Steve Happ Photography Ramblings and dissertations

September 20, 2009

Borah Reserve Bird Photography 090916

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Borah Reserve, Barraba Bird Photography, 16th September, 2009. pm.

To get to the Borah Reserve you turn left off Fossickers Way, which is on the way to Barraba, 23 kilometres north of Manilla, just before the bridge over the Tarpoly Creek. Go for about five to ten kilometres along the Borah Creek Road until you hit the sign for the reserve.

On the way in I saw a colony of Apostlebirds, my favourite birds. I set up camp and after four pm went for a walk along the creek. I spotted an Eastern Yellow Robin, Which was quite surprising to me. This one was race chrysorrhoa which has bright yellow rump and uppertail coverts.

Eastern Yellow Robin
Eastern Yellow Robin (Eopsaltria australis chrysorrhoa), race chrysorrhoa

There were very many White-plumed Honeyeaters. After the sun went down they were all flocking together, almost like they wanted to all huddle up together for the night, but could not decide where. It was quite hilarious, actually. Also, there were a few Noisy Friarbirds, some Galahs, the ever-present Superb Fairy-wrens and a couple of Eastern Rosella.

I heard an owl this evening but could not tell which one. But it sure was not a Barking Owl. I know what they sound like – a dog barking. doh!

Borah Reserve bird list 16/9/09

Eastern Yellow Robin, race chrysorrhoa
Willy Wagtail
White-plumed Honeyeater
Peaceful Dove
Laughing Kookaburra
Apostlebird
Noisy Friarbird
Galah
Superb Fairy-wren
Eastern Rosella.

2 Mile Bird Photography 090916

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Two Mile Walk, Nundle Bird Photography – 16th September 2009, am.

On the way to Sheba Dams up the hill is Two Mile Walk. I bet it is two miles from Nundle. The track is very steep at the start and wends along the side of a very steep mountain. I started off seeing an Eastern Spinebill which came very close to me as I was walking down the track. There were a few Crimson Rosella and the Noisy Friarbirds were singing a pretty song for me. On a bank by the track a Spotted Pardalote was sitting quietly chirping away. I don’t know if he was cold or wanted a feed.

Wonga Pigeon
Wonga Pigeon (Leucosarcia melanoleuca)

There were many wombat holes dug into the sides of the mountain, I think I must have seen about twenty or thirty. Half way along the track I came upon this rock slide where the rocks covered the side of the mountain. They were large and small rocks. It looked like a lava flow to me or someone had blasted the top of the mountain off.

Silvereye
Silvereye (Zosterops lateralis cornwalli) race cornwalli

When I got to the creek that runs through a valley, I saw that someone had put a wheel over the edge of the cliff. If they had gone over it would have been a disaster. That would have been very very scary. I spotted a treecreeper with a beetle and was hoping that it would be a Red-browed Treecreeper but it was not. It was a White-throated Treecreeper.

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

There must have been more than fify Yellow-tailed Black-cockatoos on the hillside, making a tremendous racket. Someone said that yesterday there might have been more than a couple of hundred.

Noisy Friarbird
Noisy Friarbird (Philemon corniculata)

I was nearly back to the parking spot when I heard a call in a tree. I looked up and a female Satin Bowerbird was hopping out of a nest. She came out , then went back in the nest and went back out again. Maybe she was still in the process of nest construction. Satin Bowerbirds do not use the male Satin Bowerbird’s bower for raising their young. The female builds another nest up in a tree some place else.

Two Mile bird list 16/9/09

Eastern Spinebill
Wonga Pigeon
Noisy Friarbird
Spotted Pardalote
Silvereye
White-browed Scrubwren
White-throated Treecreeper
Pied Currawong
Welcome Swallow
Yellow-tailed Black-cockatoo
Satin Bowerbird
Yellow-faced Honeyeater
Crimson Rosella
Grey Fantail

Chaffey Dam Bird Photography 090915

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Nundle – Chaffey Dam Bird Photography 15th September 2009, pm.

Me and Ray turned left when we left the caravan park at Nundle and followed the Peel River. We stopped along the river banks a few times and saw Super Fairy-wrens and thornbills. There were a few White-faced Heron as well as a Nankeen Night-heron that we saw as we drove down river. When we got to the Chaffey Dam we saw a pair Great Crested Grebe doing their mating display. There were some water birds on the dam such as Black-winged Stilts, Australian Wood Duck and Australasian Grebe. There were a few sets of Australian Wood Duck babies following their mums around.

