Monday, November 24, 2014

A Quick Trip to Kenilworth and Some Birds Around Home

I haven't had the opportunity to do much birding again lately but holidays are on the way so I will get out and about in the coming weeks.... and I can't wait! I have a heap of places around the Sunshine Coast area that I have been wanting to go and visit and a number of species that I am keen to locate.

A few months back I went out to Kenilworth and got a few great shots and located a species at Charlie Moreland that I had not encountered before.  On the way out I noticed a Purple Swamphen, which I normally wouldn't stop for on the side of the road, but this one had some company. Two babies were with the adult. It was very difficult to get a photo of them all together with any detail as the two babies kept a distance from each other. Within a few minutes they had moved under the fence of a private property so no more shots could be taken.

Purple Swamphen feeding her chick some grass

This Laughing Kookaburra was watching closely from the other side of the road

Close up of one of the Purple Swamphen chicks

The Purple Swamphen with the other chick

I had to get a little bit of petrol at the BP servo at Kenilworth before I made my way to Charlie Moreland and in the bottlebrush tree towards the back of the block numerous Brown Honeyeaters were spotted along with nearly as many Scarlet Honeyeaters and several Noisy Friarbirds. I focused my attention on the Scarlet Honeyeaters as I haven't achieved a decent photograph of them on any occasion that I have sighted them. My determination paid off!

Scarlet Honeyeater

One of the many Scarlet Honeyeaters

A Scarlet Honeyeater performing its advertising call

Side on view of a Scarlet Honeyeater

A Scarlet Honeyeater in a Weeping Red Bottlebrush

A Scarlet Honeyeater taking off to another flower

Another specimen of the Scarlet Honeyeaters

An adult Noisy Friarbird

Another Noisy Friarbird

A few Yellow-tailed Black-Cockatoos were spotted in the Hoop Pine forest on the dirt road into Charlie Moreland. I stopped for a quick photo but it was quite dark and hard to get close to them.

A Yellow-tailed Black-Cockatoo

Close up of a Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoo

Not many birds were seen in Charlie Moreland compared to many other trips that I have taken there. It was the morning after the area received some storms so I thought the birds might be active but it was quite late by the time I started photographing. It was a different time of year as well which may have influenced the bird species that were present. I was very surprised not to see any Logrunners for the whole walk. Very few doves or pigeons were seen or heard either. A few Noisy Pittas were heard. One bird that was in larger numbers were the curious and noisy Large-billed Scrubwrens. Many of these were sighted in a very small area. Due to their rapid movement and the dark lighting in the forest it was difficult to capture a good photo.... even though they were so close!

One of the many Large-billed Scrubwrens

Not long before finishing the walk a new species was sighted. It is always exciting locating a species that you haven't encountered before. It was quite a distance from the track in a darker part of the forest. I was able to obtain a few half decent photos but hopefully I can find them again when I am able to get closer, or where there is more light. They were Pale-yellow Robins.

They look similar to the Eastern Yellow Robins, which were sighted in the general area as well. The most obvious differences are the white patches between the bill and eye on both sides and the lack of yellow on the rump, just above the tail. They are also slightly smaller in size. When they are flying around with the Eastern Yellow Robins it is difficult to tell from a distance. I wasn't even sure until I took a photo so I could see a bit more clearly.

A Pale-yellow Robin

The same Pale-yellow Robin

This female Golden Whistler was spotted just nearby and she was collecting spider webs from the branches. This would have been collected for use in her nest.

Female Golden Whistler collecting spider webs

The female Golden Whistler with her collection of spider webs


I have been keeping my eye on this nest of Eastern Pale-headed Rosellas for the last few months. I had a suspicion that a bird was sitting on some eggs. I finally had a look as I have heard the chicks calling out for several weeks so I knew they were a decent size. I wanted to get a photo before they left the nest. It was great to see them so healthy!! The parents hardly spend any time at the nest now. They fly in and fed them a few times a day and other than that the parents are not seen at all.

Rosellas are seen regularly around the property but have never nested in this tree. The property over the road has recently cleared hundreds of large 30 - 40 metre eucalypt trees from the property to leave it a barren 45 acre property. I'm assuming that there old nesting hollow has been destroyed from the removal of these trees and this is why they have nested in this tree.

