Tag Archives: camera

A bird species competition, with a northern perspective.

Here’s a little competition about bird species (for non-birder people, so butt out if you are an expert). If you can identify please add via “comment”. I am in the Northern Territory,  Australia,  so they may be a bit different from what you are used to.  All the photos taken by me over the last 3 weeks. I have an interest in just how much we know about our own Australian species. Most of these are fairly common. I will add some more unusual species in a later post. Please share, and kids welcome!

Beauty and terror out west

Werribee Gorge State Park would have to be the most underated and under-appreciated piece of wildlife realestate within one hour of Melbourne. My guess it’s partly because its on the arse-end (western) side of the city, just past all those factories and thistle paddocks. For bell-birds, tall mountain-ash forests and fern glades, go east. We western suburbs boys and girls prefer a landscape with guts, no namby pamby waterfall walks with carpark kiosk here.

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But if you love ‘Rugged mountain ranges and droughts with flooding rains’ and ‘Her beauty and her terror’ the you’ll appreciate this place.

The gorge sits on the fault line which demarcates the sinking basin on which Melbourne lies, and the upland plateau of Ballarat etc. It’s the reason Port Phillip Bay exists. The river, which is really only a stream, has over millions of years cut through the rocks and exposed the underlying sandstone which has been compressed and forced into a serpentine buckle by continental plate action in the ancient past. The power which created this feature must have been unimaginable.

The gorge also is the only place I know which shows signs of glaciation, unusual for Australia.

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The ‘plum-pudding’ deposits of mixed striated rocks show they have been transported in ice and dropped into an ancient  sea at time of melt.

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Striated parrallel gouging is proof of ice embedded rock erosion. Its likely that from where I took the photographs there where icebergs melting above my head! But that was in the times of Gondwana.

Werribee gorge is great place for city people to escape for an hour or two of quiet and a chance to see wild species.

greyfantail Rhipidura fuliginosa

Its a place where superb fairy wren families visit your picnic table if you move quietly, grey fantails and whiteplumed honeyeaters abound.

whiteplumed honeyeater

and yellow robins heal your soul by looking into your eyes.

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silvereye

Silver eyes work the eucalypt flowers

striated thornbill

and stiated thornbills call from nearby bushes.

red-browed finch

I also saw a group of red-browed finches

yellow faced honeyeater

and white-faced honeyeaters visiting from Queensland for summer.

lacewing

fat lacewings provide food for thes birds and by their presence tell us the water quality is clean.

very large fat fly

Atriplex, in flower, attracted these very large flies which like huge bumble-bees zoomed through the bushes.

goats

The significance of the gorge was understood over 100 years ago when it was declared a “site for a Public Park” in 1907, but no-one has yet found a way to remove the goats (photographed Feb 2016) which destroy the fragile plants growing in inaccessable places, pity. Goats are also rampant in nearby Lerderderg Gorge.

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Photo: Richard Daintree, 1859 (State Library of Vic)

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1896 Working Men’s College Photographic Club camp

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“Taking a Boobook Owls Nest”, 1890 A.J. Campbell  featured in “Nests and Birds of Australia”. The nest was quickly chopped out and three eggs taken therefrom. We may feel shocked by this portrayal of whitefella history, but we have learned nothing, people STILL burn hollows for ‘pleasure’ see https://open.abc.net.au/explore/57124

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Remote north-western South Australia

Dr John Read and I entered APY Lands in early November 2015. This was a routine trip for him but was a first for me. Very few people in Australia will have been to this part of the country, a permit is required on entry.camel3It didn’t take me long to realize  was in a different country from the one I was used to.  John allowed me to spend some free time wandering across huge ancient boulders of the Musgrave Range. 393A2794

As I neared the top of the range the silence and remoteness seemed almost palpable. The danger of losing direction in unfamiliar country was both clear and frightening.

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Yet the rugged beauty was enticing,  I wanted to see a little more of what lay beyond, but had only two hours and we had work to do.

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Dragon lizards are always present,

crested bellbird

Crested bellbird glimpse, a bird of arid mulga and…

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Splendid Fairy-wren, turquoise form…

vidspotted bowerbird

Western bower-bird, a fig eater with  habitat in north-western SouthAustralia.

white plumed

Ubiquitious white-plumed honeyeater, the inland bird seems finer to me and has more yellow on face.

rufous whistler

Rufous whistler and..

singing honeyeater

Singing honeyeater made their presence known with song.

desert poak

Desert oak (note the bottle-brush shaped young trees behind)

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and even ferns!

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and lichen! Enormous lichen.This was something I hadn’t expected. It seemed that at every turn I was seeing something new.

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This native with succulent leaves

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turns the plain purple, but I have lost its name. So if you recognize it please inform me.

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Hakea shedding seeds

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Figs which grow on bare hot rock, roots not touching the ground,  a bonsai in a desert with no water. All a bit astounding.

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John was more interested in the termites which ate this patch of grass to the ground. More about this shortly.

