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Current happenings - What's About?....

16 December, 2005

Channel-billed Cuckoo

An immature Channel-billed Cuckoo - 
raised by Torresian Crows and now trying to fend for itself.

King Parrot King Parrot

A splendid male King Parrot in a young Acacia salicina was the first bird I saw when 
I stepped onto the verandah around 6 o'clock this-morning.


15 December, 2005 - A moment of excitement!

Sitting quietly at my desk a few minutes ago, then a moment later yelling out to Eileen 
"New bird for Abberton" and reaching for the camera and binoculars at the same time
as we both race out to the verandah to look at two beautiful little parrots!

Musk Lorikeet Musk Lorikeet
Musk Lorikeets  - just outside my window 

In fact, Musk Lorikeet has been here just once before, in January 2003, but these views were so good 
it felt like a new bird at the time, and had all the excitement of a new bird for the garden.

Musk Lorikeets are common enough up the range in Toowoomba, but very scarce down here in the valley.
Most of our eucalypts here are in full flower at the moment, so I guess that is what has pulled them in 
to join our regular Scaly-breasted Lorikeets and less frequent Little Lorikeets.

Around dusk every night there is a change of shifts, and these warm summer evenings are full of the sounds 
of Flying Foxes feeding and squabbling right alongside the house in the same trees that 
the lorikeets feast in during the day.

December, 2005

  Apostlebird Tawny Frogmouth
Even on a good day, an Apostlebird can look like 
it's been dragged through a hedge backwards
Tawny Frogmouth sitting on young in the nest 
- at Helidon


    Great-crested Grebe

Lake Dyer held at least 13 Great-crested Grebes on 10 December
Whiskered Tern  
and a host of Whiskered Terns

Plumed Whistling Duck  Plumed Whistling Duck

Nearby were Plumed Whistling Ducks, and Royal Spoonbill

Royal Spoonbill  Royal Spoonbill


Pink-eared Duck & Wandering Whistling Duck

and two Pink-eared Duck and a Wandering Whistling Duck.


Comb-crested Jacana Magpie Goose
Comb-crested Jacana   Magpie Goose
        Two common waterbirds in the area - neither is on our house-list yet,
but they're easy enough to find nearby.         


Pale-headed Rosellas Scaly-breasted Lorikeet
Pale-headed Rosellas Scaly-breasted Lorikeet - one of the four 
lorikeet species that visit us 

Spring 2005

Sacred Kingfisher
click image to enlarge
Sacred Kingfisher coming in to land!


Laughing Kookaburra
Noisy Friarbird
click image to enlarge
Laughing Kookaburra


Noisy Friarbird


Common Koel Diamond Dove
A Common Koel doing his noisy thing


Diamond Dove an unusual visitor to our garden 


Black-shouldered Kite
click image to enlarge
Black-shouldered Kite


Australian Hobby Peregrine Falcon at nest
Australian Hobby


Peregrine Falcon at nest in nearby Toowoomba 
- calling to a straying chick


Red-capped Dotterel
Glossy Ibis
click image to enlarge
Red-capped Dotterel


A particularly smart Glossy Ibis


Koala in the forest nearby


Double-barred Finches, Zebra Finches and Silvereye
Double-barred Finches, Zebra Finches and Silvereyes at a birdbath


Rufous Fantail
click image to enlarge
Eastern Whipbird
Rufous Fantail - a summer visitor to our garden


Eastern Whipbird - not always hard to see


Common Bronzewing
Male Common Bronzewing, showing his golden yellow forehead

 August, 2005 - Birds everywhere!

Brown Quail
Brown Quail, photographed through a window.

We seem to be surrounded by Brown Quail at present!  
It's not unusual to see them here, but I just replaced all the windows along one side 
of the house with larger panes of clear glass, and we're beginning to realise that the
quail are on one side or other of the house, or under it, pretty well all day every day.

  We've hardly had a winter, and the place is generally alive with birds. 
As I write, I can see Chestnut-breasted Mannikins and Zebra Finches on the ground 
outside my window, and two Speckled Warblers are bathing in the pool on the rock nearby. 
Striated Pardalotes and a Mistletoebird are calling, and a Wedge-tailed Eagle is
soaring way up overhead.
I'll be glad to finish this and get outside to see what else is about!

Little Eagle   Little Eagle
Little Eagle, a fairly regular winter visitor here, first spotted in a tree across the creek, 
and shortly after showing its distinctive underwing in flight. 


White-bellied Sea-eagle
White-bellied Sea-eagle

Whistling Kite
Whistling Kite
Two more raptors distinctive in flight - both photographed at Abberton.  


