Friday, 13 February 2015

Tall Tales and Small Tails

Australia boasts some 828 species of birds ranging from rather plain to very colourful. There is also a large range in size however, where the largest Emu can reach a total length of 2m and the smallest Weebill is as small as 8cm!

I recently caught up with both of these birds…



Sunday, 8 February 2015

Lifers from Lamington

* Regent Bowerbird
During late August/early September of 2014 I was fortunate to be able to visit Queensland's Lamington National Park on two separate occasions with two separate friends. One a childhood friend Ben, who fixes helicopters and the other a Facebook friend Trevor, turned trusted friend. Both are extremely kind  and generous people and both took it upon themselves to take me to O'Reilly's Rainforest Retreat.

The first visit with Ben was full of reminiscing about what our Dads achieved in the Wild Life Service of old Rhodesia and their pioneering work in the environmental education field, not to mention the mischief that we got up to. When we reached the retreat we were impacted by the views and variety of bird life . By far the most striking was the Regent Bowerbird, a 'lifer' (or first time sighting) for me and not the first!
* Regent Bowerbirds

They were bold and fearless birds, happy to alight on various parts or extensions of our body such as camera lenses. A few even joined me for a short lesson from my Birds of Australia app  on my phone!  An Instagram friend had mentioned the probable whereabouts of another species I'd been wanting to see my entire birding life and sure enough after some patient waiting and observation we found ourselves within a few metres of  a beautiful Noisy Pitta.

Noisy Pitta

Ben also kindly sent me along to the bird of prey presentation at the centre. Representing various Australian raptors, it was a professional affair. A visit to the restaurant satisfied our  hungry appetites before returning down the mountain.

Black Kite
Trevor is an extremely talented and experience photographer but also an unselfish gentleman. He gave me a day I shall not forget, leaving all of his own camera gear behind and bringing his expertise and willingness to share some of his secret gems. Whilst following his favourite footpaths and fording streams he showed me footprints, fungi, buttress roots and bird nests and you guessed it, a few more 'lifers'. Among these, the Paradise Riflebird and Australian Logrunner.

Australian Logrunner (Orange throated female)
During our Queensland visit I saw ten new bird species (or 'lifers') but Lamington left me with longing sense of return and I would strongly recommend a visit if you are ever in a position to do so - bird enthusiast or not.
Paradise Riflebird

Enjoy your birding

* Thank you to Ben for taking the photo's of me and the Regent Bowerbird

Tuesday, 3 February 2015

Today's technology and tracking

My Dad was a tracking instructor and he taught me many interesting things about wildlife and how to find it. Today however, things are a little different; just last week and ex-work colleague sent me a set of co-ordinates pin pointing the whereabouts of a family of Southern Boobook owls in the You Yangs Regional Park just west of Melbourne. The owls were no longer in the nest so there was no guarantee that they would still be there.

Having a glimmer of hope and time on my hands I set off armed with camera, smart phone and GPS. As my technological prowess is a little less advanced than some, I ambled around in circles for a while but before long aligned the dots on my screen and found myself under the very tree that my friend had been under just three days before. To my excitement when I looked up there were three little faces looking down at me, the modern day intruder armed with binoculars and camera, and yes, my tracking technology!

In addition to the owls my excursion got me into the bush where I could appreciate the beauty of creation and many other species. Some of these included Australia's smallest bird the Weebill, the largest, and the smallest Eagles in Australia: the Wedge-tailed and Little eagles. Take the time to get out. You never know what you might find! 

Until next time