Steve Happ Photography Ramblings and dissertations

September 22, 2009

Stockton Bird Photography 090922

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Stockton Bird Photography 22nd September 2009.

It was a struggle to get out of bed this morning. But I knuckled down and bit the bullet and all those other cliches. I went down to the local park because I heard there had been some Koels and Channel-billed Cuckoos there. I did a walk around the fig trees, but saw not a one. Great start to the day, I said to myself. So off i toddled to the Stockton Sandspit and a massive traffic jam trying to get over the Hunter River. Strike 2.

The tide was coming in at the Stockton Sandspit. There were a few young Pied Oytercatchers in the inner lagoon as well as some Australian White Ibis, Black-winged Stilt and Eastern Curlew.

On the mud flats was a single lone Bar-tailed Godwit having a good peck. All the rest of them were over at the Kooragang Dykes. Poor little fella. Some Red-capped Plovers were also on the mud flats and there were some up on the grassy-shelly land.

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

A couple of large flocks of Red-necked Avocets came towards the mud flats and most of them flew away again. Some of them alighted and had a bit of a slosh, but took off again soon after. There was also a few Curlew Sandpiper and a Sharp-tailed Sandpiper. (Thanks to David and Grant for the ID).

Grey-tailed Tattler
Grey-tailed Tattler (Heteroscelus brevipes)

After that I went along the river front at Stockton and saw a pair of Grey-tailed Tattler.

Grey-tailed Tattler
Grey-tailed Tattler

Stockton Bird List 22/9.09

Pied Oystercatcher
Australian White Ibis
Black-winged Stilt
Eastern Curlew
Bar-tailed Godwit
White-faced Heron
Red-necked Avocet
Little Pied Cormorant
Little Black Cormorant
Crested Tern
Grey-tailed Tattler
Grey Fantail
Australian Pelican
Superb Fairy-wren
Rock Dove
Yellow Thornbill
Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike
Magpie-lark
Common Mynah
Welcome Swallow
Curlew Sandpiper
Sharp-tailed Sandpiper

August 4, 2009

Stockton Bird Photography 090804

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Stockton Bird Photography, 4th August, 2009.

This morning I went to Stockton for an outing with the Hunter Bird Observers Club. Thank you very much to Keith and Margaret for organising the outing. We started off under the bridge at Stockton Sandspit, and then walked towards the river, then west towards the sandspit. Along the southern end of the sandspit we saw some Brown Honeyeaters, Superb Fairy-wrens and Little Wattlebirds. Walking along the edge of the water towards the northern end of the sandspit, there was a large flock of Red-necked Avocet, possibly up to a thousand birds in all. A single Gull-billed Tern with a crab in its bill landed right in the middle of the flock. I think he wanted to hide from his mates so that he could eat the crab in peace without being harassed by other terns.

Brown Honeyeater
Brown Honeyeater (Lichmera indistincta)

In the lagoon at the sandspit were 3 Australian White Ibis and a single Great Egret. We walked further along north and had a look at the oyster racks at Fern Bay. There were a bunch of Little Black Cormorants sitting on the poles and a couple of Little Pied Cormorants and Darters.

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

After that, we took off and headed to the Stockton Cemetry and went for a long walk to the north along the coastal heathlands near the beach. We saw a few honeyeaters such as White-cheeked Honeyeaters, Yellow-faced Honeyeaters and Lewin’s Honeyeaters. You could hear lots of birds but it was hard to see them as they were deep in the dense heath scrub. We did see some Golden Whistlers, a Grey Shrike-thrush, and a few Eastern Spinebill. Eastern Whipbirds were resounding all over the place with their very distinctive call. We climbed a sand dune to have a look at the ocean and you could see over the tops of the heathlands from the top of the dunes. On the way back we saw a colony of Variegated Fairy-wrens and quite a few Silvereye, race “westernensis”.

