Tuesday 29 December 2020

Wild Bird Wednesday 440 - White Terns

Well, this is the last WBW for 2020 - a year which we won't forget, but will be glad to be rid of.  

I thought I'd end the year with some pictures of simple light and beauty.  These are White Terns (Gygis alba) on Lord Howe Island.  One of my favourite birds, in one of my favourite places.

Lets all hope that 2021 will lead us back to these kinds of places and times.

So, with my best wishes I will sign out for 2020 and hope to see you all again in 2021.   Stay safe, stay well.  SM

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Tuesday 22 December 2020

Wild Bird Wednesday 439 - Australian Pelican

The Australian Pelican (Pelecanus conspicillatus) is one of seven Pelican species in the world.  These are big birds, with the Australian Pelican's bill being 40 cm - 50 cm long and they have a wingspan of 2.3 m - 2.5 m.

They are also fun to watch, especially on land where they seem just a little bit clumsy.  I think I would have to be in a really bad mood not to have a smile on my face when watching Pelicans.

These birds were loafing about at Swan Bay Jetty, which is about 120 km from Melbourne.  They seemed content to just sit, until a fishing boat arrived and then they were swiftly off is search of a free lunch.

These next three images show a new bit of photoshop manipulation I found out about in the last couple of weeks.  It involves using the in focus areas of two images to make a single image.  It seems to work well here, but the second time I tried it, it did not!

Anyway, here are the two original images (you can see how I shifted focus between the front and back bird) and the composite image. I think this may be about as far I will go with this type of manipulation - and I'll let you know when I use this method! 

This is the merged version

Anyway, I have a few more days at work - and then I'm free for a while, so I'll visit web sites, finally write some words and generally reflect on a pretty crazy year.

Stay well, wear a mask, get the vaccine if you can and click on the blue button below to join in with WBW.  

Above all else, have a safe and happy Christmas - and I'll be back for WBW 440 after the festivities are done and dusted.  SM

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Wednesday 16 December 2020

Wild Bird Wednesday 438 - Dusky Moorhens

The Dusky Moorhen (Gallinula tenebrosa) is a familiar bird in most wetlands in south east Australia.  It looks a lot like that (Common) Moorhen I used to see in the UK, but the Australian species lacks a distinct white stripe on its flanks.

These dark birds were feeding young in dark mud in an area with bright sunshine, so it was a bit of a challenge.  It seems that these birds may not actually be the biological parents of these chicks, as this species is know to used collaborative breeding groups.  (In fact I think this approach is more common in Australian birds than in any other region of the world.)

I have (finally) been able to organise some time away this week - and I'm looking forward to some time by the sea.  What a year!

As ever, stay safe and join in with WBW:  click the blue button and off you go!  SM


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Tuesday 8 December 2020

Wild Bird Wednesday 437 - Eurasian Coot

There are a few small ponds near my house - and I like to keep an eye on what is happening on them.  Of course, lock down made that rather difficult.  During a recent (post lockdown!) trip out I found this family of Eurasian Coots (Fulica atra) occupying the bank-side grass.

The chicks are delightfully ugly - with punk hair styles and huge feet!

I think that the pale tip on the beak is an "egg tooth" which would suggest that these little ones had not long come out of the shell.  

The birds seem to be benefiting from the scraps from the numerous picnics that were going on around the edge of the pond.

These picture look much better if you click on them so see a larger version.

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Stay safe and enjoy.  SM

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Tuesday 1 December 2020

Wild Bird Wednesday 436 - Sulphur-Crested Cockatoo

The Sulphur-Crested Cockatoo (Cacatua galerita) is an abundant, obvious and noisy companion in my neck of the woods.  Their raucous screeching and generally eccentric behaviour are great to observe - but they can also do a significant amount of damage to fruit trees, electrical wire, gutters and downpipes.

I guess that they are just showing us puny mortals that we are not as great as we think we are!