White-browed Scrubwren  Willie Wagtail
The diminutive, always busy, White-browed Scrubwren, and the equally busy  
Willie Wagtail are usually the last two birds active in the garden late in the day.

15 June 2005 - Western Gerygone, Plumheads and more

  Western Gerygone is only a very occasional winter bird here, but we have had two at Abberton for a 
week or so. They sing quite a lot, and really do sound rather like a White-throated Gerygone 
suddenly running into a brick wall just before the end of its song!

Rose Robin
click image to enlarge
Male Rose Robin 

Other winter birds for us are turning up, such as Rose Robins, Yellow-faced Honeyeaters 
and buff-flanked Silvereyes from down South.

Speckled Warbler

 Speckled Warblers are around the garden in numbers. I've counted as many as ten spread around the place on just a short walk. The creek is for the most part dry just now, and the Speckled Warblers are into it like cattle on the long paddock.  

There have been plenty of Plumheaded Finches around the valley, and a couple 
dropped into the garden on Sunday, which led me to wonder if they've maybe recently 
shifted their current roost closer to us, in which case we can look forward to an influx 
for a few weeks. Then last night, as we were sitting on the verandah not long before 
dusk, we saw the familiar sight (and heard the familiar sound) of small parties of 
Plumheads passing overhead on their way to roost. They were heading a bit upstream 
of the house, and I don't know whether the roost is on Abberton or not, but they do 
favour waterside vegetation for their roosts be it reedbeds or cane-grass or whatever 
- and there are plenty of options for them here.

   Square-tailed Kite is pretty regular in May/June, and we had great views of one low 
and almost overhead as we drove in to Gatton the other day.


Varied Sittella   Varied Sittella
Varied Sittellas descend onto trees in groups. Our Queensland race has a white head, 
bright yellow feet, and orange wing-bars. They are the nearest thing Australia has to a nuthatch, 
but very much smaller.


  Yellow Thornbill
click image to enlarge
Yellow Thornbill 
White-throated Gerygone
White-throated Gerygone

Three more of our garden birds.

Yellow Thornbill and White-throated Gerygone (above) are just about everpresent.
Black-faced Monarch below is only an occasional visitor to us. 

Black-faced Monarch
Immature Black-faced Monarch


Red-necked Avocets
Red-necked Avocets  

White-necked Heron
White-necked Heron

June 2005

Comb-crested Jacana
Comb-crested Jacana
Purple Swamphen
Purple Swamphen


Lake Freeman held a lot of good birds yesterday afternoon. I found about 9 pairs of 
Aussie Shoveler, 2 Freckled Duck, 3 pairs of Cotton Pygmy-goose along with two full 
grown imms, lots of Pink-eared Duck, hordes of Plumed Whistling-duck, Chestnut Teal, 
in fact 12 duck species in all as well as Magpie Geese and Black Swans with young. 

Whistling Kite  Whistling Kite
Whistling Kites

There were about a dozen Comb-crested Jacana, Glossy Ibis, herons, spoonbills, 
and 23 other waterbird species, as well as White-bellied Sea-eagle, Whistling Kite, 
Black-shouldered Kite, and lots more.


9 May 2005 - A lot going on  

Collared Sparrowhawk Collared Sparrowhawk
Collared Sparrowhawk in the garden

A Collared Sparrowhawk came down to a birdbath on Saturday, and just sat there
for some time - as they do. Then she shifted into an adjacent tree, allowing me to 
take some photos from the fringes of the house.

An influx of Red-tailed Black Cockatoos yesterday afternoon - 30 or so. 
They've just about cleaned out the fruit from the White Cedars, but they're happy 
to get stuck into the bigger eucalypts.


Southern Boobook  
click image to enlarge
Friends Mark and Pauline, just up the road, have had a Southern Boobook in their 
garden for several days. It's become quite regular in its favourite tree.

Speckled Warbler
Female Speckled Warbler

This-morning we had five Speckled Warblers rummaging around the litter 
that is our presently dry garden. Yellow-faced Honeyeaters have turned up, as they 
do every autumn, along with southern Silvereyes. 

There are Rose Robins around in the valley, but none in the garden yet this season. 


Waders at Thorneside
Pacific Golden Plover, Bar-tailed Godwit, Great Knot, 
Grey-tailed Tattler, Curlew Sandpiper and Silver Gull

I spent a few days with a visitor from the US last week and between us we turned up more than 
160 spp, but that did include a couple of days outside the valley. 

