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Bird Log 18th August 2008

Today I went to the Stockton Sandspit - again. It is a good spot there because you get all the waders and water birds but also on the periphery in the scrub you can find fairy-wrens and a few other smaller birds. The most interesting part of the day was to see a heron eating a crab and then seeing the crabs that they are possibly eating. The crabs were semaphore crabs and I also saw some soldier crabs. I am beginning to become interested in what the bird are eating so my interests are expanding every day. Now I have to find out what lives in the estuary and what feeds on what.

Bird Species List

Superb Fairy-Wren

male superb fairy-wren
Camera settings were : 1/800 second, f/5.6, ISO800 with a 400 mm lens. The camera was a Canon 40D.

The Superb Fairy-wren has a scientific name of Malurus cyaneus. The above photo is of a breeding male superb fairy-wren. The males in eclipse are identified by their black beaks whilst the females have a pink beak. The male in eclipse in similar looking to the female, except the blue tail is shorter and the female has a browner tail.

superb fairy-wren
1/1600, f/5.6, iso100.
These little superb fairy-wrens were in the water having a bath and playing around. It was quite cute to see. I cannot tell if they are eclipse males or females, or both.

White-faced Heron

white-faced heron
Camera settings were : 1/1000 second, f/5.6, ISO800 with a 400 mm lens.

The White-faced Heron has a scientific name of Egretta novaehollandiae. The above photo shows a heron chomping on a little crab. A little later I saw all these crabs scurrying out of the holes around me so I took a photo of what I assume is a Semaphore Crab. I have recently seen photos of a heron in the USA eating a gopher! So who knows whate else they eat - probably whatever they can find.

semaphore crab
1/500, f/5.6, iso400
These little semaphore crabs were scurrying out of their holes at low tide. At high tide the mud flats are covered over so I do not know what they do when they are under water. The scientific name for the Semaphore Crab is Heloecius cordiformus. They are found on sandy mudflats in estuaries, beaches and inter-tidal mangroves. The semaphore crab scoops up sand and mud with their front claws and then sift through it for food. Birds and fish eat semaphore crabs.