Monday, November 26, 2012

Birds of the Bungles

Driving to and from the Bungle Bungles from our accommodation close to the highway was a big day out - not a day that lent itself to birding (how can this be true?)!

However I did enjoy a walk the following morning (12 August 2012) exploring along the Spring Creek. This is a tributary of the Ord River. Caravan park, creek and river are all a part of the Mabel Downs cattle station.

You can see pictures, stories and a short video from the family adventures at the Bungles at these posts from the family blog!

But on to the birds ....
It was a great morning for slaking your thirst at Spring Creek!

One of the grubbiest Sulphur-crested cockatoos I have come across!

Peaceful dove
Long-tailed finch drinking and ... well .... reflecting!
I remember being frustrated and elated at the same time as the small flock of budgies arrived. Elated that they had appeared in the first place and deigned it reasonable to have a drink adjacent to my "perch"! Frustrated that I knew it was not possible to get any closer or make any attempt to improve my position without seeing them off!

In these cropped views I do like the "descending angel" pose of the bird at left!

In my limited experience (about 2 weeks!) I have found that budgies can be hard to photograph! They are small fast and in numbers that bewilder - all characteristics that help them elude predators. Even in dead trees they camouflage well!

Spot the budgie - I just counted 33 in this picture!
If Long-tailed finch sit on a branch they tend to stand out!

Long-tailed finch

The rear view is included because it demonstrates the feature that gives them their common name!

This was another location that seemed to cope with a large number of honeyeater species. Black-chinned honeyeater seen below was a lifer for me. The north and western Australian race laetior is also known as Golden-backed honeyeater - these colours demonstrated in the peculiar pose at right.

Yellow-tinted honeyeater. This back-lit photo was a small spot metering triumph for this photographer - not least because as the swaying branch moved I was being blinded by a direct view of the sun!
Please also meet some other locals seen that morning including Olive-backed oriole, Grey shrike-thrush, Little friarbird and Whistling kite. You can see the complete Eremaea list here.

Bird on!

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Barking owl - crowd pleaser!

This Barking owl turned up at the amenities block at Home Valley Station caravan park while we were there in August. My daughter Hannah wrote in her journal:
Last night during dinner we saw a large bird fly into a tree. It turned out to be a barking owl! It was amazing. We attracted a lot of attention. It was quite weird to be standing there surrounded by people right next to a bathroom. The owl was reddish-brown with a brown striped chest and the underside of its tail. It has white flecked wings. Its head is rather flat with yellow eyes.

Black kite, Home Valley Station, WA
Other hunting and scavenging birds were frequent including Whistling kite and Black kite. At the other end of the food chain it was good for me to finally compare Diamond dove and Peaceful dove "face to face" (I keep getting the names mixed up)!

Diamond dove (foreground) and Peaceful dove (rear)
Bar-shouldered dove not far away as well
Although not in the prolific numbers reported in parts of Australia recently it's always nice to have a budgerigar experience!

And it's always fun meeting new friends!

A somewhat shy Bar-breasted honeyeater, HomeValley Station

 Bird on!

Friday, November 23, 2012

Wedge-tailed eagle versus fishing line

In August this impressive and noble looking Wedge-tailed eagle was spotted roadside feasting on roadkill. When it had decided it was "over" being photographed (and covered in the dust from our car) it took off towards a better perch.

Nothing unusual there.

Wedge-tailed eagles are notoriously laboured in their take-off and when this bird sort of mucked up its landing I still didn't think much of it. We are very close and still in the car which means the following photos are totally out of focus and poorly captured.

However I invite the viewer to click for the enlargements and follow the slide show to see what I later discovered on the shots. The Kimberly dust adds an apocalyptic gloom.

The bird's next port of call was a nearby anthill. I am assuming that what we see here is fishing line (I also initially wondered if it may have been a tracking device).

At the time the bird's flight really did not seem impeded and I came away thinking that I had been viewing a healthy bird. This was the dry season in a remote part of Australia. My guess is that monitoring a wild bird's health in this situation would be an improbable possibility and I can only hope that this bird is doing OK.

For injured or orphaned wildlife that is able to be transported I have tonight come across a website for a Kununurra based service Kimberley Wildlife Rescue.

I was reminded of a pelican I photographed at Forster NSW.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

The one about the Varied lorikeet and the Jigal tree

Stopped for a while where the Gibb River Rd crosses the Pentecost River in the Kimberley. This was late on the afternoon of 7th August this year. While my brother fished and watched for salties* I came across this familiar-looking tree. It was a Jigal tree in flower. A week or so earlier I had come across one at Katherine (Jigal tree - bird magnet) which was attracting a wide variety of birds.

This tree was similarly productive for me!

Varied lorikeet, flowering Jigal tree

Masked woodswallow

A few shots of the amazing countryside showing the Pentecost River crossing on the Gibb River Rd. The Cockburn Range provides the backdrop.

Bird on!

*Estuarine crocodiles