 

 

 

 

 

Twitching in arid South Australia

I don’t really see myself as a ‘twitcher’ but I admit to spending time observing birds with camera in hand. My recordings are logged to the Atlas of Living Australia at http://www.ala.org.au/    ALA records  all Australian species and is used for research etc.

Birds can be viewed as the canary in the coalmine, they readily indicate how habitat is being altered or alternately, conserved for future generations.

Travelling north in South Australia means moving into arid country,  a landscape type called Mallee. 100 kms north of Port Augusta I made camp but soon had my camera operational. In the following hour I photographed what I think was a mixed species flock. Small bush birds in Australia sometimes travel this way maybe as a protection strategy. black-capped sitella female

Sitella (male) Daphoenositta (Neositta) chrysoptera pileata is now listed as threatened in NSW due to habitat loss. This widespread but not often seen species is a very active tree trunk forager so tree loss means no food.black-capped sittella

The female Daphoenositta (Neositta) chrysoptera pileata with a black cap seems a more striking bird to me, but I don’t see the world in ultraviolet as birds do, their colour receptors are much more advanced than our mammal eyesight.

purple backed wren

Variegated Fairy-wren Malurus (Leggeornis) lamberti was in on the fun, as was his missus with that strange eye make-up…purple backed wren female

Malurus (Leggeornis) lamberti (female)

chestnut tailed thornbill

This LBJ (little brown job) is the Inland Thornbill Acanthiza (Acanthiza) apicalis but  I could be mistaken. This thornbill was feeding on the ground and in low bushes, behaviour which together with light eye-colour,  helps in identification.

unknown bird

If you look hard you will see a crested bellbird running across the sand, this was my first sighting of this inland bird hence the poor quality photo. According to Birdlife Australia ” Sometimes they occur in mixed feeding flocks with Chestnut-rumped Thornbills and Red-capped Robins.” So it seems I was right. This species is listed as now endangered in Victoria where it should inhabit the Big Desert.

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The Mulga Parrot Psephotus (Psephotus) varius also made its presence known.

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I was heading to Coober, so soon I was to enter true arid Australia.

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From here on its a good idea to carry extra water!

Bird observations in southern Flinders Ranges, South Australia

 

November is nesting season in the southern Flinders Ranges, so almost all the following observations included adults and juveniles in various stages of fledging.

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Rainbow bee-eater Merops (Merops) ornatus , a most beautiful bird

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Brown tree-creeper Climacteris (Climacteris) picumnus

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Adelaide or western rosella Platycercus adelaidae up there with the most beautiful parrots…. and young below

adelaide juvenile

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White-browed Babbler Pomatostomus (Morganornis) superciliosus…. and teaching feeding to young below

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Dusky Woodswallow Artamus (Angroyan) cyanopterus…… and young below

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Willie wagtail Rhipidura leucophrys

Willie wagtail Rhipidura leucophrys…… and nestlings below

wagtail juvenile

From the Flinders I travelled up to Coober Pedy where I was to meet Dr John Read.

Storm north of Port Augusta

North of the gulf and Port Augusta the weather was unusually wet and stormy, and the vegetation  reduced to  treeless arid. The normally dry salt lakes contained water!

Hart Lake

To be continued..

 

Wildlife images from remote southern Australia, November 2015

I don’t see myself as a photographer, but as a follow up to my Warru experience I have decided to post photos of species I observed and recorded to the Atlas of Living Australia  http://www.ala.org.au/dragon fly mating

Mating dragonflies, Hattah

Great crested crebes Hattah 15

Great crested grebes

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Hattah lake November 2015 with its water allocation

Hattah fish

Not a Murray cod but very large…..you guess

Hattah pink-eared

Pink-eared ducks

regent parrots Hattah Nov 15

Regent parrots, currently listed as endangered

Sulphur crested Hattah

Suphur-crested

White butterfly Hattah oct 15

maybe just a cabbage moth.

little corrella

Little corella, thousands of these on the return trip following the wheat harvest

mayfly

Mayfly, adult

wee bill

Weebill, not sure which one

yellow rosella

Eastern rosella at hollow.

Hattah lakes is a favourite over night stop heading north, its amazing what can be seen in an hour or two. Next camp is in South Australia, back soon with another batch of photos.

 

 

A well-smoked Tawny Frogmouth

Wivenhoe dam in Queensland has a shoreline of many hundreds of kilometers, but it’s clear some birds prefered to remain close to the small camping area. The following shots were taken within and close to designated camping sites. The frogmouths were actually roosting within the smoke zone of camp fires! wordp Frogmouth 3

Campers were totally unaware of the two birds above their heads

Wpress Frogmouth 2

WordpBrahminy kite adj

The Brahminy kite was possibly a chick hatched in  a  nest in clear site of human camping visitors.

Wpress Darter

A Darter chose a poly pipe within 30 meters of the camp to dry out and..

Wpress red-backed wren male

a red-backed wren family used nearby reeds and bushes as their chosen home base.

In addition to the above, a flock of many hundreds of black cormorants choose to roost in the trees directly ajacent to the camp-ground. The question is, why do these species choose the camping area given the enormous space available to them at Wivenhoe?