383 Photos - Jul 10, 2011
Photo: Great Cormorant (Phalacrocorax carbo) warms up in the morning sunshine (14 C but forecast for 38 C later) in a dead tree near our neighbours' farm dam. He's some 50 m from our fence, but I have difficulty reaching him with the 300 mm lens. This is the largest Australian cormorant at 80-85 cmPhoto: Newcomer to our garden AFAIK, this Scaly-breasted Lorikeet (Trichoglossus chlorolepidotus) immerses him/herself in the abundantly flowering bottlebrush blooms. S/he was one of a pair, and was fairly easy to ID with the red beak, mottled rump and a touch of red on the shoulderPhoto: Here's looking at you, kid! In this shot the 'sun-speckled' breast feathers are clearly visible - and since the red beak is usually 'hidden' in bottlebrush blooms of the same colour, you'd have to give this bird top marks for camouflage! It is, BTW, the only lorikeet with an all-green head, according to my Simpson & Day Field Guide to the Birds of Australia, and thrives in coastal open forest such as oursPhoto: "Someone's pinched from my plate," this male Eastern Spinebill (Acanthorhynchus tenuirostris) seems to be saying... He, too, is after the fresh Metrosideros bloomsPhoto: Male scarlet Honeyeater (Myzomela sanguinolenta) has just discovered the Metrosideros bush... He's early this year, I believe: it's still quite cool (about 20 C) and his favourite  calistemon that is the same colour as his head is not yet floweringPhoto: A bit too high for my 300 mm lens, this Laughing Kookaburra (Dacelo novaeguineae) enjoys the afternoon sun at Charlotte Bay, NSW - oblivious of the protestations of a Little Wattlebird (not in photo). This is the largest member of the Kingfisher family, and the blue wing feathers are proof of the relationshipPhoto: Good Morning, World!Photo: ... but studiously avoids the profusely flowering Bird-of-Paradise in front - obviously to see how long I can sit in the windy, cold afternoon breeze before I* give up on yet another attempt to catch him in the act LOL. Perhaps I should dedicate this shot to +Iren Wut, who might do something interesting with itPhoto: ... then visits a sparsely flowering Grevillea "Simply Sarah"  next to it...Photo: Juvenile Little Wattlebird (Antochaera chrysoptera) checks out the flora around the Huesch hovel, patently pissed off with the sparse winter offerings... he's tried the empty bottlebrush seedpods behind him...Photo: ... here he rests pensively amid the bare branches of Bianca's crepe myrtlePhoto: Always on the alert, the Eastern Yellow Robin (Eopsaltria australis) is always ready to pounce...Photo: Dropping in for a quick snack...Photo: Little Wattlebird (Anthochaera chrysoptera) poses with a bird-of-paradise... (Sorry, lousy snap, will try to get a better one A.S.A.P. LOL)Photo: "It's the middle of winter but boy, do I have the hots for you..."