Along the road back to Nundle we saw fields that had numerous Galahs and Sulphur-crested Cockatoos feeding in them.

Chaffey Dam bird list 15/9/09

White-throated Gerygone
Nankeen Night-Heron
Superb Fairy-wren
Yellow-rumped Thornbill
Great Cormorant
Masked Lapwing
Great Crested Grebe
Black-winged Stilt
Australian Wood Duck
Welcome Swallow
Yellow-faced Honeyeater
Eastern Rosella
Grey Fantail
Noisy Miner
White-faced Heron
Crimson Rosella
Magpie-lark
Australasian Grebe
Common Starling
Australian Raven
Pacific Black Duck
Australian Magpie
Australian Pelican
Galah
Straw-necked Ibis
Sacred Kingfisher
Little Corella
Sulphur-crested Cockatoo
White-faced Heron
Red-browed Finch

Sheba Dams Bird Photography 090915

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Nundle – Sheba Dams Bird Photography, 15th September 2009 am

Sheba Dams is the remnants of the old Chinese gold digging workings. It is about ten kilometres out of Nundle up a steep winding road. The dams are supposed to have trout in them, but we did not see any being caught.

The water birds were a bit scarce, only some Pacific Black Ducks, Eurasian Coots and a couple of Australasian Grebe. When we first got there someone spotted a Red Wattlebird nest and it looked a bit raggedy but it was in the process of construction, as a Red Wattlebird arrived shortly later with some woollen material in its mouth.

There were quite a few honeyeaters around, mainly Yellow-faced Honeyeaters, White-eared Honeyeaters and White-naped Honeyeaters.

On the other side of the dam we found a dead grebe with a hole in its stomach, but we could not work out how it had been killed. As we were having morning tea, we noticed a magpie feeding its young in a nest right above us.

Sheba Dams bird list 15/9/09

Red Wattlebird
Eastern Spinebill
White-eared Honeyeater
White-naped HOneyeater
Yellow-faced Honeyeater
Pacific Black Duck
Eurasian Coot
Australasian Grebe
Little Pied Cormorant
Australian Magpie
Pied Currawong
Crimson Rosella
Australian Reed-warbler
Sulphur-crested Cockatoo
Yellow-tailed Black-cockatoo

September 19, 2009

Nundle Bird Photography 090914

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Nundle Bird Photography – Teamster Rest Reserve – 14th September 2009, pm.

I had thought that the Teamsters Rest Reserve was on the road from Wallabadah to Nundle. I kept a look out for the roof with DAG written on it but saw nothing. That is because it is not on that road. I met up with the HBOC crew at the caravan park at Nundle and then found out it was on another road. doh!

It was past the DAGgy sheep station and right next to a creek. We walked up the hill, spotting White-naped Honeyeaters and a nest was seen. There were a few Noisy Friarbird around and we saw what we eventually worked out to be a Buff-rumped Thornbill.

On the way back to Nundle we stopped off at a bridge and watched some Fairy Martins flying above. I photoshopped two pretty ordinary photos together to show the diagnostic features for identifying these birds. Note the square tail, rufous crown, white under-body and white rump.

Fairy Martin
Fairy Martin (Hirundo ariel)

Teamsters Rest bird list 14/9/09

Grey Fantail
Laughing Kookaburra
White-naped Honeyeater
Galah
Crimson Rosella
Sulphur-crested Cockatoo
Buff-rumped Thornbill
Pied Currawong
Noisy Friarbird
Fairy Martin

Wallabadah Bird Photography 090914

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Wallabadah Cemetery 14th September 2009, am.

I awoke before six am this morning and was off and away by 6:30am. I checked out the grey gum remnants with the Striated Pardalotes who were going into the knots quite often. I am not sure what they were doing. I was wondering if they had nests in there or were feeding on something in the knot holes.

Striated Pardalotes
Striated Pardalotes (Pardalotus striatus substriatus)

Then I spotted an Australian Wood Duck and her fourteen babies crossing the road. It seemed as if papa was on watch on the top of a fence post while mama and the babies made a dash for the bush. The female kept her head down really low in profile as possible, maybe to hide from any predators(raptors? foxes?)

The Noisy Miner was still sitting on the nest.

Pied Currawong
Pied Currawong (Strepera graculina)

I walked back along the road again and saw a pair of Pied Currawongs who were scrambling around on the side of the creek bed. I have no idea what they were doing. feeding? eating clay? A magpie came along and shooed them off.

