Steve Happ Photography Ramblings and dissertations

May 30, 2009

Hunter Wetlands Centre 090530

Filed under: Birds — Tags: , , — admin @ 7:21 am

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

Filed under: Birds — Tags: , , , — admin @ 4:45 am

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 9, 2009

Whistling Kite 090509

Filed under: Birds — Tags: , , — admin @ 9:24 am

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.

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