These two Little or Brush Wattlebirds (Anthochaera chrysoptera) were racing around in the bare skeleton of the fig tree today - with occasional sorties to the Bird-of-Paradise flowers nearby for refreshments. I was hoping to get a shot there, but waited in vain until the cold got to me (13+ C outside today, barely warmer than in the house LOL)Photo: Bianca 'rescued' an exhausted feral dove from the henhouse before our ferocious chooks could tear it to pieces...Photo: La Turca the brush turkey when we first met... she's since been exiled for rough play with the chickensPhoto: a red-tailed black cockatoo nibbles noisily on the seeds of sheoaks (Casuarina spp.)Photo: Flash gives an eerie appearance to Marcia (right) and Turca, two wild brush turkeys that have taken to running with chooks... (Marcia later turned out to be a male and was renamed Marciano - and eventually the pair of them was chased from our little paradise because they terrorised the chooks...) NEWSFLASH: Turca found her way back from the neighbouring National Park 10 days later! Even Bianca was touched...Photo: This odd 'furry' creature is a young Tawny Frogmouth owl - it rests on the Hills clothes hoist after bumbling into a window pane last night. Its parents and a sibling keep an eye out for it from a nearby eucalypt... until nightfall, when they can all see properly againPhoto: 'Our' brush turkey, La Turca, is enamoured of our Rhode Island Red rooster Goldie: whenever she gets a chance, she snuggles up to him! She also accepts morsels that he finds for her - but that's as far as the relationship goes...Photo: A little wiser and a little quieter, Turca the brush turkey returned to her 'feedlot' - in this case the grains the geese have spilled... Turca's scratch on the head - from running into the fence of the chicken enclosure - has nicely healed. Bianca is resigned but secretly touched by such homing instinct in a wild bird!Photo: Bird of prey that took our hen Susie on March 11 was caught in a fox trap Bianca put out today with feathers and remains - s/he came back for an encore! I knew it was an raptor, not a fox, from the circular pattern of plucked feathers...Photo: A better view of our captive: note huge black claws and black beak. After the photo session we released the bird - hopefully it won't come back! ID'd as male Grey Goshawk in Simpson & Day's Field Guide to Birds of Australia (6th Ed.) Listed as 'uncommon' and 'sedentary' [We later discovered we have a pair plus young - all circling...]Photo: Bianca holds two stunned sliding-door crashers before transferring them to a sanctuary far from the hunting hens... A few hours later the figbird (front) and the little red-browed finch had resume their aerobaticsPhoto: Carrier pidgeon visits and likes the place, stays... We haven't yet read its letter/s - in bands around both feet - but if YOU sent any, pls send again by e-mail...Photo: Little Guru-guru dropped in from nowhere a week ago and doesn't look as if she wants to leave. Good selection of grains (above) is always on tap, and today she got her own little pidgeon-hole  on the veranda outside the kitchen door...Photo: This tawny frog-mouth owl created panic among the chickens when it landed on this little-used door sill - apparently I had inadvertently removed its habitual perch when I trimmed a lemon-scented eucalypt tree and cut a large branch overhanging the carport... But hey, don't these birds only fly at night?!Photo: Bianca just caught a young male brush turkey in the henhouse, where he was snaffling some grains - one can almost hear his raucus “GRHH,GRHH” of sonorous protest...Photo: ...but he doesn't seem to want to struggle too much. This particular bird has inherited visiting rights from my beloved female La Turca, but that doesn't include the 'granaries'.  So Bianca exiles him to beyond the house paddock fence, a few hundred metres up our hill... ci vediamo! (BTW the camera is still on summer time...)Photo: This time it's more serious: Bianca bringt Herrn T. in den Nationalpark, wo auch die Dame Turca (noch, hoffen wir) haust...Photo: Young brush turkey caught in the chicken run... he DID complain sonorously! (Months later, in mid-October, Bianca found a huge nest mound Turca's valiant suitor had scratched together some 50m from the fence. So this is where Turca laid her eggs? Or did she? I still miss her...). Post-script 20-1-10: a tiny quail-like bird made the rounds today, and even entered the chookhouse briefly. I immediately identified it as a young brush turkey, and called it te-te (Turca Two)Photo: Bantam Orpington Morena (left) checks out a very patient feral Spotted Turtle Dove that I've just bandaged - Bianca saved her from the sharp beak of an aptly-named Butcher BirdPhoto: Remember the Spotted Turtle Dove Bianca rescued from the claws of a Butcher Bird a fortnight ago? Here s/he is, the wound has healed nicely, and she let Bianca grab her without a struggle in the chookhouse this time...Photo: Stalking the honey-eater: my first use of the 5DII in P&S mode... 2 years ago! Haven't progressed much since LOLPhoto: Another native dove Bianca 'rescued' from the chookhouse... it had hurt its beak running into the wire mesh, and sometimes they get so weak the hens just spoil to finish them off!Photo: Nestling Little Wattlebird falls from the nest but escapes the hunting hens with Bianca's help... here's hoping you'll stay away from the netted peachesPhoto: Here the little bugger has moved to the Double May bush, quite a distance (10m) from the peach tree, where it DID get caught in the netting! Bianca rescued it once more... And still it keeps rainingPhoto: Bianca rief mich 'raus, ein paar neue Besucher an ihrem Garten zu bewundern... leider war es regnerisch und ich nahm nur die kleine Kamera, und zoomte auf die fliegenden Farbtupfer. Am 1.12.2010 als Rainbow Lorikeet identifiziert.Photo: There was a phantastic ruckus among the hens, and the rooster warned at top volume so we went out to check: here was this rapacious-looking Tawny Frogmouth owl resting on top of the chook shed before his or her night-time engagements...Photo: And once more at high alert: in a moment s/he'll fly away! We had met such a visitor before during day-time, once - when I mistook him for a piece of wood by the roadside during construction work - and once atop Bianca's clothing hoistPhoto: I dashed back inside to get the 'big gun': This is how the 5d2 saw him... cute little feathers atop the beak are shared by males and females alike.Photo: Elusive scarlet honey-eater feeds on blooms of orange-marmalade grevillea next to a netted fig treePhoto: Scarlet honeyeater surveys his new domain...Photo: Family of tawny frog-mouth owls have lived here for a few years - but is it a new young they have, or one that won't leave home?Photo: It's that time of the year, dear - we must feather our nest... this tiny Red-browed Finch or Firetail (Neochmia temporalis)  struggles with a bit of goose down (but manages to fly off with it!)Photo: It's that time of the year, dear - we must feather our nest... this tiny Red-browed Finch or Firetail (Neochmia temporalis) struggles with a bit of goose down (but manages to fly off with it!)Photo: In the late afternoon, I took another shot using a flash: Dad didn't blink, Mum got the full flash (see her left eye) and the young one - wedged against the tree trunk - looks on bewildered...Photo: Nearly dropped the fig trying to bite the hand that fed him: Bianca picked up this Figbird (Specotheres viridis) inside the fig tree net as it gorged itself on the ripening White Genoa figs. The Figbird, and his ilk, are regular daytime visitors to the fig trees but normally live at the edges of tropical rainforestsPhoto: Feathers slightly ruffled in the ordeal, this drongo (?) took off with wild shrieks... perhaps s/he will give up the fig diet for a while?Photo: "Alien" caught under the fig tree by hunting hens and rescued by Bianca this morning. But what is it? The mouth and beak, while bird-of-prey type, looks good enough to swallow a fig whole...Photo: Newcomer to our garden, this likely Grey-backed Silvereye (Zosterops lateralis, race chlorocephalus) enjoys the Metrosideros blooms, one of several to pick this particular tree today for a nice lunchPhoto: Here he is again, hard at work getting his lunch... I, on the other hand, had finished work, finished lunch - and for the first time in weeks, had a chance to pick up my camera againPhoto: Lewin's Honeyeater (Meliphaga lewinii) scowls at my intrusion on his feast of Grevillea blossoms. But he will also attack ripe figs with gustoPhoto: Bianca's favourite follower when she digs her garden, this Eastern Yellow Robin (Eopsaltria australis, race chrysorrhoa) must now forage alone (we've had a deluge, no chance of gardening)Photo: In-flight meal has another meaning for this busy male Eastern Spinebill (Acanthorhynchus tenuirostris), which also comes regularly to the Metrosideros buffet...Photo: ... but sitting down makes it much easierPhoto: This lovely little Red-browed finch expired in Bianca's hands in the hen-house this morning when she tried to rescue it from the claws of the aptly-named Butcher-bird. He must have broken its neck, or it had died from fright? The finches frequent the chookhouse regularly to pick the smallest seeds from the chickenfeed...Photo: Is this the Powerful Owl (Ninox strenua), waiting for mice to trundle to the spilt geese grain below? I snapped this owl with a sort of random shot, since I didn't get the time to fully frame it while staring at it with my Fenix head-lamp briefly before triggering the flash. Bianca thinks it might just be the much smaller Barking Owl (Ninox connivens)... The bird is at least 60 cm long, measuring against the steel bars which are 40 cm long - an expert has been asked to confirm speciesPhoto: ...and chases fig birds and honey-eaters around the resplendent canopy, if necessaryPhoto: Noisy Friarbird (Philemon corniculatus) raucously warns intruders off 'his' honey tree...Photo: I usually see this Yellow Eastern Robin on the back of a wire-frame garden chair outside my 'office' sliding door these days, pinching insects from the spider webs or flying into the glass to woo a mate... Here s/he is enjoying the winter sun, still from a vantage pointPhoto: That's the stuff!Photo: Male Eastern Spinebill (Acanthorhynchus tenuirostris) - this honey-eater comes to any promising buffet, in this case a Grevillea. But I was hoping to capture the New Holland Honey-eater - until it got too cold... (we had around 2C overnight, and around 11C in the afternoon)Photo: Didn't think we'd meet under such circumstances: for weeks I'd been trying to snap this presumed New Holland Honeyeater during his rushing flights through the bushes around the house; yesterday I held a sharp, high-pitched 'conversation' with him from about 1.5m away in the rose bush - today I had to rescue him after he smashed his head against a kitchen window. I put the little bird in Bianca's garden to rest up; there was a little blood in his spittle but he seemed otherwise intact - perhaps he'd just bitten his tongue... One thing became clear: it is not the New Holland variety but the White-cheeked Honeyeater (Philydonyris nigra) which is very similarPhoto: Here he's poised to fly off, startled by the sound of the camera shutter... (I must try to get a sharper picture, sorry, but this one gives you an idea of his general conformation)Photo: 30.6 C in the shade, but the nectar flows better... It's the first real nice spring day - and already we hear the fire sirens going in the distance. It's a worry!Photo: Male Scarlet Honey-eater (Myzomela sanguinolenta) surveys his domain, in this case a pale bottlebrush tree (Callistemon pallidus). His wife/girlfriend was with him, but I didn't snap her because I thought she was another species, so tiny and grey and unremarkeable...Photo: Young goshawk with his prey... s/he came back for another nibble but Bianca had put poor Donna's body in to a fox trap . It's amazing, the raptor is hardly any bigger than the little hen (who didn't have time to lay her egg yesterday afternoon)Photo: Here's another shot of our raptor showing her beak more clearly. 'She', because according to Simpson & Day's Field Guide to Australian Birds we have caught a female of the species Accipiter novaehollandiae (Grey Goshawk) in her first year - her plumage is more speckled and her eyes are yellow, unlike adults which have dark red eyes... This species is listed as 'uncommon'Photo: This Azure Kingfisher (Alcedo azurea) has grabbed a little snack and will probably take it to its nearby nesting place... (I must try to get a better snap, without shake)Photo: All mine, mine mine! This Lewins Honeyeater (Meliphaga lewinii) seems to say as he watches over a newly flowering bottlebrush tree. He particularly chased away a White-cheeked Honeyeater (Phylidonyris nigra) that I was trying to photograph in that tree...Photo: ... and don't you dare come near it again!Photo: ...can't we even have a chrissie meal in peace?!Photo: I think there's this bird pervert again with his big thingo...Photo: I'm that White-cheeked Honeyeater (Phylidonyris nigra) that practically lives in this garden - don't you remember me?Photo: It's nothing but this boring bottlebrush, again...Photo: ... ah well, the pickings are a bit lean... let's leave them to this starving Yellow-faced Honeyeater (Lichenostomus chrysops)! Enjoy, I'm off now...Photo: Look, honey, I've found another one...Photo: I was waiting for the azure kingfisher to take his usual afternoon bath in the little pond outside our kitchen. But today he didn't show... so I snapped his bath, just in case...Photo: Relax, I'm not gonna eat you!Photo: Caught in the net... let's have a closer look at you...Photo: Thanks, see you later... (the fig-eater was tentatively identified by me as a Dusky Honeyeater (Myzomela obscura) - if you know better please let me know, thanks!)Photo: ... but if you let me go now, I won't go near them again...Photo: Your figs are just irresitible, BiancaPhoto: Female Regent Bowerbird (?)  caught in the figtree net... nice fighting spirit, kept biting the hand that planted the fig tree in the first place...Photo: See youse next time 'round...Photo: See youse next time 'round...Photo: Hi Mum! No worries, just soaking up the sun...Photo: Don't you dare go anywhere near my baby... or else! What else?Photo: Ah, there she is! Just dropped in like a huge bird of prey, only a few metres from the young one...Photo: Best to be on high alert with these daylight creatures walking upright... And where's Mum?Photo: Funny thing is, I was just asking Bianca "are you seeing anything?" when I nearly trod on the bird - and she hadn't seen it either from 2m away! Brilliant camouflagePhoto: ... did someone chop the tip of your lower beak off? Or are you born like this?Photo: Hi there... young Tawny Frogmouth owl checks me out as I walk past it near the shed... we haven't seen these nocturnal birds for a while. But wait, there's more:Photo: Is it the female Satin Bowerbird - or a young male? Some one just told me the immature males also sport the plumage and eye colour of the females for a few years... Back to the experts!Photo: Fresh from the fig feast, caught in the net: Bianca holds the female Satin Bowerbird (Ptilonorhynchus violaceus) with some difficulty - she's got sharp claws...Photo: Young tawny frogmouth owl strayed from its parents the other day and I nearly stepped on it so well was it camouflaged. It has now replaced stunning flowers as my latest desktop wallpaperPhoto: ... but Mum was a trifle irritated, it seems! These cockies are listed as 'uncommon' in our Simpson & Day Field Guide to the Birds of Australia (sixth edition)Photo: Young Glossy Black Cockatoo (Calyptorhynchus lathami) has a little morning snack in a she-oak next to our water tanks. S/he hardly blinked as the shutter clicked furiously...Photo: Der junge Kakadu lacht sich eins: Futter fuer den ganzen Tag, Mutti passt auf (einen Zweig weiter) - und dieser Depp da unten haette eigentlich bei der TZ20 bleiben koennen, anstatt Tausende fuer eine 7d, 200mm prime plus 2xTCIII Adapter auszugeben (mit denen er auch keine besseren Fotos von mir macht LOL!)Photo: 'I like - better than anything else...' This young Glossy Black Cockatoo has spent most of the morning in that she-oak tree - watched from a few metres away by his motherPhoto: Bianca rescued another little visitor from the chookhouse this morning...Photo: Bar-shouldered dove (Geopelia humeralis) placidly awaits her release after Bianca rescued her from the hens' garden enclosure - most have learnt to find the little escape hole in the fence that Bianca doesn't tire to show them, but this one is obviously a 'newbie'Photo: Nose shows slight damage from fluttering against the fence wire...Photo: ... but overall, she seems to be in top conditionPhoto: Top of the morning to you!Photo: Rescued by Bianca from the clutches of a (rather inept, it would seem) Grey Goshawk this morning, this youngish Noisy Friarbird (Philemon corniculatus) eyes me warily as another potential predator...Photo: ... some injuries are visible on the bird's back, but it doesn't appear to be serious. By contrast, its own needle-like claws pierced Bianca's skin, so she wrapped him in her sweater. I think it was these claws that made it so difficult for the raptor to deal with him, as he dragged his victim along our access track without really getting airborne. As Bianca got nearer, the goshawk dropped its prey...Photo: A short rest in an open carton...Photo: ... and a first tentative outing into a food tree (grevillea spp.) is successful!Photo: One of the countless Red-browed Finches (Neochimia temporalis) that frequent our chicken coop and garden for small seed forage hadn't learnt the way out, so Bianca lent a helping hand...Photo: ... here's why s/he is also commonly called Firetail...Photo: these small birds are so totally used to us that even when 'captured' they hardly bat an eyelid - this one even took a moment to fly away when Bianca released him/her!Photo: Decisions, decisions... do I start with this dish...Photo: ... or this one? Take it as red! Metrosideros it is for todayPhoto: ... but this stance is decidedly more elegant!Photo: Upside down Grevillea 'marmalade' bush tastes just as good to this Eastern Spinebill (Acanthorhynchus tenuirostris)...Photo: Stalking his Grevillea tree, this Little (Brush) Wattlebird (Anthochaera chrysoptera) finally held still for a moment for this hand-held portrait - mainly to identify the raucuous visitorPhoto: This Rainbow Lorikeet (Trichoglossus haematodus, race moluccanus) and his or her partner dropped in on us this morning, sampling a few Metrosideros blooms before alighting on the bare fig tree outside my 'office' ... They were extremely friendly and not at all scared - but I still failed to get an unobstructed shot at themPhoto: ... the sharp claws can barely be seen in this photo, but Bianca felt them piercing through the soft leather! (In the background my quick-n-dirty solar tubes panel that supplies hot water for washing the dishes)Photo: Bianca's 'hawk' - by its rapacious behaviour! This immature male Satin Bowerbird (Ptilonorhynchus violaceus) fought tooth and nail when cornerned in the hen-house and Bianca had to don a pair of old gloves to guard against his needle-sharp 'talons'...Photo: Surprise visit by what looks to us like a little Pied Cormorant (Phalscrocorax varius) -s/he was waddling up our bush track with some difficulty when I drove home from a trip into town. I stopped the car and called Bianca to 'rescue' the bird for a more thorough check-up...Photo: ... everything seemed alright, so we let him/her go near the house. The chooks made a terrible racket when they spied the stranger!Photo: Mimicry, anyone? Spot the Scarlet Honeyeater (Myzomela sanguinolenta) among the bottlebrush flowers... (not getting him in proper focus helps with the camouflage LOL)Photo: ... ein schoener Ruecken kann auch entzuecken! Scarlet Honeyeater in seinem Element...Photo: Damn sliding doors! This is the latest bird to crash into one of them... but Bianca picked it up before the 'hunting hens' got a chance to peck it to pieces. A little Lewin's Honeyeater (Meliphaga lewinii) by the way...Photo: Female (or young male?) Satin Bowerbird had to be rescued from the henhouse after hurting his head flying forcefully into the wire netting. You really should know better by now... Sharp talons pierced Bianca's skin when she grabbed himPhoto: The Incredible Hulk? No, it's the Sacred Kingfisher (Todiramphus sanctus), seen from behind to show off its identifying plumage features...Photo: ... from the side, displaying its formidable beak. This kingfisher was just rescued by Bianca after crashing into a sliding door at full speed - she placed it in her garden, out of the reach of the 'hunting hens' and a little while later it had flown off. It's been a bad year for the kingfishers: last summer a marauding goanna wrecked their nests in two huge eucalypts, taking the eggs and/or fledglings. After that mishap, we didn't see the splendid birds again - until this morning!Photo: Mr Blue-wren has dropped in for a snack - pity his blue rinse seems to have run... This is the male Superb Fairy-wren (Malurus cyaneus) in his breeding livery.Photo: 'Good enough for a quick drink', says Lewin's Honey-eater (Meliphaga lewinii), 'particularly on a dry day like today...'Photo: 'Psst! care for a quickie? The wife's decamped...'Photo: 'I agree. The place's going downhill fast', says the Yellow-faced Honey-eater (Lichenostomos chrysops). 'I'm turning my back on it!'Photo: 'Dang! There she is again... sorry, next time!'Photo: 'Haven't we met here before?' this White-cheeked Honey-eater (Phylidoniris niger) seems to ask the Red-browed Finch. 'It's quite possible', says the finch, 'this little pond is shrinking by the day...'Photo: White-cheeked Honey-eater (Phylidonyris niger) warily enjoys his afternoon bath...Photo: He's an odd one, the Red-browed Finches a.k.a Firetails seem to say...Photo: That's a new visitor to our drying-out kitchen pond - haven't been able to find these birds in our guide yet... Long tongue in drinking bird at left seems to indicate a nectar eater. Will provide name A.S.A.P.Photo: ... don't know it yet!' (Sorry 'bout the little joke, but that's the last small patch of water that remains in our kitchen pond after one month of less than 1mm of rain a day. All praying for La Nina!)Photo: 'Pssht! Don't tell the little redfink, but I think I've discovered...Photo: 'Pssht! Don't tell the little redfink, but I think I've discovered...Photo: ... oil! They...Photo: Take it as red... Red-browed Finch a.k.a. Firetail (Neochmia temporalis) stands proudly aqmong his bathing peersPhoto: Another day, another drink... showers were forecast today, but we got only 2 ot 3 drops of rain. So I had another stab at...Photo: '[Well, I suppose it'll have to do...'  - never in the past 20 years has our kitchen pond dried out completely - global warming? The White-cheeked Honeyeater is not impressed by my garish birdbath LOLPhoto: A bunch of newcomers to the facility: the Capricorn Silvereye (Zosterops lateralis, race chlorocephalus) check out the possibilities...Photo: 'It's clean!' The Silvereye is drinking already... at its left, a  White-naped Honeyeater (Melithreptus lunatus) waits his/her turn, at right, a pair of Red-browed Finches wait for me to top up the water so they can drink, too (but I put a piece of timber in the water so they could alight on that LOL)Photo: ... putting in a rough retaining wall (one 300m round trip into the bush for each 4 rocks!) and back-filled it with mud from the dry pond. Perhaps this will stop the geese from pushing the adjacent orchard into the pond?Photo: It's time to clear out, my shutter noise is too much for the bird... (One of these days' I'll get a hand-held shot at you that's sharp, mate!)Photo: This is what he feeds on: long pods of acacia seeds that he shells expertly. An empty pod can be seen below his right wing...Photo: Caught in the act: young -almost adult - male Australian King Parrot (Alisterus scapularis) considers my intrusion, but then continues to nibble acacia seeds from a pod.Photo: In this snap s/he has taken full possession...Photo: ... before taking off for other pastures. S/he obviously didn't like my flash. Apologies for the 'missing' eye, but I wanted to show the rufous colouring of its wing patchesPhoto: Young Little or 'Brush' Wattlebird (Anthochaera chrysoptera) is barely fledged - and already displaying the characteristic aggressive behaviour of his kind. S/he has just scared a sibling (?) off the adjacent bottlebrush tree with flapping wings and raucous calls before descending on a clump of kangaroo paws: it's all mine!Photo: Feast for finches: a horde of Redbrowed Finches feasts on a mix of grains for the geese, carefully picking out the smalles seeds and often just tossing out the ones they deem to big...Photo: Our head gander, Stupsi, looks on, somewhat blasé - he knows he can't ever catch any of the tiny thievesPhoto: Unidentified honey-eater, perhaps the White-eared Honeyeater (Lichenostomus leucotis) checks out a fading Bougainvillea... I used to call this bird the 'fig bird' because it seemed to hang around in our fig trees a lot, and consumed their fruitPhoto: Little Red-browed finch arranges his feathers after a quick plunge in our newly-filled 'kitchen pond' by the old 'rose tree'Photo: 'That used to be dry when I last looked' - Monika wonders about the newly-replenished pond. She gets up from her nest once or twice a day to drink or grab a few leaves of grass during the second of her month-long sitting periods she can't understand either...  (Bianca blows out her eggs and returns them to the nest - we can't have more geese!)Photo: 'Quick! Pass me my bathrobe - I'm sopping wet' this as yet unidentified honeyeater seems to say. Looks very much like a Lewin's Honeyeater (Meliphaga lewinii) but it's hard to be positive from this snapshot in the thorny rose thicket next to the pondPhoto: Embarras de richesse: this male Eastern Spinebill (Acanthorhyncus tenuirostris) doesn't know where to start his afternoon snack on the ever-beckoning bougainvillea!Photo: 'Now, where do I start?' Male Eastern Spinebill (Acanthorhynchus tenuirostris) is overwhelmed by the brilliant bougainvillea... Strange thing is: I've never seen ANY bird yet sample the tiny blossoms within the red leaves that form the attractive 'petals'Photo: Here's a side view of the GFPhoto: Grey Fantail (Rhipidura albiscapa, race alisteri) is a relative newcomer to our 'everglades'. Intrestingly, we saw its relative, the Rufuous Fantail (E. rufifrons) yesterday afternoon shortly before we saw the grey one - both were flicking and fanning their tails attractivelyPhoto: Lone father looks frazzled as he seeks to feed his three young in the rose bush...Photo: ... as this first one (two others are just outside the frame on the same branch. Looks exactly like Daddy, doesn't he?!?Photo: Fledgling Superb Fairy-wrens await Daddy's return - he still brings the food although I've seen all three make excursions from the rosebush shelter and peck at various thingsPhoto: 'Clear off, mate - there's nothing to see!' A pair of contented Redbrowed Finches a.k.a. Firetails enjoy a spot of grooming after their bathPhoto: Here's one of the trio on his own, enjoying the afternoon sun and 28C ambient temperature. Haven't seen the young take the plunge yet in the adjacent 'kitchen pool' thoughPhoto: White-cheeked Honeyeatyer strikes a cocky pose at the little 'kitchen pool' - normally a busy meeting place several times each day for a variety of local birdsPhoto: Here he is again, silhouetted against the rough bark of a messmate (?) eucalyptPhoto: Young male Australian King Parrot (Alisterus scapularis) enjoys a quick snack of the dark berries of the Dracaena palm (?), hanging precariously off its fronds. He was one offour or five I observed yesterday, including a couple of females, whose generally greener habits blend in nicely with the surrounding vegetation...Photo: Seen from the side, Ms Fantail looks quite demure... Can't explain the white specks in the photo, surely it's not left-over hail from yesterday afternoon's thunderstorm? It was quite cool today (25C) but still...Photo: Finally 'captured' the elusive Rufous Fantail (Rhipidura rufifrons that enjoys our 'kitchen pond' after another good downpourPhoto: Tentatively identified, this young Chestnut-rumped Heathwren (Hylacola pyrrhopygia) protests strongly after Bianca 'rescued' him from the henhouse...Photo: ... but settles down eventually. It was the second time Bianca had to pluck the youngster from the henhouse when s/he apparently lost her/his way out!Photo: Good morning! This is just a warning...Photo: ... I'm really the most peaceful gander from here to Hanover!Photo: Oblivious to our presence, this pair of Laughing Kookaburras (Dacelo novaeguineae) continued their passionate embrace - were they kissing or fighting? We couldn't really tell, but they flew off in different directions eventually... I took the shot with Bianca's little camera as we walked two hours to and from a corner shop to buy some essentials after 3 days of incessant monsoonal rains: in the 24 hours to 7 a.m. today, the gauge flowed over at 135 mm. VW T4 still awaiting my attentionPhoto: Young female Satin Bowerbird (Ptilonorhynchus violaceus) caught herself in the nasty netting on a figtree but seems to resent Bianca's quick rescue: 'You can't eat all those figs by yourself, surely...'Photo: This Lewin's Honeyeater Meliphaga lewinii) is a frequent visitor to our kitchen pond, but I've never seen him/her in such a dishevelled state... has s/he been in a fight? Been roughly mated? Or even escaped a swooping goshawk? My bet is on the second possibility - our hens also have feathers dislodged in a similar way...Photo: Enjoying the autumn afternoon sun in a wild rosebush, these Red-browed Finches a.k.a. Firetails (Neochmia temporalis) believed their tryst would go unnoticed in the dense cover...

