Steve Happ Photography Ramblings and dissertations

March 15, 2010

Soldiers Point

Filed under: Birds — Tags: , — admin @ 2:32 am

Soldiers Point Birding

On my last stop on the south coast tour, I stopped in at Soldiers Point on the Central Coast. It is always a good spot for some migratory waders. The tide was a bit high and I had to wade through the water to get to the rock-shelf. I was keeping an eye on the tide the whole time I was out there. I did not want to be stranded out there. I misjudged the tides completely, it was coming in, doh! The first birds I spotted were a trio of Sooty Oystercatchers. I got a photo of this one with a wave in the background. It looks like he is going to ge swamped by a tidal wave. ha ha.

Sooty Oystercatcher
Sooty Oystercatcher (Haematopus fuliginosus)

Something flew up, so I followed them to the rocks and it was a mob of Ruddy Turnstones. I started clicking away, then realized there were some Pacific Golden Plovers mixed in amongst them. The Ruddy Turnstones and Pacific Golden Plovers seem to have the same palette – gold, orange, brown and black.

Pacific Golden Plover
Pacific Golden Plover (Pluvialis fulva) and some Ruddy Turnstones

This one is a young bird I think. Edit: Troy reckons it is a female. The others have more of the breeding plumage happening.

Ruddy Turnstones
Ruddy Turnstones (Arenaria interpres)

I also spotted a Curlew Sandpiper and some Red-necked Stints. Its quite a good selection of waders for such a little bit of a rock-shelf. It is well worth a visit. There were also some Grey-tailed Tattlers there as well.

Grey-tailed Tattler
Grey-tailed Tattler (Tringa brevipes)

Soldier Point bird list

Crested Tern
White-faced Heron
Ruddy Turnstone
Silver Gull
Willy Wagtail
Red-necked Stint
Pacific Golden Plover
Curlew Sandpiper
Grey-tailed Tattler

March 14, 2010

Nowra Bird Photography

Filed under: Birds — Tags: , , — admin @ 1:31 am

Bomaderry Creek Regional Park

The main access to the Bomaderry Creek Walking Track is the Weir Trackhead, just off Narang Road off the Princes Highway, about a kilometer north of the Nowra city centre. You can also access it from the end of Mattes Way in Bomaderry. The Weir Trackhead used to be a sandstone quarry and is now the parking and picnic area. The habitat is mainly dry sclerophyll forest with grey gum, red bloodwood, stringybark and spotted gum. There are also some rainforest sections in the gullys. The day was overcast and drizzling early in the morning so I waited for a while for the weather to get better. It did brighten up a little but not a whole lot.

I eventually got walking and a pair of Yellow-tailed Black-cockatoos screeched over my head. I could not get a shot because of all the trees in the way. Stupid trees! Then I spotted this lovely Yellow-tufted Honeyeater, so I of course obliged him by taking lots of photos, seeing he had got all dressed up for the occasion.

Yellow-tufted Honeyeater
Yellow-tufted Honeyeater (Lichenostomus melanops)

I took off down to the weir and spotted a couple of White-browed Scrubwren. One of them managed to catch a butterfly with some gorgeous wings and then proceeded to whack the crap out of it and then eventually eat it. Life is brutal!

White-browed Scrubwren
White-browed Scrubwren (Sericornis frontalis)

I did not see much else, I think because the weather was so wet and miserable. But I was quite happy with the unique and interesting photos that I had taken, so it was a good morning. And as a bonus, I had a nice bush-walk.

Bomaderry Creek bird list

Spotted Turtle-dove
Australian Raven
Yellow-tailed Black-cockatoo
Yellow-tufted Honeyeater
White-browed Scrubwren
Yellow-faced Honeyeater
Grey Fantail

March 13, 2010

Shoalhaven Heads

Filed under: Birds — Tags: , , — admin @ 9:09 pm

The Barefoot Birder

Just wanted to say that because it sounds like a great title. I got into trouble for wearing flip-flops to a bird photographers get-together one time. Yesterday I did not wear my shoes, I went chasing the Sea-eagles along the beach and ended up along the cliff tops. Today I was wandering around the mud flats and it is easier without shoes so you can just walk into the water and dont worry about your shoes getting filthy dirty. Anyway, on with the story. I ended up back at Shoalhaven Heads again. I was here a few months back. I had not seen any migratory waders in the lakes coming up the coast so I was hoping for something at least.