Red-rumped Parrots
Red-rumped Parrots (Psephotus haematonotus)

Then I saw some White-backed Swallows. At first I thought they were Welcome Swallows but noticed the white on the bottom and on the back. It was impossible to get a photo of them as they were flying close to the ground mostly and I could not focus with the background bushes. Sometimes you can jag focus on them in the sky, but not these ones. How come swallows and swifts are not related? Swifts are Apodidae and Swallows are Hirundinidae. (Maybe it is some type of evolutionary congruence or whatever it is called where species develop similar characteristics but are totally separated in the evolutionary tree as well as geographically).

Yellow-rumped Thornbill
Yellow-rumped Thornbill (Acanthiza chrysorrhoa)

Wallabadah Bird List 14/9/09

Australian Magpie
Willy Wagtail
Noisy Miner
Superb Fairy-wren
Eastern Rosella
Sulphur-crested Cockatoo
White-backed Swallow
Striated Pardalote
Common Starling
Crimson Rosella
Eastern Rosella
Australian Wood Duck
Pied Currawong
Red-rumped Parrot
Crested Pigeon
Yellow-rumped Thornbill
Laughing Kookaburra
King Parrot – female
Musk Lorikeet
Magpie-lark
Straw-necked Ibis

Spring Ridge Bird Photography 090913

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Spring Ridge Bird Photography – 13th September 2009, pm.

Spring Ridge State Forest is approximately fifty kilometres west of Quirindi. The area has large black soil plains and is a rich agricultural area.

As I was getting ready to have lunch, a colony of six White-winged Choughs came ambling by me, pecking at the ground, turning over sticks and hopping around as they do. They just wandered up the hill on the ground. Around 4pm I got out the camera and followed a creek bed. There was not much around at all. I spotted a few Noisy Miners along a track and some Noisy Friarbirds, but not much else.

On the bitumen road back to Quirindi, I stopped to photograph a pair of Black-shouldered Kites who were perched on some telegraph poles. They took off hunting after a while and circled me a few times, having a good look at me. I think they caught something to eat(probably a mouse) because they descended slowly to the ground, then flew back to the perch.

Black-shouldered Kite
Black-shouldered Kite (Elanus axillaris)

All in all, Spring Ridge State Forest was not fruitful at all. Maybe I went to the wrong spot on the wrong day.

Black-shouldered Kite

Spring Ridge bird list 13/9/09

White-winged Chough
Noisy Miner
NOisy Friarbird
Laughing Kookaburra
Black-shouldered Kite

September 18, 2009

Quirindi Bird Photography 090913

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Quirindi Bird Photography – 13th September 2009, am.

Settlement Ponds

I set my alarm for six am and got up and had breakfast, then I drove to Quirindi, around the clock tower to the cattle sales yards and turned left. A lovely Black-shouldered Kite was sitting in the tree waiting for me. I did not even have time to get my shoes on!

Black-shouldered Kite
Black-shouldered Kite (Elanus axillaris)

An aggressive cow was guarding the gate, so I had to gingerly wend my way past her. This Eastern Rosella was on much better behaviour.

Eastern Rosella
Eastern Rosella (Platycerus eximus)

I spotted some martins darting in and out of a eucalypt tree – these ones had white on the rump and square tails. Later on I saw some martins with russet throat, white bellies and blue/grey crowns.

Tree Martin
Tree Martin (Hirundo nigricans)

Fairy Martins have a white rump and a russet crown. Tree Martins have blue/grey crowns.

Tree Martin
Tree Martin (Hirundo nigricans)

I went around the ponds which had mainly Grey Teal and Dusky Moorhens on them. One of the ponds has a massive school of carp which were coming to the surface. Ugh, they are disgusting things.

baby Australasian Grebe ?

Rose Lee Park

After I did my circuit of the Settlement Ponds I went to the Rose Lee Park which is on the banks of the Joseph and Jacob Creek. I went down to the creek crossing where there was a farmer getting some greens for his lactating ewes. There were a few Red-browed Finches around in the grass.

Noisy Friarbird
Noisy Miner (Philemon corniculatus)

I followed the creek towards Quirindi, seeing a Noisy Friarbird as well as some Australian Wood Ducks and Galahs feeding on the grass. A few Australian Reed-warblers were in the reeds as well.

