A longer visit to Ingham’s Tyto Wetlands was high on my wish-list after our very short visit on the way home from Mission Beach a couple of months ago.
The wish came true sooner than I had thought likely, as I managed to get there before 8 a.m. last Wednesday with no need to leave before mid-afternoon. Walking all the way around the main lagoon (at bird-watching pace) and exploring some of the side tracks occupied most of the morning very happily.
Birds were the main attraction, as usual – Willy Wagtails, Brown Honeyeaters and many others on land, with Black Ducks, Pygmy Geese, Grebes, Cormorants and Egrets among the water birds.
Strand Ephemera is a biennial event so this year’s iteration, 17 – 25 July, was the first of the COVID era. (That’s actually a rather startling thought. Was life really that different two years ago? Yes, it was.) We will therefore forgive it for being a little smaller than the others, being so grateful that it happened at all.
The weather has been so beautiful recently that sitting indoors to write blog posts is less appealing than wandering outside, with or without a camera.
Cairns Birdwing butterflies, Ornithoptera euphorion, are abundant here (because we grow their food plant) and always beautiful but we don’t often get a photo showing the upper wings of the males because they always (well, 99.99% of the time) shut their wings together while resting. Why? If they didn’t, they might as well be shouting, “Eat me!” to the birds. (Ulysses Swallowtails are the same, only more so. So are many other butterflies – bright in flight, camouflaged at rest.)
So here’s one I caught while he was hovering to feed, and again while resting.
Figbirds (Sphecotheres vieilloti) are rowdy gregarious fruit-eaters which visit our garden quite often – not for the fruit they are named for, because we haven’t got any big fig trees, but for the palm seeds.
A large group turned up a few days ago to feed on the Alexandra palm and stayed long enough to be photographed. Long enough, in fact, for a Bowerbird to join them and then wander off again.
Adult females and the young of both sexes are brownish with speckled bellies and grey eye-rings. Adult males are colourful, their red eye-ring and vivid yellow belly contrasting brilliantly with their olive-green back and black head. Young males grow through a transitional stage in which all the adult colours gradually show through the camouflage.