By the scratch marks on the branch, one can see that this is indeed a well-frequented rendevous placePhoto: Rainbow Lorikeet (Trichoglossus haematodus) snacks on the honey-sweet flowers of the Paperbark tree (Melaleuca), one of around four of the noisily chattering tribe that visited this morning. There are plenty of beautifully flowering melaleucas around us now, so the table is set for a while!Photo: 'Brrrr... the water's getting cold!' This Yellow-faced Honeyeater (Lichenostomus chrysops) has just taken a quick dip in our 'kitchen pond' and is about to shake the drops off his feathers... The rambling rosebush is a refuge for all small birds as they bathePhoto: ... off he goes for yet another dip!Photo: Ein schoener Ruecken kann auch entzuecken...Photo: White-cheeked honeyeater (Phylidonyris nigra) is wary of the camera sound, but will soon return to his abundant feast on the Metrosideros bushPhoto: The combination of 200 mm lens plus 2 x TC III sometimes causes strange artefacts, like that in the blue sky glimpse above the bird's head. Anyone get these and can tell me how to prevent them?Photo: Female Superb Fairy-wren (Malurus cyaneus) has a quick snack in the autumn afternoon sun on a grevillea that's just starting to bloom...Photo: Shy newcomer is well camouflaged...Photo: Where am I? If this is indeed the 'Black-backed Wagtail" (Motacilla alba lugens), well might he ask! This bird is at home in Korea, Manchuria, Kamchatka, eastern China and northern Japan, according to Simpson & Day, but has been sighted as far afield as New South Wales (1998). Looks to me like a breeding male of the errant species!Photo: 'My bath tub is private!' Cheerful Yellow-faced Honeyeater (Lichenostomos chrysops) is not quite sure if s/he should complain about my flash...Photo: Tricked yer!Photo: See, I can manage, Mum...