Stockton Bird List, 4/8/09

Brown Honeyeater
Superb Fairy-wren
Little Wattlebird
Little Black Cormorant
Little Pied Cormorant
Australian White Ibis
Great Egret
Red-necked Avocet
Gull-billed Tern
White-faced Heron
Chestnut Teal
White-cheeked Honeyeater
Yellow-faced Honeyeater
Lewin’s Honeyeater
Bar-shouldered Dove
Golden Whistler
Grey Shrike-thrush
Spangled Drongo
Australian magpie
Eastern Spinebill
Welcome Swallow
Variegated Fairy-wren
Silvereye, race “westernensis”

June 2, 2009

White-bellied Sea-eagle 090602

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White-Bellied Sea-eagle(Haliaeetus leucogaster)

This morning I went to the Stockton Channel looking for the Osprey and the Brahminy Kite, but I saw neither. There were four Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike right next to the fertiliser factory over at Kooragang Island but not much else. I walked around the Stockton Sandspit and seen some Superb Fairy-wrens and a few water birds. I then walked to the headland that sticks out into the Stockton Channel on the other side of the bridge. That was when I saw the White-bellied Sea-eagle sitting on this pole out in the middle of the channel.

White-bellied Sea-eagle

After a while he flew off and then came back and flew past me to the north.

White-bellied Sea-eagle

After a little while, another sea-eagle flew over towards the pole and landed on it.

White-bellied Sea-eagle

And here he is settling down to have a rest – or a roost as they say in Scotland. ha ha.

White-bellied Sea-eagle

The White-bellied Sea-eagle is the second largest raptor in Australia behind the Wedge-tailed Eagle. They can be similar in body weight to the Wedgy, but their wingspan is generally not as wide. Juvenile Sea eagles have a brownish plumage, growing a snowy white head and belly when they mature in their 3rd or 4th year. They are commonly found in coastal areas of Australia and can be found in inland waters. They have been sighted in the Macquarie Marshes, which are in the far west of New South Wales, near Warren. White-bellied Sea-eagles can be also found in India and China, and south Asia. Birds mate for life and have a stable territory. They build their nests in tall trees or on remote coastal cliffs.

The White-bellied Sea-eagle is of the Order: Falconiformes and Family: Accipitridae. They belong to the same genus(Haliaeetus) as the American Bald Eagle.

Bird Species List, Stockton Channel, 2/6/09

Australian Pelican
Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike
Superb Fairy-wren
Masked Lapwing
Bar-tailed Godwit
Black-winged Stilt
Australian White Ibis
Sacred Kingfisher
White-bellied Sea-eagle

Sources: amonline.net.au, dse.vic.gov.au, raptor.org.au

May 24, 2009

Kooragang 090524

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Bird Photography at Kooragang Island 24th may, 2009.

This morning I headed out looking for the Brahminy Kite, again. I did not see one, but saw an Osprey. The photos were a bit far off, but. Nevertheless, I had a great day and some some unexpected birds in some unexpected places. I started off at the eastern end of Kooragang Island. I just parked there and waited for something to come along, birds that is. and hey presto, this immature White-bellied Sea-eagle came flying past with a big fish in its talons. He was also getting harassed by an Australian Magpie. I am guessing the the magpie was trying to make him drop it, so he could steal the fish.

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

I saw a Nankeen Kestrel on a light in the distance, so I set off to get a bit closer. The kestrel stayed there until I got there and I took some photos of him roosting on the light. A couple of the shots were set against this industrial backdrop and they looked real ironic. But here is the one on the light.

Nankeen Kestrel
Nankeen Kestrel(Falco cenchroides)

I walked back to the car, and saw a pair of Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike who were sitting on a mustard seed bush next to the river. It was weird and pretty well unexpected. And then I got a shot of one of them in flight. Even weirder.

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

And there were a few Golden-headed Cisticola in the bushes, so I had to take some photos. This one was having a big whinge and hanging on to two branches all at once, count them, one two.

Golden-headed Cisticola
Golden-headed Cisticola(Cisticola exilis)

I then went over the bridge to Stockton Sandspit and had a walk around. There were the same Eastern Curlews and Bar-tailed Godwits as yesterday. They are probably first year birds that are going to winter here in Australia and are not going to Siberia. It seems that the young ones do not migrate to Siberia until they are a couple of years old and ready to breed. It makes sense I suppose. There is not much sense flying all the way to Siberia if you aint gonna get a bit of loving. There were a few Brown Honyeaters in the mangroves at the northern end of the sandspit.

