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Bird Log 30th October 2008

I went to the Shortland Wetlands Centre to take some photos. The weather was overcast and cloudy with a North East wind blowing at around ten knots. The temperature was about 20 degrees Celsius at 9:30 am when I went. I walked around the main pond to the egret tower where I took some photos of the nesting Australian White Ibis as well as some cattle egrets and great egrets. There were some chicks in the nests of the Ibis as well as some eggs in one nest that I saw. There were a pair of Whistling Kites(Haliastur sphenurus) soaring in circles high overhead to the south west. They were too far away to take any decent photos but there was sufficient detail to make an identification.

Bird Species List

Cattle Egret

cattle egret
Camera settings were : 1/4000 second, f/5.6, ISO400 with a 400 mm lens. The camera was a Canon 350D.

The Cattle Egret has a scientific name of Ardea ibis. There is a breeding colony at the Shortland Wetlands Centre that is the southern breeding limit of the cattle egret. They eat mainly orthopteran insects such as grasshoppers and vertebrates like frogs. They are also at the Seaham Swamp Nature Reserve and one day soon I hope to go there for a look. The Lower Hunter is a staging place for the southern migration of Cattle Egrets from Queensland and Northern New South Wales.

Willy Wagtail

willy wagtail
Camera settings were : 1/180 second, f/5.6, ISO400 with a 400 mm lens.

The Willy Wagtail has the scientific name of Rhipidura rufiventris. This one was unusual in that he was sitting still in a tree for about ten minutes letting me take pictures of him. They usually flitter around non-stop like hyperactive children. It seemed like he knew I was there and was posing for me. The habitat of the willy wagtail is everywhere except very wet forest. They hunt insects in the bushes and on the ground.

Purple Swamphen

purple swamphen
Camera settings were : 1/500 second, f/5.6, ISO400 with a 400 mm lens.

The Purple Swamphen has a scientific name of Porphyrio porhpyrio. Notice that the young purple swamphen has a darker grey bill. They eat the soft shoots of reeds and bull rushes as well and small animals such as frogs and snails. Their habitat is mainly freshwater swamps, streams and marshes.

Great Egret

great egret
Camera settings were : 1/750 second, f/5.6, ISO400 with a 400 mm lens.

The Great Egret has the scientific name Ardea alba. The face of the breeding Great Egret has a green patch of skin that turns to a yellow colour when it is not breeding. At the Shortland Wetlands they build stick nests in trees over the swamp and nest in high numbers, often with more than twenty nests per tree. Most birds return to their birth colony but choose a different mate and nest each year. The male bird collects the sticks for the nest building.