Tuesday, 31 January 2012

On his own

Eastern Grey Kangaroos are most often seen in mobs where a dominant male controls the mob and has mating rights but at some stage a younger more virial male will challenge and if successful take over the mob. The ousted male sometimes hangs around on the fringe, but more often they become a solitary animal for the remainder of its life (about ten years life span in the wild). We have one large male spending quite a bit of time feeding near the house and this evening feeding on the grass just near my vegetable garden. (fenced in to keep them out)

These individual big males can be a danger if you show any aggressive moves towards them. as they do feel vunerable. Avoiding eye contact, walking away from them or past, with a head down posture will be less threatening and they will just keep on doing what they were doing. I had to keep two dogs from being injured or killed the other day, when they had a big male bailed up by the lakes edge where he had moved into the lake and the dogs were moving in after him. This is typical defence strategy by the kangaroo, as it will move further into the water and then when the dog attacks will hold it under and rip with the hind legs to disembowel, or at least drown the dog. So some rocks and sticks thrown by me sent the dogs off and the kangaroo waited awhile and then headed off to a quieter area.

Monday, 30 January 2012

Recovery time

Every now and then we have the problem of birds flying into windows and today a Yellow-faced Honeyeater crashed into the office window, right in front me as I was working on the computer.
 On checking I found the bird on the ground below the window looking very dazed, so I picked it up to check for obvious injury, but all seemed ok so it was placed on a low branch to allow a recovery period. It appeared to be a young bird and that seemed to be confirmed when another flew down to offer a grasshopper. Eating was not on its mind so it sat for some time then moved from branch to branch before flying off seemingly no worse for the experience.

Friday, 27 January 2012

More birds on the wire

Our power wires are favourite perches for many of our bird visitors, where they have a great vantage point to watch for insects. Today we had a family of Dusky Wood-swallows Artamus cyanopterus, perched on the wires and the adults were swooping on insects to bring back to the two youngsters, who were quite happy to wait on the wire for their food to be delivered.

The adults were on the move all the time and briefly coming to the wire to rest and look for the next insect, to then swoop down and bring back a snack for the youngsters.
These birds are migratory visitors to our area and at times arrive in considerable numbers, but this family is the first we have seen for some time. They range down the coastal areas of the east coast through to SE South Australia, Tasmania and also in southern WA.

Thursday, 26 January 2012

Under and over

Looking to get a photo of a Lewin Honeyeater this evening when I spotted a tree creeper on an adjacent tree and as I have been trying for ages to get a photo of a tree creeper it suddenly became the subject. Very difficult to get a good shot as they are constantly moving on the tree and generally on the side opposite to where you are. However I did manage to get a couple of shots but not of the quality I would have liked; still enough for me to identify the bird as a White-throated tree-creeper cormobates leucophaea.

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Grey & Bronze

A wet and windy storm last night, followed on from the previous day's downpour, so it was not a surprise to find a couple of birds today taking shelter under some tree cover. The first was spotted at breakfast when Di wondered what was the white bird she could see on a branch, on the edge of our nearest treeline. A quick look with the binoculars confirmed a reasonably rare visit by a Grey Goshawk Accipiter novaehollandiae. I took a long range photo and then hoped I could get a bit closer to get a better shot but a spooked wallaby hopped away causing the goshawk to take flight, so this is the best I could manage.

A little later in the morning I spotted another visitor hunckered down under the trees and again not seen that often; a Common Bronzewing Pigeon Phaps chalcoptera (I think an immature bird as it lacks the strong bronze markings on the wings). I took a few photos and then a little later spotted it again just outside the house busy feeding on grass seeds so manage a couple more photos although it was so busy feeding I couldn't get the shot I wanted without movement or some vegetation in the way, so had to make the best of what I had from about a dozen shots.


Saturday, 21 January 2012

Scarlet in name only

Taking on your partners's name sometimes leads to a name that does not seem appropriate, so  you may feel a bit sorry for Mrs scarlet honeyeater, who has a bright descriptive name that she can't match. However she does have a sweet call and to win her attention it is understandable that her partner has to be as showy as possible, so maybe she has the best of the deal.

