Monday, 29 July 2013

Spotted Pardalote

Pardalotes are usually high in the branches, whenever I see them on the mountain. This one of a pair, was in a Box Gum Grassy Woodland closer to home and not high at all. Conveniently for me, it flew into shot, in the only patch of sunlight for miles around!

Monday, 22 July 2013

White-throated Treecreeper

Whoever invented the English names for Australian birds really had a thing about hyphens. I hardly ever use them, but there's plenty in bird nomenclature. So, the Treecreepers. Pretty exciting huh? I had to climb a hill (part way up Mt Majura) and then only saw them for about a minute, but it is good to know they are around. This was the best picture I could get in low light.

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Wedge-tailed Eagle

Raptors are rare around here and this is the first one I've seen in almost a year of looking. I understand one reason for the absence of birds of prey in this area, is that they favour the thermal currents on the other side of Mount Majura, and are more often there. It's likely they also prefer bush and farmland on the other side of the mountain to the city and suburbia on my side. Who doesn't? Or maybe I'm just not good at spotting raptors. 

I was out walking early this morning and saw this eagle twice. Both times it was being harassed by Magpies. Sorry my photo is not good. I wasn't too close, but what an awesome bird.

Other interesting bird news is that I saw the Buff-banded Rail at the pond this morning. I've being seeing it approximately monthly since summer. What is interesting right now, is that no records exist for this species in the ACT in July, so this sighting means that some rails stay here over winter. 

I was also very happy on the weekend to see a tiny Eastern Spinebill close to my street. Spinebills are common in leafy parts of Canberra, but where I live is a new development, with no native corridors or understory that small bird use for protection. The Spinebill was investigating the blossom in an Ornamental Plum tree.

One final picture to finish with: an Eastern Rosella taking lunch.

Sunday, 16 June 2013

Random local birds

Crestie strolling to the pond.


This is much better than my last attempt at a Golden Whistler. Next time I'll try for no twigs.

 Morning kangas.

 Friendly maggie.

 Saturday bath.

 Sunday bath at a dam.

Even though this is mostly soft, I like the way the tailtips fade into light.

Monday, 10 June 2013

How the mighty ducks are fallen..

Wild and free one day, a pair of Grey Teal shyly skirt the edges of the pond searching for favoured pond scum and weed. The very next day, they've joined the regular duck crowd and have developed a habit for white bread! Not to mention a dependency on the whim of when five year old neighbourhood kids choose to feed them. Could white bread really be better li'l duck?

Taking a few pictures of waterbirds in the fading light today, a dude asked if I was a policeman. !?! What like undercover duck police? If that's a job, I'm applying! 

Saturday, 25 May 2013

Mature Darter

To complete the Darter trilogy, here is the mature male I saw at the pond today. Compare its colouring and the feather detailing to the Darter in the earlier posts. 

Other pond news is that the black ducks have flown the coop. I wonder what made them leave and whether they'll return.. and.. if they miss me? More likely they'll miss the bread constantly tossed at them and I predict they'll return for that. In the meantime some Grey Teal and Hardheads recently arrived. Take your eye off the prize for five minutes and the world shifts. 

In addition to the species mentioned, I also saw both grebe species, coots, the two permanent swans and a Little Pied Cormorant. Not a bad count for a tiny suburban pond. I didn't count land birds.

Sunday, 5 May 2013

NOT wounded Darter

Yes, more Darter pictures. Why not? It's a gorgeous bird. 

At first I thought this Darter was wounded: see the last two pictures. However expert advice assures me the wound looking thing is actually a critical part of bird anatomy. It's the preen gland from which the Darter is taking an oily substance to keep its feathers in good shape. Thanks Canberra Ornithologists!

Come to think of it, I have read about swans spreading oil from their preen gland and though I have watched swans preening often enough, I never stopped to think that such a gland might be visible. There's so much to learn about our beautiful birds.

Also, I'd like to wish Ms Moo in Tassie a very happy birthday for today, and ... erm I hope you like Darters!


Final picture is a detail of the previous image.

Saturday, 4 May 2013

Young Darter

Generally I'm glued to uni assignments in any free time right now, but I snuck to the pond this morning and found what I think is a young Darter, happily engaged in a spot of fishing, followed by a lengthy wing drying procedure. Well I know the bird is a Darter. I'm just guessing it's young: it was smallish, it seemed a bit fluffy and I'm not sure if the wing feathers are fully developed. 

