Steve Happ Photography Ramblings and dissertations

March 25, 2015

Cobar Birding

Filed under: Birds — Tags: , , — admin @ 11:18 pm

Outback New South Wales.

Cobar is a small mining town in the middle of nowhere on the way to Broken Hill. For all that it seems quite a nice place. There were heaps of birds here. First stop was the Tourist info office where I got the town map and headed off on a walk along Centenary of Federation Walk. Across the road I happened upon a family of Zebra Finch. I have a vague idea that they are race castanotis but I am not sure at all.

baby Zebra Finch
baby Zebra Finch (Taenopygia guttata)

This nosy Blue-faced Honeyeater had a good sticky-beak at me as I went past.

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

I thought this Striped Honeyeater was an inland thornbill at first until I got it up on the computer and had a good look at it.

Striped Honeyeater
Striped Honeyeater (Plectorhyncha lanceolata)

I thought these were Fork-tailed Swift before I had a good look at the book. They were hanging around the footy field watching some guy kick goals.

White-backed Swallow
White-backed Swallow (Cheramoeca leucosternus)

After lunch I went for a drive to check out the gold mine. It was big.

new cobar gold mine
New Cobar Gold Mine.

Late in the afternoon I trundled off to the new tank and wandered along the pitiful remnants of water. Here is a Whistling Kite in its nest.

Whistling Kite
Whistling Kite (Haliastur sphenurus).

There were a few waders along the edges of the pond.

White-necked Heron
White-necked Heron (Ardea pacifica).

Lots of Spotted Bowerbirds around. I thought these might have been juvenile blackbirds at first and I did not see any of them with a pink crest on top of the head. I have no idea why.

Spotted Bowerbird
Spotted Bowerbird (Chlamydera maculata)

And the Spiny-cheeked Honeyeaters were quite common as well.

Spiny-cheeked Honeyeater
Spiny-cheeked Honeyeater (Acanthagenys rufogularis).

Cobar Bird List

Spotted Bowerbird
White-plumed Honeyeater
Blue-faced Honeyeater
Zebra Finch (Taenopygia guttata)
Double-barred Finch
Black Kite
Whistling Kite
Apostlebird
White-backed Swallow (Cheramoeca leucosternus)
White-breasted Woodswallow
Australian Magpie
House Sparrow
Crested Pigeon
Galah
Willy Wagtail
Pacific Black Duck
Australian Wood Duck
Eurasian Coot
White-necked Heron
White-faced Heron
Great Egret
Yellow-billed Spoonbill
Black-fronted Dotterel
Black-winged Stilt
Peaceful Dove
Red-winged Parrot
Striped Honeyeater (Plectorhyncha lanceolata)
Spiny-cheeked Honeyeater (Acanthagenys rufogularis)
White-breasted Woodswallow (Artamus leucorynchus)
Pied Cormorant

May 4, 2009

Gundabooka Bird Photography 090418

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Bird Photography at Gundabooka National Park, 18th and 19th April, 2009.

After Bowra Station, I drove from Cunnamulla to Bourke, then on to the Gundabooka National Park, which is 50 kilometers south of Bourke, off the Kidman Way that goes to Cobar. Be aware that when it rains, the roads become impassible. I first went to the Dry Tank Camping Ground and from this camp, I went for a walk through the mulga bush to the nearby Little Mountain. From the top of this “mountain” you could see the northern escarpment of the Gunderbooka Range, where I went the following day.

And on to the bird photos. I went for a look around the camp site, and spotted this Crested Bellbird(Oreoica gutturalis). the Crested Bellbird is found mainly in acacia, mulga, eucalypt, spinifex, and saltbush plains. The Warlpiri people of the Tanami Desert call this one Kanpanparlala or Pakupaku, and the Warlpiri Dictionary states:

” The Crested Bellbird belongs to the kurdaitcha man. It calls out loudly. It says this to the kurdaitcha: ‘Kill that one there’ ”

Crested Bellbird

Female Variegated Fairy-wren(Malurus lamberti). The Variegated Fairy-wren is the most widespread of the fairy-wren species in Australia. They feed on insects and some seeds.

Variegated Fairy-wren

Singing Honeyeater(Lichenostomus virescens). The Singing Honeyeater is found mostly in open shrublands and low woodlands, especially acacia. They feed on nectar, insects and fruit.

Singing Honeyeater

Male Red-capped Robin(Petroica goodenovii).

Red-capped Robin

The next day, Sunday, 19th April, 2009, I went to Bennets Gorge. There is a 5.4 kilometer walk that leads from the picnic area to the top of Mount Gunderbooka. I followed it most of the way. The facilities at Bennets Gorge include picnic tables, barbeques, and flush toilets. There were also some birds, which I photographed. Here are a couple of them:

Rufous Whistler(Pachycephala rufiventris).