Pacific Golden Plover
Pacific Golden Plover (Pluvialis fulva) camouflaged very well against the sea-weed

There did not seem to be much just near the shore so I went for a wander around the back of the island and I started to see a few waders. Then they all came in, there were thousands of Pacific Golden Plovers. I had not seen that many together at a time before. In the Hunter, the Pacific Golden Plover mobs number in the eights and the fourteens, not this many.

Pacific Golden Plover
A flock of Pacific Golden Plovers

Here is a shot of a Pacific Golden Plover in flight. I do not see many shots of them in flight. It is a good diagnostic shot to see the wing feathers and the tail feathers. I wonder where Pacific Golden Plovers migrate to. I must do some research.

Pacific Golden Plover
Pacific Golden Plover in flight

There were quite a few different terns around hanging out with the plovers and the Bar-tailed Godwits – Caspian Terns, Crested Terns and Gull-billed Terns. This non-breeding Gull-billed Tern looks like a burglar with his mask on. He looks very suspicious to me.

Gull-billed Tern
Gull-billed Tern (Sterna nilotica)

I am not sure what this is. I think it is a Double-banded Plover. Check out how red the chin is, he is very rufous around the neck and chest. Can you help identify this bird please? edit: It is a double-banded plover, thanks for the id help. 🙂

Double-banded Plover - ID check pls
Double-banded Plover

Shoalhaven Heads bird list 13/3/10

Silver Gull
Australian Pelican
Australian White Ibis
Australian Magpie
Magpie-lark
New Holland Honeyeater
Eastern Curlew
Osprey
Masked Lapwing
White-faced Heron
Bar-tailed Godwit
Pacific Golden Plover
Red-necked Stint
Caspian Tern
Crested Tern
Gull-billed Tern
Pied Cormorant
Double-banded Plover ?
Willy Wagtail

March 12, 2010

Camel Rock Bird Photography

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

Camel Rock

Camel Rock is about five kilometers north of Bermagui on the South Coast of New South Wales. And yes, I have finally escaped from Victoria, the state of no birds. It is not much better in New South Wales actually. The estuaries have virtually nil waders. The only water birds I am seeing are Silver Gull and pelicans and a few terns and cormorants here and there. It is excrutiatingly awful. But enough of whinging. Camel Rock was identified and named by Bass and Flinders during the first mapping of the coast-line of the Colony of New South Wales. Maybe it looks more like a camel from sea, doh!

Camel Rock
The Cliffs from Camel Rock to Lake Wallaga looking towards Bermagui

I was going to go for a surf but I saw a couple of Sea-eagles sitting on the rock, so I got out the camera and wandered down the beach. I took a few shots but they sailed off, so I clambered up the hill and followed the cliffs around trying to find them. It was perfect habitat for White-bellied Sea-eagles. The wind was blowing straight on to the cliffs, creating an updraught for them to soar on. And soar they did.

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

There has been quite a few sightings of White-bellied Sea-eagles around the South Coast. I spotted a few just before Bermagui and another pair of birders spotted a heap at Gillard Beach in Mimosa Rocks National Park. They seem to be very active and numerous at the moment. Not much else is, that is for sure.

White-bellied Sea-eagle
A White-bellied Sea-eagle and habitat

I reached the other side of the cliffs and lo and behold there was a massive lake there. I asked a lady who came along and she said it was Lake Wallaga. There were some terrific mud flats on the lake but no waders. It was very disheartening. Whoops, sorry I forgot, I was done with whinging.

Australian Raven
An Australian Raven eating a mackerel at Wallage Lake

I kept walking along the lake and spotted what I thought were Satin Bowerbirds who seemed to be feeding on some berries in a tree. There were a few Little Wattlebirds and a Rainbow Lorikeet feeding on the banksia blosssoms.

