Friday, June 29, 2012

The mynas have moved in

The sun came out briefly in Melbourne the other day. All I could find to photograph was this Common myna. They have definitely moved in to our backyard since the loss of our border collie (an outside dog) in 2009. The new pooch is very much an indoorsy sort of beast. With the onset of winter we are not spending as much time on the deck and outside - the mynas have taken over!

Unfortunately this bird species appears to have affected native bird populations. You can't move around Melbourne for any length of time without seeing them. The common myna is listed as one of the World's Top 100 worst invasive species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN website here).

The Common myna (Acridotheres tristis) in typically aggressive pose

Chloe (1993-2009)

We think Digbee was born around 2005. We got him from the RSPCA in March this year. It would be fair to say he is sometimes more at home when indoors!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Egrets step in as floodwaters recede

As we drove home from Phillip Island floodwaters had largely receded (obviously - we were able to get through!).

As we were entering the town of Koo Wee Rup I had to stop to try to photograph a scattered group of about 30 cattle egret. I'm sure cattle egret congregate in much largely numbers elsewhere but I have never seen this many congregate down south.

As we stopped I was envisaging better shots as we had seemed quite close and there were a number of birds. However I was thwarted by the long grass and lack of patience (cold weather, a long day, a waiting car full of spouse, kids & dog, and a music exam deadline!).

Tom's photo from the moving car using the iphone 
Australian white ibis
 Finally some floodwater shots from the moving car (taken by passengers!).

Koo Wee Rup (above & below)

Silverleaves, Phillip Island (above & below)

Sunday, June 24, 2012

I've not seen ibis look this good before!

Several weeks of wet, gloomy days have transformed the landscape in many parts of Victoria. This applies particularly to SW Gippsland including Phillip Island. There is water just everywhere and locales such as Koo Wee Rup and Lang Lang have been flooded with a few evacuations.

Birds that like to be close to water are able to disperse. This may mean reliable go-to birding spots are less "productive". On the other hand new, temporary habitats are created in the form of drowned paddocks and gardens.

A mixed flock of australian white ibis and straw-necked ibis exploring a large Silverleaves garden attracted my attention this morning.

Straw-necked ibis (Threskiornis spinicollis)

Australian white ibis (Threskiornis molucca)

I was actually on my way to Oswin Robert Sanctuary. However upon opening the car door on arrival, the misty rain recommenced. I persisted for a while (missing a shot of what I believe was a collared sparrowhawk) but ended up photographing wallabies once again!

The trails have become creeks at Oswin Roberts Sanctuary, Phillip Island

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Bird Wolf

Have I mentioned the cold? Tom & I visited Swan Lake at dusk on the weekend. It being a pretty gloomy day there was precious little light from as early as 4pm (I guess it is 19 June after all). Adding to the birding misery was the recent plentiful rains making Swan Lake (and every dam, ditch or hollow) full of water. Therefore birds don't need to hang around the permanent water nor seem to want to hang around the bird hide end of the lake!

Anyway we did enjoy some Cape barren geese displaying their surprise at our presence. In a previous post I have mentioned alternate names including sheep bird and pig bird.

This fellow I prefer to call the Bird Wolf.

The Bird Wolf baying at the full moon!?
Cape Barren Goose at Swan Lake
A little more subdued 
The last rays of light on the last dune. Lots of water, no birds!

 There were swamp wallabies thumping around everywhere.

At least the company was good!
Tom using the hand-me-down body & lens I was completely happy with only a year ago!


Monday, June 18, 2012

Flat out birding!

I recently saw some shared pictures showing birders in extreme positions not unlike these borrowed ones shown below (they are links to their own webpages if you wish to pursue).

I can't recall getting that low very often (and I'm sure any fair dinkum birding photographer is now saying "well you haven't been serious then!"). Last weekend while I was walking from Silverleaves Beach to Observation Point, it occurred to me to give it a try.

On the way out (pretty much standing up if i recall correctly). These guys were in an area where I usually see Red-capped plovers but I'm wondering if they are Double-banded plovers.
Red-capped plover
Hooded plovers - I'm now lying down. I wasn't very patient 'cos it was windy and freezing!

Red-capped plover. I was struck by how much easier it was to have the subject focussed when lying down.
Again, I wasn't patient but I imagine that by commando wriggling it would be possible to get closer than you might think was possible standing up!
It even makes a visiting silver gull look good!

I haven't seen Australian shelduck around this beach before (these two just passing through really)

I always enjoy Pacific gulls flying effortlessly into the stiff (read "bitterly cold") breeze.

Silverleaves Beach at dawn, tide well on the way in.
 Typical beach scenes as the tide breaches some of the mini sand bars.