Steve Happ Photography Ramblings and dissertations

December 15, 2009

Tomago Wetlands 091215

Filed under: Birds — Tags: , , , — admin @ 5:49 am

Tomago Wetlands Wader Survey

It was lucky I remembered the survey today. I just remembered last night late. This morning I got up nice and early and headed off to Ash Island to have a look at the pond on the corner to see if there were any crakes or rails hanging around. The pond had no water at all in it. There was a crake but I was not paying attention and by the time that I saw it, it had shot off into the reeds. I walked over the hard-baked mud that was the pond to have a closer look at the reeds and to see what was around the corner. Not much, as it turned out except a couple of Australian Reed-warblers.

So, I gave that a miss and headed off to the rendezvous at Tomago House. Whilst waiting there were a pair of Dollarbirds that were flying in and out of a nest in a hollow. There were a few magpies flapping around and a single Channel-billed Cuckoo flew past screeching its hideous lament. Eventually we all set off to the Tomago Wetlands and stopped at the water sluices or gates. There was hardly anything around. Not a skerrick. We usually see some Mistletoebirds, Brown Honeyeaters, Yellow-faced Honeyeaters and thornbills but they were all conspicuous by their absence.

We headed off down to the rice paddy to see what was in that. A few of us walked through the middle of the paddock to flush any snipe or bitterns. But there was nothing. It was very dry, but. So that may have had something to do with the lack of birds. We did however manage to see some Golden-headed Cisticolas. This one looks like he slipped and almost fell flat on his face. Whoops!

Woops!
Golden-headed Cisticola (Cisticola exilis)

After that lame escapade we went around to the far western paddock and had a look at that. There were a few Swamp Harriers and a Black-shouldered Kite hovering overhead, as well as about a hundred or so White-throated Needletails who were wheeling above us hunting for some brunch.

White-throated Needletail
White-throated Needletail (Hirundapus caudacutus)

There was not much else. While the beaters walked through the scrub, I sat down for a rest, and nearly fell asleep. That is how exciting it was today!

Well, at least we did see a few birds this morning and here is my list:

Tomago Wetlands bird list 15/12/09

Australian Magpie
Dollarbird
Masked Lapwing
White-faced Heron
Channel-billed Cuckoo
Eastern Rosella
Chestnut Teal
White-bellied Sea-eagle
Swamp Harrier
Black-shouldered Kite
Little Grassbird
Australian Reed-warbler
Cattle Egret
Superb Fairy-wren
White-throated Needletail
Australian White Ibis
Fairy Martin
Willy Wagtail

August 19, 2009

Tomago Bird Photography 090818

Filed under: Birds — Tags: , — admin @ 2:49 am

Tomago Wetlands Bird Photography, 18th August, 2009.

I went to the monthly Tomago Wetlands bird survey this morning. We all met up at Tomago House, then drove into the wetlands. At Tomago House we spotted an Australian Hobby on one of the tall pine trees. We stopped at the tidal gates and saw some Brown Honeyeaters, Red-browed Finch and Mistletoebirds going in and out amongst the casuarina and mangrove trees.

Then we took off to the rice paddy to do our usual circle around it. We had a good look for some Southern Emu-wren and had some fleeting glimpses of a few, as well as some Golden-headed Cisticola. We did manage to spot a Fan-tailed Cuckoo off to the south.

Fan-tailed Cuckoo
Fan-tailed Cuckoo(Cacomantis flabelliformis)

A few of the crew walked into the swampy middle bit and flushed an Australasian Bittern. These birds are listed as vulnerable and we eventually saw 4 of them.

We had been hearing Yellow-tailed Black-cockatoos all morning and eventually we saw about half a dozen of them roosing way off to the west. There were a lot of Australian White Ibis and Straw-necked Ibis hanging around together in large groups on the ground.

Straw-necked Ibis
Straw-necked Ibis (Threskiornis spinicollis)

We did manage to spot some Fairy Martin (Hirundo ariel) who were flying around. The diagnostic features for the Fairy Martin are a rufous head, whitish rump and square tail. They were said to be possibly nesting in pipes at bridges.

After the obligatory birdwatchers morning tea at the tidal gates, we went to the eastern section of the wetlands. Straight away we saw a pair of Nankeen Kestrels hovering and hunting over the field. We thought that it was an adult and a young one being taught how to hunt. You could hear their cry of “kee, kee” quite clearly.

We also saw a Whistling Kite displaying and a pair of Swamp Harriers were soaring over us as well. There were so many raptors around. We just had to look up and see something. In all we saw five species of raptors – White-bellied Sea-eagle, Australian Hobby, Swamp Harrier, Nankeen Kestrel and Whistling Kite. Back at the casuarinas, an Olive-backed Oriole was singing the most beautiful songs. I thought it was a Noisy Friarbird until I saw him. It was glorious.

