A Little Egret fishing in the early morning light at the Kanwal off-leash area.
Thursday, January 27, 2011
Big seas had forced the birds to the front of the rock shelf where there was little cover, so it was impossible for me to get close in the hour I had given myself. But there were good numbers of birds, including the first Double Banded Plover I’ve seen this summer. No sign of the Wandering Tattlers that have been reported up and down this part of the coast but from the top Grey-tailed Tattler, Pacific Golden Plover, Curlew Sandpiper, Ruddy Turnstone, Red-necked Stint.
Tuesday, January 25, 2011
Monday, January 24, 2011
Sunday, January 23, 2011
Saturday, January 22, 2011
Wednesday, January 12, 2011
Lots of babies and young birds at the Hunter Wetlands Centre yesterday. Good to spend a day outdoors – we did have to wait out a few showers in the hides but it was ‘fine’ for the most part.
Horrific stories of the floods in Queensland on the news. The impact on people and their property is devastating, but many of our native animals will also be impacted. Many species will have found higher ground but ground-dwelling fauna such as reptiles and small mammals, particularly those living in burrows along the rivers may not have survived. The effects will be long term: vast tracts of riparian vegetation have been submerged or swept away, floodplains will be covered with silt, trees have been dislodged and fallen timber swept downstream. However for the birds and animals that survive the flooding, the water does bring with it a number of positive effects. Conditions can be better than before with water channels flushed and opened up, seeds dispersed, and habitats opened up.
In 1974 we were living and working in Brisbane, in flood affected areas of Milton, St Lucia and Indooroopilly, so my thoughts are very much with the people who are dealing with the 2011 floods.
If there is one thing that upsets me more than seeing birds in a cage, it is seeing cage raised birds that have escaped or been released into the wild in a foreign habitat. This Pale-headed Rosella is a long way from where his species is found.
"A robin redbreast in a cage puts
all of heaven in a rage."
Saturday, January 8, 2011
The White-headed Stilt Himantopus leucocephalus is included as a sub-species of Himantopus himantopus, the Black-winged Stilt by Christidis and Boles. The American version is the Black-necked Stilt, Himantopus mexicanus. Given that they all seem to have white heads, black wings and black necks, the common names aren’t particularly imaginative.
There were a small group of them off the shore of Craigie Reserve, this morning. I haven’t seen the huge flocks that we usually see in the estuaries, and thought they had gone outback with the other waders and ducks.
Friday, January 7, 2011
The Little Tern (Sterna albifrons) is Australia’s smallest tern. It is listed as an endangered species in New South Wales. The species is an ecological specialist, needing specific conditions for feeding and breeding and it currently has a population and distribution reduced to a critical level, with poor recovery potential in the face of severe threats. There is a breeding colony on the Central Coast, and though the main nest sites are fenced, it is in a very busy area and most people seemed to treat it as just another seagull.
The Little Tern in NSW is strictly a coastal species, nesting in estuaries or on coastal beaches, and feeding in nearby waters. Most of the nesting sites in NSW are sand-spits, sand islands or beaches within or adjacent to the estuaries of rivers, creeks and coastal lakes. Nesting usually occurs at or near the mouth of the estuary.
Little Terns nest on the ground in the open. The nest is a simple scrape, usually unadorned, although sometimes lined by the birds with shell fragments, tiny pebbles or other material. Nests are typically located on flat or gently sloping ground, on a loose, sandy substrate with abundant surface shell-grit or pebbles, and bare or almost bare of vegetation. The birds appear to select sites with good visibility all around for the sitting bird, and with good camouflage for the mottled eggs and chicks. Nests are usually located close to the water, mostly within 150 m of, and less than 1.5 m above the high water mark. Little Terns tend to avoid vegetated areas and will abandon a traditional nesting site if it becomes too overgrown. However, clumps of vegetation, driftwood and other beach debris are important for
providing shelter and shade for the chicks once they leave the nest.
While currently Little Terns breeding in Australia are classified with those breeding in eastern Asia as subspecies sinensis, it is thought that not only might the Australian birds eventually be recognised as a separate subspecies, but that the genetic differences between Little Terns breeding in south-eastern Australia and those breeding in the Gulf of Carpentaria might see the Australian Little Terns classified as two distinct subspecies.
Little Terns return to NSW during September to November. Nesting begins in October or November and continues through into January or February. Numbers then decline as the birds leave on migration from March to May. The group at The Entrance included both breeding (with yellow bill) and non-breeding birds, and a number of juveniles with buff-brown plumage. I didn’t go near the nesting site, but have heard reports from site monitors that there are babies there.
Saturday, January 1, 2011
Rainbow Lorrikeet on a Bottlebrush (Callistemon viminalis)
Juvenile Eastern Rosella in the birdbath
Little Corellas in the Rose Gum (Angophora costata)
With holiday events, domestic chores and preparation for the new semester, I haven’t had many birding opportunities. Luckily the birds are coming to me – these images were all taken in my Toukley garden on the Central Coast of NSW.