Notes to readers of this Blog


NOTES TO READERS OF THIS BLOG

Thank you for dropping by to check out my blog. You will see a lot of other Blogs about birds I follow down the left hand side. I strongly encourage you to check some of these out as well, they are entertaining and I love to see birds from all over the world, I hope you do too.
Cheers,
Richard

Monday, 1 September 2014

Spinifexbird photos and sound recording of calls

The Spinifexbird is one of those birds I don't see very often, but do hear quite a lot. In some of the bird books it states that the birds like to sit on top of grasses and trees and drop down to the undergrowth when they sense danger (in my case, me). On a recent occasion, I could hear two birds, but couldn't work out where each one was other than a general direction which were quite a distance from one another. I walked slowly along a track, trying to get a better fix on the nearest one. Eventually I spotted it, only because it fluttered out from a branch and then back to the same branch, sitting low on the tree just above the ground cover. So much for sitting on the top of the tree! It was still a fair distance away, so I crept forward again, trying not to spook the bird. Luckily for me it came closer and sat on top of some spinifex grass. It then flew very close but settled on the ground beneath another tree in among more spinifex. By now I was hearing the calls clearly and could almost tell where the second bird was. Still no photos though. Finally I gave up on the first one as it stayed hidden under the grasses and was moving around judging by the calls. It then flew up to my right and I eventually managed a few photos. Although they aren't the best photos due to the distance from me, they are still better than ones I had previously taken, and it was lovely to hear the calls so close, despite the prickly indentations on my leg from the spinifex.

Spinifexbird










Here is the sound file


or here



Tuesday, 26 August 2014

A Divine Wedge-tailed Eagle, a Sparrowhawk that almost came in the car and other bird photos from Papunya NT


In the heat of the Australian Outback, with the sun behind, I looked up and saw this vision. I think you could forgive me thinking this was some sort of Divine Angel of Goddess coming to spirit me away. For some reason, the more I look at this photo, the more religious-symbolic it appears.

The bird in the photo above, a Wedge-tailed Eagle, was one of a pair that decided to scare the congregated ducks on the ponds of the water treatment ponds of Papunya, a remote community about 250 kms WNW of Alice Springs. I thought the ducks had become a little bit neurotic but then looked behind me and saw the WTEs. One of them came closer than the other, and I haven't witnessed them swooping ducks before even though I have heard lots of people say this happens. Up close, they really are amazing birds, and even "tucked" they still look huge. The pair dipped on the ducks, and headed off to hunt further afield. The following is a series of photos as it turned and swooped, with the final photo showing a very lucky Grey Teal in the background as the WTE was checking me out, not its normal food..









My second Bird of Prey experience comes with no photos, but a story. I was watching the Zebra Finches fly from behind the car, over the fence and down to the water in the Ponds. They would then fly back in numbers and head for the trees behind the car once more. On the third occasion of this event, as they were returning, I spotted what I thought was a pigeon to start with, but then soon realised it was a bird of prey. It was coming fast, and swooped down low over the ponds, rose sharply to avoid the fence, still chasing the Zebra Finches and then chose a finch to target. The Zebra Finch sped over the fence, flew close to the ground between the fence and the car and then flew safely into some thickly branched part of the tree behind the car. The Sparrowhawk had almost caught the finch as it went over the fence, then followed the finch down low and came directly over the front door of the car towards the tree behind. I could have almost reached out and grabbed it as it flew past it was that close. Not that I would have been anywhere near quick enough. It failed in its attempt to catch the finch and after realising too late it couldn't go into the branches, it seemed to flutter about above me then flew off to a nearby tree to lick its wounds, still hungry. I'm not sure who got the biggest shock, but I certainly had a much more enjoyable experience. For once the camera wasn't at the ready, but it was special to watch the events unfold for a change.