March 11, 2010

Sale District Bird Photography

Filed under: Birds — Tags: , , — admin @ 1:59 am

Jack Smith Lake Game Reserve

Jack Smith Lake Reserve is in South Gippsland about 260 kilometres from Melbourne. You can get to it from the South Gippsland Highway at Woodside via Brynes Road or Stringybark Lane, or the Darriman Seaspray Road(Middle Road). I visited the northern section of the reserve via Middle Road. It is about 40 kilometers from the town of Sale. There are extensive coastal lagoons, salt-marshes and native grasslands. Jack Smith Lake provides valuable feeding and nesting habitat for a range of water birds.

When I got there in the afternoon, there were a few scattered Chestnut Teal and a pair of Great Cormorants sitting on some nest boxes. I followed this creek that had been dammed and was leading into the lake. Not much was on the creek but I walked up the sand hills to check out the beach. It is really close to the beach. I think it is part of Ninety Mile Beach. When I walked around the lake, I spotted a mob of about half a dozen Red-capped Plover. They are funny little critters. They are always running around at a hundred miles an hour.

Red-capped Plover
Red-capped Plover (Charadrius ruficapillus)

Late in the evening quite a few mobs of Black Swans flew by, honking noisily. The next morning there were quite a few Australian Shelducks flying around as well. On the way to Sale, I spotted a few raptors. I think I saw a Whistling Kite and stopped to photograph what I think is a Brown Falcon. Or is it an Australian Hobby. I am so rusty with my identification of raptors. I have seen hardly any lately. Edit: confirmed it is a Brown Falcon pale morph. Thanks everybody who gave their input. 🙂

Brown Falcon
Brown Falcon

Sale Common

Sale Common is just out of Sale along the road south, called the South Gippsland Highway. It is covered by Red Gum woodlands and grasslands. More than seventy percent of Sale Common is made up of freshwater marsh, giving homes to a host of native birds. As soon as I got there I spotted this Black-shouldered Kite. It sat up prettily on a dead tree for its photograph.

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

Just after I started off on my walk around the common, a White-bellied Sea-eagle flew over. I thought it was a Wedge-tailed Eagle at first. I just saw the wedged tail and thought it was a wedgie. doh! It is a young bird.

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

Sale area bird list

Masked Lapwing
Chestnut Teal
Australian Magpie
Great Cormorant
Silver Gull
Pacific Gull
Red Wattlebird
Black Swan
Superb Fairy-wren
New Holland Honeyeater
Red-capped Plover
White-fronted Chat
Crested Tern
Australian Raven
Australian Shelduck
Magpie-lark
Common Starling
Eastern Rosella
Galah
Brown Falcon ?
Black-shouldered Kite
Grey Fantail
White-bellied Sea-eagle
Crimson Rosella
White-eared Honeyeater
Sulphur-crested Cockatoo
Eastern Yellow Robin
Purple Swamphen
Australian White Ibis

March 8, 2010

The Adventures of Joe and Dad

Filed under: General — admin @ 9:24 am

The Adventures of Joe and Dad

It was a cold and rainy Saturday of the Victorian Long Weekend in March. We set off from Melbourne and onto the M80 motorway towards Geelong. Our objective was to board the pirate ship and fire the pirate’s ship. We took over the ship and went to England. The winds were very light at first and it was the east and south wind.

First of all, we went to see the ship One&All. It was on the other jetty. It will be sailing to Adelaide in a few weeks. Daddy wants to sail on her with them to Adelaide. Here I am next to the ship, One And All. Isn’t it amazing!

tall ship One&All
Joe is amazed at the One And All

The Pirate ship was called the Enterprize. we sailed from the pier next to the yacht club. Joe helped to haul up the sails with this thick rope. Of course, Joe did most of the work. He is so strong, he could have sailed the pirate ship all on his own. “Actually I could in real life” – Joe was heard to say later on.

tall ship enterprize
Joe hauling up the topsail

We sailed out into the middle of the bay and a sea plane came by wanting to take off, so we gave way to it and it flew off. The ship did not have a wheel but was steered by a wooden tiller. Joe wanted to have a go at the tiller but he was not allowed to because he did not have his pirate’s licence with him.

