Steve Happ Photography Ramblings and dissertations

July 12, 2009

Minmi Bird Photography 090711

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Bird Photography at Blue Gum Hills Regional Park, 11-12th July, 2009

Yesterday morning I went to the Blue Gum Hills Regional Park at Minmi, west of Newcastle. As soon as I got over the bridge into the garden, I saw this female Satin Bowerbird in the tobacco plant, eating the fruit off it.

Satin Bowerbird
female Satin Bowerbird (Ptilonorhynchus violaceus)

I continued up the path and saw quite a few Bar-shouldered Dove. It was the first time I had photographed these birds.

Bar-shouldered Dove
Bar-shouldered Dove (Geopelia humeralis)

I did a walk around the garden and then came back to the same spot where I saw the first Satin Bowerbird, and there were six female Satin Bowerbirds on the ground feeding. I am not sure what they were feeding on – most probably privet fruits. But this one has a mouthful of grass or something very green.

Satin Bowerbird
female Satin Bowerbird

There were also a pair of Brown Cuckoo-dove feeding on the Tobacco plant fruit.

Brown Cuckoo-dove
Brown Cuckoo-dove (Macropygia amboinensis)

Towards the creek I saw a Grey Goshawk but he managed to fly off before I could photograph him. I did a circuit of the bush track and saw nothing but this Pied Currawong. Pied Currawong are of Order: Passeriformes and Family: Cracticidae. They are very similar to the Grey Currawong which are not in our area.

Pied Currawong
Pied Currawong (Strepera graculina)

12th July

This morning I went back hoping to see the Regent Bowerbirds and get some photographs of them. As soon as I got there I saw a male Satin Bowerbird on a tree in the cemetery.

male Satin Bowerbird
male Satin Bowerbird (Ptilonorhynchus violaceus)

I walked further along the track and there were a pair of male Regent Bowerbirds with a whole bunch of Australian King-Parrots.

male Regent Bowerbird
male Regent Bowerbird (Sericulus chrysocephalus)

A female Regent Bowerbird was in the same tree as the males. I think they were eating the buds from the tree.

female Regent Bowerbird
female Regent Bowerbird (Sericulus chrysocephalus)

Blue Gum Hills Regional Park Bird List 11-12/7/09

Australian King-Parrot
Bar-shouldered Dove
Satin Bowerbird
Regent Bowerbird
Silvereye
Grey Goshawk
Brown Cuckoo-dove
Pied Currawong
Eastern Rosella
Sulphur-crested Cockatoo
Australian Raven
Grey Butcherbird
Grey Fantail

July 10, 2009

Minmi Bird Photography 090707

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Bird Photography at Minmi, 7th July, 2009.

On Tuesday morning I went to the Blue Gum Hills Nature Reserve at Minmi, west of Newcastle. To get there, you have to drive towards the Freeway from Wallsend and turn right to Minmi the last roundabout before you hit the Freeway. At the traffic lights at Minmi, turn right onto Minmi Road and about half a kilometre on the right is the Blue Gum Hills Park. I was halfway there when it started to rain, but I thought I may as well keep going and find out where it was at least. When I got there, there were heaps of people there for the HBOC Tuesday Birdwatching outing.

We walked around the track to the east of the car park. I did not bring my camera, as it was still raining. And water is not real good for cameras. There were some honeyeaters around, a few Golden Whistlers, thornbills, and a few other birds. There were a few flowering trees, so it is quite a reasonable spot for birdwatching, but maybe in better weather. I will be going back for sure when it is not raining, doh!

After the obligatory morning tea, a few of us went down towards the cemetery and followed the park track to the west. It was still raining so I left the camera behind again. Later on, I was severely regretting it, as we spotted a male Regent Bowerbird, then another one, a few females, and a few pairs of Satin Bowerbirds. The male Regent Bowerbird was in spectacular colour. We also saw some King Parrots and a Brown Cuckoo-dove.

