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

January 17, 2010

Backyard Birding

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Backyard Birds – Newcastle

17th January 2010

Today I took some shots of animals and birds at the bird feeder in the backyard in Newcastle suburbs. I got the word that there was a Pygmy Possum(It is a Black Rat) in the bird feeder, so I grabbed my camera to get a photo of it. The light was pretty horrendous because a storm was about to strike. In fact it started raining halfway through taking some of these photos. Here is what I think is the Eastern Pygmy-possum (Cercartetus nanus) and is classified as vulnerable in NSW.

Pygmy Possum
Eastern Pygmy-possum (Cercartetus nanus) Black Rat

I took a shot of this Eastern Rosella (Platycercus eximius) because I noticed the black colours in the centers of the yellow feathers on the back. I never noticed them before. I think this is a mature bird because of the off-white coloured bill.

Eastern Rosella
Eastern Rosella

Finally, here is a male Australian King-parrot having a feed at the bird feeder. The adult males have a fully red front whereas females have a green chest and are called Green Queens colloquially.

Australian King-parrot
Australian King-parrot

December 30, 2009

Minmi Bird Photography 091230

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Blue Gum Hills Birding

This morning I got up really early, before 6am! I still did not know where I was going to when I jumped in the car, but I drove down the hill and turned towards Minmi. When I got there, a few Eastern Rosellas flew past. I would see a fair few of them of them during the morning. I seemed to disturb a couple of them everywhere I went. There were a pair of Noisy Friarbirds scrabbling around in the Tobacco bush. It was so dark this morning. I had the ISO on 1600, my aperture was at maximum f/5.6 and I had to shoot at a shutter speed of 1/400 to get a decent exposure. Talk about pushing all the limits!

A pair of Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike flew past and I took a few photos of them. This photo is a bit soft but I just liked it for some reason. What do you think? I even bumped up the Noise Reduction to make it even less sharp. I guess it is good to do something different. I am always trying to get photos to look sharper. Why do photos always need to be so sharp? I have no idea, I am just following the rest of the sheep. baaa baaa.

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

I spotted some Yellow Thornbills and Grey Fantails flittering around the trees near the creek and then snapped a few shots of this Silvereye. They always seem to take a good photo. Maybe it is the white ring around the eye gives them good contrast.

Silvereye
Silvereye (Zosterops lateralis)

Right after that, I spotted some moving leaves on a tree, but I could not see what was in there. A little bit later a pair of female Satin Bowerbirds came out into the open on another tree and this one was photographed taking a dive.

Satin Bowerbird
Satin Bowerbird (Ptilonorhynchus violaceus)

After that, I took a walk along the track that went up the hill to the east. I saw a Bar-shouldered Dove, Eastern Whipbird, Eastern Yellow Robin, Superb Fairy-wren and Red-browed Finches. A pair of Channel-billed Cuckoos flew past making their hideous screeching.

Minmi bird list 30/12/09

Eastern Rosella
Noisy Friarbird
Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike
Yellow Thornbill
Grey Fantail
Silvereye
Yellow-faced Honeyeater
Sulphur-crested Cockatoo
Satin Bowerbird
Bar-shouldered Dove
Laughing Kookaburra
Eastern Whipbird
Mistletoebird
Bell Miner
Eastern Yellow Robin
Superb Fairy-wren
Channel-billed Cuckoo
Red-browed Finch

December 12, 2009

Newcastle Walk Against Warming

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Newcastle Walk Against Warming

The Walk Against Warming is a community day of action on climate change. This is supposed to provide a powerful voice for ordinary Australians to stand up and be counted on the most critical issue of and for our lives – climate change. As world leaders are meeting now in Copenhagen, it is important to send them the message that ordinary people who put these “leaders” in power want action to ensure that there is a future for their children and their grand-children.

The Newcastle Walk against Warming started at 1pm at Wheeler Place near the Civic Theatre in Newcastle. There were a number of impassioned speeches, including Greens Councillor on Newcastle City Council, Michael Osborne.

Michael Osborne
Michael Osborne – Greens Councillor on Newcastle City Council

The marchers then set off down towards the harbour and walked along the boardwalk that skirts Newcastle Harbour, one of the largest coal exporting ports in the the world. Oh, the irony.