The rest are photos of birds and some of the countryside around the Papunya area:

Australian Ringneck

Pied Butcherbird


Varied Sittella


Zebra Finch


The beautiful colours of the road and the hills



Wednesday, 20 August 2014

A day that started and ended with a Hobby and a Butcherbird with some others in between

This morning I was up early, just before the sun broke above the surrounding hills. An Australian Hobby had caused the White-plumed Honeyeaters to send out the alarm call so I went outside to investigate. It had decided sitting on the power lines not far away was as good a place as any to greet the morning, much to the chagrin of the smaller birds around. Interestingly, one of the birds not so afraid was the Pied Butcherbird. It sat about 20 metres away and stayed there for quite some time, long enough for the sunlight to hit the hills in the background. Eventually the Hobby flew off, and the Butcherbird continued foraging and feeding on the insects in the grass below its perch for about an hour in total.

Australian Hobby


Pied Butcherbird

I spent the majority of the day in and around my mobile office and was amazed at the variety of birds that frequented this small patch. A Collared Sparrowhawk flew past at one point, Magpie Larks, Willie Wagtails, Yellow-throated Miners, Crested Pigeons and a lone Peaceful Dove that sat with the pigeons on the power lines. I was delighted to get another visit from the Red-browed Pardalote and managed a few more photos. I noticed the crown puffed up as it was making its noise.

Red-browed Pardalote


I played around in photoshop just for fun with the photo below, taking out the majority of the colour except for the bird. I actually like the adjusted one of the two.


After the work day had finished I needed to enjoy some quiet spaces and headed out to an old favourite spot. I had in my mind to take some photos of the dust settling over the road with some spectacularly coloured hills in the background. Although it didn't quite come out the way I had imagined, it was still close enough to add to this post.

Dust settles as the sunset lights up the hills

On the way to my "quiet space", I came across a pair of Major Mitchell Cockatoos by the side of the road. They didn't fly off as I was expecting and managed to get some nice close-ups.

Major Mitchell Cockatoo





Once I had arrived at my quiet place, there were only a few birds around, one of which was a Rufous Whistler chasing amoth. The original photo (the first of the two below) was "washed out" due to the sun position, but as with the Pardalote photo above, I had a bit of a play with colour and light and like the altered image better this time as well.

Rufous Whistler catching a moth



As I drove back, feeling refreshed from the hum of the day, I came across an unusual sight. The light was fading and I knew the photos wouldn't be very good, but I've added a photo showing my two original birds from the morning, although not the same two. Sitting perched on a bare tree were an Australian Hobby and a young Pied Butcherbird. The day had come full circle.

Australian Hobby and Pied Butcherbird

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Red-browed Pardalote, Southern Whiteface, Fairy and Tree Martins

Red-browed Pardalotes are around Central Australia most of the time, but recently I have been hearing and seeing a lot more than usual. Generally, these cute little birds are elusively in the tree-tops, and I have struggled to get good photos showing their unique characteristics. Recently, this changed. I could hear two birds piping away to one another and eventually located them in a nearby shrub. Camera in hand I warily approached the bush, but unlike previous experiences, the birds didn't fly off, maybe they were too interested in one another to worry about me. Alas they were behind the spindly leaves of the tree for a really good shot, but even so, being this close demanded the photos to be taken. One of them was more in the open than the other so I concentrated on that one. I clicked off a few photos and then realised the shots would be about the same so unless the bird moved, I was to hold my fire. Eventually it did, and to my delight, it flew onto a nearby wire fence. It wasn't too far away from where I was but I didn't want to get too close, and instead hoped the lens would reach far enough. The bird did fly off and I was delighted with some of the photos taken of the bird inside the diamond shapes of the fence.

Red-browed Pardalote

 



The Southern Whiteface is another bird I seem to encounter a lot once I leave the main town area of Alice Springs. They can be quite noisy and their twittering to one another can be frustrating as being so small they can be very close but still unseen. This one was far more obliging.

Southern Whiteface



The Fairy Martins and Tree Martins can be hard to distinguish when they are flying, but much easier once they are perched. Zooming around collecting insects above water and then sitting on nearby fences to preen themselves, seems to be their main daily activities. Here are some who have become tired of the insect catching :-)

Fairy Martin



Tree Martin