   A very nice little group of waders at Thorneside included Pacific Golden Plover, 
Bar-tailed Godwits, Great Knot, Grey-tailed Tattler, Terek Sandpiper and Curlew Sandpiper 
- all neatly juxtaposed for ease of identification, with Black-winged Stilts and Silver Gulls 
nearby to give some size perspective, and Collared Kingfishers dotted along the shore, 
plus the most brilliantly coloured Sacred Kingfisher I have ever seen - also sitting on the shoreline!


Curlew Sandpipers and Silver Gulls
Curlew Sandpipers and Silver Gulls

Striated Heron    Striated Heron
The same day, we found this Striated Heron right alongside the Brisbane River.


White-headed Pigeon
White-headed Pigeon at Mt Glorious

And, once again, Mt Glorious yielded the birds for which it is dependable, including 
Logrunner, Crested Shrike-tit, Noisy Pitta, Paradise Riflebird, Pale Yellow Robin 
and a range of fruit-doves and rainforest pigeons.

April 2005

Tawny Frogmouth
This Tawny Frogmouth came in to sit quietly on a rail 
close by the house this-evening.

A couple of days ago, we were startled by what appeared to be a Snow Bunting in the birdbath!

leucistic House Sparrow

But, no it wasn't a new record for Australia (or the Southern Hemisphere) 
- it was just a leucistic House Sparrow.  


Black-tailed Godwits and Black-winged Stilt
Black-tailed Godwits on Lake Atkinson - providing
an interesting size comparison with the Black-winged Stilt

Black-tailed Godwits occur on our inland lakes every spring and summer,
but I've yet to see a Bar-tailed Godwit away from the coast.

March, 2005

Wedge-tailed Eagle  Wedge-tailed Eagle
I was sitting at my desk when this Wedge-tailed Eagle landed under a tree outside - 
I tried to creep up on him, but this is as far as I got.

Welcome Swallow
Welcome Swallow avoiding the heat of 
the day under a Hotel's awning.

Spangled Drongo  Silvereye
Spangled Drongo and Silvereyes

Grey Goshawk
Grey Goshawk

A week or so back, a Grey Goshawk dropped into a tree adjacent to the window 
- we glanced at each other and it was gone. But, when I took a walk on Easter Sunday, 
there he was again, settled quietly and apparently comfortably in another tree at 
the other end of the garden. 

Red-tailed Black Cockatoo
Red-tailed Black Cockatoos were quiet here at the beginning of the month,
but have recently reappeared in the garden in noisy feeding parties of up to 30 birds.
 I guess they ate all the available ripe fruit last month, then gave us a rest until some more matured.

Male bird above, and male and female below.

Red-tailed Black Cockatoo   Red-tailed Black Cockatoo



Fuscous Honeyeater    Brown Honeyeater
Fuscous Honeyeater (non-breeding) Brown Honeyeater

Brown Honeyeaters are always here, but Fuscous has only turned up very occasionally 
at Abberton. The Fuscous above shows a lot of yellow on the base of the lower mandible, 
which is characteristic of non-breeding birds.

Bell Miner Bell Miner
We often visit a nearby colony of Bell Miners. Like the Noisy Miner, they are typically 
intolerant of other birds, and whereas it's good to be able to see and hear them 
now and then, I wouldn't want them any closer to home.


Brush-tailed Possum
This nocturnal Brush-tailed Possum was trying to sleep the day away in a garden shed

  Black-shouldered Kite    Black-shouldered Kite  
Two Black-shouldered Kites in the same tree, 
only a few minutes after seeing the Brown Falcon below.
Brown Falcon  Brown Falcon

....and not far from what is probably Toowoomba's only resident Bush Stone-curlew
- which is outside the fence in the photo, by the way.
Bush Stone-curlew

Glossy Ibis  Glossy Ibis and Black-tailed Godwit
Glossy Ibis are ever-present around the valley these days. 
The bird in the foreground (above right) is a Black-tailed Godwit - one of 12 at the same lake.

Various Cormorants
From the right: Two Little Black Cormorants, Great Cormorant, 
Little Pied Cormorant (outlined against the wing of the Great Cormorant), 
Pied Cormorant and then several immature Darters

Latham's Snipe
Latham's Snipe spends the northern winter here, but will be heading back to Japan shortly.

Yellow-billed Spoonbill
Yellow-billed Spoonbill

In some parts of Australia, the Yellow-billed Spoonbill is scarcer than the Royal Spoonbill, 
but hereabouts you're just as likely to see one as the other - or both together.


Buff-banded Rail
Two newly fledged Buff-banded Rails 
- the bird in the front already showing the bold banding on the flanks, and just the 
beginning of the broad buff breast-band, while the other one is sporting the 
adult bird's typical big white eyestripe.  