Anyway, this one turned up a week or so ago when I was out and about, had a few things to say, eat some seeds and was gone!

If the truth be told - I like the third image the most.

So, click the blue button to join in with WBW.

Stay safe and enjoy.  SM

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Tuesday 24 November 2020

Wild Bird Wednesday 435 - New Holland Honeyeater

While I was out at Bushy Park last week, I spent some time leaning on part of a bridge waiting for some New Holland Honeyeaters (Phylidonyris novaehollandiae) to come and feed in a flowering bush.   I think that the bush is a Bottlebrush - or Callistemon.  I think that the Honeyeaters don't care what its called - its a wonderful source of food for them what ever its name is!

Although New Holland Honeyeaters are not an unusual bird to see, I did not have any decent pictures of them.  I think I may have fixed that issue!

As I said yesterday, its great to be back in the outdoors.

Safe safe, keep your distance, wear a mask and link up to WBW.  SM

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Monday 23 November 2020

Out and About

This lockdown nearly broke me, but my loved ones are still here and we are healthy.  

So, it is with considerable relief that I was able to go for a walk today without a mask.  On the weekend I will be driving an hour and half from home to go on a fly fishing course.  And last Friday I met up with a friend from work to go birding.

When I was out and about on Friday evening I heard a commotion behind me and turned to see this icon of Australia being harassed by a Grey Fantail.

You can find more pictures from around the world at Our World Tuesday.

It was good to be out.

It's good to be back.


Tuesday 17 November 2020

Wild Bird Wednesday 434 - Scarlet Honeyeater

Well, I finally made it out of lockdown this weekend, and following some tips from local birders I went in search of Scarlet Honeyeater (Myzomela sanguinolenta) at Bushy Park, about 25 minutes from my house. You can tell what kind of year I (we) have had since COVID arrived in that this is about the longest journey I have been able to do in many months!

I was helped out by two birders on site who pointed me in the right direction to find the birds - although I think I may have found them anyway as they were calling loudly and feeding on flowering bushes - ie behaving in the way the field guides say they do!  (This is a novelty)

The Scarlet Honeyeater is 9 to 11 centimetres (3.5 to 4.3 in) long, and is the smallest honeyeater in Australia. It also flies rapidly, spends a lot of its time with its head in flowers and generally spends most of its time inside bushes, rather than on the nicely illuminated flowers on the edge of the bushes!

In other words, I did not get a lot of 'keepers' in the photographic sense.

This is a pretty unusual bird for my part of the world, and this year there have been a much higher number of sightings than usual.  This species does move south in spring/ summer, but this year it seems to have come much further south (and in greater numbers) than normal.  This is good news for me, but maybe not good news for the bird.

These pictures look much better larger - so please click away.

(Also, is anybody having problems uploading images from their computer to Blogger?)

It feels great to be able to post some current birds, and to have a chance to restore some form of normal service!  So, as ever, stay safe and link up with WBW.

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Tuesday 10 November 2020

Wild Bird Wednesday 433 - Green Pygmy-Goose

There was a small flock of birds have a bit of a wash and brush up just off the end of the jetty when we started a boat tour of Yellow Waters in Kakadu National Park last year.

The birds were ..... and now I have a problem.  They are called the Green Pygmy-Goose (Nettapus pulchellus), but I assume that a group of them are not called Green Pygmy-Geese, and I am also not keen to write Green Pygmy-Gooses!  Anybody who knows about these things, please leave a comment.

Anyway, the birds were busily cleaning themselves as we sailed away.  

Of course, these birds are not geese at all - they are ducks - but they are not very large!  These were the first pictures I managed to get of this species.

The coming weekend is the first weekend in a very long time where I may be able to get out of the area I live in and go for a walk.  I hope this goes some way to pressing the 're-set' button in my brain - and then normal service can be resumed.

It's been a long year - and I will be glad when I can get back to being me.

Stay safe, link up and if you live in the US and voted the right way, thank you very much.  SM

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