Sunday, August 17, 2014

Some More 'Top End' Finches ...



… this time from Jack.

Jack is a ‘Heyfield Birdo’ who at present is somewhere in the Northern Territory. Early today he had the temerity to send me a few shots of some finches he’d seen, “… knowing your fascination with finches …”.

His report …
"I took all of these within 20 minutes yesterday morning, just north of
Katherine by a pool in a tiny, nameless creek about 20 metres from the
car. Other species seen included ...

Crimson Finch, Double-barred Finch, Gouldian Finch black and red morph and
tens of juveniles, probably 100 in total, Long-tailed Finch red-billed
form (hecki), Banded Honeyeater, White-throated Honeyeater, Restless
Flycatcher, Blue-faced Honeyeater, Hooded Parrot, Silver-crowned
Friarbird, Red-rumped Parrot, Little Friarbird, Peaceful Dove, Masked
Finch, Rainbow Bee-eater. Yesterday we saw Striated Pardalote,
Yellow-tinted Honeyeater, White-winged Triller, Brown Honeyeater.

We got there about 7am and the birds came in about 7.30 and stayed for at
least 45 minutes. Just magic."
Crimson Finch - like to nest in the pandanus and cane grass.

Masked Finch - builds a grass nest at ground level.

Double-barred Finch or 'Owl Face' - nomadic but nearly always near water.

Gouldian Finch, (Red Headed) - 75% blacks, 25% reds, some rare yellows.

Long-tailed Finch - very sociable species.

Gouldian, (Black Head) - hollow nester.

Just magic indeed Jack, BTW, what’s the temperature like – NO, don’t tell me!
Gouldiae

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Obituary - The Great Barrier Reef?

I came across this link to an excellent interactive page on the Guardian Australia website that details the history and the likely future of The Great Barrier Reef. Worth a read!
Gouldiae

Sunday, August 10, 2014

An Outing at Outtrim



Yesterday I joined eight members of BirdLife Bass Coast for their outing to Outtrim Reserve. (Map of Outtrim. History of Outtrim). This small reserve is situated within a large area of almost treeless rolling green hills and farm paddocks and perfectly illustrates the need to preserve and conserve these precious remnant bushland habitats - we ticked almost 30 species in quite a short time.
 
The scenic rolling green hills.
Inside the reserve - worth preserving.
 The start of the walk beside the oval provided some excellent sightings of Red-browed Finches as they dashed to and fro between the open ground and some adjacent bush cover. Occasionally, waiting for us to pass out of their territory, they sat quietly in some dead thicket, providing us with some perfect views.
 
"Come on you lot, get out of the way".
 Ubiquitous Superb Fairy-wrens, Grey Fantails and Brown Thornbills had us busy recording our sightings. I reckon that on several occasions the nine of us were looking in nine different directions. The regional variations effect came into play for me at times – both the Brown Thornbills and Grey Fantails were darker than the birds from around Heyfield.

Particularly dark? Breeding? My imagination?
  The ‘botanists’ in the group were busy too – Nodding Greenhoods, (and plenty of other orchid leaf, gotta get back there in Spring), miscellaneous Drosera species, the odd fungi, mosses and lichens etc, and even the odd fox, were all filling in the short periods between bird sightings.
 
Unidentified fungi - anyone help? (Tiny, soil substrate, rusty brown gills).
Tiny Drosera sp.
 A very pleasant couple of hours soon zipped by and it was ‘boil-the-billy’ back at the cars.


After lunch and the farewells were over, I slipped the backpack on and walked back into the reserve with a couple of locations in mind that I thought might be about right for a quiet sit down. I found the first site directly under some flowering mistletoe and beside some cattleyards in the adjacent paddock. The fenceline was bordered with some nice dense cover where I was able to at least partially conceal myself, back to the sun and some nice exposed branches nearby.

First candidate was a Golden Whistler, probably the male of the pair we’d ticked on the morning circuit. He worked the canopy for a while then spotting me, he gradually came down for a closer look.

Always nice to tick a Golden Whistler in the bush.
 I heard the ee-jit call of a Crescent Honeyeater coming from the mistletoe overhead. I didn’t bother too much as in the past I’ve had little success with this bird – they never seem to sit still - and I’ve only had brief glimpses at best.

A pair of Eastern Spinebills however, busily chased each other in the low shrubs around me, on several occasions nearly brushing me as they flew through. Once or twice they paused behind me but of course no matter how quietly or slowly I turned for a better look they would take off again. Suddenly though, one of the pair came around in front and sat on almost the perfect spot for a portrait.

A co-operative Eastern Spinebill.
 While reviewing the spinebill image in the camera, I sensed another bird flying in and chasing the ‘poser’ off. To my astonishment it was the crescent! It remained still for a short while and I slowly raised the camera and got off one decent burst of half a dozen shots – one of the bird and five of the empty branch after he flew off.
 
Down from the mistletoe for a look - Crescent Honeyeater.
 Beaut day, great place, lovely people. Thanks Penny et al. Hope to do it again soon.
Gouldiae