Steve Happ Photography Ramblings and dissertations

January 24, 2010

Hunter Wetlands Centre

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Hunter Wetlands Centre Bird Photography

24th January, 2010.

This morning I finally got out and about so I went to the Hunter Wetlands Centre in Newcastle. It is always a good place to go because there is always something happening. There were ducks and Magpie Geese, coots and swamphen in the main ponds out in front of the visitors centre. But it was very dry, the ponds were almost empty of water. It was a bit strange after all the rain we have been having. A Nankeen Night Heron flew out of a she-oak and surprised me, lucky I was able to get a shot of it.

Nankeen Night Heron
Nankeen Night Heron (Nycticorax calendonicus)

On another ponds a whole heap of Cattle Egrets were congregating and feeding and giving off a nice reflection.

Cattle Egrets
Cattle Egret (Ardea ibis)

Then I ran into a pair of baby egrets. I am not sure which type they were. They looked like they were lost and had been separated from their nest.

Baby Egret
baby egret

This egret was chasing something across the mud flats.

?? Egret
young egret

And this is a slightly older egret than the baby ones.

Cattle Egret I think ?
young egret

There were thousands of Cattle Egrets in the breeding colony. Lots of nests and baby egrets all over the place.

Cattle Egret
Cattle Egret

Hunter Wetlands Centre bird list

Pacific Black Duck
Australian White Ibis
Chestnut Teal
Eurasian Coot
Dusky Moorhen
Little Black Cormorant
Magpie Goose
Purple Swamphen
Black-fronted Dotterel
Masked Lapwing
Grey Teal
Willy Wagtail
Nankeen Night Heron
Royal Spoonbill
Superb Fairy-wren
Australian Magpie
Noisy Miner
White-breasted Woodswallow
Dollarbird
Olive-backed Oriole
Eastern Rosella
Australian Raven
Cattle Egret
Black-winged Stilt
Laughing Kookaburra
Common Myna
Crested Pigeon
Magpie-lark
Wandering Whistling Duck

October 18, 2009

Hunter Wetlands Centre Bird Photography 091018

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Hunter Wetlands Centre Bird Photography 18th October 2009.

This morning I went to the Hunter Wetlands Centre at Shortland. It was a very changeable day with clouds and sunny periods interspersed. There were lots of different water birds on the ponds when I went in such as Dusky Moorhen, Eurasian Coot and a few different ducks like Grey Teal, Chestnut Teal, Wandering Whistling-ducks, Hardhead and Pacific Black Ducks. This Royal Spoonbill was in breeding plumage with the feathers coming from the nachal and the yellow above the eye.

Royal Spoonbill
Royal Spoonbill (Platalea regia)

Along the track, I spotted some Super Fairy-wrens and a couple of White-cheeked Honeyeaters. They usually come really close. At one time one was sitting less than two metres away from me, so it was pointless trying to take a photo of him. This one was a bit further away but still too close to fit him all in, so I made a portrait out of this photo.

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

When I went along the most southern track, I saw this lovely little bird, a Grey Butcherbird, then suddenly got swooped by the other one. It happened about 3 times before I got the message and went away. They must have had a nest in that vicinity. Fair enough I reckon. I warned a lady about the Grey Butcherbird, but she forgot and got hit in the head by one of them. I told her.

Grey Butcherbird
Grey Butcherbird (Cracticus torquatus)

And then, just after I went over the bridge I saw this Buff-banded Rail right in front of me. He pecked around for a little while, and then another one came out of the reeds and did the same. At one time, they were not more than three metres from me. It was tops.

Buff-banded Rail
Buff-banded Rail (Gallirallus philippensis)

And yet there was another interesting escapade. I spotted some juvenile Welcome Swallows sitting on a rope. They had white gapes around their beaks so that adult birds can find their mouths when feeding them in the dark when they are in the nest. The white or yellow marks around the beak fade quickly once the chicks are fledged.

Welcome Swallow
Welcome Swallow (Hirundo neoxena), newly fledged.

