Steve Happ Photography Ramblings and dissertations

January 7, 2010

Rylstone Weir Bird Photography

Filed under: Birds — Tags: , — admin @ 3:13 am

Rylstone Weir

5th January 2010

This morning I did not even get up, just laid in being slack. I felt I needed it. I got all cleaned up with a shower and shave, did all my washing, and set off for Rylstone. I asked at the Cafe if there was any internet in town, but no-one seemed to know of any available. I had a coffee anyway, got a map and found out the way to Ferntree Gully, where I am heading tomorrow. I spent most of the day down at Rylstone Showgrounds reading a book under a big shady tree.

Come late afternoon, I drove out of town towards Mudgee and went into the Travelling Stock Route and drove down this tortuous dirt road to Rylstone Weir. There were massive rocks in the road and pretty large holes. I was most of the way down this hill so I could not go back, I had to go down and hoped that I could get back up again.

But it was worth it. The weir has quite a few water birds such as cormorants, pelicans, Great Crested Grebe, Musk Duck, Darter and Black Swan. Here is a pair of them doing a synchronised flying routine. Nice of them, wasn’t it?

Black Swans
Black Swans

There were quite a number of bush birds as well. The ever-present White-plumed Honeyeaters were out in force as per usual, I spotted a Red-browed Finch and scores of Superb Fairy-wrens, and a couple of immature White-browed Scrubwren. And I disturbed this pretty little Peaceful Dove down on the shores of the weir.

Peaceful Dove
Peaceful Dove (Geopelia placida)

I also spotted some Eastern Rosella, Brown Treecreepers, Dusky Woodswallow and some White-browed Babblers paid me a visit real late as I was having my dinner. The Tree Martins were having a good old time trying to catch some fish in the pond. One of them nearly got eaten by a big carp, I reckon.

Tree Martin
Tree Martin (Hirundo nigricans)

6th January 2010

This morning I got up before 6am for a change and headed off after a quick breakfast of muesli and hot chocolate. There were a few birds up and about – a Rufous Whistler, Dusky Woodswallows and a White-browed Babbler made a re-appearance. I walked south along the ridge line and then headed down towards the river below the weir. In the river, I saw some Purple Swamphens and Pacific Black Ducks. The Australian Reed-warblers were making a commotion as well as a raucous gang of Noisy Miners who were harassing a couple of White-plumed Honeyeaters, who didn’t seem to care in the least.

Then I spotted something swimming in the river. It was a platypus. It was the first time I had seen one in the wild. There were at least two of them that I saw. You could also see where their dens were on the banks of the river. The photos of them did not turn out very good because they were brown against the brown muddy water.

Platypus
Platypus

Then I spotted this tortoise further on down the river bank.

Tortoise

I then climbed up the weir and went along the side of the water for a while. A whole bunch of Welcome Swallows were flying over the water and weirdness of all weirdness, these Tree Martins were perched on a bush. The Tree Martins and Welcome Swallows seemed to flock together as far as I could tell.

Tree Martins
Tree Martins (Hirundo nigricans)

I started climbing up a hill to get back to my van, when I spotted a Restless Flycatcher, but was too slow to get a photo. doh! I did however photograph a pair of White-bellied Cuckoo-shrike.

White-bellied Cuckoo-shrike
White-bellied Cuckoo-shrike

And that was it for the morning. I headed off into Rylstone for a coffee and to render my photos and write up this post. I am heading for Ferntree Gully this afternoon.

Rylstone Weir bird list

Little Black Cormorant
Little Pied Cormorant
Australian Pelican
Great Crested Grebe
Musk Duck
Australian Wood Duck
Pacific Black Duck
Grey Teal
Blue-billed Duck
Black Swan
Eurasian Coot
Purple Swamphen
Dusky Moorhen
Darter
White-faced Heron
Welcome Swallow
Tree Martin
Australian Reed-warbler
Peaceful Dove
Red-browed Finch
White-browed Scrubwren
Superb Fairy-wren
Willy Wagtail
Restless Flycatcher
Eastern Rosella
Brown Treecreeper
Dusky Woodswallow
Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike
White-bellied Cuckoo-shrike
White-browed Babbler
Rufous Whistler
White-plumed HOneyeater
Noisy Miner
Laughing Kookaburra
Crested Pigeon
Eastern Yellow Robin
Grey Shrike-thrush
Australian Magpie
Magpie-lark

Animals
Tortoise
Platypus

The Capertee Valley

Filed under: Birds — Tags: , — admin @ 2:40 am

Glen Davis Bird Photography

3rd January, 2010.

