Thursday, November 20, 2014

No camera; no breeding happening yet.

Since Winter began to end this year I began observing the nesting behaviour of the Masked Lapwings and Australian Magpies, and for the passed 9 weeks I have not seen any newborn birds. The Masked Lapwings, Australian Magpies and Eastern Rosellas in my area went through the process of nesting, laid eggs, but nothing hatched. Two Masked Lapwing chicks have been spotted during October but they were dead. We have had an exceptionally hot Winter/Spring which may have actually cooked the eggs. That and with very little rain that we've had in the last 12 months is a good indication for something but what I don't know.

On top of all of that my camera broke and I have not been able to replace it yet. Until I can replace it I will be updating everything on this website and getting  all the pictures, etc added to their appropriate pages.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Post updates about Birds of Tenterfield

Trying to sort through the backlog of sightings of birds here in Tenterfield is a never ending job. But thankfully Winter has officially started and the number of bird species currently in town have been reduced to a small handful. Autumn had seen the nomadic species leave town for locating more food. But Autumn has also been a busy time for the Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoos and birds of prey with an ever increasing influx of these species to Tenterfield. A single parent Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoo even stayed in town for more than a week to feed it's juvenile. Lots of notes will be added about that sighting.

So, for the next few weeks I will be adding a backlog of posts about these Autumn sightings plus lots of new videos and photos. I've also seen a few new (on the bird list but haven't yet seen until now: Nankeen Kestrel; possibly Swift Parrots that I'm still yet to confirm; Whistling Kites; White-necked Heron; Straw-necked Ibis; plus a few other) species, and one species (Yellow Thornbill) that I have finally identified after almost 12 months of it eluding me, that have yet been added to my bird species list.

Over the last 5 months I have taken lots of photos and videos of all these local and visiting species, so too have I videos to sort through which my brother recorded for me. It's something I need to keep up-to-date with as each new day brings something different worthy of adding to this site.

Update : Unidentified olive backed and aqua blue winged bird

Its a new species of honeyeater that has yet to be recorded.

There was this one day when I was walking about 8 feet passed these birds when they were on the ground and they were feeding with a family group of King Parrots. One of these unidentified birds looked straight at me. I suddenly got very confused because it's face was almost identical to that of the Blue-faced Honeyeater.

This species face had very similiar markings on it to the Blue-faced Honeyeater. Instead of the top of it's head being black it was the bronzey/brown colour you see on Blue-faced Honeyeaters. The bronzey/brown colour went from the beginning of the beak to the eyebrow ridge above the eyes, then down over the nape which then joined up with the back, which was also the same colour. It had a bare patch of skin around it's eyes but it wasn't the same colour as an adult or juvenile Blue-faced Honeyeater. I believe it may have been a dull green colour - meaning it wasn't metallic looking. It's throat was white. The sides of it face was not like the Blue-faced Honeyeater. It had no black colouration on the sides of it's face: it was just white instead. The eyes looked like a Blue-faced Honeyeater but there was something different about them that I still can't figure out.

The head colourations of these two species were unusually similiar to each other. It certainly made me remember this unidentified species face when I took a closer look at it. I now believe this unidentified blue winged bird is a subspecies of, or a new species of honeyeater, and is somehow related to the Blue-faced Honeyeater.

As this species appears to be endemic to Tenterfield, New South Wales, it might be helpful to research the species from this immediate area. I am currently trying to find any kind of bird records that involve bird sightings from Tenterfield that go back 30 or so years. Hopefully someone else may have spotted this species in Tenterfield at some point in the past. I am also thinking of putting a notice on the local Post Office board to see if any local people have photos of this bird at Jubilee Park, Manners Street , between the years of 2001 and 2004. (I haven't done that yet and am not sure if I will either.) That's when I remember seeing them at Jubilee Park all the time.

I ended up by contacting the Australian Museum to get help with identifying this new bird species. The information I provided (written only) of this species was then sent to Dr. Walter Boles and I am currently waiting on a reply back from Dr Walter Boles, the former Collection Manager for Ornithology at The Australian Museum in Sydney.

It is my hope that come September 2013 the bird will return to Tenterfield in order to breed. Only then can I get a video and photos of it. If it doesn't return I can only assume there are small numbers of these birds not far from Tenterfield somewhere breeding in other areas.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Whistling Kite - Haliastur sphenurus

My brother pointed out 2 raptors flying over the landscape to the south of us. Unfortunately I got no decent photos of the birds but my brother got a video on his camcorder. I've taken screenshots from the video to get a feel for the birds flying nearby. The birds looked the same colour as in the video with the naked eye, and the one being filmed had a wingspan of more than one metre but less than 2 metres. The one being video recorded appeared larger in size than a Brown Goshawk. The other raptor was of a similiar size to the one recorded and shown here (wingspan length only). Apologies for the poor quality video and screenshots. The closest bird was more than 100 metres from us when it was closest to us.

Whistling Kites seem to check out the area for prey items but do not come into town anymore. I guess their food items have also been reduced to small pockets outside of town. These Whistling Kites were not observed catching anything whilst being recorded on video.

