Steve Happ Photography Ramblings and dissertations

October 23, 2009

Barrington Tops Day 4 091022

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Barrington Tops Bird Photography, Day 4, 22nd October 2009.

Last day in the Barrington Tops National Parks. I am hoping its going to be a good one. I headed up the North Arm Road again. It seems like it is a pretty good spot with some variety of bird species. The day is a bit overcast and the light is pretty bad. Lately I have been setting my ISO at 1600 and my shutter speed at 1/400 and still it gets a bit dark. I will say it again, a camera with at least ISO 3200 and some decent noise reduction would be good.

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

The first bird I saw was a pair of White-naped Honeyeaters. They were chasing each other around the trees. Isn’t spring wonderful? There were some Yellow-faced Honeyeaters around as well. I spotted some female Leaden Flycatchers but they were terribly difficult to photograph because they flitted around so quickly and leaves and branches were in the way. (I am whinging a lot about that aren’t I?)

Further up the road, I stopped at a creek coming down the hill in a rainforest gully and disturbed a pair of Bassian Thrush. They flew off a little way and perched on a branch. They hopped around a few branches and then flew off.

Bassian Thrush
Bassian Thrush (Zoothera lunulata)

A male and female Leaden Flycatcher stopped for a pose, as well as another few White-naped Honeyeaters.

Back down by the river, a Rufous Whistler was making a hell of a racket and I saw a Sacred Kingfisher swoop down and snaggle a snail or something for dinner, or was it a late breakfast?

Rufous Whistler
male Rufous Whistler (Pachycephalus rufiventris)

And that was it for my trip to the Barrington Tops National Park. It was a good trip with some varied and interesting birds. I struggled at times to get shots because of bad light and shrubbery in the way, but what is the point of whinging about it? Move on and learn from the experience, I reckon. 🙂

Barrington Tops bird list 22/10/09

White-naped Honeyeater
Yellow-faced Honeyeater
Grey Fantail
Leaden Flycatcher
Bassian Thrush
Brown Thornbill
White-browed Scrubwren
Red-browed Treecreeper
Rufous Whistler
Sacred Kingfisher

Barrington Tops Day 3 091021

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Barrington Tops Bird Photography, Day 3, 21st October, 2009.

Before I even had breakfast I had a quartet of Crimson Rosellas checking me out at Horse Swamp. They were hanging on to the bark and anything they could get their claws into to have a good look at me. Later on, I noticed a few young Crimson Rosella that had cryptic backs and fronts.

Flame Robin
female Flame Robin (Petroica phoenicia)

I walked down to the swamp and waited around for a while. A Red Wattlebird kept going to the base of a tree, possibly looking for some insects. The Yellow-faced Honeyeaters were a bit more subdued than is usual for them – They normally flit around like manic school kids. Maybe it was the cold or their diet. Or just too early in the morning for them – I feel like that sometimes. 🙂

I got some great shots of a King Parrot that perched really close to me.

Australian King-Parrot
male Australian King-Parrot (Alisterus scapularis)

A pair of White-eared Honeyeaters came quite close but I could not get a clear shot because of all the leaves and branches in the way. They were quite striking birds with their greeny backs and fronts, black face and bright white ear patches.

After a few hours of walking around the swamp, I headed north up the Tubrabucca Road to the Manning River. I stopped at Henry’s Bridge and went for a walk along the river. There were some Yellow-faced Honeyeaters, ravens and magpies. I found a couple of wombat holes on a hill side. Earlier I had seen a dead one on the road. I can not imagine why anyone would drive around here at night. The next day I found heaps of wombat holes all over the place on the river flat. They were everywhere.

I went over to the other side of the river and followed a road up the hill. There was quite a good assortment of birds, with White-browed Scrubwren flittering around the foliage near the creeks. They always seem to be in and out of ferns and dense low bushes. There were quite a few ironbark-type trees so I should not have been surprised to see some Red-browed Treecreepers. The book says that they like to live in tall eucalypt forest and sub-alpine woodlands. I would say that the sub-alpine part was right as I have only seen or heard about them being high up in the mountains. eg. Lithgow, Mummel Gulf National Park and Barrington Tops National Park.

I came back down the trail and saw an Eastern Yellow Robin and an Eastern Spinebill who was having a good scrub or something. I could not get a photo as there were too many leaves and branches in the way. Can’t they make forest without all these pesky leaves, please? 😉 I did process some of the photos and I quite like this perspective. At least its a bit different. He may be playing peekaboo!

Eastern Spinebill
Eastern Spinebill (Acanthorhynchus tenuirostris)

At the bridge a pair of Welcome Swallows were flying around. They may have had a nest under it but I could not see one. Later on in the afternoon I saw a Leaden Flycatcher flying in to the water, then fly back to a branch, have a good shake and a scratch, then get back in for another dip.

Leaden Flycatcher
Leaden Flycatcher (Myiagra rubecula)

I walked up North Branch Road again and saw a Black-faced Monarch and a Golden Whistler and heard an Eastern Whipbird.

Barrington Tops bird list 21/10/09

Flame Robin
White-eared Honeyeater
Yellow-faced Honeyeater
Red Wattlebird
Australian King-Parrot
Crimson Rosella
White-browed Scrubwren
Rufous Whistler
Red-browed Treecreeper
Eastern Spinebill
Eastern Yellow Robin
Australian Magpie
Australian Raven
Grey Fantail
Welcome Swallow
Superb Fairy-wren
Leaden Flycatcher
Brown Thornbill
Black-faced Monarch
Golden Whistler
Eastern Whipbird (H)

October 22, 2009

Barrington Tops NP Day 2 091020

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Barrington Tops Bird Photography Day 2, 20th October, 2009.