Royal Spoonbill
Royal Spoonbill (Platalea regia)

After that, a bunch of us drove over, or under the freeway to the Pambalong Reserve. I think someone counted about eight Black Swans sitting on nests. There was also an Australasian Shoveler diving for food. All of a sudden someone spotted a Grey Goshawk sitting on a branch, and then it flew off. I tried to take some shots but my settings were all wrong so the photos turned out rubbish. doh! Further down the road we saw a White-bellied Sea-eagle fly past. In the reeds in the swamp there were Red-browed Finch, Australian Reed Warbler and Willy Wagtails. On the swamp there were more Black Swans, Chestnut Teal, and Australasian Grebe.

We saw a Royal Spoonbill and a couple of Australian White Ibis in a paddock, an Australian Hobby on the power line, a couple of Whistling Kites and some Eastern Rosella.

Minmi Bird List, 7/7/09

Golden Whistler
Yellow-faced Honeyeater
Regent Bowerbird
Satin Bowerbird
Australian King-Parrot
Brown Cuckoo-dove
Black Swan
Australasian Shoveler
Grey Goshawk
White-bellied Sea-eagle
Red-browed Finch
Magpie-lark
Willy Wagtail
Grey Fantail
Australasian Grebe
Australian Hobby
Eastern Rosella
Whistling Kite
Australian Reed Warbler

July 6, 2009

Awabakal Nature Reserve 090706

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Bird Photography at Awabakal Nature Reserve, Dudley, 6th July, 2009

This morning, after checking out the surf, I toddled off to Awabakal Nature Reserve at Dudley, just south of the city of Newcastle. I parked at Dudley Headland and walked down towards the lagoon. It was a bit quiet at first and the sun had not come through the trees yet. There were a few ducks on the lagoon, I think it is called Redhead Lagoon, I have no idea why, seeing it is in Dudley, doh! Well, there were a couple of Chestnut Teal, Pacific Black Duck, and up on the oval there were a few Australian Wood Duck. An Eastern Yellow Robin was flitting around on the edge of the swamp and a Brown Gerygone was in the trees later on along the track in the trees. I spotted an Eastern Whipbird in the scrub but it took off before I could get a photo. They are extremely elusive birds.

Red-browed Finch
Red-browed Finch (Neochmia temporalis)

I walked up the track towards the oval and there were a bunch of Red-browed Finches feeding on the grass by the side of the track. I walked past the oval and back down towards the lagoon. There were a bunch of Red Wattlebirds and White-cheeked Honeyeaters up in these Ironbark-type trees that were flowering. Down past the swamp I went and up again towards Dudley Headland again.

Laughing Kookaburra
Laughing Kookaburra (Dacelo novaeguineae)

In a flame tree was a pair of Laughing Kookaburra and a few Red Wattlebirds who were feeding on the flame tree flowers.

Red Wattlebird
Red Wattlebird (Anthochaera carunculata)

There was an Eastern Spinebill who was hovering under the flowers taking a drink. I think he thought he was a humming bird, he was just hovering and fluttering and drinking all at the same time. Too bad I could not get a better picture, but this behaviour is just too interesting not to include this photograph, even with its technical faults.

Eastern Spinebill
Eastern Spinebill (Acanthorhynchus tenuirostris)

Awabakal Nature Reserve Bird List 6/7/09

Chestnut Teal
Australian Wood Duck
Pacific Black Duck
Eastern Yellow Robin
Brown Gerygone
Eastern Whipbird
Red-browed Finch
White-cheeked Honeyeater
Red Wattlebird
Noisy Miner
Laughing Kookaburra
Eastern Spinebill

Swamp Harrier

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Swamp Harrier (Circus Approximans)

Yesterday we went trudging through the mud and swamp with Captain Jack at Black Neds Bay, and we did not see much except this Swamp Harrier. Oh, and an immature White-bellied Sea-eagle. This Swamp Harrier (Circus approximans) is an adult male pale morph(thanks David). Usually Swamp Harriers fly much lower over the grass and trees, but this one was a bit higher.