Rufous Whistler

White-browed Treecreeper(Climacteris affinis).

White-browed Treecreeper

Bird Species List, Gundabooka NP, 18-19/4/09

Zebra Finch
Crested Bellbird
Variegated Fairy-wren
Singing Honeyeater
Red-capped Robin
Inland Thornbill
Australian Ringneck
Rufous Whistler
White-browed Treecreeper
Grey Butcherbird

Sources: Crikey.com, austmus.gov.au, Birds in Backyards,

May 3, 2009

Bird Photography Bowra Station 090419

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Bird Photography at Bowra Station cunnamulla, 17th April, 2009.

We went to Stony Ridge to look for Chestnut-breasted Quail-thrush and searched in the bush for a while, then drove up the hill and saw them crossing the road. We then followed them through the stony country but did not see them again. We carried on further down the road to see a Black-faced Woodswallow(Artamus cinereus).

Black-faced Woodswallow

We went to the west side of the property to the big waterhole and saw a pair of White-necked Heron(Ardea pacifica) doing an aerobatics display, like synchronised swimming. I think it was a mating ritual or courting display. It was quite magnificent.

White-necked Heron

We walked further down the waterhole and found hundreds of old cormorant nests. There were some dead cormorants lying in a nest and we found a skull lying on the ground which had a down-turned top front of the bill. A Whistling Kite was flying around in the distance but did not come closer.

On the way back I saw a raptor fly through the trees. It had yellow legs, so I thought it was a grey falcon. We found where it landed and it had a bird kill in its talons. It was actually a Brown Goshawk(Accipter fasciatus), which pleased me because I wanted to finally see a Goshawk.

I also spotted a Common Bronzewing(Phaps Chalcoptera).

Common Bronzewing

And some Emu(Dromaius novaehollandiae).

Emu

Before lunch we went to look for the Banded Lapwings(Vanellus tricolor) which were supposed to be in a field near the fence line. We spotted another car which had found them so we drove over and got some photos.

Banded Lapwing

At dusk, we went to Stony Ridge to look for a Spotted Nightjar. We played a tape of the call to bring one in but no luck. Then we went down to “A Nice Place” and heard an Owlet Nightjar. On the way back to the camp, we thought we saw a Spotted Nightjar in the headlights.

Bird Species List for Bowra Station, 17/4/09

Chestnut-breasted Quail-thrush
Nankeen Kestrel
Black-faced Woodswallow
White-necked Heron
Peaceful Dove
Brown Goshawk
Common Bronzewing
Emu
Budgerigar
Major Mitchell’s Cockatoo

Bird Photography at Bowra Station 090416

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Bird Photography at Bowra STation, Cunnamulla, 16th April, 2009.

Thursday. I walked around the billabong. Saw a White-necked Heron(Ardea pacifica). Their habitat is mostly fresh water wetlands and are seen throughout Australia.

c4d-9980

This Yellow-billed Spoonbill(Platalea flavipes) was on a tree at the side of the billabong. During the breeding season, the skin on the face has a black line outlining it, long feather hackles grow on the chest, and black lacy plumes grow on the outer wings. (Source: Thomas, R. & Sydenham, S. Yellow-billed Spoonbill [Online] www.kidcyber.com.au (2008)).

Yellow-billed Spoonbill

There was a single Black-tailed Native-hen(Gallinula ventralis) that would dart in and out of a clump of bushes.

Black-tailed Native-hen

The Yellow-throated Miner(Manorina flavigula) is found in mallee, and dry forests. They feed on insects, nectar, berries, and fruit.

Yellow-throated Miner

A pair of Blue Bonnet(Northiella haematogaster).

c4d-0176

This Spotted Bowerbird(Chlamydera maculata) would listen for the click of the camera. Here he is having a good listen as the camera shutter is going off.

Spotted Bowerbird

I then went for a walk along the bush roads towards Main Creek and spotted this White-breasted Woodswallow(Artamus leucorynchus) having a feed of what looks like a worm and a grasshopper.

White-breasted Woodswallow

And here he is hooking into the grasshopper’s head. Munch!

White-breasted Woodswallow

Around midday we went off towards the airport where there were reports of a pair of Brolga(Grus rubicunda). We finally found a pair and took this photo of one of them.

Brolga

Bowra Station Bird Species List, 16/4/09

Brolga
Yellow-billed Spoonbill
Black-tailed Native-hen
Chestnut-crowned Babbler
Yellow-throated Miner
Blue Bonnet
Crested Pigeon
Spotted Bowerbird
White-browed Treecreeper
White-breasted Woodswallow
Black-faced Woodswallow
splendid Fairy-wren
Singing Honeyeater
REd-winged Parrot
White-necked Heron
Zebra Finch
Restless Flycatcher
Nankeen Kestrel.

