Birds in my new Townsville garden

Rainbow Lorikeets and Blue-faced Honeyeaters
Rainbow Lorikeets and Blue-faced Honeyeaters feeding on a palm flower

One of the reasons for the long gap in activity on Green Path was that we were moving house. We are still in Mundingburra, and still between Ross River and Ross River Road, but our new garden is quite different so it will attract different birds and insects.

The new garden is dominated by palms instead of huge mango, poplar gum and paperbark trees. Continue reading “Birds in my new Townsville garden”

A riverside ramble

damselfly
Damselfly resting on a creeper on the ground.

Yesterday afternoon’s beautiful weather persuaded me to leave my useful-but-tedious work for an hour or two to ride to Aplin’s Weir, leave the bike under a tree and walk upstream between the bike path and the water (still on the Mundingburra side of the river). It’s quite a wide, rich zone in that stretch of Ross River’s parkland, with a broad backwater, swampy areas and an unmade walking track under mature trees – a bit of everything for the local wildlife and (therefore) for a casual naturalist/photographer like myself. I came home relaxed and with a good haul of photos. I have started with an insect so I will continue with invertebrates before getting to the birds.

Purple dragonfly perching on a tangle of dead creepers
Purple dragonfly perching on a tangle of dead creepers

These gorgeous purple dragonflies, Rhyothemis princeps, were abundant in sunlit spots along the path, and I saw quite a few smaller blue dragonflies as well as damselfllies like the one at the top of the page.

brown butterfly on dead leaves
A Bush-brown butterfly well disguised in the leaf litter
blue-black butterflies
Blue Tigers in deep shade

Butterflies were also abundant. Smaller species like this Orange Bush Brown (“Bush Brown” is a family name; there is also a “Dingy Bush Brown”) and the bright Grass Yellows (Eurema species) were flitting about at shin height, with Crows (Euploea) and others at head height and above. I walked through one large aggregation of Blue Tigers (Tirumala hamata) over-wintering in the kind of moist, shady area they like, and was reminded of a similar group of Crows I found on the Town Common at this time of year in 2012 – see this photo on Flickr. There were far more than I caught in my photo, by the way – they were scattered over a few square metres.


long-legged fly on leaf
Cranefly

This cranefly is not the species I’m most familiar with, the Tiger Cranefly (Nephrotoma australasiae) but one of the other 700-odd (!) species in the family Tipulidae. It’s just a little larger than the Tiger Cranefly, meaning it has a body length of about 15mm and a leg span of perhaps 60 – 80 mm. I didn’t see as many birds as I had expected but enjoyed watching the Jacana foraging on the backwater. I have not zoomed in on it in the photo below because I wanted to show just how mucky its preferred habitat can be: near-stagnant water full of rotting lilies and other plants, algae and all sorts of things we would generally not want to wade around in or (if we had feet like a jacana) on. It’s full of highly nutritious food, though, and that counts for a lot.


small brown bird on weedy lagoon
Comb-crested Jacana foraging on the backwater

Other birds sighted on the walk were a Brown Honeyeater, a Pied Cormorant on the river, Welcome Swallows hunting over the water and a Forest Kingfisher looking for a late-afernoon snack:

kingfisher on paperbark branch
Forest Kingfisher

Birds of Rainsby

Rainsby is the Western Queensland cattle grazing property I visited over Easter and described here. There were lots of birds and I managed to capture a good number of species with my camera, though not all at a quality I would inflict on innocent browsers.

The species fell neatly into two groups with little overlap. The lightly timbered grassland around the house supported one group, Torrens Creek had all the waterbirds, and the birds of prey (at least two species) soared high above both areas. Small photos on this page are linked to larger versions, as are most of the photos on Green Path – as usual, just click on them.

Around the house

A flock of Crested Pigeons in dead trees
A flock of Crested Pigeons in dead trees near the house

Below:
• Crested Pigeon, Ocyphaps lophotes
• Black-faced Woodswallow, Artamus cinereus
• Yellow-throated Miner, Manorina flavigula
• Red-backed Kingfisher, Todiramphus pyrrhopygius
• Willie-wagtail, Rhipidura leucophrys

Crested pigeon
Crested pigeon
Black-faced Woodswallow, Artamus cinereus
Black-faced Woodswallow
Yellow-throated Miner, Manorina flavigula, on hibiscus
Yellow-throated Miner
Red-backed Kingfisher, Todiramphus pyrrhopygius
Red-backed Kingfisher
Red-backed Kingfisher, Todiramphus pyrrhopygius
Red-backed Kingfisher
Willie-wagtail
Willie-wagtail

I also saw Magpies, Magpie-larks, Galahs and Hawks (Black Kites, I think, and one that may have been a Peregrine Falcon) but don’t have satisfactory photos for one reason or another.

Beside the creek

Herons perched on dead branch
Three kinds of heron on one high branch: White-necked Herons, a White-faced Heron, and a juvenile Nankeen Night Heron

The photo above is a somewhat fluky capture of three species of heron together – two White-necked Heron, Ardea pacifica; a White-faced Heron, Ardea novaehollandiae; and a young Nankeen Night Heron, Nicticorax caledonicus. For good measure, there was an adult Nankeen Night Heron on the branch below these four but it was obscured by leaves and therefore cropped out of the image.

Chicks in nest
Nestlings

There were lots of nests in the trees along the banks of the creek and in one of them, just above our picnic spot, I noticed two large but still very immature nestlings. I’m not at all sure of their identity but they must belong to one of the larger species – White-necked Heron or Australian Darter, Anhinga melanogaster, perhaps.

Australian Darter
Female Australian Darter

Very late in the afternoon I saw a pair of Pale-headed Rosellas, Platycercus adscitus, flying in to a big old gum tree on the far bank of the creek and enter what was obviously their nesting hole. I would have loved a photo but unfortunately there wasn’t enough light.