Swamp Harrier

The Swamp Harrier usually glides with wings upswept and the whitish rump is diagnostic for this species. Their tails are more or less rounded at the tip, and the tail is approximately twice the length of the head. Their eyes are yellow. They like habitats such as marshlands and swamps,lake verges, water meadows, grasslands and sometimes croplands. The female is larger with rufous underparts. They have long yellow legs as you can see in the photograph below.

Swamp Harrier

The Swamp Harrier belongs to the Order: Falconiformes and Order: Accipitridae. Accipitridae are a family of day time birds of prey which includes kites, goshawks, eagles and harriers. Some put Osprey in this family whilst other bird taxonimists have Osprey in their own family Pandionidae. All birds from this family have sharp powerful talons and hooked bills.

The Swamp Harrier is also called the Marsh Harrier. They hunt low over grassy and swampy country and feed on reptiles, ground birds, rodents, insects and smaller mammals like rabbits. They breed from September to January each year using a platform nest made up of sticks, reeds and grasses which is hidden in the reeds, laying 3 to 6 eggs. Their size is approximately fifty to sixty centimetres long.

Sources:
“Which Bird of Prey is that?” by Gordon Beruldsen.
Simpson and Day Field Guide.
dl.id.au.
featherdale.com.au
Bird in Backyards

July 4, 2009

Hunter Wetlands Centre 090704

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Bird Photography at Hunter Wetlands Centre 4th July, 2009.

This morning I went to the Hunter Wetlands Centre at Shortland here in Newcastle. As soon as I got in the grounds there was a pair of Eastern Spinebill feeding on the red bottle brush. A White-cheeked Honeyeater got in on the act and shooed them off. A male Superb Fairy-wren pottered around on the ground underneath the tree in full breeding plumage.

Eastern Spinebill
Eastern Spinebill (Acanthorhynchus tenuirostris)

In the ponds there were a pair of Little Egrets as well as the standard Magpie Goose, Eurasian Coot, Purple Swamphen and Dusky Moorhen. I walked around the Egret Breeding ponds and looked for some raptors but all I could see was possibly a Swamp Harrier flying low through the trees. There were a few ducks like the Pacific Black Duck, Hardhead, Grey Teal and Masked Shoveler. Also on the water were Australasian Grebes, Little Black Cormorant, Little Pied Cormorant and Black Swan.

White-cheeked Honeyeater
White-cheeked Honeyeater (Phylidonyris nigra)

There were quite a lot of Australian White Ibis (Threskiornis molucca) and some were all huddled up together. I do not know what they were doing, maybe making nests or breeding or something. Some of them also had pink patches at the back of their heads. Hmm, maybe they were not making nests, it is a bit early yet in July. I have no idea.

male Superb Fairy-wren
male Superb Fairy-wren (Malurus cyaneus)

Hunter Wetlands Centre Bird List 04/07/09

Eastern Spinebill
White-cheeked Honeyeater
Superb Fairy-wren
Little Egret
Magpie-Lark
Eurasian Coot
Magpie Goose
Pacific Black Duck
Black Swan
Masked Lapwing
Hardhead
Australasian Shoveler
Grey Teal
Australasian Grebe
Little Black Cormorant
Australian White Ibis
Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike
Crested Pigeon

Saltwater NP 090630

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Bird Photography at Saltwater National Park, 30th June, 2009.

I drove from Crowdy Bay to Laurieton. It was closer that way and I did not have to drive over too much of that horrible road. Laurieton is a nice quiet little town with a few trawlers at the wharf. At Saltwater the surf was pretty small, less than two foot and no-one was out, not even the malibu riders. I got my camera out and wandered around.

It was very quiet this morning – a few Lewin’s Honeyeaters, Brown Thornbills and Yellow-faced Honeyeaters. I met a lady from Taree with a 500mm Nikon lens and I had a chat to her. She said there were a couple of Regent Bowerbirds around here – a female and a male. Also, there were some at Wingham Brush and the Kattang Nature Reserve about three kilometres east of Laurieton.

Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike
Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike (Coracina novaehollandiae)

I went for a further walk around the camp and there was nothing much doing at all. A few little brown jobs and an Eastern Yellow Robin, but that was about it. It was cold and windy so maybe the birds were staying indoors today watching a DVD.