Hunter Wetlands Centre bird list 18/10/09

Little Egret
Intermediate Egret
Royal Spoonbill
Australian White Ibis
Straw-necked Ibis
Pacific Black Duck
Grey Teal
Chestnut Teal
Wandering Whistling-duck
Hardhead
Pacific Black Duck
Little Black Cormorant
Dusky Moorhen
European Coot
Purple Swamphen
Buff-banded Rail
Australasian Grebe
Black-fronted Dotterel
Black-winged Stilt
Magpie-goose
Masked Lapwing
Australian Pelican
Grey Butcherbird
Pied Currawong
Magpie-lark
Australian Raven
Australian Magpie
White-cheeked Honeyeater
Eastern Spinebill
Yellow-faced Honeyeater
Noisy Miner
Whistling Kite
Superb Fairy-wren
Welcome Swallow
Willy Wagtail
Grey Fantail
Spangled Drongo
Fan-tailed Cuckoo
Crested Pigeon

October 4, 2009

Hunter Wetlands Centre Bird Photography 091004

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Hunter Wetlands Centre 4th October 2009

This afternoon, the weather was coming in all cloudy and windy, so I went over to the Hunter Wetlands Centre, at Shortland. Its a great place, no matter what the weather. In the ponds in front of the centre were the usual lot of water birds – Eurasian Coot, Dusky Moorhen, Purple Swamphen, Magpie Goose, Australian White Ibis, Grey Teal, Chestnut Teal and Australasian Grebe.

The rain started to come down so I took some shelter near a pond. There was a Royal Spoonbill feeding in front of me. He was in full breeding plumage. This consists of long white plumes coming from the back of their heads, a creamy-yellow wash across the upper breast, yellow patches above the eyes and a pink patch on the forehead.

Royal Spoonbill
Royal Spoonbill (Platalea regia) in breeding plumage.

There was also an Great Egret next to him, coming into breeding plumage. Breeding plumage for the Great Egret consists of a turquoise colour on the face, and delicate ornamental feathers coming from the back. The diagnostic feature to distinguish Great Egrets is that the line below the eye extends past the eye. In Intermediate Egrets this line stops at the back of the eye.

Intermediate or Great Egret?
Great Egret (Ardea alba)

In the Australian White Ibis breeding pond, there were five Whistling Kites roosting on the dead trees. They were not doing much flying around in the drizzle. I do not blame them. I think this was was a juvenile.

Whistling Kite
Whistling Kite (Haliastur sphenurus)

Hunter Wetlands Centre bird list 4/10/09

Eurasian Coot
Dusky Moorhen
Purple Swamphen
Australasian Grebe
Welcome Swallow
Willy Wagtail
Magpie-lark
Magpie Goose
Australian White Ibis
Little Egret
Intermediate Egret
Royal Spoonbill
White-faced Heron
Little Black Cormorant
Pacific Black Duck
Grey Teal
Chestnut Teal
Australian Raven
White-cheeked Honeyeater
Brown Honeyeater
Red-browed Finch
Superb Fairy-wren
White-browed Scrubwren
Laughing Kookaburra
Spotted Turtle-dove
Whistling Kite – 5
Noisy Miner
Silvereye
Yellow Thornbill

July 25, 2009

Newcastle Wetlands 090725

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Bird Photography at Newcastle Wetlands Reserve, 25th July, 2009.

I was not sure where I was going this morning. So I just decided to go to the Wetlands Centre. On the way I stopped in at the University swamp. I am not totally sure of the correct name, but it is the swamp at the northern end of newcastle university. It is just opposite the Hunter Wetlands Centre. I think it is officially called the Newcastle Wetlands Reserve. I walked around the track and saw som Pacific Black Ducks, Rainbow Lorikeet, and quite a few Superb Fairy-wren. There were a bunch of Australian Magpie near the railway line and they were singing me some beautiful songs. I whistled back to them, of course. At one stage they flew really close to me, but did not seem to be threatening, just curious. I am reading a great book about the Australian Magpie and will write a report when I am finished.

Rainbow Lorikeet
Rainbow Lorikeet (Trichoglossus haematodus)

Also in the trees in the swamp were some Eastern Rosellas, Common Starlings, and a pair of Red-rumped Parrots (Psephotus haematonotus). Red-rumped Parrots have a blue tip on the tail, which is mostly white, and the red patch on the rump of course. A Darter was drying his wings on a branch.