Time for bed, almost... This Little Wattlebird (Anthochaera chrysoptera) is barely fledged and keeps wailing for food almost incessantly during the day. But at dusk, when its doting parents are otherwise engaged, s/he shows that one can very well fend for oneself already! The Kangaroo Paw makes a change from the usual bottlebrush flower diet...Photo: Juvenile (?) Sacred Kingfisher (Todiramphus sanctus) enjoys a few quick dips in our 'kitchen pond' around 4 p.m., but I've yet to capture it in the actPhoto: 'On a hot day I could dive forever...' And it was a hot day in our area, around 35 Centigrade, with lots of bushfires around. Now a thunderstorm is approaching with the cooler southerly changePhoto: Bar-shouldered dove (Geopelia humeralis) deigns to show herself among the honeyeater rabble - one has to drink, however sordid the sourroundings...Photo: Pair of  Scaly-breasted Lorikeet (Trichoglossus chlorolepidotus) also enjoy the cool, shady pondPhoto: Call this a waterhole?Photo: I counted a dozen of these cheerful  White-cheeked Honeyeaters (Phylidonyris niger) crowding the tiny waterhole outside our kitchen today - the Scarlet Honeyeater (Myzomela sanguineolenta) in the top right corner hardly got a look in...Photo: ... or does he? Yes, here he advances carefully under the watchful eye of the Yellow-faced (?) Honeyeater (Lichenostomus chrysops)...Photo: ... am I seeing double?! Here they are joined by another male Scarlet Honeyeater! My day is made...Photo: This young wattlebird was the second one that crashed into a sliding door this afternoon. The other flew away as Bianca tried to help him up, but this one took longer to recover from the impact... One thing we noted: his or her right foot is cramped together - perhaps a sign of neurological damage? Bianca thinks perhaps a yabby bit him when he bathed in the muddy pondPhoto: Couldn't resist 'spying' on my lovely Scarlet Honeyeater again this evening - there were actually three or four males, and at least one female. By their behaviour I knew they must be wooing her...Photo: ... so here's the sly little damsel. (Actually, it's the flash that makes her look sly...) She performed a little flying dance in the old rosebush close to the pond, and was dashing off when the flash fired. So this is but a first glimpse of the female Myzomela sanguinolenta, showing her to have a little bit more red in the plumage than my Simpson & Day field guide gives her credit for...Photo: Resting between engagements in the old rose 'tree' overlooking the kitchen pond, this Eastern Yellow Robin (Eopsaltria australis) wasn't too upset by the flash - I must use it more often... Just learned today that the bird's name actually means 'dawn harper' because it is among the first to wake, and greet the day with whipcrack sounds interspersed with monotonous piping and loud 'choop choop' calls. I'll see if I can tape it and attach to the photo...Photo: Down, laddie, down! Another foot or so until you get to drink from this puddle... Male Scarlet Honeyeater (Myzomela sanguinolenta), like others from his extended family, prefers to tumble down through the thicket of the old rose 'tree'...