Saltwater NP Bird List 30/6/09

Australasian Gannet
Spangled Drongo
White-faced Heron
Eastern Yellow Robin
Grey Fantail
Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike
Magpie-lark
Brown Thornbill
Whistling Kite

July 3, 2009

Crowdy Bay NP 090629

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Bird Photography at Crowdy Bay National Park, 29th June, 2009

From Hat Head I drove to Kempsey to get a CF card reader. My old one had bent pins! CF cards are useless, SD cards are much better. Canon, wake up to yourselves! 🙁 The road to Crowdy Bay NP is horrendous, full of pot holes. It was excruciatingly awful. Kylie’s Beach is a nice camping area, however.

I went for a walk up to Kylie Tennant’s hut. She wrote a book about the Diamond Head area called “The Man on the Headland” and she actually wrote the book in the hut as far as I know. I walked up the hill and saw what I think might have been a legless lizard and a Yellow-tailed Black-cockatoo eating some casuarina nuts. I carried on to Indian Head camping area where I saw a few Grey Fantails and White-browed Scrubwrens. The kangaroos are very tame around here.

Red Wattlebird
Red Wattlebird (Anthochaera carunculata)

After that, I went out to the beach and saw a couple of fellow photographers from the Manning Valley. I photographed some kangaroos on the beach, then came back to the car park and photographed some Noisy Friarbirds and Red Wattlebirds flying out from their branches and then back in.

Noisy Friarbird
Noisy Friarbird(Philemon corniculatus)

I do not know what they were doing – maybe catching insects. I have seen honeyeaters doing the same thing. They will fly out from a branch, flap around for a bit, then fly back onto the branch. It is bizarre behaviour. I do not know what is going on. Do you?

Crowdy Bay NP Bird List 29/6/09

Great Cormorant
Yellow-tailed Black-cockatoo
Australian Magpie
Brown Gerygone
Noisy Friarbird
Red Wattlebird
Rainbow Lorikeet
Scaly-breasted Lorikeet

Hat Head NP 090629

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Bird Photography at Hat Head National Park, 29th June, 2009.

I drove from Sawtell to Jerseyville on the western side of the Macleay River. There were a few trawlers on the other side of the river. The bar must be deep at South West Rocks for them to be able to get out to sea. Before sunrise I drove to Smoky Cape Lighthouse and then I went to Smoky Camp. There was not much happening so I drove to Hat Head and walked the Connors Beach Track hoping to see some Brahminy Kites.

The Australian Gannets were fishing. I saw a couple of whales spouting and coming out of the water. I think they were humpbacks. Looking south to Hungry Head I saw a massive number of Gannets wheeling in a circle and dive-bombing like stukas. They would fly round in a circle and then dive bomb again. There must have been nearly a hundred of them. Sometimes ten or so were diving at one time. They were just peeling off one after another. It was spectacular! I then went along the Korogoro Point walk and saw a White-bellied Sea-eagle.

White-bellied Sea-eagle
White-bellied Sea-eagle (Haliaeetus leucogaster)

Then an Osprey came along and the White-bellied Sea-eagle was not impressed and they had a bit of an altercation. Luckily no animals were harmed in the photography of these animals. 🙂

White-bellied Sea-eagle and Osprey
Osprey and White-bellied Sea-eagle

Hat Head Bird Species List 29/6/09

Australasian Gannet
Crested Tern
White-faced Heron
White-bellied Sea-eagle
Osprey
White-cheeked Honeyeater
Yellow-faced Honeyeater
Brown Thornbill
Silver Gull
Superb Fairy-wren
Welcome Swallow

Bongil Bongil NP 090628

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Bird Photography at Bongil Bongil National Park, 28th June, 2009

Bongil Beach Trail

I woke up in the forest and drove down Overhead Bridge Road and parked at the Gate at the Bongil Beach Trail. Last night I drove down from Dorrigo and had fish and chips at the Burger Boys in Bellingen. It was the best fish and chips that I have ever had. Crumbed hoki – yum. I drove into Repton and drove along the old coast road to overhead Bridge Road. There are road going everywhere – you will need a good map, for sure.