Luckily I found a great cafe in Mudgee where I could write and post my last blog. Thanks to the Butcher Shop Cafe in Mudgee – and they even make great coffee! I headed up the road towards Lithgow and turned off at Capertee into the Capertee Valley. Most of the way it is a great road and there is only a couple of kilometres of dirt road. I saw a couple of bike riders on the way in and met them later at the camp ground in Glen Davis.

Glen Davis
Glen Davis, Capertee Valley

As soon as I got into the camp ground at Glen Davis, a Brown Honeyeater was perched on a tree right in front of me. I just sat there for a while watching him. They are almost tame in that camp ground. The House Sparrows were cheekily invading a piece of bread just behind my van, and they gave me some entertainment for a while.

House Sparrow
House Sparrow (Passer domesticus)

There were lots of White-plumed Honeyeaters around. They do some weird things around dusk. Usually they will all bunch up into a tight flock and argue amongst each other and chase each other around and do weird stuff. I don’t know what these ones were doing. They were all on the ground fighting and bickering. I could not work out what they were up to.

White-plumed Honeyeaters
White-plumed Honeyeaters (Lichenostomus pencillatus)

I saw quite a few Jacky Winter. They are the other common species in this area. The Tree Martins were flying around over head but I did not see where they were landing. A Rufous Whistler made an appearance, as well as some Dusky Woodswallows, a pair of Australian King-parrots, about four Black-faced Cuckoo-shrikes, and a Willy Wagtail.

4th January 2010.

This morning I happened to get up at 6am and get away by 7. I used to get up and away much earlier. I must be sleeping heaps more nowadays. The first thing I saw before I even had breakfast was a Brown Treecreeper, of course, followed by some House Sparrows. When I got out and about I wandered through the empty streets of Glen Davis. There were Dusky Woodswallows, Peaceful Dove, Jacky Winter, and White-plumed Honeyeaters. I did happen to see both a Sacred Kingfisher and a Forest Kingfisher.

Peaceful Dove
Peaceful Dove (Geopelia placidus)

A heap of Welcome Swallows were perched on a fence on the edge of town. It took me a while to work out that they were not Tree Martins because they were holding their tails really wide and flat. But there were a couple of Tree Martins amongst them. I spotted a mob of White-browed Babblers in a scrubby bush, but could not manage to get a decent photo of them. Down near the creek, a Magpie-lark, some Crested Pigeons and a couple of Dollarbirds sat in a dead tree in a paddock.

Crown Station Road

This afternoon I set off down the Capertee Road and went down Crown Station Road. I stopped about half way along because I saw a Brown Treecreeper but only saw some Noisy Miners. A farmer came along and invited me on to his property to look for birds. What a nice man, I thought. So I followed him up the road and met his family and walked down the hill past his two dams until I came to this beautiful swampy area. It was a wonderful place. A mob of White-winged Choughs were in a stand of trees and I tried to get a bit closer but they all took off.

White-browed Babbler
White-browed Babbler (Pomatostomus superciliosus)

I Sat down on a rock and just waited for a while. Eventually a White-browed Babbler came close to me and kefuffled around in some blackberry bushes. Then he took off across the swamp to laugh at me with his mates. Then a White-bellied Cuckoo-shrike flew into a tree, sat there for a while posing and then flew off. The final visitor I had was a Brown Treecreeper. Going back out along the road I nearly ran over about four Rainbow Bee-eaters so I screeched to a stop and saw some Dusky Woodswallows and another Brown Treecreeper.

