared early for migration last year so it was good to find some back this year.
This photo shows the Pied Oystercatchers, one Pacific Golden Plover and one Red-capped Plover right in the front.

One of the Pacific Golden Plovers showed a few black spots - remnants of the black breeding plumage. There were also a few with juvenile plumage.
 The wind had been picking up all the time I had been watching the birds. After so much time away from kayaking I was not as steady getting into the kayak as I would like to be. Fortunately I could drag the kayak over the little sand spit and into the lagoon behind it where the water was nice and still. I need to get out on the kayak more often - and maybe I need to do some strengthening exercises for unused muscles as well!

For more photos of our world visit Our World Tuesday

and for more birds vist Wild Bird Wednesday