Along Newcastle Harbour

There were loads of people eating at the brewery and all those fancy restaurants along the harbour. Many people were a bit gob-smocked to see all these people marching past while they were having dinner. Only a couple of people were hostile and said something negative. But I think over all the march made a good impression and there were mainly ordinary people and not feral hippies going off their brains. So it was all good.

I was especially proud of the fellow members who turned up to represent the Hunter Bird Observers Club. Well done, bird watchers of the Hunter Valley!

Hunter Bird Observers Club

Eventually the march finished up near the Customs House, where there were a number of speeches. Lee Rhiannon, a Greens member of Parliament made a great speech, which was well received by the crowd of 450.

Lee Rhiannon
Lee Rhiannon ( @leerhiannon on Twitter)is a Green MP in the New South Wales Upper House.

This great mum got up and introduced her son and said she wanted a world that was livable for him. She had organised a play-group for mothers who wanted to help stop the effects of climate change. She was fantastic.

A Mum talks for her son's future

So, in summing up. This was a day for getting out and making a stand for the environment and to send a message to world leaders and politicians to take action to curtail the human impact on the environment. Regardless of all the nit-picking and arguing over Climate Change, lets just get together and take action such as reducing waste, stopping logging, recycling and finding and using renewable energy sources.

December 2, 2009

Urban Birding

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Urban Birding

Wickham Park, Newcastle. 2nd December, 2009.

Well its been a mad mad world this week, so I got up really early this morning, had breakfast, cuppa, and stepped out the door. The trouble was, it was raining. hmm. Why did I not notice such a thing? So I went back inside, ate my breakfast and did some stuff. Eventually the rain stopped so I took off to the local park, hoping to get some good shots of the Channel-billed Cuckoos that have been waking me up every morning before dawn.

There were a few Common Mynas in the Fig trees in the park and the magpies were singing their morning songs. I did see a Channel-billed Cuckoo but missed a photo of him. I walked across the oval to the eastern end of the park and found a male Superb Fairy-wren on the edges in the rubbish bush.

Superb Fairy-wren
male Superb Fairy-wren

A rather bedraggled looking Silvereye was skulking in the scrub as well.

Silvereye
Silvereye (Zosterops lateralis)

I was quite surprised to find an Australasian Figbird on the wires near the train track. I have not seen them in the inner city before. A Red Wattlebird or two were looking for a feed near the main oval whilst I was heading towards the community garden.

The Noisy Miners seem to hang around the garden and the Common Mynas hang around the outside oval. They might have separate territories and not intrude into the others. The Crested Pigeons seem to like to hang out around the Bocca field.

Crested Pigeon
Crested Pigeon (Ocyphates lophotes)

There were about 4 young Grey Butcherbirds who were chasing each other around and playing mock fighting. They were also hunting the rats that were in the compost bin. It was fascinating watching them sit above the rats, listening and watching for them to come out. This little rat poked his head out and luckily for him, was not eaten.

Rat
Rat, I think

Wickham Park bird list 2/12/09

Australian Raven
Rock Dove
Australian Magpie
Common Myna
Channel-billed Cuckoo
Spotted Turtle-dove
Welcome Swallow
Superb Fairy-wren
Silvereye
Australasian Figbird
Red Wattlebird
Crested Pigeon
Noisy Miner
Grey Butcherbird
Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike

Recommended Resource

Field Guide to the Birds of Australia (Helm Field Guides)

November 25, 2009

Bicycle Birding along the Fernleigh Track

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Bicycle Birding along the Fernleigh Track

25th November, 2009.

The new section of the Fernleigh Track has just opened in Newcastle. It goes from Adamstown to Redhead at the moment. It follows the old train line that went from Newcastle to Belmont, my old home. It is meant for bike riders and walkers and goes through some glorious bush at the edge of Glenrock Nature Reserve and the bush from Whitebridge to Redhead is absolutely sublime. Anyway, enough of this gushing and on with the show.

I started off just after 6am. I wanted to get an early start so that it wouldn’t be too hot. It was an overcast day so that was good. Going up the hill at Adamstown I saw a few Rainbow Lorikeet and Australian Magpies. Then I spotted a juvenile Blue-faced Honeyeater. I was very pleased about this because it was the first time I had seen one. It did not have the blue face yet as it was only a young one. I am guessing it was between being a fledgling and a juvenile.

