Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Back to the Lockyer Valley (Part 2) and Around Coles Creek

A few days after my last trip to the Lockyer Valley I went out just before dark on the property to practise some very low light photography. I saw many birds around that afternoon. It was great to see the White-eared Monarch out once again also. I was pleased with the photos I got this time, especially the Brown Cuckoo-Dove as this was taken about 50 metres away. Unfortunately the Spectacled Monarchs don't come out from the dense foliage until just before sunset so I either have photos that are taken in low light that are not up to standard or photos of them covered in foliage. I will spend some more time down there one of these days to get that better shot of them.

Brown Cuckoo-Dove eating berries

Spectacled Monarch
The morning of the 19th January we went back down to the Lockyer Valley to hopefully find the unidentified bird again that we saw near Seven Mile Lagoon that was in my last post. Along the way, just outside of Ipswich I spotted a Bush Stone-curlew and a few Masked Lapwings close to some houses. I couldn't pass up such a good opportunity to get a few good shots.

Bush Stone-curlew

Bush Stone-curlew
Masked Lapwing
Before we went to Seven Mile Lagoon, we went to Lake Galletly at The University of Queensland, Gatton Campus. I was hoping that today we might see the Blue-billed Ducks or the Australian Spotted Crake. No luck again today for either of these species. I saw all the same birds as my last trip, with no exceptions. On this trip there were not near as many Magpie Geese though.
Pair of Hardheads and a Pacific Black Duck
After leaving Lake Galletly we headed towards Seven Mile Lagoon. As soon as I pulled the car over I heard the distinct call of the mystery bird. It wasn't a mystery for long. We followed one that we saw landing on the field and identified it quickly. I was pleased that the mystery had been solved but I was underwhelmed by the outcome. It was a Brown Songlark. It was the first time I had taken a photo of one which was pleasing. We had seen them several times before but always at the same location. I have been to Cunnamulla 4 times and each time I have passed through you can see these birds flying around on the paddocks coming into town. I had never seen them close enough to see their unusual flight though. Through all my travels in the outback over many years, this is the only place I have ever seen them except for Seven Mile Lagoon. They are meant to be quite common though!

When the Brown Songlark flies up it has its legs tucked up close to its body and when it descends its legs hang down. This pattern of flying up for a short period then dropping briefly is repeated several times before it reaches its landing area. Once it starts to descend for the landing its legs are hanging right down and it drops very quickly! It looks like it has been shot out of the sky by the way it seems to fall to the ground when landing.

The Brown Songlark's flight as it is ascending

The Brown Songlark's flight as it is descending

It was very difficult to obtain a decent photograph of this bird while it was on the ground as the grass was quite long, ranging from 30cm to 1 metre in height. As soon as it lands it runs along the ground into the longest grass close by. It is a very secretive bird and flies off as soon as it spots you approaching. The female is very different from the male in terms of size. The female is at least 5 - 7 cm shorter in length. Their call and flight differs greatly also. The females flight is more direct and the call is less metallic.

A Brown Songlark on the lookout in the grass
A few days later on Tuesday the 22nd I invited a good friend of mine to come out onto the property to go birding with me. I was keen for her to see the White-eared Monarch in particular, while it was on the property. We went out fairly early even though it had rained only a few hours prior. I was hoping this wouldn't effect the birds that were out. Luckily for us it seemed to bring all the species out in large numbers.

We saw many Golden Whistlers, Spangled Drongos, Eastern Yellow Robins, Little Shrike-thrushes, Spectacled Monarchs and Brown Honeyeaters. We saw a few Red-backed Fairy-wrens, Channel-billed Cuckoos, Noisy Friarbirds, Lewin's Honeyeaters plus many other of the more common doves and regular garden birds of the area. We were lucky to see a few pairs of Spangled Drongos feeding their young as well as a couple of pairs of Eastern Yellow Robins feeding their young. Many other species could of been found as they were heard in the bush, but neither of us had much spare time that morning due to other commitments. Also we spent so much time taking photos of the White-eared Monarch which showed himself for a long time, not long after starting our walk. I got lots of beautiful photos again of this spectacular bird and my friend was very pleased that she got to see one and she too got some great snaps.

One of the many Golden Whistlers that were seen

A Spangled Drongo eating a cicada (soon to be regurgitated for a chick) 

The spectacular White-eared Monarch

The White-eared Monarch singing
A Brown Honeyeater trying to dry off

More updates and pics each fortnight.

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