Who knew that Bazas shelled their grasshoppers?

Pacific Bazas, also known as Crested Hawks, are beautiful birds of prey which are uncommon enough to call for a photo at every opportunity. We saw one in the Quarantine Station picnic grounds at Pallarenda on Friday as it flew up to perch in a tree.

From behind, we could see its head jerking up and down as it tore at prey which it was holding against its perch; from in front, I was able to get photos showing us what it was doing. It was carefully shelling a Giant Grasshopper in exactly the way we would shell a prawn, and for the same reason: to avoid the crunchy bits.

Pacific Baza with prey
Baza with lunch

Continue reading “Who knew that Bazas shelled their grasshoppers?”

Mound-builder at work

black bird on mound of leaves
Male Scrub Turkey on his mound

I thought that the Scrub Turkeys I saw at Pallarenda and mentioned so cursorily in my previous post deserved a little more attention because one of them was working so hard.

He (and it was he, not she, since the males build the mounds) was well into the construction of a nesting mound on the edge of the little park just before the gate to the Conservation Park and old Quarantine Station. He already had a mound two or three metres across and kept on working in spite of people and cars moving around nearby.

I saw two or three more Scrub Turkeys in the uncleared area in the background, just across the road (presumably at least one will have been a female), but I didn’t see any on the Town Common proper although there may well have been some.

black bird kicking leaves higher on the mound
Mound-builder in action

One morning at Pallarenda

walkers on the beach, with rubbish bags.
Beach clean-up at Pallarenda

The weather was lovely, in a tropical kind of way, on Sunday and the beach clean-up and Celebrate the Sea festival went ahead as planned. I didn’t see all of it but all that I saw was relaxed, friendly and very well run. The clean-up, part of the Clean Up Australia Day programme, began early and teams at seven locations between Rowes Bay and Pallarenda collected bags of rubbish from the (already idyllic) beach. A preliminary guesstimate of the number involved was “in the hundreds”, which I thought was pretty good.

Most of them then spent a while at the Celebrate the Sea festival, buying a cold drink and a snack, browsing the stalls displaying the work of community groups, and giving the children some time on the playground equipment or with the entertainers – face-painting, music, etc. I picked up a lot of useful information from the stalls and I will pass some of it on through Green Path when time permits.

tents in the Pallarenda park
Celebrate the Sea – late morning, after many participants had drifted off
audience on the grass outside an open tent
The Hands On Wildlife presentation, here with a baby croc, drew a crowd
workers under a tree with rubbish bags
Meanwhile, workers behind the scenes sorted the rubbish

Congratulations to the organisers, NQ Dry Tropics (FB: http://www.facebook.com/volunteering.drytropics)