Red-rumped Parrot
Red-rumped Parrot (Psephotus haematonotus)

The weather today was fine and sunny with the temperature at about 15 degrees Celsius. The wind was blowing lightly from the North-west at about ten knots. It was a beautiful day.

Bird Species List, Newcastle Wetlands Reserve, 25/7/09

Darter
Pied Cormorant
Pacific Black Duck
Chestnut Teal
Grey Teal
Australian Pelican
Rainbow Lorikeet
Red-rumped Parrot
Eastern Rosella
Superb Fairy-wren
Australian Magpie
Common Starling
Australian Reed-Warbler

Hunter Wetlands Centre

Shortland Wetlands is listed as a wetland of international importance under the Ramsar Convention. I saw at the the main pond such water birds as Dusky Moorhen, heaps of Magpie Geese, Australasian Grebe, Eurasian Coot, Hardhead, Chestnut Teal and Grey Teal. Some of the bush birds that were hanging around the pond were Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike, Australian Raven, Magpie-Lark. I walked around the pond towards the western area. There were a few Superb Fairy-wren on the path and a couple of Yellow-faced Honeyeaters, a Striped Honeyeater and some White-cheeked Honeyeaters as well in the eucalypt trees.

Welcome Swallow
Welcome Swallow (Hirundo neoxena)

Along the western side of the breeding pond I found a bunch of Variegated Fairy-wren. There were heaps of Australian White Ibis on the pond and a Swamp Harrier was circling and darting into the pond. And then about 15 Yellow-tailed Black-cockatoo flew past making the biggest racket. It was the biggest mob of them I had ever seen.

Bird Species List, Hunter Wetlands Centre.

Dusky Moorhen
Magpie Goose
Australasian Grebe
Eurasian Coot
Hardhead
Chestnut Teal
Grey Teal
Musk Duck
Australian Wood Duck
Masked Lapwing
Australian White Ibis
Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike
Magpie-Lark
Australian Raven
Superb Fairy-wren
Variegated Fairy-wren
Yellow-faced Honeyeater
White-cheeked Honyeater
Eastern Rosella
Golden Whistler
Grey Fantail
Willy Wagtail
Spotted Pardalote
Welcome Swallow
Red-browed Finch
Yellow Thornbill
Great Egret
Fan-tailed Cuckoo
Yellow-tailed Black-cockatoo

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

May 30, 2009

Hunter Wetlands Centre 090530

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Bird Photography at Hunter Wetlands Centre, 30th May, 2009.

This afternoon I went to the Hunter Wetlands Centre at Shortland. The weather has been horrible all week and today has been my first chance to get out to photograph some birds. There was not many birds around and it rained a couple of times while I was out and about. There were the usual waterbirds such as Magpie Goose, Eurasian Coot, Purple swamphen, Dusky Moorhen, and Australasian Grebes.

The good old reliable Whistling Kites were circling about looking for something to gobble down.

Whistling Kite

Whistling Kite(Haliastur sphenurus)

There was a pair of Whistling Kites sitting on dead trees at the south western end of the egret breeding pond. Here is one of them.

Whistling Kite

There was also a scraggly looking Common myna sitting on one of the trees. These birds are considered a pest in Australia and are not very well liked.

Common Myna
Common Myna(Acridotheres tristis)

I thought I saw a Brahminy Kite through the trees but I could not tell for sure and it did not come back. I have been wanting a good photograph of one of them for ages. One day, my Brahminy Kite will come. I ended my outing with a nice long black coffee at the cafe.

Bird Species List, 30/5/09

Dusky Moorhen
Australasian Grebe
Australian Pelican
Whistling Kite
Noisy Miner
Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike
Little Wattlebird
Red Wattlebird
Noisy Friarbird
Swamp Harrier
Common Myna
Australian White Ibis
Magpie Goose
Eurasian Coot
Purple Swamphen

May 20, 2009

Hunter Wetlands Centre Bird Photography 090520

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Hunter Wetlands Centre = Raptor Heaven.

