Wednesday, 23 November 2022

Wild Bird Wednesday 539 - Lord Howe Woodhen

I mentioned the Lord Howe Woodhen (Gallirallus sylvestris) in last week's post, so I thought I would share some pictures of this species.

Lord Howe Island is about 780 km northeast of Sydney, in the Tasman Sea between Australia and New Zealand.  As with many isolated islands it has a number of endemic species, and as with many other island endemics extinction in the modern age is a bit of a problem.

The Woodhen population on LHI fell to about 30 birds at one stage, but has now recovered to over 200.  In recent years many of the birds were removed from the island as a huge rat baiting program took place.  The rat eradication seems to have been (more or less) successful and the birds have been returned.

Although it is isolated (and expensive) if you ever get the chance to go to LHI, take it: its a wonderful place.










It's remarkable to think that about 1% of the worlds population of these birds are in these pictures!

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Wednesday, 16 November 2022

Wild Bird Wednesday 538 - Weka

The Weka (Gallirallus australis) is an endemic, flightless rail from New Zealand.  The bird is about 50cm long and weighs in between 700 and 1000g - in other words it's about the same size as a small chicken.

Those of you with good memories may recall that I posted some images of Woodhen from Lord Howe Island in the past. Woodhen and Weka are in the same genus and have both become flightless.  I say 'become' because both species of birds are found on remote (ish) island and it's sure that the ancestors of these birds did not swim to these islands!

These pictures are of two different birds and I suspect that they are examples of two of the four 'types' found in NZ.  The first bird seems to be one of the 'buff' forms - its does seem rather more 'ginger' than the darker bird, which may be the 'western' form.

In any case the first bird was very inquisitive and walked up to and past us without much bother.  I would have liked to get a bit lower for some of the shots of that bird, but we were half way though a walk and things were a little damp underfoot!  It's why I normally wear (or carry) a coat of some form!








This is the second bird.






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Wednesday, 9 November 2022

Wild Bird Wednesday 537 - White Terns

I have to make quick trip to Sydney, so here are some of my favourite birds:  White Terns from Lord Howe Island.







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Wednesday, 2 November 2022

Wild Bird Wednesday 536 - Australian White Ibis

The Australian White Ibis (Threskiornis molucca) is a common site in many urban and rural areas of Australia.   Initially only a bird of pastures and grasslands, since the 1970s it has become established in urban areas- and is now some common in urban areas where people gather - and drop food - that they are commonly known as Bin Chickens.

These birds are living a more natural life at the Coolart Wetlands, about an hour from Melbourne.  However, I would expect that at other times of the year they could be found in more urban areas.

The Coolart wetlands breeding colony had a range of your birds, and there seemed still to be active breeding activity going on.  Breeding seems to be tied to rainfall - and given how wet a strong we have had, I think breeding may go on for a while yet.

I spent about 4 hours at a hide (I do like not being tied to work anymore!) and I suspect there will be more pictures from this session to come.

As you can see, the chicks were still being actively fed - and the 'string' of slime that links the adult to the you is particularly attractive! 











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Wednesday, 26 October 2022

Wild Bird Wednesday 535 - Sooty Oystercatcher

These Sooty Oystercatchers (Haematopus fuliginosus) landed on the beach at Walkerville, wandered about for a brief while and then took off again.  They were never in great light - but I kind of like what I was able to do with them in the breaking waves.

Anyway, I normally see this species in more rocky coastlines, so maybe that's where they were going when they left.

Oystercatchers of any kind are some of my favourite birds, I could watch them for ages.








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Wednesday, 19 October 2022

Wild Bird Wednesday 534 - Eastern Curlew

The Eastern Curlew (Numenius madagascariensis) is an endangered species that breeds in Russia and north-eastern China, and spends its non-breeding period in the southern hemisphere, being  widespread in coastal regions in the north-east and south of Australia, including Tasmania.  These pictures were taken on an incoming tide at Toora Bird hide in East Gipsland, about 2 1/2 hours from Melbourne.

These are a very large wading bird, with a characteristic huge beak!  However, they still manage to use it to organise and clean their feathers.






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