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.

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

My dear old Swanee

Swans aged eight months look close to fully grown and can hardly be considered swanlings.

Sunday, 14 April 2013

Exit stage right..

The egret has continued to hang around, but under no circumstance may it occupy a prime position when the arrival of a cormorant is imminent. In the photo you can see the eta of the cormorant was...like now. Fare thee well egret!

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Occasional guest

It's always awesome to see a Great Egret at the pond, especially when it provides more opportunities for my ongoing egret photography battle! I've read these are a bird you can photograph into the sun, and was able to try it out last weekend. The sunlight on the feathers makes up for the absence of detail, maybe. The battle continues.

Monday, 8 April 2013

Scarlet Robin pair

So after wandering around after birds on the mountain for a while on Saturday afternoon, I finally plonked myself down on the path and let them come and find me. It was a good strategy. I'm really happy with these photos of the male (bright) and female (subtle but fetching) Scarlet Robins.


..like how pretty is this country of ours..

..like maybe it's prettier without powerlines in yon distance, but it can still be pretty good around sunset, don't you agree?

I think the White-faced Heron, above and below, is the same bird, as I have seen one around often lately.

And how cool is three great waterbirds at the local wetlands on Saturday morning? Top-bird was not this heron, nor the much larger Great Egret, but the Little Pied Cormorant, who muscled in to the best branch real estate and stayed all day. 

Speckled Warbler

Here is another new to me and new to this blog species, the Speckled Warbler, which was part of a mixed flock on Mt Majura on the weekend. Again my photo is not great, just to prove the point. 

One week later: I'm happy that Speckled Warblers are not as shy as Reed Warblers. I'm imagining if I shot raw files the following pictures might be improved in editing. For now it's still all untouched jpeg.

Red-browed Finch

I am very fond of these birds, mostly because they were really common and friendly birds in places I've lived in northern NSW. Here in Canberra, I think they just pass through the area in autumn. I'm not really sure about that. So my picture is awful, but you, me and the gatepost can see it is a Red-browed Finch. 

The art of nature

Sometimes, ok often, I don't realise how clever nature really is till time is slowed down in a photograph. For sure, I have seen many an immature Crimson Rosella in the bush, in the past. But looking at this picture from the weekend, I started to realise how gum blossom disguise affords protection, while the bird is young and more vulnerable to danger.

Sitting exposed on a branch like this, the immature bird's camouflage is not quite as effective.

But it is nowhere as standout as its mature Crimson Rosella pal, presumably a parent bird.


Better luck with a Yellow-rumped Thornbill

Some years ago, a nice scientist from the Australian Museum in Sydney sent me a book of Indigenous names for native rodents, basically because I was interested. For animals such as the Hopping Mice (Notomys) almost 80 names are recorded from various linguistic groups or areas for different Hopping Mice. For other rodents just a few names are recorded. It's a great publication and finishes with a list of recommended names. For instance Dusky Hopping-mouse (Notomys fuscus) becomes Wilkinti and Short-tailed Hopping-mouse (Notomys amplus) becomes Yoontoo. To me, these names are much more beautiful and I have a strong feeling they are not based around comparative tail sizes; which ain't nice in anyone's language.

How I wish for such a set of names for our birds; so many of which are identified primarily by rump colour. It's a little old hat if you ask me. If you know of any movement to change the names please let me know.

Anyhow there are lots of these lovely ...Yellow-rumped Thornbills around right now and I was happier with this photo than my earlier attempt.


Braithwaite, R., Morton, S., Burbidge, A., & Calaby, J. (1995), Australian Names for Australian Rodents. An Australian Nature Conservation Agency Publicatioon in association with CSIRO: Canberra.