tall ship enterprize
The tiller of the Enterprize pirate ship

That afternoon we went to Clifton Springs and walked along the beach, looking for shells, dead crabs, fossils and dinosaur bones. We found lots of shells, crabs and the spine bone of a big fish. Joe found the spine bone, in point of actual fact. It was buried in the sand next to a big rock. Next to the beach was a wetlands where all this fresh water seeped out of the cliffs. There was even a stream coming down from the storm water drains.

clifton springs
Clifton Springs Beach

We walked on lots of cement pillows near the jetties and where the fishing boat ramp was. Joe scared the sea gulls by running towards them and screaming at them. But they came back, anyway. And then he scared them off again. It rained and rained and rained and later on we had chips for dinner. Dad told me a story that night.

The next day we saw these fishermen who caught these big squid. It was an awesome catch. We ventured on towards Portarlington, and then went for a walk along the Point Edwards foreshore, looking for dinosaur bones. All we found was some mud that was going to become mud-stone one day and some sea-grass meadows. Joe says we did actually find some bones but he can’t remember.

We ended up at Queenscliff and watched the ferry coming in from Sorrento. The cars came off the ferry first and then the people walked off who did not have cars. We went up to the top of the observation tower and this is the view of the entrance to Port Phillip Bay.

Port Phillip entrance
Port Phillip Bay entrance

The end of our amazing adventure saw us at Ocean Groves beach, where we went for a surf. As we left the tide came right up and almost covered the whole beach. That night there was a huge hail storm with thunder and lightning and it rained heavily most of the night. Dad told me some stories during the night. Joe slept while dad drove to Geelong where we had breakfast at Maccas.

March 5, 2010

Belmont Common

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Jerringot Wetlands, Geelong

Jerringot Wetlands is in the Belmont Common, just near Geelong, in Victoria. There is a hide and some re-vegetation has been done by the Geelong Field Naturalist’s Club. I got there about 8am after driving from Barwon Heads. It was good to see some water in a wetlands for a change. There were quite a few birds around. When I got there I saw a few bush birds like swallows, Magpie-larks, White-plumed Honeyeater, New Holland Honyeater, Grey Currawong and this Australian Raven, which I got in silhouette. I am not usually a fan of silhouette photographs but I quite like this one.

australian raven
Australian Raven

The water birds were quite abundant, there were ducks like Pacific Black Duck and Chestnut Teal, Royal Spoonbill, Australasian Grebe, White-faced Heron, and a couple of Black-winged Stilt. I managed to spot a Buff-banded Rail in a drain leading into the wetland. The Buff-banded Rail is related to the New Zealand Weka and the Lord Howe Island Woodhen.

Buff-banded Rail
Buff-banded Rail (Gallirallus phillippensis)

Around about the same time, I put up some Latham’s Snipe. They are also called Japanese Snipe. They are very flighty birds and usually feed in the grass or saltmarsh. Mostly you only see them when they fly up out of the grass. I saw at least six of them.

Latham's Snipe
Latham’s Snipe (Gallinago hardwickii)

Later on, I spotted a pair of Masked Lapwing over the other side of the busy road, about eight Black-fronted Dotterel, and a New Holland Honeyeater. All in all, the Belmont Common is quite a good spot for birding, especially when most other wetlands were dry.

Belmont Common bird list

Welcome Swallow
Australian Raven
Pacific Black Duck
Purple Swamphen
White-faced Heron
Royal Spoonbill
White-plumed Honeyeater
Australian Reed-warbler
Australasian Grebe
Red Wattlebird
Magpie-lark
Grey Currawong
Chestnut Teal
Silver Gull
Australian Magpie
Black-winged Stilt
Buff-banded Rail
Lathams Snipe
New Holland Honeyeater
Black-fronted Dotterel
Australian White Ibis
Masked Lapwing
Superb Fairy-wren
Intermediate Egret

March 4, 2010

Moggs Creek

Filed under: Birds — Tags: , — admin @ 3:11 am

Moggs Creek Nature Observations

I have called this post “Nature Observations” because the birds were so rubbish today. Yesterday afternoon I stopped off at Moggs Creek Picnic Area, which is east of Lorne along the Great Ocean Road. It is in the Great Otway National Park. I am not so sure about the “great” part. Maybe they should rename it “Mediocre Otway National Park”? I do not even have a photo of a bird to show you. Instead, for your entertainment, is a tiny Tower of Mordor. I have no idea what it is. It was on the track this morning.

