Thursday, 31 December 2015

To end the year……….

The last day of 2015.  Another hot day to end the year, 37oC forecast and it is 36 as I write this at 1pm. I often ponder on days like this how our feathered friends, especially the small birds, manage to survive the heat. I guess while some do indeed survive the reality is that many must perish on the extreme days or run of days. Of course the high summer temperatures in East Gippsland are nothing compared with inland Australia. 

Imagine 50 plus degree days, day after day, on sand dunes in the Simpson Desert for example. How do tiny Ayrean Grasswrens and other small birds survive these blistering temperatures sheltering in cane-grass on the dune tops? Perhaps they seek refuge down burrows excavated by other dune inhabitants? As we shelter in the cool of our dwellings and air conditioned cars, spare a thought for our feathered friends over the summer period.

To end 2015 here are some miscellaneous photos from November and December that did not make it into blog posts – the brief caption notes explain the photos.

Click on images to enlarge.

Musk Lorikeet, blossom nomads, in Callistemon citrinus (Common Bottlebrush) at Canni Creek Racecourse. The Bottlebrush had a prolific flowering in early November when this photo was taken.
Shining Bronze-Cuckoo at Fairy Dell Flora Reserve – a hard species to find for photographs as they are nest parasites and so are not found in breeding territories – one must rely on chance encounters – this one was found at Fairy Dell in mid November while trying to photograph an equally elusive Red-browed Treecreeper.
Red-browed Treecreeper – a very hard species to find in East Gippsland compared with the very common and usually obvious White-throated Treecreeper. This one was gleaning food from the bark of a Mountain Grey Gum. It flew up the trunk stopping at points of interest as most of the bark is too smooth to get a grip – Red-browed Treecreepers tend to exploit smooth gum barked trees whereas White-browed Treecreepers stick to the rough barked Eucalypts.
Female White-browed Treecreeper at a nest hollow with advanced young in late November.
Female removing a faecal sack from the nest.
Striated Fieldwren singing loudly while perched on top of a small tree at Hollands Landing on the Gippsland Lakes – it pays to keep an eye on the sky when you are small, vulnerable and prominent. It was mid November and this bird was almost certainly a male defending territory.
Black-shouldered Kite in mid November heading to a nest near Hollands Landing on the Gippsland Lakes with a native rat to feed her young. Note the belly feathers and tail are dirty from brooding young and working hard to supply food – indicating this is the female – the females do
all of the brooding.
Pacific Golden Plover – a summer migrant in non breeding plumage – this one was found alone on sand islands in Jones Bay on the Gippsland Lakes in mid November.
A few weeks later four birds were found in the same area.

 The following five photos are a sequence showing a Laughing Kookaburra capturing a crab on Cunninghame Arm at Lakes Entrance on the Gippsland Lakes in late November.

Laughing Kookaburra on power line. It spent quite some time sizing up a prey item in tussocks beside a channel at the east end of Cunninghame Arm.
The camera was getting heavy when the bird finally made the plunge to prey below.
Breaking the descent just above the tussocks.
Lifting from the tussocks with a crab in its bill.
It took some time, but eventually the crab was swallowed claws and all.
Red-capped Plover, adult male on sand islands in Jones Bay on the Gippsland Lakes in late November – I have plenty of Red-capped photos but always find it hard to resist yet one or two more shots of this attractive endemic shorebird.
Red-capped Plover chick.
A few Banded Stilts feeding among over 1000 Red-necked Avocets on the northern section of Jones Bay on the Gippsland Lakes in early December.
Note one of the banded stilts is a juvenile, it has no band.
Something spooked the Avocets and all one thousand + birds rose progressively including the Banded Stilts which were among the last to rise. I managed to track the Banded Stilts for a few seconds and get a reasonably focused photo of the Stilts among the Avocets.
I soon lost the Banded Stilts among the mass of Avocets – this is just a small section of the Avocets in flight. They circled around and soon decided this was a false alarm and settled back
onto the water again.
Every year in late spring a pair of Dollarbirds arrive in our area at Sarsfield for the summer. They usually raise some young before heading back north again to their winter abode
north of Australia in the tropics.
Dollardbirds hunt their insect prey in the air. They perch from high often dead limb vantage points to look for flying insects and when one is spotted they launch out with long slow wing beats. They are not fast and nimble like Woodswallows and Rainbow Bee-eaters which employ a similar hunting strategy. They have a large wing area as this photo shows.
Black-faced Monarch, a regular summer migrant to rainforest and wet gullies in East Gippsland. This one was photographed at the Fairy Dell Flora Reserve in the Lilly-pilly rainforest gully on Christmas morning, one of my last bird photos for 2015.

Thank you for following my blog posts, I hope you have seen at least some of my 2015 posts and enjoyed the photos and associated notes and observations.

Best wishes for a rich and rewarding birding year in 2016.

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