("Down, laddie, down!" courtesy of the late Paul Moline, my then chief sub-editor at The Australian newspaper in Sydney, who constantly shouted this injunction to the copy boys when he wanted a checked piece of copy (paper) to be taken to the "stone" for typesetting. Those were the days.. R.I.P Paul!)Photo: One of a pair of White-necked (Pacific) Herons (Ardea pacifica) sharing the neighbour's dam with our exiled geese... We also saw one of the White-faced Herons (Egretta (Ardea) novaehollandiae) in the distance, but it merely proved to me I need a longer lens! (Don't tell Bianca!) Today we did not see the geese, nor the numerous Dusky Morhens, ducks and egrets we saw in the company of the herons yesterdayPhoto: Male Scarlet Honeyeater (Myzomela sanguinolenta) poses in a newly-blossoming bottlebrush Calistemon) tree. He is one of a few that have seemlingly chosen our bush block for a more prolonged visit: I have seen the female/s swooping on spiderwebs under the verandah to carry away the sticky stuff to glue together nesting material - we can perhaps expect some youngsters soon...Photo: 'Is it safe?'Photo: We don't of course keep the Australian King Parrot (Alisterus scapularis) in cages, much less a pair of them: here they've sneaked into the chookhouse for some sunflower seeds - perhaps because Bianca has started netting her tomato crops? Sorry 'bout the bad snap but I couldn't get closer with the P&S without startling them...We then waited until they found their way out again, the green female firstPhoto: This little Redbrowed Finch is at the end of an experiment: I followed something I'd seen on G+ and stuck a Canon 2 x TC III on to a Canon 300 mm f/4 lens to see what it gives... Still have to learn to handle the new ''cannon" properly LOLPhoto: This Eastern Spinebill looks a bit better - apart from the annoying artifacts around all him from the combined lenses... doesn't help that I've had heaps of crashes of my new Windows 8.1 systemPhoto: This is the first time I was able to snap the female Scarlet Honeyeater at the 'kitchen pond' - there were several shy males around today but I didn't manage to catch any...Photo: This Eastern Spinebill is modelling for me mainly because I am trying out a new lens combination, on the 5d: a 200 mm f/2.8 Mk II L lens with a 2 x TC III. Can't say I'm impressed - but at least I don't seem to get the same amount of artifacts as with the 300mm f/4 and the TC III on the 7d. In fact I'll just try today's combo on the 7d tomorrow, if 'homework'permitsPhoto: Eastern Yellow Robin (Eopsaltria Australis) has grown used to our presence on its patch - s/he only fears the hens that try to grab the worm s/he's found... This is a characteristically watchful pose for the bird, although usually its head is slightly inclined to watch for prey on the groundPhoto: Who the hell's watching me from the puddle? This Red-browed Finch (Neochmia temporalis) seems genuinely surprised by its reflection... The finch, also known as Firetail, lives in small flocks and raids the chicken feed in the henhouse and enclosed chicken run all day - without ever getting fat!Photo: Young Laughing Kookaburra (Dacelo novaeguineae) perches on a young red cedar tree 10 m from our verandah. I'd earlier seen him/her in the company of an adult kooka...Photo: Our little Red-browed Finches (Neochmia temporalis) - also known as Firetails - have developed a knack of alighting on a long blade of grass and stepping downward, until the seed head touches the ground...Photo: ... when they manage to easily pick out the seeds! The orange balls in the background, BTW, are seeds of the Canary Island palm, which Bianca has ordered me to remove as it is classed as a noxious weed in our bush area. We've heard flying foxes last night feeding on the seeds, and dropping a few in the dry pondPhoto: Flower among flowerrs...Photo: Placeholder only!: I'll have to get a clearer snap of this shy visitor, a Wonga Pidgeon (Leucosarcia picata or melanoleuca) that's sneaking past the chookhouse trying to cadge a feed. So these are the birds we hear making their monotonous 'whoop, woop, woop' sounds in the trees around us at the moment (breeding season)!Photo: Very kind, guys - but you haven't really thought it through, for the likes of me... This Red-browed Finch (Neochmia temporalis) considers his options: should he take a quick bath and drink at the same time?! We've put out several buckets and receptacles of drinking water out in the current heatwave, with noon temperatures around 31 C all week - and practically no rain (1 mm!!!) all month, but will have to remember to keep them topped up to the brim...Photo: It's a balancing act...Photo: It'll have to do...Photo: This male Australian King Parrot (Alisterus scapularis) sat on Bianca's tomato netting earlier this evening and argued softly with me from about a metre away about his urgent need for some red colour replacement therapy... You don't need ALL those toms, he seemed to say, before flying to a nearby branch while I brought out the camera - albeit for an unsharp snap. What astonished me most is how unafraid he appeared during our eye-to-eye dialogue!Photo: "I won't go away from your garden, just love those red spheres..." (he's talking tomatoes LOL)Photo: Native Wonga Pigeon (Leucosarcia picata) walked into the hens'garden and couldn't find the way out quickly - so Bianca grabbed her to help her out...Photo: ... this pretty native bird walks long distances in search of feed, but is generally quite shy. Here, s/he shows off distinctively marked lower body plumagePhoto: Young Dollarbird (Eurystomus orientalis)??? Looks like it, but didn't get a clear shot (and my hand wasn't steady after all that bubbly earlier with Bianca's birthday celebration, and I had earlier exhausted myself bottling 23L of Coopers Real Ale!). So this is purely for my own info until I get a better shot... First time we saw this bird, BTWPhoto: This juvenile Pied Butcherbird (Cracticus nigrogularis) had been pestering his parents all afternoon, clamouring for some choice morsels... Since I was just cutting up choice Tsu Li nashi pears to check for fruitfly infestations (99 p.c. were struck by the pest!), I tossed some clean pieces in his/her direction...Photo: ... Is that all you got for me?!? this newcomer to Clod 9 seemed to say...Photo: ... meet Mum! She looks on proud and unworried from the nearby lime tree...Photo: ... while Dad professes calm detachment on another branch of the lime treePhoto: Female Australian King-Parrot (Alisterus scapularis) tries roosting in our depleted henhouse... she's been snaffling sunflower seeds a moment before, but doesn't resent my entry. White stuff along roosting supports is diatomaceous earth (DE), claimed to fight scaly mites on chooks' legs and feet. Bianca thinks DE worksPhoto: After testing her beak against the close-mesh wire of the chicken coop (in vain), Ms King Parrot sails past me through the slightly open door of the chookhouse - and ponders the adjacent chicken run: we might give it a try some day, that door is also sometimes left open... In the meantime, she lets us admire her iridescent blue behind LOLPhoto: Strange apparition in the late afternoon: baby is always hungry, Mum despairs... Looks to my untrained eye as if a Pied Currawong (Strepera graculina) is bringing up a Channel-billed Cuckoo (Scythrops novaehollandiae}! The male 'father' was heard calling in the neighbourhood. Apologies for the fill light etc. treatment but I was shooting high up into the tree against a still very light sky, so the raw photo was too dark to really see the birds...Photo: In this shot you can see the youngster's zig-zag wing patterns too... (again altered tone/light curve to make the very dark raw photo 'visible'!)Photo: Female Australian King Parrot (Alisterus scapularis) degusting a green tomato...
(Details in caption)Photo: This appears to be the oldest of the Channel-billed Cuckoos (Scythrops novaehollandiae) being raised by Pied Currawong (Strepera graculina) parents around our house. S/he still flaps the wings and begs most pitifully, but the step-mother sails past without taking notice...Photo: ... after all, there's a a more needy customer stil! This one still gets fed, as far as we can see...Photo: This fledgling seems to be the youngest, and also still gets fed by the currawongs... But is it really a third foster young? I couldn't get a good shot, traipsing though the 'jungle' 30m or so from the housePhoto: Eastern Whipbird (Psophodes olivaceus) can't believe his eyes: is that a rival staring back from 'within' the stainless steel hot water tank? The bird is said to be shy, but was around the verandah with two juveniles/females all morning, occasionally resting...Photo: ... somewhat bedraggled, in the lime tree outside the kitchen.  I was woken by his concise call, a ringing whipcrack followed by a soft 'ee, ee, ee'. We used to hear his call high up from the rainforest areas of our bush block years ago, but it seems subdivision, house-building and dog-keeping by new neighbours have driven him down towards the relative quiet of our direct surroundings. A fireworks cannonade celebrating the Gay & Lesbian feast on Sunday on the top of our hill may have been the final straw for our whipbird family...Photo: Young Channel-billed Cuckoo (Scythrops novaehollandiae) hankers after his step-mother the Pied Currawong (Strepera graculina) weeks after she's stopped feeding him, and his raucous begging cries resound around our bush home for much of each day. If we're 'lucky', we'll hear a duet with his/her sibling! The currawong flies past, unmoved...Photo: ... so s/he adopts the typical 'baby' pose, letting his wings droop or slowly flapping them to attract mum's attention... If s/he flapped a bit more strongly s/he could break off the dead branch s/he's sitting on...Photo: ... perhaps realising this peril, s/he switched to a sturdier perch shortly afterwards! And this is where young cuckoo then began his duet with a sibling in the next tree. That beggar remained hidden, though...Photo: "Watch out, there's that pervert again looking at us bathing!", the middle one of this trio of White-cheeked Honeyeaterts (Phylodonyris niger) seems to say...Photo: "Never mind, come on in, the water's fine!", a fourth splashes enthusiastically...Photo: ..." yeah, but it's still very wet", he proclaimsPhoto: This young (?) Lewins Honeyeater (Meliphaga lewinii) tends to agree.Photo: Nothing a few good shakes can't fix!Photo: "Might just try another plunge..."Photo: What a night! We've had 12 mm of rain, so there's water in the pond again and I can have my usual swim...Photo: ... but I must look a sight: the Incredible Hulk, heh? Where's my bathrobe?...Photo: ... that's better! I look like a proper Lewins Honeyeater (Meliphaga lewinii) again!Photo: Sunday fare I...Photo: Which one to feast on first? Rainbow Lorikeet at breakfast in a newly flowering bottlebrush (calistemon) outside our windowsPhoto: Who says only chooks can enjoy the autumn sunshine... This young Little Wattlebird (Anthochera chrysoptera) adopts the same position our hens take - except reclined against a branch!Photo: "If it weren't for the intrusions of this noisy clickety-click, I'd be perfectly happy here!"