Glen Davis Bird list

Brown Treecreeper
House Sparrow
White-plumed Honeyeater
Peaceful Dove
Willy Wagtail
Jacky Winter
Superb Fairy-wren
Welcome Swallow
Tree Martin
Rufous Whistler
Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike
Dusky Woodswallow
Australian King-parrot
Sulphur-crested Cockatoo
Sacred Kingfisher
Forest Kingfisher
Crested Pigeon
White-browed Babbler
Eastern Rosella
Rufous Songlark
Magpie-lark
Dollarbird
White-winged Chough
Noisy Miner
Australian Raven
White-bellied Cuckoo-shrike
Rainbow Bee-eater
Red-rumped Parrot

January 3, 2010

Goulburn River – Munghorn Gap

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Goulburn River – Munghorn Gap

Well this is the first installment of my adventures in 2010. Yesterday I headed out from Newcastle and got 60k before I had to stop and have a sleep. I was so tired I was nearly dropping off at the wheel. After a couple of hours sleep I headed off again towards Singleton, turning left onto the Golden Highway past Denman, Jerry’s Plains, and Merriwa. Just past Cassilis, I turned left towards Mudgee and stopped at the Goulburn River for the night.

In the morning I followed The Drip Gorge walk along the river. There were hardly any birds at all. I saw one bird which I could not identify and heard some ever-present Superb Fairy-wrens. But it was a nice walk all the same and there is lots of water around the Goulburn River is flowing just fine.

Not very impressed, I headed down the road and turned off on the Ulan to Wollar Road. Half way along, I stopped at a causeway because I saw a pair of Black-fronted Dotterels feeding on the edge of the water. I guess they eat worms.

Black-fronted Dotterel
Black-fronted Dotterel

There was a Nankeen Kestrel in a tree in the distance, as well as some Fairy Martins flying around over the water. A big mob of Sulphur-crested Cockatoos were feeding in a paddock, some Australasian Reed-warblers were chattering away in the reeds, and a couple of White-faced Heron flew past.

I went straight through Wollar and stopped at Honeyeater Flats at Munghorn Gap Nature Reserve. All I saw in there were a few kangaroos and a Willy Wagtail. It was very quiet. Up at the Moolarben Picnic Area it was a bit better with a sighting of a Yellow-rumped Thornbill. I was a bit mystified as to what these growths were on the trees. I am guessing that they are made by some sort of shield bug secretions.

Jumbled mess on tree

I did happen to spot a Mistletoebird, but he flew off before I could get my camera on him. Near the creek bed was a Sacred Kingfisher, Galahs, White-winged Choughs, Eastern Yellow Robin, White-throated Treecreeper and about half a dozen Australian King-parrots. I did spot a Wedge-tailed Eagle through the trees, but he was circling away from me and never came back.

Australian King-parrot
Australian King-parrot

Goulburn River – Munghorn Gap bird list

Nankeen Kestrel
Black-fronted Dotterel
Sulphur-crested Cockatoo
White-faced Heron
Australian Reed-warbler
White-winged Chough
Willy Wagtail
Yellow-rumped Thornbill
Mistletoebird
Rufous Whistler
Sacred Kingfisher
Wedge-tailed Eagle
Australian King-parrot
Laughing Kookaburra
White-throated Treecreeper
Brown Thornbill

January 1, 2010

2009 – A Year of Bird Photography

Filed under: Birds — Tags: — admin @ 10:20 am

2009 – A Year of Bird Photography

I was going through my diary and I had the brilliant idea of putting down this year in birding. Its a pretty standard thing to do, so it won’t be too weird. The year started off in January with a trip to Ash Island with Alan and Neville to do the wader survey. I saw heaps of new birds and travelled the whole length of Ash Island, and saw heaps of raptors and waders. The next day I went to Stockton Sandspit and saw a flock of Eastern Curlew. Later on that day I saw 6 Sooty Oystercatchers at the Merewether Baths rock shelf. I did my first wader survey with Nev at Tomago Wetlands. On the 24th we went for a camp with the HBOC to Violet Hils on the northern end of Myall Lakes, where I saw quite a few new birds like Glossy Black Cockatoo, Rufous Fantail, Southern Emu-wren and Black-faced Monarch.

