Wednesday, 30 November 2016

Wild Bird Wednesday 227 - Chestnut-quilled Rock Pigeon

Not too many pictures this week - and not too much text either.

I was really pleased to find (or if the truth be told, be shown) these birds when I was in Kakadu.  These birds are Chestnut-quilled rock pigeons.  Rather confusingly their scientific name, Petrophassa rufipennis, means 'red-winged rock pigeon' - now I wish taxonomists would make up their mind's!

This bird has a very restricted distribution, only being found in a small part of Western Arnhem Land in the Northern Territory.  These birds were all drinking from a dripping tap in carpark at Ubirr.

Hardly a wilderness experience, but another example of the birdwatching  adventures that can be found in unexpected places!

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Tuesday, 29 November 2016

Out and about

During a bit of a brief walk on the weekend I came across this Purple Swamphen - or more correctly a Australasian swamphen now that the classification has been changed - stripping the seeds from single grass stalks.  This was rather good value to watch.

The bird was holding the stalk of grass lightly in its beak and then it would slide its back along the grass, removing all the seeds.  I recall doing a similar thing as a kid - although using my fingers rather than my 'beak' - to create bunches of seeds to throw at people in a rather annoying way!

Photographically these pictures were a bit of a challenge - the bird was in tall grass which kept being 'grabbed' by the auto-focus and there were strands of wire from a fence as well.  In the end the birds were scared off by a large group of cyclists!

I have included a picture of one the the chicks that was also feeding in the area - I was impressed by the size of their feet!

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

Wednesday, 23 November 2016

Wild Bird Wednesday 226 - Sacred and Little Kingfisher

I thought I would continue with my kingfisher posts this week.  The Sacred Kingfisher (Todiramphus sanctus) is one of Australia's most widespread kingfishers.  The Little Kingfisher (Ceyx pusillus) lives up to its name by being only 12cm long - this bird is only found on the central and eastern coasts of northern Australia.

The picture of both of these birds were taken on a wonderful late afternoon / evening trip Yellow Water cruise in Kakadu National Park.

If you look closely, you can see that the Sacred Kingfisher has a small companion.  The pictures of the Little Kingfisher are not as sharp as I would like - but I think I saw the bird for a total of about 10 seconds, so I'll take what I can get!

Sacred Kingfisher
Sacred Kingfisher
Sacred Kingfisher
Little Kingfisher 
Little Kingfisher
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Tuesday, 22 November 2016

Reflecting on Brass

There was a small local music festival near our house this weekend.  We wandered over on Saturday for a listen and a look.

I was rather taken by the reflections in the instruments of the Boroondara brass band.

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

Wednesday, 16 November 2016

Wild Bird Wednesday 225 - Blue-winged Kookaburra

This week I continue with another kingfisher.  Rather than the reasonably familiar Laughing Kookaburra, this weeks bird is the Blue-winged Kookaburra.

The Blue-winged Kookaburra is in the same genus as the Laughing and carries the name Dacelo leachii.  The first part of the name is an anagram of the the genus name of the Kingfisher that is found in the UK and the second part for a well known working in the British Museum.  The 'joke' in the first part of the name drew the wrath of none other than Mr. C Darwin who said (so I am led to believe) that 'such verbal trifling is in very bad taste'!  This may say rather more than is commonly known about Mr. D's sense of humour!

The Blue-winged Kookaburra is found across most of the northern coastal Australia and its range extends about halfway down the east coast.  As a result I only see this bird if I am a rather long way from home.

This Kookaburra is about 40cm long, making it a little smaller than the Laughing.  The voice of this bird is remarkable - with the description in one of my guides going like this: 'Appalling: a guttural  'klock, klock, developing into a cacophony of mechanical squawks'.  A nightingale it is not!

The next set of pictures show a male bird (I am unsure about the ones above) - you can tell this by his blue tail.

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Tuesday, 15 November 2016

Is it warm outside yet?

Went for an afternoon walk though Westerfolds Park on Sunday - showers, clouds and even a bit of sunshine now and then.

We found this Blue Tongue Lizard checking out the temperature from beneath a drain cover.  I think it was in two minds about the temperature, and the presence of a camera was a bit to much for it - so it ducked back into shelter!

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

Friday, 11 November 2016

Sky with Corellas

There is beauty and there is change.  We still have beauty and we can hope for change.

You can find more skies at Sky Watch Friday.

Wednesday, 9 November 2016

Wild Bird Wednesday 224 - Azure Kingfisher

Kingfishers are without question spectacular - even when they sit in rather dull light!

This is an Azure Kingfisher (Ceyx azurea) which we got wonderful views of within a few minutes of starting an evening cruise on Yellow Waters in Kakadu National Park.  The views we got of this bird were the best that I have had of this species, despite it being found all the way down the east coast of Australia.

The bird is between 17 and 19cm long and really is a spectacular bird to see.  (Some of the pictures are a bit 'soft' due to me not having my act together at the time - rule number 1; always check the settings!!)

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Tuesday, 8 November 2016

Seascapes near The Blowhole

We had a long weekend recently, so we took the opportunity to have a short break away by the sea.  From Melbourne you can go east of west to get to long areas of coast - and this time we went east to the Mornington Peninsula.

These are some shots from near a place called The Blowhole, which is near Flinders in the Mornington Peninsula National Park.  The tide was too low and the waves too small for the hole to blow, but it was a good place even if it did not live up to its name!

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

Friday, 4 November 2016

Sky View

These are views of the sky taken from inside a sculpture / space called Within Without, at the National Gallery of Australia.

The view of the sky is taken out through the 'roof' of the central tower or tall dome.  When you sit inside this tower, the view of the sky almost feels like it is actually a sphere - and that you are looking at a sky patterned ball rather than the sky itself.

It was a wonderful and strange experience.

The 'blue section' in front of the tower is full of water - and you just can't resist splashing it - well, I could not resit it!

You can find more skies by jumping over to Sky Watch Friday.

Wednesday, 2 November 2016

Wild Bird Wednesday 223 - Darter

Darters are a fish eating bird that can be found over most of Australia - they tend to be absent from the dryer areas, for obvious reasons.

When I say that they are fish eating - what I should probably have said is that they are reputed to be fish eating, as it has taken me a rather long time to get any photographic evidence of this activity!

The first set of pictures were taken at Mamukala Bird Hide, and show really well that these birds feathers do not have the same water repelling oils applied to them as other birds.  If these were pictures of ducks you would see water 'beading' all of the feathers on the back of the bird.  As you can see this Darter looks soaking wet.  This is an adaptation to diving under water, as it makes the bird less buoyant.

This bird is also know as the 'Snake Bird' - and when its body is underwater, and all you can see is the neck and head, you can see why.  The formal name - Anhinga novaehollandiae - means New Holland Devil Bird.  The New Holland being an old name for Australia, and the Devil Bird being based on the name given to very similar birds that were first seen in South America.

The second set of pictures, where a different bird has caught what seems to be a small cat-fish were taken during an evening tour of Yellow Water, a justifiably famous location in the Kakadu National Park.

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