I didn't get a clear shot at the little sun-worshipper, but noticed for the first time that there's red and yellow among his flight feathers...Photo: It's even better here against the warm bark of the eucalypt - but there's that damn click again!Photo: All eyes...
Eastern Great Egret (Ardea modesta [alba]) stalks the Wallis Lake waterfront in Forster, dives in at intervals to demolish a little whiting or such... According to Simpson & Day's Field Guide to the Birds of Australia, it is displaying its non--breeding coloursPhoto: Ein Grosser Australischer Reiher, heute am Wallis See bei uns in der Naehe fotografiert! Leider habe ich ihm die Fuesse abgeschnitten...Photo: Get off my patch, this very territorial Little or Brush Wattlebird  (Anthochaera chrysoptera) signals to me, annoyed by the shutter clicks of my 7d. He's feeding on the newly resplendent Metrosideros bush and brooks no competition...Photo: ... Better in profile: this is my nicer side, in case you wondered, he seems to be saying...Photo: ... but the offspring is just cute, as usual among beings. Here s/he is resting between plunges into our little 'kitchen pond' next to the verandahPhoto: Flash startled this Scaly-breasted Lorikeet (Trichoglossus chlorolepidotus) when I snapped it while it was feeding peacefully in the metrosideros with its mate...Photo: ... it was head first into the brilliant honeypots before! I was actually after the Whipbird pest that's been attacking my shiny S/S solar tanks on the verandah all day... I'll get there!Photo: Metrosideros beckons with sparse winter blooms - and an Eastern Spinebill (Acanthorhynchus tenuirostris - next page) promptly drops in for a snack...Photo: ... but he stays in the shadows, wary of the shutter click of my 7D, and I didn't reach for the flash...Photo: ... here he is again, colour-coordinating with the grevillea "Honey Gem"".Photo: Who have we here? Petrel? Shearwater? Have to check with the experts...

Couldn't get close, when I left the waiting room to check on the strange visitor outside,  my shoes hit the gravel and the unknown bird flew off. It was resting less than a kilometer from the beach...

Speculating now: because it first reminded me of a pigeon - could this be the vulnerable Fairy Pidgeon (Pachyptila turtur)?

Over to you!Photo: The usual suspect: Little Wattlebird (Anthochaera chrysoptera) enjoys his/her favourite snack... This species already seem to be gearing up for nuptials - pairs are regularly chasing each other through the bare fig trees with daring aerobatics!Photo: Another regular visitor to the pond is the White-cheeked Honeyeater (Phylidonyris niger), usually seen in noisy hordes of about a dozen!Photo: ... His only companion today was his fluffy youngster, learning the quick-dip-n-shake from the older bird.Photo: But the real surprise visitor to the Huesch hovel was this young male Superb Fairy-wren, who seemed to be checking out a likely opening for a high-rise nesting site...Photo: ... might just be suitable, he seems to be tweeting to his companion below...Photo: ... then looks up once more to the opening under the rafters...Photo: ... just completed in a rough manner by Yours Truly - for the benefits  of the family of microbats turfed out accidentally when said builder removed the ladder a day earlier to give support to a passionfruit vine along the shed roof. There had been a timber spacer jamming open the cement board flashing. I had looked at the board before and assumed it would leave enough space for the tiny bats to fly off at night, but apparently they didn't get through, so heaved at the cement board until it fell to the ground. When I looked at the mess this morning, there was one microbat remaining inside the opening but by the time I'd brought back the ladder it, too, had flown. Sadly, I found a mummified bat squeezed to death by an earlier such 'accident'... This bat family has lived alongside us for at least 30 years, and I plan to build them a proper 'house' once I'm fully back on deckPhoto: Good afternoon, all!

Eastern Yellow Robin (Eopsaltria australis) enjoys his perch in the bougainvillea, ready to swoop down on the most minimal 'upheaval' in the soil below. And more often than not, he flies off with an earthworm - usually before one of our hens beats him to it... These robins live close to us all year round, and don't hesitate to sail past our noses to pick something off the patio door frames

NB: This is my original caption,'lost' in uploading the RAW image from Picasa3 - are you reading this, Google?!Photo: "Street" cheat...

Magpie-lark (Grallina cyanoleuca)  strolls along the Wallis Lake shore footpath  next to Little Street as if it were totally within its domain. Its bold black pattern is repeated in the asphalt patch... The bird -- also commonly called the Peewee after its call - is common all over AustraliaPhoto: Little Black Cormorant (Phalacrocorax sulcirostris) rests between engagements, contemplatig the incoming tide in Wallis Lake which has schools of sand whiting flashing along the ripples.  The bird is said to fish cooperatively with pelicans, but I saw him diving alone, whereas a lone pelican...Photo: ... preferred to swim north along the channel, steering for the easier pickings at a lakeside picnic spotPhoto: The whitings flitted on, undisturbed...Photo: Eastern Whipbird (Psophodes olivaceous) ponders his next attack on the shiney storage tank on our verandah. He hardly pauses even while I'm working, resoldering copper pipes for my hydronics project - and because he realises I'm falling behind, he keeps up a constant barrage of very load whip cracks...Photo: ... his wife meanwhile explores possible nesting sites near the verandah, such as this Brazilian Cocos Palm (Syagrus romanzoffiana), an environmental weed that I still have to chop downPhoto: This Channel-billed cuckoo, one of two raised by a pair of pied currawongs, is about to realise how precarious his perch is - and move on...Photo: Our two "Blondes" relaxing together... Uschi (left) is moulting a little bit. She's the more docile of the two 'sisters'. Sybille is the wild one, she was just found depositing her eggs in the wreck of an old Mazda van on the property!

(I took a sledgehammer to the van and chopped off two front pillars, then - with Bianca's help and wearing thick leather gloves - we turned the roof section upside down and I completed flattening it totally...Photo: Pied Currawong (Strepera graculina) has discovered a feast on Clod 9: the ripe berries of the Majestic Palm (sory 'bout the extra fill light that makes them look brighter than they are). This palm, also known as the Royal Palm, has reached about half its future size yet already is higher than the shed roof at 4.5 m - amazing to think that we reared it in a rented room in Mosman all those years ago! BTW of currawongs: Bianca remarked that there were fewer around than usual (this one is one of a pair). So I pointed out that this decline in numbers must be due to the fact that our pair raised TWO Channel-billed Cuckoos last season - and they would have tossed the currawong fledglings from the nest!Photo: Our Little Wattlebird (Anthochaera chrysoptera - one of a few regulars) checks out the beautiful pomegranate tree that is just starting out for this season. But look, mate: only a few tiny blooms so far, no fruit at all! (This little rascal has decimated our guava tree, hacking into all the fruits...)Photo: First time I noticed this newcomer to the flowering lime tree: a Yellow-faced Honeyeater (Lichenostomus chrysops) - didn't get a good shot through the canopy so this will have to be a place-holder LOL. I shoot the birds mainly for easier IDentification with my Simpson & Day Field Guide to the Birds of Australia (says he...)Photo: Small Lewin's Honey-eater (Meliphaga lewinii) recovers in Bianca's garden from crashing into a clerestory window at high speed. Just before we picked him up, we saw two of his/her companions attempting to lift him bodily into the air! We'd never seen such an attempted rescue mission...Photo: ... here s/he has opened the left eye and its beak - there seems to be froth in his beak. But half an hour later, he flew up into the nearby macadamia tree!Photo: Ruffled, but unhurt...

Bianca plucked the little male Bar-shouldered Dove (Geopelia humeralis) in the chookhouse before he could damage his beak in the wire netting. When Bianca opened her hand, the bird took off in a straight line - for one of the verandah sliding doors! He sat on the tiles for a moment, then flew off in the opposite direction... Talk about bad luck!

I was sitting outside the chookhouse in wait for some tree-creepers that we'd often seen but never properly identified. So here they come...Photo: I've got something for you! this male White-throated Treecreeper (Cormobates leucophaea) seems to signal his mate from the nicely rough eucalypt...Photo: ... here she is, distinguished by a red dot below the orange mark on her cheek... (sorry, will try to get a better shot at her later)Photo: ... here she is, higher up on the trunk (much room for improvement, Mr Huesch!)Photo: 'I was here first', this White-cheeked Honeyeater (Phylidoniris niger, right) seems to tell the Lewins Honeyeater (Meliphaga lewinii, left) in a stand-off over bathing rights in our litttle 'kitchen pond'. The more aggressive White-cheeked Honeyeater prevailed...Photo: White-cheeked Honeyeater ((Philidonyris niger) in his or her full finery...Photo: The White-cheeked gang are a gregarious type...Photo: Female (or young male?) Superb Fairywren (Malurus cyaneus) also enjoys a quick plunge...Photo: Male Golden Whistler (Pachycephala pectoralis) checks out our drying-out kitchen pond... Hopefully, he'll be back for a sharper portrait! This is just an aide-memoire for myself in the album Birds around Us...Photo: The elusive Green Catbird (Ailuroedus crassirostris) is a rainforest bird that is usually heard mewing like a cat but not seen... But in recent days I've spotted two of them around our place - they must have come down from our patch of raiforest in a gully higher up the hill because of drought? This one went straight for the water container in our kitchen pond, now almost dry, but was scared by the flash and retreated...Photo: ... s/he spent a long time assessing the situation from far away, beyond the electric fence that is supposed to keep wallabies from the garden and orchard...Photo: ... before approaching again...Photo: ... and having that drink!Photo: Thanks mate! Any time! Perhaps I get some better snaps next time round...Photo: I'm feeling lucky...
(courtesy of Picasa 3 from Google)

Yellow-faced Honeyeater (Lichenostomus chrysops) strikes a dramatic pose while waiting for his or her turn at the emergency waterhole - a black plastic tub sitting on our almost dry 'kitchen pond'Photo: Green offering...