May 2, 2009

Bird Photography – Bowra Station 090415b

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Bowra Station, Cunnamulla Bird Photography, 15th April, 2009. pm.

In the afternoon I did a bit of a walk around the lagoon and photographed these Yellow-billed Spoonbills(Platalea flavipes). But, notice that the bird on the right is a Royal Spoonbill. I think we have a case of the Ugly Duckling going on and he thinks he is a Yellow-billed Spoonbill. He was hanging around with the flock the whole while I was there.

Yellow-billed Spoonbill

This Chestnut-crowned Babbler(Pomatostomus ruficeps) was in the area under the trees with his gang of reprobates.

Chestnut-crowned Babbler

Later on, we went to the Sawpit waterhole. There were heaps of Spiny-cheeked Honeyeaters, as well as White-plumed Honeyeaters. This Red-winged Parrot(Aprosmictus erythropterus) was in the trees around the waterhole.

Red-winged Parrot

I finally managed to get a photograph of a Major Mitchell’s Cockatoo(Cacatua leadbeateri), but this is the best I got. They are also known as Pink Cockatoos and mainly inhabit arid and semi-arid woodlands. The Major Mitchell’s Cockatoo feed on a wide variety of native foods as well as exotic weeds and cereal crops.

Major Mitchell's Cockatoo

Last but not least is the Hooded Robin(Melanodryas cucullata). It is in the Family Petroicidae. Their preferred habitat is dry forests, woodlands, mallee, and scrublands.

Restless Flycatcher

Bowra Station Bird Species List, 15/4/09 pm

Black-tailed Native-hen
Yellow-billed Spoonbill
Chestnut-crowned Babbler
Diamond Dove
Red-winged Parrot
Major Mithcell’s Cockatoo
Australian Ringneck
Restless Flycatcher
Royal Spoonbill

May 1, 2009

Bowra Station Bird Photography 090415a

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Bird Photography at Bowra Station, Cunnamulla, Qld. 15th April, 2009. am

In the morning we Went to Sandy Creek Crossing and just pottered around there for a while.

Saw this wonderful Australian Ringneck(Barnadius barnardi), also known as the Mallee Ringneck or Mallee Parrot. This is race barnardi, race zonarius is commonly called the Port Lincoln Parrot. Aboriginals called race barnardi “bulla-bulla”.

Australian Ringneck

Next on the agenda is the White-plumed Honeyeater(Lichenostomus penicillatus). These birds are very plentiful in this area and around western new south wales. An interesting behaviour is that they fly in for a bath at waterholes and just flutter above the surface before diving in and just touching the surface of the water.

White-plumed Honeyeater

This male Common Bronzewing(Phaps chalcopter) was standing by while his mate was sitting on a nest.

Male Common Bronzewing

And here is the female sitting on the nest.

Female Common Bronzewing

And at last I have a half decent shot of a Southern Whiteface(Aphelocephala leucopsis). Note the harsh rocky habitat here. They live in open forested areas from pretty arid country though to the wetter grassy forests of south-east australian eucalypt forests.

Southern Whiteface

This is a first for me with this Red-backed Kingfisher(Todiramphus pyrrhopygia). The Warlpiri people in the Northern Territory call this one “Luurnpa”. They are common near Yuendumu and Balgo. They live in burrows and hollow trees and logs.

Red-backed Kingfisher

We had been chasing this one for about a week, always hearing its distinctive call but never seeing it. At last we got a sight of one. And what a pleasure to behold they are! They have this really cool mohawk that makes them look very punk indeed. And yes, ladies and gentlemen, I present to you the famous Crested Bellbird(Oreoica gutturalis). Their family name is Pachycephalidae and their conservation status is “Near Threatened”. The Southern Crested Bellbird(Oreoica gutturalis guttaralis) has disappeared from well over fifty percent of its historical range. Crested Bellbirds live in the shrub-layer of eucalypt woodland, mallee, acacia shrubland, and feed on insects and seeds. (source: environment.gov.au).

Crested Bellbird

Once again, another legendary bird, Hall’s Babbler(Pomatostomus halli). In NSW, this bird is listed as Vulnerable because it faces moderate threatening processes. They live in tall acacia shrublands of arid country which is often dominated by mulga. Studies are currently being undertaken to assess their biology, social organization, and habitat requirements.