Raptors, like the Whistling Kite, and nocturnal predators like the Tawny Frogmouth are generally seen during very late Summer to the end of Autumn in the area. Whistling Kites' main diet is mammals, birds, insects and fish as well as carrion (dead animals). They do this by soaring above the landscape. They can also be seen circling certain areas where there might be food that they have spotted.

Here are some screenshots from the video my brother took of these magnificent birds.

Plus two cropped and enlarged photos of the bird:

And here is the video:

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Too many birds and no camera

I am getting rightly tired of continuing this blog. There are birds all around me yet I now have no camera in which to photograph them, or take recordings of their calls. Mine broke. It is too much of an inexpensive camera to get fixed.

The birds around here have gone on their merry way to ignore me, and even if I did have a working camera they don't get in range anymore so I can take their photo. Every time I try to get closer to them they just fly away.

So I am going to have a break from this blog for a while, possibly for more than a month. It may be a long time before I can afford a new camera, if I can find a suitable replacement. This blog is now officially on standstill until further notice.

Recent 45cm Pied Butcherbird sighting

Back on the 27th March 2013 at 3:18PM my brother and I had stopped at the bridge on Douglas Street to look at the water in the creek. We were just standing there looking at everything and I had my camera ready to take photos of anything I could see that might suddenly show up, like a duck. Moments later, out of the corner of my eye I saw something very close to us to our left up in the air, and it was flying very fast. Without any sound this large bird flew over the bridge avoiding my brother and I and flew like crazy as if it was chasing something. I didn't see anything in front of the bird. It wasn't until it was about a second or two after sighting it as it was flying away along the creekbank that I could identify it as the 45cm Pied Butcherbird. I could barely keep my eyes on it - it flew that fast.

As I watched, moving quickly and suddenly to keep my eyes on this bird, it flew straight across the bridge then zigzagged right to left, then suddenly dove down to the ground. I never saw it come back up again and lost sight of the bird at this point. It is possible the Pied Butcherbird continued flying rather than diving to the ground, as it was flying a lot lower (about 5-15 metres above the ground at this point) the further away it was from the bridge. I lost sight of the bird at about 100 metres from where I stood on the bridge.

The thing that surprised me the most was it's speed. I've seen Australian Magpies fly in 2 separate speeds, the normal speed and a hurried speed. This Pied Butcherbird easily flew faster than a Magpie's hurried speed (or top speed).

I did manage to take a photo of the Pied Butcherbird flying passed but the photo came out all blurry. It's too blurry to post and it didn't even have the bird in it, and I had the camera pointed too far to the right.

This Pied Butcherbird is turning out to be a really difficult fellow to photograph. But I am glad it is still in the area even though I do not see it very often.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Is there a point to all of this?

Sometimes I just want to

It is hard to be enthusiastic about photographing and filming birds in this town when there is so much destruction happening here. You don't really see it happening every day but over time you do. It is what people don't do that makes me wonder if people here care about anything other than themselves.

The real problem in Tenterfield is a lot of trees and bushes are removed every year but it doesn't look like the plants are being replaced by new ones. Tenterfield is becoming drier and hotter as a result. The birdlife just can't adapt to what humans do to plants so they are forced to move out of the area.

Birds are incapable of becoming residents as they have very little plants to nest, roost or feed from and that's within an area of 24 squared kilometres. What little plants are available here are only good for a small number of birds. Less than 40% of those plants are perfect for small nesting birds.

Now the strange thing is any bird species that is in the area and is looking for a mate usually finds a mate nearby. There seems to be no problems with young birds finding mates. The territories of birds seems not to be a problem either. There's a lot of bush surrounding Tenterfield and most of it is nothing but trees. Nesting sites seem to be a problem with some species but generally birds adapt and breed anyway with what vegetation is available.

Protection from storms, especially hail, is definitely a problem here for birds. One hail storm producing up to 7cm hailstones can kill hundreds of small birds in just 20 minutes. With all the open space and people mowing vast amounts of grass you'd think they'd plant a few trees and bushes so they have less to mow. But no... people just continue to mow their paddocks and grass to keep it neat and tidy. All that people care about in this town is the visual appeal of mowed grass!!!

If people do buy native plants to put in their garden they don't, generally, seem to realize that it takes new native seedlings up to 7 years to produce their first lot of flowers. Generally 7 years is the standard amount of time one has to wait. That is a long time for a bird to wait for a native plant to flower. The bird could be dead by then.

The main thing I'm whinging about is if the observed information I provide about all these species is of any benefit to anyone out there? With some species I can provide an unending source of information as those species are residents. The majority of species listed on this site are species that either live here temporarily or are just passing through. Any information gained about these particular species is just an added bonus. In Tenterfield the birds have it tougher than normal. Any given moment a human can come along and uproot their food supply, destroy a bush or tree with a bird's nest in it with no consideration at all for the birds, or cut down a tree that was producing shade. Any human activity is a big threat to the bird life in this town yet no-one cares less or does anything to protect what little habitat there is left in the area.
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