Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Mt Crawford Forest Reserve

After much frustration, trial and error, success followed by failure, I've finally figured out the text wrap for around the images on this blog! =P Blogging will be much quicker from now on. Onto the good stuff...

I began my walk just before 9 this morning and stepping out of the car I was greeted with the sounds of white-throated treecreepers, sulphur crested cockatoos, grey fantails and crescent honeyeaters. A lovely mix ;)

The walk was perhaps not the best choice of location, as the first section of trail had me walking into the morning sun, so there wasn't much photography to be had and it was hard to see the birds. But there were plenty around and mistletoebirds, buff-rumped thornbills and striated pardalotes were all joining in the chorus. I spied a female golden whistler, silent and perched in the shadows, but I took her picture anyway. =)

 There was plenty of insect life about, with dragonflies hovering all over the place. Moving on, in a nice stand of eucalypts were a small flock of striated thornbills, and a pair of eastern spinebills, nectaring on the mistletoe which was on the tree. The cresecent honeyeaters had their work cut out for them, chasing away the eastern spinebill pair whenever they invaded too much onto their favourite patch.

The sound of a group of laughing kookaburras cut through the air as I continued my walk, and I paused to listen to them, wondering what it was that would have set them off, a pesky currawong perhaps? A white-throated treecreeper then took it upon itself to fly down close to me to have a peek, it chose the shadiest branch on the tree, but nevermind, I still managed a dark image which I can still share as a record. I have a fondness for the species as it was the first species of treecreeper that I ever saw.

A little up the track I was hearing superb fairy-wrens, but not seeing any. I came across a fantastic yellow dragonfly, probably an Austrogomphus with the species maybe being guerini, but I'm no expert =P It was a great looking dragonfly though.
I spent quite some time snapping away, to get a good focus on the little guy and what you see is what I ended up with. There were also plenty of butterflies around, which was great to see, most of them were common browns: Heteronympha merope, maybe common, but they're still beautiful.

The next species to grace me with its presence was a female crescent honeyeater, I was watching her for some time perching on a broken off branch of a eucalypt and and hovering to pluck insects from the bark. She then came down into a small shrub in front of me, which was (as seemed to be the theme of the day) deep in shadows. Still, I tried with what settings I had to grab a couple of shots, which didn't turn out great, but make a nice record. I do wonder why however, that it's always the females that approach me, and I hardly ever get near the males whose colours are more striking.

Shortly afterwards, I came across a small family of scarlet robins, both mum and dad were on feeding duty, but I couldn't quite determine if there was more than one youngster, it kept flying all around the place and I kept losing it in the scrub, but I think there was only one, only one appeared when the dad caught a nice tasty snack ;) I managed to snap a couple of photos of the youngster and dad together, but missed the action when he actually fed his youngin'. I then had a chance for a
great set up, dad was using a few obvious perches and I took my time and set myself up for a decent shot from a couple of them. I thought I had the settings right, dad landed and I fired off a series of shots. I overexposed quite a lot and ended up with hot whites on the branch and on his frons, but I managed to recover the image somewhat and you can see it below. It came out alright, but I'm mad at myself for having missed something easy that I was supposed to be ready for. But I guess that's all part of the learning curve.

That about sums up the walk I think, after my encounter with the robins I headed back for home, the only new things I encountered on my way back being a flock of white-winged choughs, but they spooked easily and a pair of emus, just going about their buisness. I also spied a male mistletoe bird that I heard on the way in for my walk but hadn't seen. He didn't stick around long though. So all up, not a hugely succesful day photography-wise, but always a lot of fun with plenty of birds to appreciate, and that's what it's all about.

Till next time, happy birding.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

First blog & Kaiserstuhl Cons. Park

Hello, and welcome to my birding blog. I'm hoping to keep this fairly updated, as I do go birdwatching quite frequently, and I don't keep track of it as much as I should. So this is here to help me keep track and to share it with anyone who's interested. If anyone is actually interested... :P There's a lot of experiences I've had birdwatching in the past that I would probably like to share, so I might add those every now and then in between other updates, perhaps if I haven't been birding in a while. But enough about that, time to get on with the first birding blog ;)

-Kaiserstuhl Conservation Park Feb 11th 2011.
One of my favourite parks in the barossa region, the single looped trail provides a great diversity of habitat and the recommended 1hr walking time often extends to 3 hours when I'm photographing birds, or at least trying to. My visit was restricted to an hour due to the rain that set in and the conditions all the while were overcast, it was sunny when I left home ;)

I was hoping to see the resident Sacred Kingfishers, as I'm quite fond of them, however they were nowhere to be found. The first species to find its way into my viewfinder was the lovely Striated Thornbill (Acanthiza lineata). Most thornbills are a challenge at the best of times, so what resulted was one or two record shots. Thornbill ID is also a challenge at the best of times without an image or clear view.

Despite the fact that it was after 10am when I arrived, the birds were very active and I found myself only entereing a small distance into the park and being surrounded by superb fairy-wrens, striated thornbills, striated pardalotes, adelaide roselllas, grey fantails, willy wagtails and a very curious white-throated treecreeper. The treecreeper was foraging on a tree in front of me and took off, heading straight for me, only to dodge at the last moment and perch on a branch only a couple of meters behind me. Unfortunately, for fear of scaring the bird, I only turned my torso and with my slow shutter speed and un-steady posture, the image came out quite blurry and is now just a sad reminder of a great opportunity that I missed. But I guess you can't win them all!

There was a beautiful male scarlet robin perched some distance away, but he was not inclined to be obliging for a photo. It seemed to be one of those days, where there was a lot of action, but nothing wanted its photo taken. The overcast conditions didn't help with that of course. This lovely lady fairy wren was just one of the unco-operative many.

One of my fun subjects for the walk, was this immature willy wagtail who seemed intent on checking out his little feet. He tilted his head this way, that way, all to get a better look.

There was a small flock of dusky woodswallows in the park, flying about an open area amongst a small flock of tree martins. The dusky woodswallows were a treat, as I don't see them often and there were quite a few immature birds present, but my record shots aren't worth sharing. Fortunately, I managed to make up for it to myself with some shots of brown-headed honeyeaters which were feeding quite low in the canopy and were quite inquisitive of me. A couple of individuals came quite close and I was able to snag a few shots, good lighting would have made me happy, but I was simply pleased to have seen them so close. It was when I was photographing them that the rain set in.

The trip was finished off nicely with a sighting of a couple of buff-rumped thornbills, foraging in some shrubs. I heard, but didn't see, rainbow bee-eaters and crescent honeyeaters. But for about an hour and only walking at most 100m, a list of 20 birds is decent and I had a good time :)