The baby Eastern Pale-headed Rosellas in the nest hollow 

A close up of the Eastern Pale-headed Rosella chicks

A few months ago a melody returned that was common for several months, before they moved on. I couldn't remember the call by sound, until I sighted the birds again. A very obvious call but as I haven't seen many of these birds calling I didn't make the link by hearing them. They were Brush Cuckoos. Usually they are more inconspicuous and not sitting in the open, which is unlike some other cuckoo species.

Brush Cuckoo

A Brush Cuckoo sitting in the open

More updates and pics coming soon.
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Saturday, August 23, 2014

Back to Sterling's Crossing

Several weeks ago I dropped in at Toorbul hoping to find the Oriental Plover which had been sighted for a few weeks at the roost. Luck was not on my side. The only birds sighted on the flats or on the shore were Black-winged Stilts and a few Australian Wood Ducks. This was a beautiful spot though. I was surprised by the number of kangaroos that were throughout the town. There would have been over 100 kangaroos along the esplanade either on the ocean side or in people's yards. Most of them were very approachable as well.

A Black-winged Stilt

Over the last few months I have noticed more Sulphur-crested Cockatoos in the area than usual and they are in bigger flocks as well. Sulphur-crested Cockatoos are common throughout the area but are often seen in pairs and small flocks of less than 10. There are a couple of flocks of them in the area that have 30 to 50 individuals in them at present.

Sulphur-crested Cockatoo

Another Sulphur-crested Cockatoo from the flock

This Sulphur-crested Cockatoo was keeping watch while the others were feeding

Sulphur-crested Cockatoo

Several weeks ago I went with a friend to Sterling's Crossing again. I use to love going here due to the variety and quantity of bird life. On this occasion it was extremely cold even though there wasn't a cloud in the sky but most noticeable was how the area had changed over the last year. Non-native weeds have spread significantly throughout the area. Brazilian Nightshade and Lantana was everywhere. I know birds can live in Lantana, but it smoothers the native vegetation and limits variety within the ecosystem. The numbers of birds was down drastically and so was the variety of species that was seen. No pigeons of any type were heard, only one pitta called a few times. The only species that seemed to be in better numbers than normal were the Bellbirds. They seemed to be causing other problems though. A huge amount of gum trees in the area were dead. This is often the result of too many Bellbirds in an area.

Good numbers of Little Lorikeets were seen in the tree tops. They are difficult to photograph due to their small size and their position in the massive gums.

Little Lorikeet

Large-billed Scrubwrens were in good numbers also in the more tropical sections at Sterling's Crossing. These very active birds provided a challenge to photograph.
Large-billed Scrubwren

Grey Fantails were common in the open woodland as well.

Grey Fantail

After a few hours the New Holland Honeyeaters came out into view. They were very active but most were higher in the trees. Last time they seemed more relaxed. This time they were chasing other birds away from the areas where they were feeding, including other New Holland Honeyeaters. As these birds can nest any time of year it is more difficult to determine if this behaviour was due to nesting but it is very likely.

New Holland Honeyeater

Another New Holland Honeyeater

The same New Holland Honeyeater from above

The Eastern Spinebill below was one of two that were seen while we were at Sterling's Crossing. A terrible photo though as I didn't get time to adjust the settings before it was gone.

Eastern Spinebill

We decided to walk down the dry creek bed to see what other birds could be seen sunning themselves. Few other birds could be seen. Just as we were about to turn back a bird with a different call caught my attention. We soon realised it was a Rose Robin! This is the first time that I have seen these birds before so I was really excited. We could actually hear about eight or more calling to each other. I was surprised by the difference in call to many other robins but most of all was the size difference. I assumed most robins were about the same size. The Rose Robins are significantly smaller than most robins I have seen and they are in fact the smallest of all the Australian robins. They are curious about people like most robins are but they do not come as close. They are definitely more cautious and prefer to stay hidden amongst the thicker foliage. We spent a few hours attempting to obtain a photo of them but these were the best I could get.

Rose Robin

The same Rose Robin from above

Another Rose Robin

A male Rose Robin

Even though this area has changed significantly over the last 12 months (for the worse) I will be back to see if the numbers of birds and the species of birds increases again. Hopefully more factors effected the birds that were seen other than the changes in the environment.