Red-browed Finch (Neochmia temporalis) has decided the usual white hen feathers don't turn his females' heads anymore: so he's gone back to a new love token... The little flock bird, also known as firetail, also no longer has easy access to the chicken coop BTW. Too many of the little adrlings snuck in through a gap next to the door, but then couldn't find the way out again... Sometimes up to a dozen were cooped up at times, waiting for us to open the door to the hen-house. They then flittled past us gracefully - and gratefully - apart from a few newcomers who had to be caught by hand and taken outside againPhoto: Sorry, wrong ID...

Brown Thornbill (Acanthiza pusilla) perches delicately on an appropriately thorny rambling rose overhanging the 'kitchen pond'.  Is this a new visitor to Clod 9? Snap taken in mid-winter, so perhaps it's a seasonal visitor...

I had earlier identified the bird as the Eastern Whipbird but looking more carefully at the photo it appears I got that wrong...Photo: "I'll get him yet!"...

Male Superb Fairy-wren (Malurus cyaneus) in his breeding finery - but furious after repeated attacks on our stainless steel tank failed to dislodge his 'rival'!  

Mr Wren was earlier guiding three of his drab females to our kitchen pond, where a 13 mm downpour during last night's thunderstorm had left a small puddle... More thunderstorms are on the wayPhoto: Pretty Bar-shouldered Dove (Geopelia humeralis) is quite relaxed in Bianca's hand:. She's obviously been through the procedure before - trapped in the chicken coop mesh, she patiently awaits rescue...Photo: ...and before take-off, she shows a slightly ruffled suit of feathers. At left, one of our three pomegranatesPhoto: Here the caption restored, by copy and paste - Google+ sometimes accepts captions, sometimes ignores them during the upload, opting instead of just repeating the headline of the post itself... One would appreciate SOME consistency, Google!

Little male Yellow-throated Scrubwren (Sericornis citreogularis) recovers in Bianca's garden after flying into one of our sliding doors. A short while later he was already able to move around on his legs. These little (12-15 cm) inhabitants of dense wet forest gullies - according to Simpson & Day's Field Guide to the Birds of Australia - hop along on the forest floor usually in pairs... I wonder if his mate will find him tonight?Photo: A---ttention! I'm the Royal Spoonbill (Platalea regia)... Despite his name, he's common wherever there are tidal flats and mangroves in fresh and saltwater wetlands. This is just a snap - must go back and get a better shot of HRH...Photo: Unknown (to me) song bird woke me from the scaffolding outsisde our sleeping loft this morning, and I spent quite a while enjoying his or her melodious performance.Photo: Don't give me that supercilious look, mate! I'll yet find out your taxonomy... (any help welcome). The bird has small yellow patches above its black eyes. From the way it sang it might well be a kind of Grey Shrike Thrush (Colluricincla harmonica)...Photo: Where's brekkie?!? Young Little Wattlebird (Anthochaera chrysoptera) has been screaming for food all day these days, even though s/he can fly and peck at things quite nicely already, thank you...Quite a noisy bunch around the house at the moment, with mating and rearing young going on simultaneously, it seems. The hens have grown used to the racket, and our little Langshan Suzie actually runs attacks when they're low enough in the shrubberyPhoto: Female Superb Fairy-wren (Malurus cyaneus) is part of a flock that lives and breeds near us most of the year... I was actually trying to snap the Variegated Fairy-wren (Malurus lamberti) tyhat daily hops along our verandah seeking splinters of the macadamia nuts we crack. The Variegated variety has a whiter bellyPhoto: Come on in, the water's just fine, Lewin's Honeyeater (Meliphaga lewinii) seems to signal after repeated plunges in our kitchen pond - and indeed a pair of Satin Bowerbirds took up the invite... but by the time I came out of the house again they'd finished for the day!Photo: Bianca just rescued a young male Eastern Spine-bill (Acanthorhynchus tenuirostris) enmeshed in spider webs on our verandah after flying into a sliding door. It took him a little while to find his bearings, then he flew off straight into the trees.Photo: ... and here's the proud father! Sorry 'bout the blur...Photo: Angry young Little Wattlebird (Anthochaera chrysoptera) stands guard over his/her newly discovered Metrosideros blooms... I've watched quite a few of these noisy, wing-clattering birds around our bush abode recently - they seem to be engaged in some courtship/territory defending mood already as the weather starts warming up.Photo: Eastern Osprey (Pandion cristatus [haliaetus], in German Fischadler) is a moderately common to uncommon raptor living all along the Australian coast. This one built its nest on a power pole next to a substation some 20 km north of us on the side of a busy highway.  'Our' pair -- I saw another adult gliding past -- has chosen a spot close to a large estuarine lake (Wallis Lake) as well as to the ocean itself. The power company has seemingly decommissioned the pole to give the breeding birds a chance to grow up free from the immediate risk of electrocution...Photo: Gee, this is fun! Looks like a petroleum spill in the later afternoon light but just fine for drinking and bathing, these White-cheeked Honeyeaters (Philidonyris niger) seem to say... Our kitchen pond is a little low because we've had practically no rain this month. I'll place more bird shots from the same place/time in my album Birds around Us - but I didn't get the pair of Azure Kingfishers that took turns diving this morning, nor the lovely Grey Shrike-Thrush that came to wake me up with persistent musical calls for the past two daysPhoto: Little Wattlebird  (Anthochaera chrysoptera) rules the pondscape through its size and raucus voice - we have several of these birds flitting from bottle-brush to bird-of-paradise flower and claiming all for themselves. The smaller honeyeaters hardly get a look in...Photo: White-naped Honeyeater (Melithreptus lunatus) migrates with the Yellow-faced Honeyeater (Lichenostomus chrysops), according to my Simpson & Days field guide. And indeed I snapped both of them at our pond today...Photo: ... and here it is: the Yellow-faced Honeyeater - on the same stick above the pond surfacePhoto: And finally, still using the same perch above the waterline, there's Lewin's Honeyeater (Meliphaga lewinii), a year-round visitor to our waterholePhoto: Where's my lunch?!? One of two young Superb Fairy-wren (Malurus cyaneus) females (?) being looked after and fed by a non-breeding male...Photo: Here's the other one - I didn't manage to snap their baby-sitter LOL and the father, in full superb regalia, spent his time attacking a presumed rival in the shiny stainless-steel hot water tank on the verandahPhoto: Here's the father of our little babes, after a quick plunge in the pond. Strangely, I did not see an adult female, and one of the young appeared to have a damaged right leg. But it bathed and frolicked with its sibling, regardlessPhoto: Think you can hide from me? Think again...

Sacred Kingfisher looks at the slit in the tent I've set up as my hide next to the kitchen pond and is most certainly aware of my presence!

With the beginning of the warmer season, at least one breeding pair of Todiramphus Sanctus has returned to our home site. They had a brief flirting season, then the female vanished to their nesting site (haven't found it yet).

I took this test shot from within a small tent I had rigged up below a lime tree next to the pond, close to our verandah - but the plastic stays for a crop of expected snake beans on the pond's edge are in the way. Will have to shift the tent and report back...Photo: Nice view from up here...Photo: Bianca picked up this tiny Red-browed Finch or Firetail (Neochmia temporalis) on the floor of the henhouse tonight it had obviously failed to fly out before the screen door was locked for the night! After the obligatory ID photo (made difficult because I could not see anything on the screen of my little DMC-TZ20!), Bianca set the bird free. We hope it found the way home in the dark...Photo: Here's a marginally better shotPhoto: Young Scarlet Honeyeater (Myzomela sanguinolentsa) approaches our kitchen pond carefully from the side with good cover, drinks and flits off. He was one of a pair of young males - and their female companions were in attendance but I didn't even attempt to photograph them because they looked so 'drab'! Apart from the two males, there also was a Red-headed Honeyeater among the visitors to the pond, as well as a kingfisher. It was 35.2 C in the shade, and we all needed a little respite...Photo: Worried Red-browed Finch or Firetail (Neochmia temporalis) sees his waterhole disappear under a layer of water plants and leaves blown in by strong gusts of wind today. There's been no rain for weeks, and temperatures are hovring around the 30 C mark. I'll soon have to make sure the big tub at the edge of the 'kitchen pond' is kept filled...Photo: ... still, for the moment, life's a blur!Photo: Just 2 mm rain fell overnight - male Scarlet Honey-eater (Myzomela sanguinolenta) is getting worried! It's getting very dry, trees drop lots of leaves and unripe fruit - only the South African stow-away, the Small Hive Beetle, seems to thrive: a bunch of them invaded a newly settled swarm of bees in their hive, and within days the bees decided to cut their losses. They scampered, taking all their newly stored honey and leaving behind capped combs full of beetle grubs - as well as a few of their ownInteresting times ahead!Photo: Sacred Kingfisher (Todiramphus sanctus) surveys his realm, but he shares it with the Azure Kingfisher (Ceyx or Alcedo azureus). We have around three pairs of kingfishers around our bush home, and their shrill shrieks, together with the castagnet chorus of the cicadas and the buzz of the blowflies, always convey to me the essence of the Australian summerPhoto: Is this the same Sacred Kingfisher I photographed at the same spot yesterday? S/he seemed to have more orange on throat and belly yesterday... In any case, I can say for sure that it's one of the pair that was dive-bombing a small goanna a metre or so from our verandah just a little earlier, amid wild shrieks. Our rooster Wotan regularly panics when the kingfishers 'attack' him in the same manner, but the goanna calmly ambled away...