Olive-backed Oriole
Olive-backed Oriole (Oriolus sagittatus)

Tomago bird list 18/8/09

Brown Honeyeater
White-bellied Sea-eagle
Australian Hobby
Swamp Harrier
Nankeen Kestrel
Whistling Kite
Australian Magpie
Magpie-lark
Australian Raven
Little Black Cormorant
Little Pied Cormorant
Australian White Ibis
Straw-necked Ibis
Red-browed Finch
Superb Fairy-wren
Southern Emu-wren
Mistletoebird
Australasian Bittern
White-faced Heron
Masked Lapwing
Golden-headed Cisticola
Fairy Martin
Welcome Swallow
Grey Fantail
Willy Wagtail
Grey Shrike-thrush
Silvereye
Australian Pipit
Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike
Fan-tailed Cuckoo
Yellow-tailed Black-cockatoo
Olive-backed Oriole

July 21, 2009

Tomago Wetlands 090721

Filed under: Birds — Tags: , — admin @ 9:55 am

Bird Photography at Tomago Wetlands, 21st July, 2009.

This morning I went to the Tomago Wetlands, which are adjacent to the Hunter River on the northern side. I guess it is almost opposite Ash Island. We had to go in via a roundabout route and it was a bit muddy, but we managed to get through all right. We stopped at the flood gates and saw a Mistletoebird and a few Silvereye. We also saw a Fan-tailed Cuckoo in the same general area.

Fan-tailed Cuckoo
Fan-tailed Cuckoo (Cacomantis flabelliformis)

We turned off towards what is called the rice paddy and followed the levee banks around the paddock. We saw some Golden-headed Cisticola and Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike. A couple of people walked through the field and flushed a couple of Australasian Bittern (Botaurus poiciloptilus). A Black-shouldered Kite was hovering to the east and there was a Swamp Harrier hovering around at times. We completed the circuit of the “rice paddy” and walked up the road a bit and then turned back.

After that, we went to a field further around to the east and went for a walk around the wet fields. We only saw a few Golden-headed Cisticola, an Australian Magpie and a pair of Australian Pipit. Back at the start of the field, we spotted a couple of Grey Butcherbirds, some Striped Honeyeaters, a few Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike and an Olive-backed Oriole. There were a few raptors wheeling about high in the air – a Brown Falcon, Swamp Harrier and a White-bellied Sea-eagle.

Well that was about it for the day. Quite a good day for spotting birds, seeing it is in the middle of winter. My photos were not so great so I was not impressed with that, but I had an enjoyable day out. After a nice feed, I went for a surf at Bar Beach. At around mid-day the temperature was about 21 degrees Celsius. Nice and hot for winter.

Tomago Wetlands Bird Species List, 21/7/09

Masked Lapwing
White-faced Heron
Grey Fantail
Superb Fairy-wren
Variegated Fairy-wren
Australian Raven
Mistletoebird
Silvereye
Shining Bronze-cuckoo
Fan-tailed Cuckoo
Willy Wagtail
Golden-headed Cisticola
Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike
Galah
Australasian Bittern
Australian White Ibis
Brown Honeyeater
Striped Honeyeater
Grey Butcherbird
Australian Magpie
Swamp Harrier
Black-shouldered Kite
Brown Falcon
White-bellied Sea-eagle
(H = Heard)
Little Grassbird (H)
Grey Shrike-thrush (H)

March 17, 2009

Bird Photography Tomago 090317

Filed under: Birds — Tags: , , , , , — admin @ 5:34 am

Bird Photography at Tomago Wetlands, 17th March, 2009.

Today I went with the HBOC survey group to Tomago Wetlands. This is the second time I have been to Tomago Wetlands. The first time it was very dry. The weather was clear with sunny skies and a temperature of about 24 degrees Celsius. But, the big news is that I have seen four, count them 4, new bird species, with photos. The other big news is that it was officially raptor day at Tomago, with no less than than ten raptors seen during the morning. Australian Hobby, Black-shouldered Kites, Swamp Harrier, and Whistling Kites. As soon as I pulled up in the car, there was an Australian Hobby right where we met up.

So off we went into the wetlands and stop near the gates where we saw a heap of birds in the Casuarina trees. And the first new bird was a Shining bronze-cuckoo(Chrysococcyx lucidus). It may be also called a Golden Bronze-Cuckoo, but I am not sure about that.

Shining Bronze-cuckoo

Up towards the river was a Male Mistletoebird(Dicaeum hirundinaceum). I think there may have been a female one, but I am unsure about that. First time seen for me.

Mistletoebird

The next new bird was Dicrurus bracteatus, the spangled drongo. This bird is very easy to spot with its distinctive bifurcated tail.

Spangled Drongo

Along the flats there were a lot of grassbirds, Golden-headed Cisticolas and some Southern Emu-wren. We managed to disturb a Latham’s Snipe(Gallinago hardwickii) which took off into the air and flew quite a ways, more than they usually do.

Latham's Snipe

Going back to the parking spot, we spotted a couple of Whistling Kites(Haliastur sphenurus) and here is one of them.

Whistling Kite

So all in all it was a great day for me with four new birds – Shining Bronze-cuckoo, Spangled Drongo, Mistletoebird, and Latham’s Snipe.

Bird Species List for Tomago Wetlands, 17/3/09

Australian Hobby
Black-shouldered Kite
Whistling Kite
Swamp Harrier
yellow-faced Honeyeater
Southern Emu-wren
Shining Bronze-cuckoo
Spangled Drongo
Mistletoebird
Golden-headed Cisticola
Latham’s Snipe

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