Tower of Mordor
The Tower of Mordor

Yesterday afternoon I took the Moggs Creek Circuit Track which is 1.8 kilometers long. It goes along the dry bed of Moggs Creek and circles back to the car park. It is quite a nice walk and goes through some interesting country, its just a shame there were so few birds. When I first got there a couple of Gang-gang Cockatoos had a good look at me, and then on the walk, all I saw was a Grey Fantail, some Superb Fairy-wren, kookaburra and some immature Crimson Rosella.

Fungus Omelette
Fungus Omelette

The next morning I went along the Ocean View Track which goes for 4.5 kilometers. I was not expecting much after the previous evening’s lameness, and I was not disappointed. All I saw was a Spotted Turtle-dove, magpie, a White-cheeked Honeyeater and a Grey Currawong. I thought I saw a Peregrine Falcon flying over but he was flying much too fast and there were too many trees in the way to get a good shot away.

Moggs Creek bird list

Gang-gang Cockatoo
Grey Fantail
Superb Fairy-wren
Laughing Kookaburra
Crimson Rosella
Golden Whistler
Eastern Yellow Robin
Spotted Turtle-dove
Australian Magpie
White-cheeked Honeyeater
Grey Currawong

March 3, 2010

Winchelsea to Big Hill Birding

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Winchelsea Birding

Winchelsea is between Geelong and Colac on the Princes Highway. I ended up there somehow because I was looking for Lake Gherang but it was dry. So were all the other lakes around the area. The Barwon River flows through Winchelsea. It seems to come from behind the Otway Ranges and do a big loop and come out at Barwon Heads, where I was a few days ago. There is a really good reserve along the banks of the river right in town.

That afternoon I had a nice rest for a change and just spotted some Rock Doves, magpies, Australian Wood Ducks, Sulphur-crested Cockatoos, Galahs and some Gang-gang Cockatoos from the comfort of my deck chair. During the night it was bitterly cold. In the morning I got out the camera and took some photos. I found this bee hive in a hollow in a big old gum tree by the river. They are European Bees, not native bees.

Bee Hive
Bee Hive

There were a few water birds on the river, not many, just some Dusky Moorhen, Australian White Ibis and some immature Australian Shelduck. There were heaps of New Holland Honyeaters around, as well as White-plumed Honyeaters. A couple of blackbirds hopped around in the undergrowth, and I spotted a new species for me, the Purple-crowned Lorikeet.

Purple-crowned Lorikeet
Purple-crowned Lorikeet (Glossopsitta porphryocephala)

There were some Red-rumped Parrots around as well. This charming debonair chap looked like he wasn’t going to let an ugly head get in the way of good grooming. His hair style is straight out of the fifties with that lovely wave.

hybrid goose
hybrid goose

Bambra Wetlands

I spotted a pair of Wedge-tailed Eagles on the road from Winchelsea to Bambra. Just past Bambra, I screamed to a halt, because I spotted a sign saying Bambra Wetlands. So I went in to have a look. First thing I see before I get my camera ready to go is a White-naped Honeyeater, waiting for my, all posed up.

White-naped Honeyeater
White-naped Honyeater (Melithreptus lunatus)

Then an Eastern Yellow Robin came along, but I got distracted by a phone call, so I missed that photo op. And weirdness of all weirdness, a peacock comes blundering through the bush, eating some berries off a bush. What next? To normalize things a bit, a Superb Fairy-wren brought me back to earth, and then a Crimson Rosella. Phew!

