Friday, May 31, 2013

"Going up" A Heron on the fourth floor

This is a final post from this year's trip to Caloundra. This White-faced heron paid a visit to the fourth floor balcony of our Kings Beach accommodation. It provided photographic challenges for the equipment and talent at hand.

At 65cm this bird is reasonably big. This is generally not a problem except if the bird has landed only 3 metres away from your 150-500 lens. It was also quite unusual for me to be shooting with a glaringly sunlit maroon wall as a background. The results are, at best, interesting!

A very cosmopolitan White-faced heron, Kings Beach, Caloundra
Here we see evidence of trial-and-error photography as I ....
  • Realise that I wasn't going to able to work at all with that bright maroon wall.

  • Try to take the wall out of the equation using different angles and zooming to a tighter subject. 

  • Don't really coming to grips with optimal focussing when the head and tail are at such different focal lengths.

  • Miss nailing a decent take-off shot and inadvertently capture an interesting shadow in a corner of a picture. 

Well, "Live and learn" as they say!

Where Beach stone-curlew fossicked the night before!
Another extremely welcome visit was from a pair of Beach stone-curlew (Esacus magnirostris) to the main beach right alongside the boardwalk and cafe-strip of Caloundra's Bulcock Beach Esplanade.

There are no photos!

The weather had been lousy and I was going for a no-camera jog in the drizzle and gloom of early evening when I sighted the pair. I was able to watch from the boardwalk for a good 15 minutes as they poked around the water's edge. I observed one bird repeatedly nodding every 4-5 seconds. The bird's whole body would see-saw with the quick nod. Intermittently the other bird bowed it's head and spread it's wings forming horizontal arcs in a possibly submissive display. It was a memorable moment for me seeing these locally endangered shore birds for the first time.

Here is a link to some excellent images of some other local Beach stone-curlews at Greg Roberts' blog sunshinecoastbirds. For more information about these birds check the Birds in Backyards Beach Stone-curlew page.

I returned the next morning to find the trusty council tractor raking and flattening the exact spot!

Back to how a beach should be. Completely flat, devoid of washed-up seaweed, pesky birdlife or any form of obvious life!
Osprey are also a regular part of the Caloundra sky scape. No close-up photos this year but I enjoyed finding this nest high up in a Norfolk Island pine on the Headland Esplanade.

Site of urban Osprey nest, Caloundra
Osprey just visible in nest, Caloundra
Little Black Cormorant (Phalacrocorax sulcirostris) checking the conditions
Pied cormorant (Phalacrocorax varius) 

Bird on!

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Gang-gangs show some Autumn spirit

Winter approaches and we have small groups of Gang-gang cockatoos moving through our suburbs at the moment. We don't see them much in Melbourne's Summer when they are more at home in the higher country. While sometimes incredibly trusting during a feed, this group of about six birds took off as soon as I showed an interest!

Male Gang-gang cockatoo, Blackburn
A female bird can be glimpsed in the bottom right corner
We are blessed that the Gang-gang retains his colour throughout the year!

Sharing with Wild Bird Wednesday

Bird on!

Monday, May 27, 2013

"What's up?" at Ben Bennett Reserve, Caloundra

This Mistletoebird was checking out potential prey not predators

On Saturday 18th May I made my third visit to the Ben Bennett bushland reserve in Caloundra. Each of these visits has been in May. Once again I had a thoroughly enjoyable couple of hours and could easily have spent longer. Today's visit was dominated by the smaller birds of the subtropics.

Striated pardalote
Grey fantail
Gray fantail
Varied triller
Spangled drongo
Of the Family Pachycephlaidae the Golden whistler presented a better photo opportunity than Grey shrike-thrush and Rufous whistler (below)

Eastern yellow robin kept popping up demonstrating all those classic robin poses!

Red-browed finch
There were some of the palest Brown thornbill I have seen
The place was alive with honeyeaters. Most that caught my eye turned into Noisy miner, Little wattlebird, Brown honeyeater or Lewins honeyeater but there was the odd special surprise ...

Brown honeyeater
Brown honeyeater
Lewin's honeyeater
The last "tick" added to the day's list was Scarlet honeyeater, photographed as my lift arrived! 
From only 15 lists contributed to date I notice that the Eremaea species list for Ben Bennett is up to a respectable 68 species. The Eremaea page also provides an excellent description of the site and describes how secluded and relaxing the place feels.

Best we don't tell anyone!

Lowland rainforest section, Ben Bennett Bushland Reserve
Wet heath abuts Melaleuca woodland, Ben Bennett
Bird on!

Friday, May 24, 2013

Drongo, Pale-headed rosella & Others at Shelly Beach

I can still hear my Year 9 English teacher's words ... "You great spangled drongo!" These days I know what that is!

Just north of the Caloundra headland I reckon there's a birding mini-hotspot in Shelly Beach.

The headland itself is a short walk from the Shelly Beach picnic area. Here various shorebirds can be seen at the right season, time and tide. The road down into the Shelley Beach car park passes through a pocket of coastal subtropical forest. Here I have seen large numbers of Rainbow lorikeet (and the odd Scaly breasted lorikeet), Eastern whipbird and various honeyeaters.

The car park itself has provided me with sightings of Blue-faced honeyeater, Pale-headed rosella and Pied butcherbird. There are also the more commonplace Australian white ibis, Australian magpie, Magpie lark as well as introduced species.

Walking along the coastal trail northwards from the car park there is another section of coastal subtropical habitat and a small gully. Here I have seen Spangled drongo, Australasian figbird, Red-backed fairy wren, Leaden flycatcher and Australian Brush-turkey.

None of the birds featured in today's post are readily seen in my home state of Victoria so I do enjoy catching up with them!

I love the curves of this bird! Spangled drongo, Shelly Beach (Caloundra, Qld)

Pale-headed rosella stopping over in a Shelly Beach Norfolk Island pine.

Australian Brush-turkey roosting
I was annoyed that a sneaky group of Australasian figbird got away from me without a decent shot. Here is a female (or immature bird).
The following images are from previous visits to Shelley Beach (all in the month of May). We start with Blue-faced honeyeater and Brown honeyeater.

Red-backed fairy-wren (female / immature)
Below are a couple of Leaden flycatcher shots from an old compact digital camera (caught without the proper equipment!).

A great little birding spot! Did I mention that it's also a little easy on the eye and that the water's positively warm compared to Bass Strait?

Shelly Beach image from a Sunshine Coast accommodation website
As seen through the lens of Rachel Richter photography
Caloundra headland and Shelly Beach by SKYePICS

Bird on!