Hall's Babbler

This cute pair of Varied Sitella(Daphoenositta chrysoptera) were sitting on a tree branch preening for the camera. Thank you, guys. They have a habit of foraging downwards on trees, whilst Treecreepers are noted as moving upwards along a tree trunk.

Varied Sitella

And another big At Last! moment. I have a relatively decent photo of the fabulously gorgeous Male Red-capped Robin(Petroica goodenovii). They are seen most prominently in the arid western areas of Eastern Australia.

Red-capped Robin

And that’s it. Whew! What a day it was. We did see the Chestnut-breasted Quail-thrush, but the photos from a couple of days later are much better. Oh, and I must mention my sources: mdahlem.net, environment.gov.au, and Crikey.


Bird Species List, Bowra STation, Cunnamulla. 15/4/09, am.

Australian Ringneck, race barnardi
Red-winged Parrot
White-plumed Honeyeater
Spiny-cheeked Honeyeater
Red-capped Robin
Common Bronzewing
Noisy Friarbird
Southern Whiteface
Hooded Robin
Red-backed Kingfisher
Crested Bellbird
Singing Honeyeater
Hall’s Babbler
Varied Sitella
Chestnut-breasted Quail-thrush

April 30, 2009

Bird Photography at Bourke 090414

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Bird Photography at Bourke, 14th April, 2009.

Whilst leaving Willie Retreat at Macquarie Marshes, I got massively bogged with heaps of people helping push me out of the mud, all to no avail. I had to get pulled out of the mud by Bob’s winch. Thanks Bob. I then drove to Nyngan and saw lots of raptors on the way. At Nyngan I got some petrol and drove on to Bourke, which was about 200 kilometers from Nyngan. At Bourke I got some supplies and petrol and headed off to the sewerage ponds. Saw:

Pink-eared Duck(Malacorhynchus membranaceus)

Pink-eared Duck

Hardhead(Aythya australis).

Hardhead

Hoary-headed Grebe(Poliocephalus poliocephalus).

Hoary-headed Grebe

Musk Duck(Biziura lobata).

Musk Duck

I then drove to Cunnamulla and on to Bowra Station, arriving just on sunset. I slept very soundly that night.

Bird Species List, Bourke, 14/4/09

Pink-eared Duck
Hoary-headed Grebe
Musk Duck
Blue-billed Duck
Hardhead

April 27, 2009

Bird Photography Warren 090407

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Bird Photography at Warren 7th April, 2009

I left Newcastle about 1pm on the Monday and drove to Singleton then Merriwa along the Golden Highway(86?). Stopped at Mendooran where there is a good rest area with BBQ, lights, and toilets. I drove on through to Gilgandra and slept at a rest area about 30 kilometers west of Gilgandra.

On Tuesday morning I awoke about 6:30am and it was freezing cold, so I put on the flanny, a jumper and some long pants, as well as shoes and socks. That is how cold it was! I took some photos of the sunrise then drove to Warren for breakfast. On the way into Warren I saw that there were heaps of raptors hanging around the sewerage runoff just outside town. So after breakfast I went back for a good look.

Black Kite

Not a bad site, hey? There were a few black kites hanging around the dead trees near the water. I got onto the mounds and had fantastic views of the birds.

Black Kite

Also hanging out on the dead trees was a Juvenile White-necked Heron(Ardea pacifica), also called a Pacific Heron. Note the spotted neck. Some of them have red spots on their wings. This one did not seem to.

Juvenile White-necked Heron

Anyhoo, back to the Black Kites(Milvus migrans), which i could not get enough of.

Black Kite

And another, this one was checking me right out.

Black Kite

There were also a pair of Black Falcons(Falco subniger) flying around and roosting in a big eucalyptus tree at the end of the water hole. They are a spectacular bird and I was very stoked to see them.

Black Falcon

Some of the other members of the HBOC saw a lot of waterbirds over the road, such as blue-billed ducks, musk ducks, pink-eared ducks, etc. But I missed out on all those. I saw a couple of grey teals and some swamp hens, and that was it. In the trees around the water hole there were various birds such as White-plumed honeyeaters and Spotted Bowerbirds.

On the road from Warren to Carinda on the Way to Willie Retreat, I saw a couple of Wedge-tailed Eagles flying off road kills, but did not manage to get a decent enough photo of them.

Bird Species LIst, Warren area, 7/4/09

Black-shouldered Kite
Eastern Rosella
Noisy Miner
Galah
Red-rumped Parrot
Bluebonnet
Sulphur-crested Cockatoo
Black Kite
Rock Dove
Cockatiel
Juvenile White-necked Heron
Black Falcon
Nankeen Kestrel
Whistling Kite
Crested Pigeon
Spotted Bowerbird
White-plumed honeyeater
Wedge-tailed Eagle

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