Lovely weather for ducks!

We’ve had lovely weather for ducks in the last week – ever since I posted about last year’s rainfall, in fact, although I don’t think my post was the cause. I visited the Town Common on Wednesday morning and enjoyed sloshing around in intermittent drizzle before the really heavy rain started about 11 o’clock. Everything was beautifully green and the waterbirds were feeding happily.

cattle egrets on Town Common
Cattle Egrets and others under dark grey skies

Most of this group were Cattle Egrets – more precisely Eastern Cattle Egrets (Bubulcus coromandus) – which are pure white in non-breeding plumage and rufous in breeding plumage. The bigger pure white birds are Intermediate Egrets (Ardea intermedia).

I met an old friend who was very excited at seeing a Pied Heron amongst them – a really rare sighting, she said, but I had to admit that I don’t know enough about birds to fully appreciate the rarity. I did get a (bad) photo of the bird, however.

pied heron feeding with Cattle Egrets and Intermediate Egret
Pied Heron feeding with Cattle Egrets and Intermediate Egret

For better photos of the Pied Heron (Ardea picata), you could visit Birdway.

The other unusual sighting was a Jabiru aka Black-necked Stork, Ephippiorhynchus asiaticus, fully-grown but still in juvenile plumage.

jabiru immature and adult feeding
Immature Jabiru with an adult female

Also seen in this short trip: small flocks of Magpie Geese were moving around; a single White-faced Heron and a few White Ibis and Spur-winged Plovers amongst the Cattle Egrets; Crimson Finches, a greenish honeyeater and a Dollarbird near the Freshwater bird hide; a couple of terns; and (heard but not seen) a Pheasant Coucal (links are to older photos on this blog).

Ducks? I’m sure there were but I can’t remember them.

I think I will have to start making lists like real birders do.

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?”

A stroll up Mount Marlow

Perfect winter weather enticed fifteen walkers to join the Wildlife Queensland monthly excursion on the Sunday just past. The group met at the Freshwater bird hide (see Town Common map (pdf) if you’re not familiar with the park) at 9.00 and ambled along the causeway (someone called it a “dam wall”) to the foot of Many Peaks range near Bald Rock, then up to the top of Mount Marlow, the highest point of the range. I walked down it a year ago and commented that “I would rather go down it than up” but really, going up wasn’t too demanding. Continue reading “A stroll up Mount Marlow”

Unlikely friends: ants and butterflies

Hypolycaena phorbas male
Black-spotted Flash (male) perched on a green-ants’ nest

Walking back down the hill for Tegoora Rock lookout (previous post) I spotted a green-ant nest with – surprisingly – a butterfly perched on it. Living dangerously, surely? Perhaps not.

Continue reading “Unlikely friends: ants and butterflies”

Town Common after the floods

Town Common from Tegoora Rock
Town Common from Tegoora Rock lookout

The Town Common wetlands still have a fair bit of open water, two months after our big floods, but it is back to normal levels for this time of year – if there is such a thing as “normal” in our wildly variable climate, that is.

Continue reading “Town Common after the floods”