Big Hill Track

The Big Hill Track is at the start of the Great Otways National Park as you come in along the Winchelsea to Lorne road. There is a camp site close to the road which is very nice. Late in the afternoon, I went for a walk around the camp ground without the camera, and of course a gorgeous Rufous Fantail popped up right in front of me. So I rushed to get the camera and of course by the time I got back, he had disappeared. I kept going anyway and walked down the track for about an hour or so. I saw some Brown Thornbills, Grey Fantails and a bunch of screeching Red Wattlebirds in the valley.

The next morning was overcast and as dark as can be. I took a photograph of a White-throated Treecreeper at ISO1600, f/5.6, and shutter speed 1/400 and it was still dark. Thats how dark it was. After that, I just gave up. Back at the camp ground, I spotted this female or immature Scarlet Robin.

Scarlet Robin
Scarlet Robin (Petroica boodang)

Winchelsea bird list

Rock Dove
Australian Magpie
Australian Wood Duck
Sulphur-crested Cockatoo
Galah
Gang-gang Cockatoo
Australian Raven
Willy Wagtail
White-plumed Honeyeater
Dusky Moorhen
Australian Shelduck
Welcome Swallow
Common Blackbird
New Holland Honyeater
Common Starling
Red Wattlebird
Australian White Ibis
Spotted Turtle-dove
Superb Fairy-wren
Red-rumped Parrot
Golden Whistler
Magpie-lark
Purple-crowned Lorikeet

Bambra Wetlands bird list

Wedge-tailed Eagle
White-naped Honeyeater
Welcome Swallow
Peacock
Superb Fairy-wren
Crimson Rosella

Big Hill Track bird list

Rufous Fantail
Grey Fantail
Superb Fairy-wren
Brown Thornbill
Red Wattlebird
Silvereye
Crimson Rosella
Eastern Yellow Robin
White-throated Treecreeper
Golden Whistler
Australian Raven
Scarlet Robin

March 1, 2010

Point Addis Birding

Filed under: Birds — Tags: , , — admin @ 4:47 am

Ironbark Basin Reserve

Point Addis is between Torquay and Anglesea on the Great Ocean Road, just past Bell’s Beach. Its actually the next headland along the coast to the west. I just turned off the road to go into Point Addis and went into the car park after the Great Otways National Park sign. I did not even realize it was in the Great Otways yet. The Ironbark Basin gets its name from the many Ironbarks that grow in the area. The buds of fruit appear in threes hanging on long slender stalks. The flowers are normally a creamy-yellow colour but sometimes a tree will produce pink flowers. The tree trunks are very distinctive because the bark is hard, thick and black and deeply furrowed.

Red Ironbark
Red Ironbark (Eucalyptus tricarpa) trunk

When I first got there I spotted a Red Wattlebird and a chick, some Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoos flew over, and some juvenile Crimson Rosellas were feeding on the eucalypt blossoms. Further down the track I spotted a Grey Currawong and Grey Fantail. The female juvenile White-throated Treecreeper is very distinctive because she has a reddish mark on her cheek and a rufous rump. Everything seemed to have something rufous on them today. Maybe it was Buff Monday or something. I even spotted a Rufous Fantail.

On the low heath-lands near the beach, there were lots of New Holland Honeyeaters. On the way back I spotted some Brown Thornbill, Golden Whistler and this Eastern Yellow Robin posed for me in the light. You can always rely on a Eastern Yellow Robin to grab the limelight.

Eastern Yellow Robin
Eastern Yellow Robin

Back up at the car park, an adult Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike came along and the juvenile had what looked like a caterpillar and was giving it a good whallopping on the tree branch.

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

The Ironbark Basin Reserve has a wide variety of habitats:
* Tall open ironbark forest
* Messmate open forest
* Grasstree dominated open forest
* Low heath-land

Point Addis bird list

Crimson Rosella
Yellow-tailed Black-cockatoo
Red Wattlebird
Grey Fantail
Rufous Fantail
Grey Currawong
White-throated Treecreeper
New Holland Honeyeater
Superb Fairy-wren
Brown Thornbill
Eastern Yellow Robin
Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike
Golden Whistler

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