Red-kneed Dotterel
Red-kneed Dotterel at the same location
Lewin's Honeyeater     White-throated Honeyeater
Lewin's Honeyeater White-throated Honeyeater

Plenty of birds are coming to water during this current dry spell.

Grey Shrike-thrush    Willie Wagtail
Grey Shrike-thrush Willie Wagtail

...among them, this male Red-backed Fairywren, who is in the process of losing his 
summer finery, and entering eclipse plumage.

Red-backed Fairywren
Red-backed Fairywren


Every summer for several years now, White-browed Scrubwrens have been unable to resist 
exploring a hanging pot on our main verandah, sometimes starting to bring nesting material, 
but never seeing it through, and usually nesting somewhere under the house.

White-browed Scrubwren
White-browed Scrubwren taking food to its nest

This year however, they persevered in building a bulky domed nest, just skirting anyone 
who happened to be on the verandah as they were coming and going, and persevered -
successfully bringing three young birds out of the nest just a few days ago.


A big paddock of sunflower seeds just along the road from here is a 
good place to find parrots

Rainbow Lorikeet
Rainbow Lorikeet atop the sunflower,
Scaly-breasted Lorikeet and Galah looking on.

Jacky Winter
Jacky Winter, a typical flycatcher in lightly wooded parts 

February, 2005

Crested Pigeon and Sacred Kingfishers
Crested Pigeon meets Sacred Kingfishers

Red-tailed Black Cockatoo  Red-tailed Black Cockatoo
Red-tailed Black Cockatoos continue to come in to feed on the fruit of the White Cedars
Sacred Kingfisher   
Sacred Kingfishers bathe a lot, then spend a lot of time time preening nearby
Sacred Kingfisher  Sacred Kingfisher
Sacred Kingfisher  
Sacred Kingfisher  


White-breasted Woodswallows
The most common Woodswallow in the valley is the White-breasted

 White-throated Honeyeater
White-throated Honeyeaters
(above and below)
White-naped Honeyeater


Male Peaceful Dove displaying


This bird is one of a group of four Myiagra flycatchers that spent a few days here this month.

It isn't always a simple matter separating female Leaden and Satin Flycatchers, but 
after much soul-searching and consultation with friends and colleagues, I can't find 
anything definitive about these birds that marks them out as Satin Flycatchers 
- or anything that says that they couldn't be Leaden Flycatchers.

Leaden Flycatchers are regular here, Satin Flycatchers are not. 
The males are not so hard to tell apart.


Eastern Whipbird
Eastern Whipbirds are thought of as somewhat secretive, but I'm not sure that they are.
They lead their lives on and under thick undergrowth, which makes them hard to see most of the time, 
but here they are often seen in the open, albeit briefly, and they regularly come to water


Silvereye  Chestnut-breasted Mannikin
Two more regular bathers, Silvereye and Chestnut-breasted Mannikin


Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike
The Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike is such a handsome bird, but so common that he gets overlooked.
I was surprised to discover just the other day that I had never photographed one, 
so I snapped the next one I saw....


Nankeen Kestrel  Juvenile Australasian Grebe
Nankeen Kestrel - maybe the most common raptor in the valley 
and a typically stripy-faced juvenile Australasian Grebe, possibly the most common waterbird.

January, 2005

It's hard to resist photographing Silvereyes, particularly when they're bathing


  Sacred Kingfisher
A good-looking Sacred Kingfisher. They can vary tremendously in colour from 
an aqua green, through to the blue on this bird. 
Scaly-breasted Lorikeet      Scaly-breasted Lorikeet
Scaly-breasted Lorikeets flash by most days, but over the last week or so 
they've been spending some time in the garden.



Common Koel - male  
click image to enlarge

Nearly adult male Common Koel at the rock pool

  Common Koel - female
 - and a female

Two young Dollarbirds braving the elements


Striped Honeyeater
Striped Honeyeater


Immature Blue-faced Honeyeater
Juvenile Blue-faced Honeyeater
drinking at the rock
Adult Blue-faced Honeyeater
Adult Blue-faced Honeyeater
taking a sip from a birdbath

Pale-headed Rosella
A Pale-headed Rosella making its way to the rock pool via one of the melaleuca rails 
I've erected nearby to provide birds with a comfortable "stepping-stone" 
to the pool while we wait for the new shrubs around the rock to mature.

Sulphur-crested Cockatoo
Sulphur-crested Cockatoos drop in every afternoon at a friend's house

Striped Honeyeater and Little Friarbird
Striped Honeyeater and Little Friarbird
- giving a good view of the size differential between these two honeyeaters




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Bill Jolly, Abberton, Helidon, Qld
(27 34' 21' S; 152 08' 21' E)