Blue-faced Honeyeater
Blue-faced Honeyeater (Entomyzon cyanotis)

There were quite a few other birds in the trees around the houses and the road – Galah, White-faced Heron, Grey Butcherbird, Australian Raven and Noisy Miner. After the tunnel that goes under the highway at Highfields, I saw a few Little Wattlebirds and this happy looking Laughing Kookaburra. They always look like they are having a good time.

Laughing Kookaburra
Laughing Kookaburra (Dacelo Novaeguineae)

I crossed the road at Kahibah and headed down towards Whitebridge. There were a few Crested Pigeons and Spotted Turtle-doves as well as this fantastic Bar-shouldered Dove.

Bar-shouldered Dove
Bar-shouldered Dove (Geopelia humeralis)

There was a noisy colony of Bell Miners along the track between Whitebridge and Redhead. I think this section of the track was the best section for bird watching and I spotted quite a few different good quality birds such as Eastern Spinebill, Golden Whistler, Spotted Pardalote, White-cheeked Honeyater, Red-browed Finch, Superb Fairy-wren and Dusky Woodswallow. I was also stoked to get another tick for the day with a White-throated Needletail. I thought it was a woodswallow until I had a good look at the photos. Unfortunately none of them were sharp enough but I am very happy nonetheless.

The lucky last bird for today was my personal favourite, the Rufous Whistler. They always seem to sing these lovely songs for me and sit up nice and close and pose for me. I reckon they listen to the camera shutter as well and cock their heads when they hear the camera going off.

Rufous Whistler
Rufous Whistler (Pachycephal rufiventris)

Fernleigh Track Bird List 25/11/09

Rainbow Lorikeet
Austrlian Magpie
Blue-faced Honeyeater
Galah
White-faced Heron
Grey Butcherbird
Australian Raven
Noisy Miner
Common Myna
Sulphur-crested Cockatoo
Little Wattlebird
Laughing Kookaburra
Crested Pigeon
Spotted Turtle-dove
Eastern Spinebill
Brown Thornbill
Bell Miner
Golden Whistler
Bar-shouldered Dove
Spotted Pardalote
Eastern Whipbird (H)
Dusky Woodswallow
White-throated Needletail
White-cheeked Honeyeater
Rufous Whistler
Red-browed Finch
Superb Fairy-wren

Recommended Resource

Field Guide to the Birds of Australia (Helm Field Guides)

May 4, 2009

Bird Photography Ash Island 090427

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Ash Island, Hunter River, Bird Photography, 27th April, 2009.

Well I am home at last. This morning I went to Ash Island, which is on the Hunter River, Newcastle. The temperature was 14 degrees Centigrade at 8 am. I saw a few raptors but they were too far away for any decent shots. Probably also I am getting a bit more fussy now. There was a dead rabbit on the road just before Milham Road starts and the crows and Whistling Kites flew off as I approached. As I said there were lots of raptors in the distance, but nothing came close. The only decent photographs were of Black-fronted Dotterels and a Pied Butcherbird.

The Black-fronted Dotterel(Elseyornis melanops) is of the Family Charadriidae and they are widespread throughout Australia. Their habitat is the shallow margins of wetlands, lakes, marshes and other freshwater bodies of water. The Black-fronted Dotterel feeds on small molluscs and aquatic and terrestrial insects.

Black-fronted Dotterel

C. E. Bryant, in The Emu asserts that: “Particular birds seem to be very local and are often confined to small water-holes and dams. ” This may well be the case as there is always a group of Black-fronted Dotterels at the same spot along Wagtail Way whenever I visit there.

Black-fronted Dotterel

The Pied Butcherbird(Cracticus nigrogularis) is said to be the best singer of the birds of Australia. They belong to family Artamidae. Pied Butcherbirds prey on small reptiles, mammals, frogs, and birds, as well as large insects.

Pied Butcherbird

The nest of the Pied Butcherbird is a bowl of sticks and twigs, lined with grasses and other finer materials.

Pied Butcherbird

Sources: csiro, austmus.gov.au, birdsinbackyards.net, ozanimals.com

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