Quirindi bird list 13/9/09

Common Starling
Galah
Grey Teal
Pacific Black Duck
Hardhead
Dusky Moorhen
Australasian Grebe
Sulphur-crested Cockatoo
Australian Wood Duck
Tree Martin
Fairy Martin
Welcome Swallow
Laughing Kookaburra
Australian Magpie
Straw-necked Ibis
Australian Raven
Crested Pigeon
Noisy Miner
Black-shouldered Kite
Eastern Rosella
Magpie-lark
Little Pied Cormorant
Cockatiel
Noisy Friarbird
Red-browed Finch
Australian Reed-warbler
Golden Whistler – female

Quipolly Dam Bird Photography 090912

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Quirindi Bird Photography – Quipolly Dam – 12th September 2009, pm.

In Quirindi, I got the Quirindi Bird Routes brochure from the Tourist Information office at the Arts and Craft Centre at the Railway Station. I went to have a look at spot number four – the Jacob and Joseph Creek town walks. This was at the RSL park behind the railway station. There were some Dusky Moorhen and Australian Reed-warblers but not much else. It was the middle of the day, however. I saw about three koi carp in the creek, as well as a feral shopping trolley that had escaped from IGA. I drove past Rose Lee Park and the Settlement Ponds to see where they were for tomorrow.

Then I drove out to the Quipolly Dams and saw some White-winged Choughs and a White-eared Honeyeater about 1:30pm before having a bit of a rest.

White-eared Honeyeater
White-eared Honeyeater (Lichenostomus leucostis)

Later on, I walked along the creek that fed the dam, but it was very hard going. There were large clumps of thistle bushes, so I had to go around them. The colony of White-winged Choughs were still out and about and I could hear a heap of Superb Fairy-wrens near the creek.

White-winged Chough
White-winged Chough (Corocorax melanorhamphos)

After the walk along the creek, I went down to where the hide was on the shore of the dam. There were mainly Grey Teal, Hardheads and Eurasian Coot on the dam. A Darter was on the dam wall and a Little Pied Cormornat was sitting on a log. A female White-bellied Sea-eagle sat on a tree over the other side of the dam, then flew over and off into the sunset. I camped there for the night.

Quipolly bird list 12/9/09

Noisy Friarbird
Sulphur-crested Cockatoo
Galah
Superb Fairy-wren
Grey Teal
Eurasian Coot
Welcome Swallow
White-eared Honeyeater
Darter
Grey Fantail
Australian Reed-warbler
Yellow-faced Honeyeater
Spiny-cheeked Honeyeater
Australasian Grebe
Hardhead
White-bellied Sea-eagle
Black-fronted Dotterel
White-bellied Cuckoo-shrike

Wallabadah Bird Photography 090912

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Wallabadah Cemetery Bird Photography – 12th September 2009, am.

Rainbow Bee-eater
Rainbow Bee-eater (Merops ornatus)

I camped at the Wallabadah Rest Area that night before – a lovely little spot by the river. Early in the morning it was freezing cold – I had three doonas on and I was still cold.

Rainbow Bee-eater
Rainbow Bee-eater (Merops ornatus)

I went down Elizabeth Street towards the cemetery. As I crossed over a bridge I spotted a Rainbow Bee-eater, so I jumped out of the car and grabbed the camera. They had moved by this time and two pairs of them were wheeling and darting in the air, doing some fantastic aerobatics. I managed to get some shots but they did not come out much good.

Striated Pardalote
Striated Pardalote (Pardalotus striatus substriatus)

There were a lot of Striated Pardalotes, so I took quite a few photos of them, as well as some thornbills. I then went around the edge of the cemetery and saw some Musk Lorikeets feeding on the eucalypt tree blossoms.

I went in to the common area, but there was not much at all in there. I did however find a nest with three speckled eggs in it. I moved away and a Noisy Miner flew back into the nest and sat down to warm up the eggs.

Noisy Miner
Noisy Miner (Manorina melanocephala)

I then went back down the road, taking some more photos of the Striated Pardalotes and thornbills, as well as some Red-rumped Parrots.

Striated Pardalote
Striated Pardalote (Pardalotus striatus substriatus)

After that eventful morning I went back to the Wallabadah Rest Area to dump off my photos to the laptop but the power ran out and I had to drive to Quirindi just to get enough charge into the laptop to dump off the photos. Its still not charged. doh!

Yellow-rumped Thornbill
Yellow-rumped Thornbill (Acanthiza chrysorrhoa)

Wallabadah bird list 12/9/09

Rainbow Bee-eater
Noisy Miner
Striated Pardalote
Willy Wagtail
Little Corella
Crested Pigeon
Pied Butcherbird
Musk Lorikeet
Eastern Rosella
Australian Magpie
Straw-necked Ibis
Common Starling
House Sparrow
Laughing Kookaburra
Pied Currawong
Red-rumped Parrot
Yellow-rumped Thornbill

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