Brown Honeyeater
Brown Honeyeater(Lichmera indistincta)

I did manage to see a Whimbrel for the first time, and I spied the Osprey but it was too far away for a decent photograph.

Bird Species List, 24/5/09

LIttle Wattlebird
Superb Fairy-wren
White-bellied Sea-eagle
Masked Lapwing
White-faced Heron
Australian Magpie
Nankeen Kestrel
Eastern Curlew
Black-winged Stilt
Osprey
Golden-headed Cisticola
Whimbrel
Brown Honeyeater
Sacred Kingfisher
Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike
Crested Tern
Yellow Thornbill

May 23, 2009

Stockton Bird Photography 090523

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Bird Photography at Stockton, 23rd May, 2009.

This morning the rain stopped and the sun came out in patches. So it was off to the Stockton side of the river to look for the fabled Brahminy Kite. Which I saw and photographed, but it was a bit too far away, but at least I saw it. I will get a closer photograph next time, for sure. I first went to the western side of the Northern channel of the Hunter River in the estuary. Nothing going on at all on the industrial side, so I went over the other side to near where the wreck is on the other side of the river. Not much going on there, either, so I went to the boat ramp and had a look.

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

I ended up at the Stockton Sandspit and went down to the water’s edge. There were a bunch of Eastern Curlews flying around and roosting near a pond. I thought they would have been gone by now to Siberia. Maybe they are late leavers.

Eastern Curlew
Eastern Curlew(Numenius madagascariensis)

There were also about fifty Bar-tailed Godwits still hanging around as well. They should have been off to Siberia as well. But there were the obligatory and argumentative Masked Lapwings that were carrying on as usual.

Masked Lapwing
Masked Lapwing(Vanellus miles)

About this time I saw the Brahminy Kite coming across from Fern Bay and flew towards the other side of the river. I was hoping he would turn back and do a sweep a bit closer to me, but he did not. I got a few photos, but they were a bit far away. There is always tomorrow. I carried on around the lagoon and saw a few Superb Fairy-wrens in the bushes on the way back.

Superb Fairy-wren
Superb Fairy-wren(Malurus cyaneus) – female

And at the car park I managed to snap this Caspian Tern.

Caspian Tern
Caspian Tern(Sterna caspia)

Bird Species List, 23/5/09

Gull-billed Tern
Little Black Cormorant
Eastern Curlew
Royal Spoonbill
Australian Pelican
Masked Lapwing
Black-winged Stilt
Pied Oystercatcher
Red-necked Avocet
Caspian Tern
Superb Fairy-wren
Brahminy Kite
Bar-tailed Godwit
Feral Pigeon(Rock Dove)

March 17, 2009

Bird Photography Stockton Ash Island 090316

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Bird Photography at Ash Island and Stockton , 16th March, 2009.

I went to Ash Island early in the morning and saw a Black-shouldered Kite along the road. He hovered and then dove into a field and flew off. I could not see if he caught any prey. Then down to the pools along Wagtail Way. There were heaps of the usual swallows so I practiced my Bird in Flight photography on them. Nothing came out all that good. The light was pretty low. I went around past the Railway line and then back towards Ramsar Road.

I spotted a Nankeen Kestrel on the way but it was too far away to get a decent shot. Then I headed around to a track off Ramsar Road to have a look at the White-fronted Chats who were once again posing with the bug in the bill. They are such posers, these birds. This one is a male. Notice the dark black band in front with the sharp edges. The male has also a dark black band over the head with distinct edges.

White-fronted Chat

The female White-fronted Chat has a greyish head without the distinctive black bar and the black front bar has not as sharp edges. Also the wing primaries are greyish, whereas they are dark black on the male.

White-fronted Chat

I left Ash Island and then drove to the Stockton side of the Hunter River, just past the wreck. There were about 8 Pacific Golden Plover. This group is distinctive from the group that hang out at the Kooragang Dykes. I took this photo to show the wing feathers.

Pacific Golden Plover

This one still has not got the breeding plumage yet.

Pacific Golden Plover

This Pacific Golden Plover is just starting to get some breeding plumage. Notice the black speckles down the front which will turn fully black with a white line from behind the ear down the sides of the chest.

Pacific Golden Plover

Well, thats about it for today. byeeee.. 🙂

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