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Bok Bok

"Bok Bok" is the call, or how we describe the call of the Stripe Marsh Frog Limnodynastes peronii, one of the most common frogs in our area and in fact right down the east coast and dividing range of Australia.
Warm weather and overnight rain brought them out in numbers and I had to rescue eight from the pool this morning.
The size of these frogs are smaller here, than the same species found around our house in Sydney and their call is not as loud. At one time in Sydney we had one that used to call from under our bedroom and the noise was enough to keep you awake. That was when we named them the Bok Bok frogs and it is how we still think of them. Their call has also been likened to hearing a tennis ball being soundly struck back and forth over the net.The colouring is quite variable and this specimen is one of the more strongly coloured as many are just varying shades of brown with their distinctive stripes.

Sunday, 15 January 2012

Attractive blotches

Describing something as blotched suggests an unattractive appearance, however in the case of the Blotched Hyacinth Orchid Dipodium punctatum the name is belied by the beautiful flowers, although technically a correct description.

We have many of these orchids appearing from early December through to February but quite often we don't get to see many come into flower as a very small  Agromyzid fly lays eggs in the scape and the interior is consumed by the larvae. The fly Melanagromyza dipoddii as you can guess gained the scientific name from being associated with the orchid, however it is also a pest which attacks bean crops. This year we have been fortunate to have quite a few plants get to full flower particularly this month. These leafless orchids are found throughout the eastern states in open woodland areas with substantial leaf litter covering the underground rhizome.

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

Chuffed with Choughs

A bird that visits every now and then, but always in a family group of around 8 to ten individuals, is the White-winged Chough corcorax melanorhamphus. They are one of the two Australian mudbuilders, so named for their nest which is a large mud bowl shape placed on a horizontal limb of a substantial tree. They are very social and the family group is usually seen striding through the leaf litter chatting away to each other as they search for food. They generally do a lot of walking punctuated with short flights from one feeding area to the next.

Although they have a superficial appearance to the European Chough, the White-winged Chough is not part of the crow family, although sometimes mistaken for crows or currawongs. The white part of their common name comes from the large white patch on the wings that is visible in flight. 
The chattering of the group today let me know they were around and they stayed long enough for a couple of quick shots. The one above as they are normally seen and the one below when it moved to a branch to do some preening.

Saturday, 7 January 2012

A huntsman dining

Huntsman spiders are quite common on our property and often find their way inside the house where they hide behind pictures, blinds, cupboards etc until they venture out to hunt usually at night. If spotted a quick ejection to the outside is usually demanded by the less enthralled by spiders.
Today I spotted one that had just run down its prey and was in the middle of its meal which kept it busy and not to worried about being in the open.

Holconia sp
Spiders in the Huntsman family Heteropodidae are widespread in Australia with 13 genera and some 94 described species, of which we have found a few but I am not all that certain of the specific species although more certain of the genera.
The prominent eight eyes, four on the top edge of the carapace and four on the front of the carapace provide excellent vision to enable the running down of their prey,
Prominent top four eyes and one of the front four just visible; note the fang on left


Thursday, 5 January 2012

Breeding plumage

The Pheasant Coucal Centropus phasianinus that is regularly in our south block is now in the breeding plumage and has been calling from the wattle thicket that is the preferred location, with good cover and long blady grass on the ground.

They are very wary birds that tend to drop into the long grass when they sense a threat and are then very difficult to locate. Fortunately today it just moved around in the wattles to give me a chance for photos before it flew off to more distant trees.


Sunday, 1 January 2012

New Year's Eve visitors

We had a visit early evening from a family of King Parrots Alisterus scapularis, male and female and their two offspring. These parrots are often visitors but usually in the tree tops and only occasionally venturing down to the veranda to check if there is any feed, but as we don't put food out it is generally a quick visit.

Adult female King Parrot

Adult male King Parrot
These beautiful large parrots frequent the forest areas down the east coast of Australia and have become regular visitors to many leafy suburban gardens, where people put out seed for birds.