Friday, July 30, 2010

Stockton Channel


There was not a cloud in the sky for about an hour this morning, then the gloom descended again. Everything is green, however and bursting into flower. Brown and White-cheeked Honeyeaters, Silvereyes, Yellow Thornbills, Red-browed Finches, Grey Fantails, and Willie Wagtails, were among our walking companions.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Stockton Sand Spit

Two Pacific Golden Plovers have remained at the Stockton Sand-spit for the winter.  Usually the birds arrive in September and head off for the Alaskan Breeding Grounds in April. The bird in dark breeding colours had an injured leg, and the other appeared to be a juvenile.

In Australia Pacific Golden Plovers usually occur on beaches, mudflats and sandflats in sheltered areas including harbours, estuaries and lagoons. Important sites for the species within Australia are Broome, Moreton Bay, Shallow Inlet Marine Park, the Coroong, and the Hunter River Estuary.

They have one of the longest migration routes of any bird, along the East Asia-Australasian Flyway, and much of it is over open ocean with no opportunity for food or rest. It no longer seems surprising that these two stayed put.
BTW The collective noun for a group of plovers is a ‘deceit’.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Myuna Bay


Scaly-breasted Lorikeet


Rainbow Lorikeet


Musk Lorikeet


Eastern Rosella

Flowering trees brought out the nectar and pollen feeders, and the banksias and eucalypts were filled with colour and noise.

Lorikeets are brightly coloured parrots of the family. Six species are found in Australia. They travel in small, swift flocks which attract attention with their piercing calls. The birds locate the blossom by sight and by the calls of other birds already feeding. When food is abundant, large numbers gather in the blossoms and foliage, clamouring noisily.

They are attracted to home feeders however well meant treats based on sugar, honey or jam are leading to the birds’ early deaths from necrotizing enteritis, a disease associated with an inadequate diet, and psittacine beak and feather disease (PBFD) which is spread through poor hygiene at feeders.

The only feeding method recommended by the National Parks and Wildlife Service is to plant a variety of flowering native shrubs, such as grevilleas, callistemon (bottlebrushes) and banksias, in the garden.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Hi Fert


Bar-shouldered Dove


White-browed Scrub Wren

Back on our home turf at HiFert on Kooragang Island, the dogs happily followed scent trails on the grass while the scrub wrens scolded from the bitou bush. The resident group of bar-shouldered doves had found spilled grain by the side of the road, and a group of around thirty red-browed firetails satisfied themselves with grass seeds.

The male superb-fairy wrens were resplendent in their breeding plumage. Willie-wagtails and grey fantails were hawking for insects, and yellow thornbills and silvereyes hid in the casuarinas. Brown honeyeaters and a single red wattlebird called from the banksias.

A young white-bellied sea eagle cruised overhead, little inconvenienced by the screeches of the masked-lapwing. White and straw-necked ibis pecked over the boggy areas.

Over the river were great crested terns, silver gulls and Australian pelicans while little pied and little black cormorants floated on the surface.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Tighes Hill


I was working at home today when a flock of around eighty little corellas flew in with their characteristic clamour. They took turns ripping flowers from the big paperbark on the bank of the creek and then left as suddenly as they arrived.

Monday, July 19, 2010

San Joaquin Marsh

June was a rather miserable month to be birding in Orange County, birds were few and far between and the constant fog/smog/gloom took the pleasure out of being outdoors and complicated photography. Still my primary purpose for being there was work, and the second was to catch up with family, so perfect birding conditions would have caused a severe conflict of interest.

The last couple of days before I returned home things started to improve with the gloom lifting earlier in the day, and signs that shorebirds were starting to return south. The first arrivals were adult birds in breeding plumage. Small groups of sandpipers, godwits, whimbrels and plovers were foraging on the mudflats, nervously establishing their rights to a patch.

IMG_8763_1  IMG_8032_1


Wednesday, July 14, 2010

San Joaquin Wildlife Sanctuary

Tree Swallow

I fly home tonight. Today, the last day of my trip, was the very first day that I woke to sunshine. So I made time for one last trip up Jamboree Road to the San Joaquin Sanctuary. I had a great morning's birding - it made up for the miserable conditions for the rest of the trip, almost.

A highlight was when I was snapping a pair of Tree Swallows returning to feed young in a nest box, and a ranger came up to band the baby birds. There were two young, twelve days old.

The Tree Swallow, Tachycineta bicolor, is migratory, breeding in North America and wintering in Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean. They nest in natural or artificial cavities near water and readily use nest boxes.

They also swoop people straying too close to their nests like miniaturised Australian Magpies.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Orange County

We have had a few minor tremors over the last week or so, but today had a significant shake. An earthquake measuring 5.4 on the moment magnitude scale struck at around 5:00 pm centered near Palm Springs in southern California at a depth of 8.7 miles (14km). This is on the San Jacinto fault. There were apparently no injuries or significant damage to property, though residents reported shattered windows and items falling off shelves. At least 60 aftershocks have been recorded, with the largest measuring at a magnitude of 3.6. The experts expect more aftershocks over the next day or so.

At the time I was editing photos from my excursion to the Tucker Wildlife Sanctuary.

Ground Squirrel
California Towhee

Black-headed Grosbeak.

Oak Titmouse

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Tucker Wildlife Sanctuary

Acorn Woodpecker

The gloom has deteriorated into precipitation, so I headed for the Tucker Sactuary in Silverado where you can sit, warm and dry, on the bird porch and watch the birds come down to the variety of feeders and the native vegetation. The Acorn Woodpeckers were collecting peanuts from the feeders and taking them away and hammering them into the cracks in trees and telegraph poles. I guess they didn't trust the rangers to keep the feeders stocked.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

William R. Mason Regional Park

At one time known as University Park, Mason Park is tucked into the University of California, Irvine campus. It has two distinct areas, one with lawns, cultivated gardens and a large artificial lake I walked some days go, the other a 'wilderness' park. The marine layer seemed to be breaking up at lunchtime so I headed to Irvine to find blue skies. Anticipating another day of gloom, I had made a mani-pedi appointment so I only had a couple of hours, but managed to see some good birds in the time, and even to get photos of a few.

Broad paved paths made walking easy, but the dense shrubs on either side helped the birds stay out of view, and I heard a number of birds I couldn't identify. But there were a group of Lesser Goldfinch eating thistle seeds, several Pacific Slope Flycatchers hawking from a vine covered tree, and Common Yellowthroat feeding young in the reeds.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

San Joaquin Wildlife Sanctuary

I'm getting pretty tired of the "June gloom". Dim light, white skies and an atmospheric soft focus filter take a lot of the fun out of bird photography, and by the time the skies start to clear at three or four in the afternoon, all self-respecting birds are napping deep in the shrubbery.

Bird List:

Pied-billed Grebe
American White Pelican
Double-crested Cormorant
Great Blue Heron
Great Egret
Green Heron
Turkey Vulture
Green-winged Teal
Ruddy Duck
California Quail
Common Moorhen
Black-necked Stilt
American Avocet
Caspian Tern
Least Tern
Black Skimmer
Morning Dove
White-throated Swift
Anna’s Hummingbird
Allen’s Hummingbird
Black Phoebe
Western Kingbird
Warbling Vireo
American Crow
Common Raven
House Wren
Northern Mockingbird
European Starling
Spotted Towhee
California Towhee
Song Sparrow
Red-winged Blackbird
Brown-headed Cowbird
House Finch
Lesser Goldfinch