I started off in the morning at Cobark Park. I keep thinking of it as Poldark, probably because I watched the series on DVD recently. There was lots of noise going on but I could not see much. Just a crow and a Grey Fantail. I headed off down the road and stopped at Honeysuckle rest area and took the walk there through the cool temperate rainforest. Everything was covered in green moss and I think most of the trees are ancient Antarctic Beech or something like that. All I saw was an Eastern Spinebill and a White-browed Scrubwren.

Ancient Rainforest Moss
Moss in an ancient Rainforest

I took off again and walked up to Thunderbolts Lookout. Its a good view over the mountains but not many birds, just a Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike flying over the escarpment and some twittering Brown Thornbills. At Devil’s Hole I had a look around the camp site. Its a good camp site with a creek running near it. I spotted a Fan-tailed Cuckoo.

Flame Robin
Flame Robin(Petroica phoenicea)

The next stop on the whirlwind tour of the Barrington Tops was Polblue Swamp, an alpine area with a swampy flat area. I started walking around the track and at the picnic area got swooped by a magpie twice. So I picked up a stick and waved it over my head as I walked along to deter it from attacking me again. Guess what, she has a nest in the picnic area. I happened to see a a juvenile Crimson Rosella with messy greenish tinges/patches on the chest and There were quite a few Grey Fantails and Pied Currawongs. Pied Currawongs are mostly carnivorous predators that feed on a variety of foods including small lizards, insects, caterpillars, berries, as well as small birds and mammals.

Pied Currawong
Pied Currawong (Strepera graculina)

I was quite surprised to see a Red Wattlebird there and some Silvereyes. The ones that did not surprise me were the Scarlet Robins. They have been turning up on most of the mountain sites where I have been – Canberra, Mummel Gulf National Park, and now Barrington Tops National Park. They must be an alpine bird. doh! Note: The Barrington Tops get up to 1500 metres in places. No wonder it snows here in winter.

After Polblue I headed along the road and turned right to Horse Swamp. At the camp, there is a walking track to Polblue Falls. Polblue Creek rises on the Barrington Tops plateau and bisects the steeply rugged forested country on its journey west to the Hunter River. This is the area where Spotted-tailed Quolls have been seen. Spotted-tailed Quolls are a carnivorous predator that rears its young in a pouch.

I went for a walk to the falls and there is a lovely little spot under the trees where the tiny little falls cascade down. The sound is going to lullaby me to sleep tonight. There were not many birds around – a few Red Wattlebirds, ravens, Yellow-faced Honeyeaters, Pied Currawong and a couple of Fan-tailed Cuckoos making their plaintive calls. Tomorrow I am going to the Manning River camp, but after that, I have no idea.

Barrington Tops bird list 20/10/09

Australian Raven
Grey Fantail
Pied Currawong
Crimson Rosella
Eastern Rosella
Wedge-tailed Eagle
Eastern Spinebill
White-browed Scrubwren
Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike
Brown Thornbill
Fan-tailed Cuckoo
Australian Magpie
Superb Fairy-wren
Scarlet Robin
Red Wattlebird
Silvereye
Red-browed Finch
Yellow-faced Honeyeater

Barrington Tops Bird Photography Day 1 091019

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Barrington Tops Bird Photography, Day 1 – 19th October, 2009.

The drive to Gloucester was heaps longer than I had thought. We were nearly at Taree. At Gloucester I went to the Tourist Information office and asked how to get to Keripit Road, but no-one had an idea where it was. It was not on any of the maps at all. A nice man helped me out with information and gave me some maps so I could find my way around the mountains. I drove through Gloucester and took the Scone Road past the town of Barrington and headed up to the Copeland Tops.

I stopped at a fire trail and got out for a walk and see if I could find some birds. Well I did. I saw a Brush Turkey and a Lewin’s Honeyeater. And that was it. So I got back in the car and drove on, hoping to find a better place.

I drove into the Barrington Tops National Park and kept going up and up and up. The road seems to go on forever, and it is a horrible dirt road. I eventually stopped at Cobark Park and went for a walk in the bush, but saw nothing, not a thing. Then I walked along the road and saw my faithful old Black-faced Monarch and later on I followed a female Satin Bowerbird high up in the trees.

Satin Bowerbird, female
female Satin Bowerbird (Ptilonorhynchus violaceus)

When I was walking back, a strange thing happened. I saw these dogs or dingos walking towards me down the road. One of them had what looked like a bird in its mouth. When they saw me, they stopped and looked guilty and then went back up the road and into the bush. I could not tell what was in its mouth but it looked like a medium sized black bird. I did not know if they were wild dogs or dingos. If they were wild dogs, then that is not good, it is very very bad. Yuk!

Wild Dogs/Dingos with prey
She looks like she has pups by the look of her nipples.

Barrington Tops bird list 19/10/09

Australian Brush-turkey
Lewin’s Honeyeater
Eastern Rosella
Crimson Rosella
Australian Wood Duck
Australian Magpie
Australian Raven
Black-faced Monarch
Satin Bowerbird, female
Eastern Whipbird (H)

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