More updates and pics coming soon.
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Sunday, May 18, 2014

A New Species and a Different Morph Found on my Property

Over the last few months I have done little photography but I have taken a few pictures on my property when I have seen or heard less common birds or new bird species for my property. I have seen this White Morph Grey Goshawk on the neighbours property about 12 months ago but by the time I went and got my camera and returned, it had disappeared and I hadn't seen it until several weeks ago. It was here for 2 days and hasn't been seen again. It is a magnificent looking bird and for some reason it had very different behaviour from all the normal Grey Goshawks that frequent the property. Usually the Grey Goshawks here are quite secretive, except when calling and when approached they take flight usually before you can spot them clearly.

I don't mind having them here as long as they don't take my poultry. During the goshawk's breeding season I can lose up to a few dozen ducks and chickens from the Grey Goshawks. For the rest of the year only the odd one gets captured. This white morph was very brazen. He landed on the pens and in low trees and flew at the birds out in the open. It's funny the poultry weren't even scared of it until it nearly grabbed them. While it was sitting in the tree the poultry were acting normal, rather than running for cover as they do when other birds of prey are around. In certain trees the Grey Goshawks are very well camouflaged whereas this white morph was easily sighted from a long distance.

Grey Goshawk (White Morph)

The White Morph of the Grey Goshawk was easy to sight in most locations

The first Grey Goshawk (White Morph) for my property

The Grey Goshawk (White Morph) watching the poultry

A close up of the Grey Goshawk (White Morph)

This Grey Goshawk (White Morph) was very bold compared to most specimens

The next two photos were taken at Bagara, near Neilson Beach, when I was up there visiting a few friends. They are common birds but they were in a good location, with great lighting to obtain a clear photo and my camera was sitting on the front seat. I was hoping to do some birding while I was up in the Bundaberg area but this was all I had time for. Both of these species, White-faced Herons and Intermediate Egrets are often seen here on the rocks.

White-faced Heron

Intermediate Egret

I was really pleased one morning a few weeks ago as I had a bit of spare time to do some photography and the weather was perfect. As I was driving through the gate I spotted a bird that looked a bit different. I thought it was a Weebill at first, which I have seen here on the odd occasion but I wanted to check. As I stepped out I realised the yellow feathering was too bright. As soon as I got the photo I realised it was a species I hadn't seen before. They were White-throated Gerygones!! A friend of mine saw them for the first time only a few weeks before as well at her house. There were a dozen or more of them in the trees feeding. For identification purposes they have a red eye like most gerygones, an obvious white throat, hence the name and they have the white bar just above the bill. Fairy Gerygones can look very similar in appearance. The White-throated Gerygones have a brighter yellow colour and don't have the whitish/pale ring around the eye like the Fairy Gerygones.

White-throated Gerygone

The first White-throated Gerygone sighted at my property

A White-throated Gerygone wiping its bill after feeding

The underside of a White-throated Gerygone

A White-throated Gerygone feeding

Another specimen of the dozen or more White-throated Gerygones sighted

Just down the road I saw an unusually large flock of Double-barred Finches. I usually only see them in small groups of a couple of birds up to 20 or so. This flock had about 50 individuals. I saw them fly from the side of the road so I parked the car and many came straight back out in the open to continue feeding. It was amazing watching the method they used to get the seeds from the grass heads. I have seen similar behaviour from other birds before but I can't remember seeing it so obvious and methodical. Usually it seems a bit more haphazard how the birds land on the stalk, then if it bends over they shuffle along the stalk to the end to get the seeds. If it stays upright they lean up to collect the seeds. These birds were working in pairs and it was organised. One flew onto the stalk and as it bent over another finch would grab the seed head on the ground and hold it with its feet, as the other bird made its way down the stalk. They then would both feed on the seeds together. Other individuals were just eating all the seeds from off the rocks that had fallen off. I find it fascinating how different birds and different flocks behave. I could have watched them for longer but I had to keep moving.

Juvenile Double-barred Finch

Double-barred Finches feeding on grass seeds

The Double-barred Finches working together to reach the seed heads

More updates and pics coming soon.
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