There are a few different types of country along the Bongil Beach Trail. There is eucalypt forest, then it gets swampy with melaleucas, and then it goes on to sandy coastal banksia quality. It was wet everywhere with lots of water in the swampy sections. There were lots of Eastern Whipbirds, Rainbow Lorikeets, Little Wattlebirds, Yellow-faced Honeyeaters and Lewin’s Honeyeaters.

Rainbow Lorikeet
Rainbow Lorikeet (Trichoglossus haematodus)

I noticed that the Lewin’s Honeyeaters are bigger than the Yellow-faced Honeyeaters and are not as hyperactive. They seem to eat more insects or lerps. I was also wondering what feeds on Banksias – Rainbow Lorikeets, Little Wattlebirds, Yellow-faced Honeyeaters, White-cheeked Honeyeaters. What else? They are sure a good food source for lots of birds.

Bongil Picnic Area – Bonville Creek North Bank Walk

I drove from the Bongil Beach Trail onto the Old Pacific Highway and went through Bonville. After crossing the Bonville Creek I turned right into Williams Road. The Bongil Picnic Area is at the end of this road. It is very sumptuous with Barbecues, executive toilets, and locked at 6pm. I was going to go on the walk to Lyons Road at West Sawtell, but I saw the North Bank Walk signs where the train crossed the Bonville Creek. The ranger turned up and told me it is a good walk for birding. He reckoned that there was a Black Bittern along the creek banks, Glossy Black Cockatoos and Kingfishers lurking in the trees above the creek. But I saw none of those. 🙁

Yellow-tailed Black-cockatoo
Yellow-tailed Black-cockatoo (Calyptorhynchus funereus)

It was very wet and the track was very muddy. There wasn’t that many birds around at all. I turned back when the track got completely waterlogged. It just was not worth it. I think the place has a lot of potential and especially the Bongil Beach Walk would be fantastic under the right conditions.

Bongil Bongil NP Bird List 28/6/09

Yellow-faced Honeyeater
White-cheeked Honeyeater
Lewin’s Honeyeater
Spangled Drongo
Rainbow Lorikeet
Little Wattlebird
Golden Whistler
Eastern Whipbird
White-browed Scrubwren
Grey Fantail
Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoo
Little Black Cormorant

Dorrigo NP 090627

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Bird Photography at Dorrigo National Park, 27th June, 2009, pm

I drove from Hat Head to Macksville and stopped off for some coffee and to put some oil in the van. At Urunga I got some maps of the surrounding National Parks in the mid-north coast of New South Wales. The people at the Urunga Tourist Information Centre were very friendly and helpful. Dumping off the photographs to the laptop computer is working well whilst on the road. I am charging camera batteries and laptop with an inverter plugged into the cigarette lighter hole. Now all I need is mobile broadband internet and then I will have a fully mobile work shop.

Eastern Yellow Robin
Eastern Yellow Robin (Eopsaltria australis)

I drove through Bellingen, and past Thora. There was lots of flood debris in the Bellinger River. I drove up the Dorrigo mountain which was very dicey and dangerous – there are some mad drivers around. Crazy! I went to the skywalk at the Rainforest Centre but there was absolutely nothing. I walked along the Wonga Walk and the bird walk, but still nothing.

Australian Brush Turkey
Australian Brush Turkey (Alectura lathami)

There were some Eastern Yellow Robins and an Australian Brush Turkey in the Glades picnic area, otherwise there would have been no photos at all from this outing. It was total rubbish – maybe because it was winter, but there was nothing there and I was extremely disappointed. 🙁

Grey Shrike-thrush
Grey Shrike-thrush (Collurincla harmonica)

Dorrigo NP Bird List 27/6/09

White-browed Scrubwren
Eastern Yellow Robin
Australian Brush Turkey
Superb Fairy-wren
Brown Cuckoo-dove
Australian King-Parrot
Grey Shrike-thrush

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