Once again the Hunter Wetlands Centre comes good with a lovely display of raptors today(20th May, 2009). There must have been more than half a dozen raptors there today. Three or four Whistling Kites, a pair of Swamp Harriers and a magnificent White-bellied Sea-eagle. The Hunter Wetlands Centre is at Shortland in Newcastle and you can be guaranteed at least a Whistling Kite or two every time you go there. Here is one sitting on a tree.

Whistling Kite
Whistling Kite(Haliastur sphenurus)

The Whistling Kites were flying really low today over the swamps and even hiding out in the trees, perching on some very low trees. Maybe it was because there was a pretty strong wind blowing. This one has his frontal feathers flying in the wind.

Whistling Kite

I got the shock of my life when a White-bellied Sea-eagle came flying over the trees right at me. You do not usually see them at the Wetlands Centre. Anyway, I was very happy to see him or her.

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

And here he is again on his second whirl.

White-bellied Sea-Eagle

It started raining shortly after and it was lucky that I was in the Egret hide. There were a few Whistling Kites in the Egret breeding ponds that were stuck out in the rain, roosting in trees. One of them was actually roosting on an old egret nest. I have no idea what he was doing. Bizarre. When the rain stopped I headed home and on the way saw a Royal Spoonbill on the land sitting or kneeling on his knees. I have no idea what was going on.

Royal Spoonbill
Royal Spoonbill(Platalea regia)

Bird Species List, Hunter Wetlands Centre, 20/5/09

Whistling Kite
White-bellied Sea-eagle
Swamp Harrier
Australian White Ibis
Royal Spoonbill
Australasian Grebe

May 10, 2009

Hunter Wetlands Centre Bird Photography 090509

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Bird Photography at the Hunter Wetlands Center, Shortland, Newcastle, 9th May, 2009

This morning I drove around the beaches to see if there was any decent surfing around to photograph. Flat Rock just was not breaking properly and neither was Bar Beach or Merewether. So I headed off to the Hunter Wetlands Center at Shortland. Luckily they have a cafe at the Wetlands Center so I was able to get my morning fix of coffee before I started.

There were a lot of water birds in the main ponds just near the Center. The Eurasian Coot(Fulica atra) dives for food and here this bird has just dived into the pool and come up with some weed for a feed. They can stay underwater for up to fifteen seconds, and can compress their feathers to squeeze out all the air, which allows them to stay longer under the water.

Eurasian Coot

The Pacific Black Duck(Anas superciliosa) is found in most types of water bodies all over Australia. The mainly feed on aquatic plants with some small crustaceans, molluscs, and insects. The Pacific Black Duck belongs to Family: Anatidae and Order: Anseriformes.

Pacific Black Duck

The Australasian Grebe(Tachybaptus novaehollandiae) feed on small fish and water insects and do deep underwater dives. They belong to Family: Podicipedidae and Order: Podicipediformes.

Australasian Grebe

The Dusky Moorhen(Gallinula tenebrosa) belongs to Family: Rallidae and Order: Gruiformes. It feeds on algae, water plants, and grasses. It is common in most types of wetlands that are surrounded by reeds, and much prefer fresh water to salt.

Dusky Moorhen

Spangled Drongo(Dicrurus bracteatus). Family: Dicruridae, Order: Passeriformes.
The Spangled Drongo is found in northern and eastern Australia, as well as New Guinea and Eastern Indonesia. They prefer wet forests and feed mainly on insects. Its distinctive features include the long forked tail and red eyes.

Spangled Drongo

Sources: birdinbackyards.net, austmus.gov.au, ozanimals.com

Bird Species List for Hunter Wetlands Center, 9/5/09.