Buff-banded Rail
Buff-banded Rail at Ash Island

February started off with a trip to Walka Water Works, near Maitland where I ticked a Yellow-rumped Thornbill and Great Crested Grebe. Another wader survey at Ash Island, then the next week the birding oz photographers had a meet-up at Belmont South in the rain. I did a few visits to Ash Island and Stockton Sandspit to photograph the waders and caught up with the White-fronted Chats at Chat Flats on Ash Island. Towards the end of February I went to Homebush Bay in Sydney with Lorna, then went to Dudley Bluff and Belmont Lagoon during the week. February’s field trip with HBOC was to Seaham.

During March, I went to the Kooragang Dykes, Tomago and Soldier’s Point where I ticked a Double-banded Plover and Grey-tailed Tattler. At the start of April I went to Macquarie Marshes for the Easter Camp with the HBOC, where I ticked more than twenty new birds. What a fantastic place. After that, we went to Bourke Sewerage on the way to Bowra Station, near Cunnamulla in Queensland, where I got about 15 new ticks. When I came home to Newcastle, I had a few days out at Ash Island, the Hunter Wetlands Centre, Newcastle Baths and Stockton Sandspit.

Osprey
Ospreys (Pandion haliaetus) at Morisset

In May, I went to Cams Wharf, Green Point, Belmont Wetlands and Galgabba Point around the Lake Macquarie area. On the 17th May we did the Regent Honeyeater Survey with Captain Jack and went to Galgabba Point, Little Pelican and Belmont Wetlands. No Regent Honeyeaters, but I did tick a Brown Honeyeater. More wader surveys at Stockton Sandspit and back to Galgabba and Belmont South.

Winter starts and the waders are starting to leave Stockton Sandspit and I go back to Galgabba. Early in June, I finally see a Regent Honeyeater at Pelton, near Cessnock, tick a Double-barred Finch at Stockton Sandspit, and finally see the Ospreys at Morisset. The Woodlands Day at Werikate is a great success, thanks to Mick Roderick. I follow the Jewells track south to Belmont and tick a Brush Bronzewing. The HBOC noobs day at Hunter Wetlands Centre was a fun day with two ticks and a great barbecue feed. At the end of June I spent quite a few days at the Stockton Channel looking for raptors.

Early July and we went to look for the Osprey nest on Black Ned’s Bay at Swansea. But the nest had fallen down. I also went to Awabakal Nature Reserve at Dudley and Pambalong Nature Reserve/Lenaghans Swamp at Minmi. I have my first day at Blue Gum Hills at Minmi where I would spend many days during the year. Another trip to Belmont Lagoon, then a great outing to Martins Creek, past Seaham with the HBOC, where I saw a Speckled Warbler and a Wedge-tailed Eagle nest.

August commenced with a Regent Honeyeater survey along Pelton Road, then Stockton Sandspit and Stockton Cemetery with the HBOC Tuesday group. Another Ash Island survey and a trip to the Snowy Mountains and Canberra. Back in Newcastle I went to Stockton and Blue Gum Hills, before heading west to Murrurundi, and Wallabadah Cemetery where I saw the glorious Rainbow Bee-eater for the first time. I then headed to Quirindi Settlement Ponds, Quipolly Dam and off to Nundle for a HBOC camp. At Nundle we visited a dam, Two Mile. After the camp, I headed further west to Borah Creek, just past Manilla. Its now the end of September, and back in Newcastle I go to Stockton and Ash Island.

Striated Pardalote
Striated Pardalote (Pardalotus striatus) at Wallabadah Cemetery

October starts off at Kooragang Dykes and other spots in Newcastle. I go to the Barrington Tops and back to Newcastle. At the end of October, I head west again around the back of the Blue Mountains. Starting off at Walka Water Works, Doughboy Hollow(Singleton), Goulburn River NP, Munghorn Gap, Mudgee, Capertee Valley, Newnes and back home again, via Sydney. In November I get a great shot of a male and female Eastern Koel on the TV aerial of the house two doors down. At Newcastle Baths, I spot some Common Terns and a shearwater. At the end of October I do a great ride along the Fernleigh Track on my bike and get two ticks for my efforts – a Blue-faced Honeyeater and some White-throated Needletails.

Most of December was taken up with moving house. I did manage to get out to Tomago and the Hunter Wetlands Centre and my last trip birding for 2009 was at Cooranbong along the Sandy Creek Walk. The End. phew. 2010 is going to be full of adventure.

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