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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