There was also a small Little Pied Cormorant at the pond as well. So cute. It seemed to have very big feet and reminded me of a puppy that hadn't yet grown into itself. Anyway here is the obliging Darter, demonstrating various yoga postures and one photo of the young cormorant with seasonally coloured background, but no feet in view sorry.


Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Hoary-headed Grebe

It's raining grebe 'round this joint! But what the heck is a hoary head? Is that a compliment? Especially considering how cute and fluffy this wee bird is. 

This Hoary-headed Grebe was at the pond all day yesterday and I'm guessing it's an immature bird, trying to establish territory, or else taking a day out from a journey. One of the Australasian Grebe was antagonistic towards this hoary-headed newcomer and chased it many times. The Hoary-headed Grebe dived under each time and easily avoided attack. Observing their micro-battle from afar was fairly comical and I hope the swans, ducks and coots got some amusement value out of it too.

Unfortunately the Hoary-headed Grebe did not come close enough for me to get a good photo. This on golden pond picture is probably my best one. The gold effect on the water was created by a combination of a reflection of a sculpture and the overcast weather, which makes a change from skanky brown pond. There's no oil slick. At least you can see what a fluffball the grebe is.

Sunday, 21 April 2013

Dusky Woodswallow

I was thrilled to see these birds on the mountain today. They stayed high in the gum trees and never came into decent camera range for me, but I still got to see what they liked about Mount Majura.

Two grebes are better than one

Another mystery of the pond is revealed. Two grebes!

Seeya later

Grey Butcherbird

My mum in northern NSW handfeeds 'her' Grey Butcherbirds daily. Here they are almost as rare as endangered species. 

Golden Whistler

No tears were shed about the lost opportunity of getting a good photograph of a male Golden Whistler, although some cursing and muttering did occur. I even had a look at the camera manual afterwards to try to learn more about the peculiarities of focus on my camera and lens; such was my degree of distress!

Cute bird huh? It has a nice loud whistle that I have been hearing for a while now and only just saw today and yesterday. I've seen Mrs (Golden) Whistler a few times too. She is quite the plain Jane by comparison with Mr Hotpants here, but is still a lovely looking bird.

Saturday, 20 April 2013

Robin and Speckled Warbler

Some pretty photos of the Scarlet Robins and Speckled Warbler from today.

Thursday, 18 April 2013

Australasian Grebe

The local wetlands is foremost a dog park and as the cool weather advances, a quick scan of the reeds sometimes reveals more lost tennis balls than waterbirds. However, the hardy, usual suspect birds remain: Pacific Black Ducks, the two Black Swans, a Little Pied Cormorant or two, often a White-faced Heron and bush birds fly in to drink and hang out with mates such as Crested Pigeons and Red-rumped Parrots. Peewees drink and bathe often. This morning a Willie Wagtail passed through briefly; a rare occurrence as they favour the mountain reserve and northern Aspinall St in this area. The Hardhead ducks that were at the pond for at least six months, have all moved on now, as have the Reed Warblers who left a couple of months back. Still, for anyone with time and patience, there is a bit more to daily pond life than first meets the eye. For one thing, an Australasian Grebe has been skirting about the reeds for the last few days, before quickly scuttling to the centre of the pond any time I approach. Another discovery, is that the Buff-banded Rail (BBR) is still about. I saw it close today but it flies immediately into dense grasses at the sight of a person. I have seen a BBR about 4 or 5 times since the famous BBR rescue mission and am very glad to know they are still in the area. Despite popular opinion, I don't even spend that much time at the pond myself, so who knows what other mysterious birds pass through or are hidden deep in the reeds and grasses.

These past few days are the first time I've seen a grebe at this pond, though they’ve been recorded here by others. You see it, don’t you? The smudge right in the centre?

All right, here's another view of it through the reeds. It's not a great bird to photograph directly into sunlight. Grebes really are strange looking birds and I have a theory that Doctor Seuss may have based Thing One and Thing Two from The Cat in the Hat on them. 

One day I will count the species seen on local walks. I think it is around 50.

And some pretty looking reeds with no grebes in sight.