PS: looks like this is the female partner! I saw them both together side-by-side on a trellis over looking the pond this morning 28/12 after they both had a bath. The male is the one that's more blue and orange...Photo: Bianca with her new best friend: a Wonga Pigeon (Leucosarcia picata [melanoleuca]) she just saved from our hunting hen Bella in the chicken run. We had earlier today seen this mostly ground-hugging pigeon in company with a Bar-shouldered Dove at our kitchen pond. But Wonga stayed in the background while the dove traipsed down to the water's edge to drink. This is only the second time we've spotted the lovely Wonga Pigeon at Clod 9...Photo: Dazed but alive...

Dazed but alive: this tiny honey-eater crashed into our loft window and I ran to save it from our approaching hunting hen, Bella. I transferred it to Bianca's garden and placed it under a pumpkin leaf for shelter. The bird had difficulty staying upright, but by the time I took this snap it had recovered a little, although the position of its right foot could  betray neurological damage? Tentatively identified as a Dusky Honey-eater (Myzomela obscura)... it could also be a very young Eastern Spinebill? The Dusky one doesn't normally come this far south from QueenslandPhoto: Help! Found this tiny new (to me) honey-eater sampling the small flowers of a Majestic palm tree flower spike...and I cannot identify it using my 8th edition Simpson & Day field guide... Any ideas, anyone? It is about the size of a Red-browed finch. Thanks!Photo: I've narrowed the bird's ID down a little: looking at Google Image Search with this shot, I detect a small likeness to a Scarlet Honey-eater (Myzomela sanguinolenta)... perhaps it's a very young one?Photo: Lewins Honeyeater (Meliphaga Lewinii)  deliberates: shall I risk plunging into this sombre little pond?Photo: ... he's done it! See the droplets on his chest?Photo: A little snack won't go amiss - at least the Metrosideros bloom still gets the late afternoon sunlight!Photo: A little Yellow-faced Honeyeater (Lichenostomus chrysops) doesn't mind sharing with his more sombre fellow travellerPhoto: Eastern Osprey (Pandion cristatus) has returned to the nest near us where last spring a pair raised at least two offspring. A few days ago I had spied two of the birds - also called fish eagles or seahawks - on a crossbar of the next power pole just a metre or two away, so today I had taken along my 'birding camera'...Photo: ... here s/he has spied me approaching from the other side, and keeps an eagle eye on me! I'm not certain if this is the original couple I saw, or its offspring... experts say the ospreys do not breed two seasons in succession (see also http://www.environment.gov.au/cgi-bin/sprat/public/publicspecies.pl?taxon_id=82411 for much detailed information about the species and its habits.)I'll keep you posted!Photo: Yellow-throated Scrubwren (Sericornis citreogularis) is a ground-dwelling bird that usually hops along the forest floor, much like the ubiquitous White-browed Scrubwren that flits around us through the grass much of the day. But this little feller took a jump too far: it crashed into a sliding door on expired on the verandah floor while we were in town shopping. Normally if birds fly into the glass doors we rush out and try to keep them alive, particularly Bianca has a good hand for emergency rescues...Photo: Why doesn't the blighted Little Wattlebird alight on the Bird-of-Paradise again where my pre-set focus is?!?Photo: Female Superb Fairy-wren (Malurus cyaneus), one of a group of others that flit around our henhouse and orchard these days, very unafraid and usually too close to get a photo... (I know, I still have to learn to use my new birding lens comme il faut)Photo: Take it as red...
(cheering me up on a blustery grey rainy day)Photo: Young kookaburra watches Bianca plant some strawberries in her garden under the old pecan tree - at one stage he came within 20 cm of her foot to snatch a worm...Photo: ... after he changed his perch to an old stump near the chookhouse, he snatched another one...Photo: ... before the big old black hen Ruby got a look in!Photo: And little silkie Ellen ambles by in awe!Photo: Unknown (to me - and perhaps Simpson & Day? It's not in their book...) robin-like bird busy constructing a nest in one of the corrugations of my roof. I took the shot lying in my bed in the loft, through the dirty window pane, and show it to you only to perhaps get some help identifying the tiny bird.Photo: Here's another view of the tiny builder, making deft use of my aluminium scaffolding outside the window. They work in tandem, amid soft chirping calls.  Here one can see a bit of the black and white striations along head and wings. Eye, beak and legs are dark. Hope to get a better shot from outside later...Photo: "Arrrrrb,raaaaab, rrrr..."I had a log conversation with this Australian Raven (Corvus coronoides), or perhaps Little Crow (Corvus benetti) in a car park in Taree yesterday afternoon, waiting for Bianca to return from shopping. And yes, it was a full duplex discussion, with the bird going to great lengths to communicate with me in various voices, and occasionally showing off its wings and spreading its tail wide... I was lying on my back in the VW van, head on a bale of lovely lucerne hay, looking up into the tree - and it felt as if I were back in my childhood, enjoying nature while everybody else worked, played hard or studied.Photo: What astonished me, using to seeing these birds criss-cross the sky quite low, is that they are NOT all pitch black: this one had a much lighter tail section and very light grey under the wings! Argh, argh, my friend...Photo: `Rainbow Lorikeet (Trichoglossus haematodus) surveys Bianca's smoergasbord of bottlebrush trees: coming from a common red bottlebrush he went on to this showy variety Honeygem - and promptly chased the 'resident' Little Wattlebird from it. The lorikeet was accompanied by a chatty female, but she was too well camouflaged today...Photo: Here's the Little Wattlebird (Anthochaera chrysoptera) sampling the new Honeygem blooms, before being chased away by the lorikeetPhoto: Trick or treat? Iapplied lots of fill light to this image of the male Scarlet Honeyeater (Myzomela sanguinolenta) to appear from the shade of the weeping bottlebrush outside my 'office'. Thus the deep red colours of the bottlebrush flowers and the new foliage are much too light...Photo: here the bird shows off its back - and the colours are left 'as is'.Photo: Another view - perhaps after my cataract operation later this year I'll be able to focus properly!  The bird was one of two I saw foraging deep inside the tree, to avoid being chased off by the dominant resident Little Wattlebirds or the ...Photo: ... White-cheeked Honeyeater (Phylidonyris niger), another common visitor.Photo: Seen here in almost full flight, the White-cheeked Honeyeater lives in small flocks around the house, and flies so fast and bold that it sometimes ends up crashing into a sliding door or window. We've saved a few of them, but laterly at least two could not be revived...Photo: Female Olive-backed Oriole (Oriolus sagittatus) plays hide-and-seek with me in the dense cover at the edge of our 'kitchen pond'. Took the shot mainly because I hadn't seen this species on our bush block before. And she's a ventriloquist, Simpson & Day note in their Field Guide to the Birds of Australia: she apparently mimics other birds extremely well ... (Hand-held with the big 300 mm lens, vision impaired by cataracts - I know, excuses, excuses!)Photo: Another of my long-time favourites, the Scarlet Honey-eater (Myzomela sanguinolenta) checks his appearance in the pond - typical male!Photo: ... and finally, the White-cheeked Honey-eater (Phylidonyris niger) takes a later afternoon bath with several of its companions (not shown). These colourful, cheerful and swift birds race around the po0nd and house all day, and several crashed into our loft windows before we hit upon the idea of suspending a reflective, noisy owl from the roof outside the window. No more casualties since! Note: this foreign-made artifact shows the owl with its typical ears BUT our 10 or so owl species in Australia are all earless...Photo: Look, son, don't be shy! Get going, there's more!Photo: ""Angeber!", scheint das rechte Maennchen des Scarlet Honey-eater zu sagen... Die Beiden tollten, mit einem oder zwei fast únsichtbaren'Weibchen, den ganzen Morgen in unserem 'Rosenberg'am Tuempel vor der Kueche - aber als ich schliesslich die Kamera zueckte, waren sie zu scheu geworden...Photo: Young honey-eater of unknown parentage found himself/herself trapped in the chookhouse this evening, so Bianca grabbed the little straggler and let him fly off...Photo: ... but not before showing off its delicate feathers in her digger's hands. Will search for an ID A.S.A.P - but first I must bake bread, because we're expecting Bianca's half-brother from Germany tomorrow

Actually, it looks more like a wren than a honeyeater! Perhaps it'll develop into the Yellow-throated Scrub-wren?!Photo: "!'m like dough in your hands!" This little Yellow-throated Scrubwren (Sericornis citreogularis) was just plucked from the hen-house by Bianca - who still had some dough from her early-risen sourdough bread on her hands... The wren was very much at ease but at one stage (shown here) considered biting the hand that freed him LOL Or perhaps, like the nibbling hens before him, was planning to snatch a morsel of dough?Photo: This young (?) female (?) Sacred Kingfisher (Todiramphus sanctus) turns its back on the ravages wrought on an immense termite nest high up in a neigbouring eucalypt by a large goanna a few weeks ago - and looks hopefully to the new year.

Perhaps it will get another chance at breeding? The goanna ripped large parts from the termite nest amid constant dive-bombing attacks and shrieks from a single kingfisher before it slid an nearly fell off the tree...

Goannas are a constant menace to the beaut birds - but like them, they have a right to their own way of life on our Permanent Conservation AreaPhoto: Watch out! This kookaburra is keeping watch over my little water tub in the dried-out pond, because...Photo: ... there's his whole tribe to provide for. No others admitted... It is 40.6 C outside (32.1 C in my office) and I just dashed out ill prepared for this spectacle - so, apologies for the bad snapshot. You won't believe the racket these four make! All other feathered visitors, including our suffering hens, are kept at bay...