Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Birds of Port Fairy 2013

Don't get excited  - no pellagics here!

Birding endeavours during my recent trip to Port Fairy were seriously truncated by illness (temporary!) but here's a selection of shots from the weekend trip away for the folk festival.

Golden-headed cisticola

From the boardwalk at Pea Soup beach a wealth of gulls and terns beckoned further investigation but I really wasn't up to it!

This unbanded Hooded plover was protecting a fenced and signed nesting site at Pea Soup Beach, Port Fairy. 
Black-shouldered kite with freshly caught mouse .... Yum!
Down the hatch - whole!
Does my stomach look full?
We walked past a wetland at Russell Clark Reserve daily which afforded good views of Great egret, Chestnut teal and other ducks, Buff-banded rail, Hoary-headed grebe, Purple swamphen and Dusky moorhen. There was a small group of around a dozen Black-tailed native hen.

Bird on!

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Butcherbird brightens dull morning

Finally some cooler weather in Melbourne! It is a dull, cool morning (13 deg celsius - that's 55'F) and it seems like we're skipping Autumn this year (it was 36'C only 5 days ago - that's 97'F) .

The dull morning was brightened by a visit from a young Grey butcherbird demonstrating all the classic butcherbird poses:

Immature Grey butcherbird (Cracticus torquatus), suburban Blackburn, Australia

Find out more about this bird at the Birds in Backyards Grey Butcherbird page including a nice recording of the bird's piping call.

Bird on!

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Woods Reserve, Tuerong

'Enjoyed a half hour wander through part of Wood's Reserve at Tuerong on the Mornington Peninsula recently. We walked through a noisy colony of Bell miners (Manorina melanophrys) and as our eyes became accustomed the individual birds responsible for that wonderful "tink" materialised!

Bell miner Wood's Reserve, Tuerong. I find it's like watching the night sky. Initially the birds are hard to spot but once you get your "miner eyes" more and more birds materialise!

I have a few shots with Bell miners leaping in this fashion with little use of their wings.

A nice recording of Bell miner calls & a valiant attempt to film these near-invisible birds can be seen here (a Canadian punter's youtube account):

Other birds seen included a pair of Wedge-tailed eagles, Yellow robin, Grey fantail and a wealth of other honeyeaters including Yellow-faced, New Holland and White-naped.

Grey fantail 
Yellow-faced honeyeater 
This is one of those "nearly shots"! It nearly has Yellow-faced, New Holland and White-naped Honeyeaters all in the one shot (see particularly out of focus White-naped at bottom left)
 Bird on!

Monday, March 11, 2013

Getting to know a bird. Emu-wren.

Southern Emu-wren Stipiturus malachurus to be more precise.

Southern Emu-wren (male), Yambuk
The Port Fairy Folk Festival has become an annual March pilgrimage for us. In the last three years I have visited the Yambuk lakes area and / or Deen Maar and have managed to hook up with this quirky little bird.

This has been a learning experience from scratch.

1st year - didn't know what was seen until checked photos (my gosh that tail)!
2nd year - expected to see them. 'Knew where to look but had fleeting contact with one bird only.

On this year's visit I was just about to declare a disappointing "dip" when I was alerted by a call and flutter of foliage. In the ensuing 20 minutes a family of 3-4 emu-wren tormented me (and I in turn probably tormented them!) as they moved largely unseen around the reeds and heath.

So I have learnt the following about Southern emu-wren:

  • They are extremely difficult to photograph!
  • They are quite happy to hang around the observer - however the only observations are of moving foliage!
  • Noting sufficient discerning features for ID may take a while!
  • On the ground or lower branches of heath, emu-wren are confident in their obscurity and may even approach (you just won't see them).
  • A bird in flight may give quite a buzz! - just to see the bird in full view with it's ridiculous trailing tail! Of course too brief and too much head rush to contemplate even trying to photograph the thing.
  • They seem unlikely to get more than 60cm off the ground (this may help me quickly sort out next time some of the 100+ fairy-wren sightings before the first emu-wren)

Anyway some pictures. I think I'm inclined to waffle more when the photos are lousy!....

Show's over, I'm off! (It was a very brief show)
Another typically difficult view of a male bird. At least the tail feathers can be made out.
From what can be seen of this bird I think we may have female.

Bird on!