Welcome Swallow
Eurasian Coot
Magpie Goose
Australian Grebe
Whistling Kite
Dusky Moorhen
Red-browed Finch
Superb Fairy-wren
Australian White Ibis
Eastern Rosella
Purple Swamphen
Spangled Drongo
Great Egret
Pacific Black Duck

May 9, 2009

Whistling Kite 090509

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Whistling Kite(Haliastur sphenurus), 9th May, 2009

This morning I went to the Hunter Wetlands Centre, at Shortland, in Newcastle. There are usually a few Whistling Kites around, and today was no exception. In my estimation there were four separate Whistling Kites there at the Wetlands Centre today. Its distribution is all over Australia, and also in New Guinea and New Caledonia. They are usually in pairs, and today I saw a pair circling and playing a game where they almost collided, then fly on around in the circle in opposite directions. I am not sure if it was a courting display, just flirting, or siblings playing a game.

Whistling Kite

A distinguishing feature to identify the Whistling Kite is the soaring flight pattern. Its flight is buoyant and easy and it often soars to a great height. They feed on small mammals, birds, lizards, carrion, and insects. In lots of areas, rabbits are their chief prey.

Whistling Kite

The habitat of the Whistling Kite is open woodlands, plains, streams, and swamps. They are also common around farmlands and roads where carrion can be found. They prefer tall trees for nesting, and the bulky nest platform is built of sticks up high, and sometimes can be re-used. The young stay with the parents after fledging for around two months.

Whistling Kite

Another identifying feature for the Whistling Kite is the silhouette or how they hold their wings. The Whistling Kite will hold its wings drooped in a glide.

Whistling Kite

The third feature of the Whistling Kite that will help to identify it is the length of the tail. Typically, the tail will be about 3 times the length of the head, with a rounded end. The most common raptor to be confused with the Whistling Kite is the Little Eagle, which has a shorter tail, and also a slightly different underwing pattern. Here is a photo of a Little Eagle(Hieraaetus morphnoides) to compare the underwing pattern and the length of the tail. Note the brown at the leading edge of the underwing.

Little Eagle

And now back to the Whistling Kite for the last photo of a bird looking for something to eat. He has got his eyes intently on the ground, looking for a feed.

Whistling Kite

The Whistling Kite is of the Family: Accipitridae and Order: Falconiformes.

Sources:
birdsinbackyards.net
Gordon Beruldsen, 1995, Which Bird of Prey is that? , Merino Lithographics. ISBN 0 646 26443 5
N.W. Cayley, 1931, What Bird is That?, Angus & Robertson.
Simpson & Day, Field Guide, ed 7.

May 5, 2009

Hunter Wetlands Bird Photography 090429

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Bird Photography at the Hunter Wetlands Center, Shortland. 29th April, 2009.

This morning I went to the Hunter Wetlands Centre at Shortland in Newcastle. It is a good place to go when you just feel like having a cruise and wander around the wetlands. The first bird I saw was a Yellow-faced Honeyeater(Lichenostomus chrysops). Their habitat is forests, woodlands, and heath lands on the mountains and the coast. They feed on mainly insects and nectar.

Yellow-faced Honeyeater

Then I spotted this baby Purple Swamphen(Porphyrio porphyrio) climbing in the reeds behind its mother. After they hatch the chicks of the Purple Swamphen are covered in soft down. The chicks can run and follow and adult to food in just a few days and have feathers and are ready to fly in 8 weeks.

Purple Swamphen baby

A mob of Yellow-tailed Black-Cockatoos(Calyptorhynchus funereus) flew over making a terrible racket. They are such noisy birds. The Yellow-tailed Black-Cockatoo is found in southeast Australia and their habitat is a variety, but favouring eucalypt forests and pine plantations. They feed in large noisy flocks, eating the seeds of native trees and pine cones.

Yellow-tailed Black-Cockatoo

This Australasian Grebe(Tachybaptus novaehollandiae) was looking a fright after diving into the pond.

Australasian Grebe

This Australasian Shoveler(Anas rhynchotis) was also having a good time in the pond.

Shoveler Duck

And here he is bum up, looking for food, working hard.

Shoveler Duck

Bird Species List, Hunter Wetlands Centre, 29/4/09

Yellow-faced Honeyeater
Superb Fairy-wren
Intermediate Egret
Purple swamphen
Whistling Kite
Nankeen Night Heron
Magpie Goose
Yellow-tailed Black-Cockatoo
Australasian Grebe
Australasian Shoveler
Pacific Black Duck

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