A Square-tail in the Blue

Square-tailed Kite

North of Toowoomba, Queensland, Australia

August 2015

Another exciting raptor seen with Kevin Williams on my August visit home. Unfortunately, it was a bit high but these are my best shots of this species since 1994. That's what you get when you live away. I have sighted them high and far away on other occasions but failed to get any shots at those times.

This one also seemed to be carrying nesting material which is good. Notice how long those wings are and the huge primaries. They are a unique Australian species and certainly not common. A nice encounter indeed!

Enter Australian Magpie

In Ravensbourne

Black-faced Monarch

Ravensbourne National Park, Queensland, Australia

January 3, 2014

Time does go by quite quickly. These are bird encounters at Ravensbourne National Park with Kay and Kevin Williams back at the start of 2014.

Brown Thornbill

(above and below)

Eastern Yellow Robin

(Above and below)

Green Catbird

(Above and below)

Australian Magpies

(In early morning chorus)

Noisy Pitta

(Pretty excited about this one)

Straw-necked Ibis

Immortals Rock Isle

Pacific Black Duck

Toowoomba Japanese Gardens, Queensland, Australia

January 7, 2014

Nikon Coolpix S9100

Some photos taken at the Toowoomba Japanese Gardens with a borrowed Nikon Coolpix S9100. I was a little frustrated with the focussing but I just took a lot of pics until I got them right. It's a little super zoom and it was pretty handy carrying it in my pocket.

Australian White Ibis

Domestic Duck

Little Black Cormorant

Australian Magpie

Granite Belt Wine Country (for "bird watching")

Superb Fairy-wren
female singing

Vineyard Cottages, Ballandean, Queensland

July 29, 2012

Back at the end of July we enjoyed a couple of days break in an area known as the Granite Belt. It is a really beautiful area for unique Australian landscapes and flora and fauna. I think the central jewel to the area is Girraween National Park and recommend you browse this fantastic website.

We actually stayed at Vineyard Cottages. Upon arrival at our cottage, I noticed typical Australian birds such as Australian Magpies about the place and within seconds we had Superb Fairy Wrens and Double-barred Finches hoping around within metres of our door. For dinner I had a huge T-bone steak sitting on a bed of mashed potato with peppered mushroom gravy and a dessert with a nice hot cappuccino.

The next morning I again found the wrens and finches as well as Eastern Spinebills, various honeyeaters, magpies, doves, and European Blackbirds. The latter regarded as a noxious invasive in Australia.  I guess they aren’t good to have around native plants as their foraging is quite destructive but I was familiar with them in Melbourne years back and find them fairly attractive.

Double-barred Finch

Vineyard Cottages

Superb Fairy Wren

We delighted in fresh and dried fruits with freshly made muesli, breads, plus juices, coffee and yogurt for breakfast followed by a mid-morning visit to Girraween. There, we were welcomed by a high-flying Wedge-tailed Eagle, a Red Wattlebird near the information centre and Red-browed Finches frolicking on the cut grass. We didn’t venture beyond the entrance but Girraween looked fantastic with flowering native plants such as banksias and wattles all booming in colour under the clear blue winter sky.

Wedge-tailed Eagle

Girraween National Park

Red-browed Finch

Heavenly Chocolate, Queensland

On the way back, I finally managed a shot of a Red-browed Finch, be it, in a mix of bright light and dark shadows at Heavenly Chocolate where we were warmly welcomed by some super friendly canines. Then.

We went for lunch.

We randomly followed a road to Felsberg Winery where more wrens were hopping about and a family of some kind of bird actually came into the restaurant. They sounded interesting enough, however I couldn’t see them over a massive mound of mashed sweet potatoes flattening out under the weight of sliced Bratwurst sausages and caramelised onion gravy and another cappuccino. By the time the visual obstruction was gone so were the birds.

Not long after we entered the Bramble Patch, the lady there, having observed that I had a camera hanging around my neck told me to get some shots of a Kookaburra just outside on a fence post. I did.

Laughing Kookaburra

The Bramble Patch

Eastern Rosella

The Bramble Patch

Eastern Rosellas and Crimson Rosellas

After having various frozen berries mashed amongst fresh ice-cream, I went out looking for the birds on their property and was excited to see Eastern Rosellas. The Granite Belt is about the only area in South-eastern Queensland where I’ve seen them going back at least 20 years.

Crimson Rosella

The Bramble Patch

Actually, we didn’t have much for dinner that night opting for Olympics on TV followed by an awesome outing to the Twinstar Guesthouse and Observatory. It was a very clear but moonlight night and we studied the sky and stars for a good 90 minutes. It's an absolutely fascinating place to visit.

I only had toasted sandwiches for lunch the next day; along with a cappuccino.
European Blackbird

Australian Magpie hanging out with Jack Frost

Vineyard Cottages

Yellow-faced Honeyeater

Double-barred Finch

Vineyard Cottages

I apologise if a have offended some readers with this post. It’s just the foods mentioned here are rare in Japan.
More about the wineries and food places of the Granite Belt Wine Country can be found HERE!!

At first I thought this was an Orange Banksia but the leaves are different..
Hmmn, maybe it's a Hairpin Banksia...
I have an app on my phone but can't quite find it.

Girraween National Park

Wattle and sky at Girraween National Park

Maybe looks too vivid to northern eyes but I swear these colours are accurate!

Some landscapes from the Granite Belt

Backlit Eagle

A big, black ball plunges from the sun.
Wedge-tailed Eagle in a stoop.
(Middle Ridge, Toowoomba, August, 2011)

I was trying to concentrate on photographing an Eastern Spinebill in a friend's front yard in Middle Ridge, Toowoomba when I was rudely distracted by the serious panic calls of Galahs, Australian Magpies and Crows. Birds were flying everywhere and I thought something must have caused the panic and I turned around and scanned the skies. At first I couldn't see anything but then a big, black ball appeared plunging from out of the midday sun just to the north. I managed to just get one shot off before it disappeared behind some trees lining the neighbour's property across the road. After a few moments the eagle reappeared swooping towards me over the trees and veered left in front of a large pine hedge chased by magpies and crows. It all happened in seconds. It appeared to come out empty handed. 

I concentrated on keeping it in focus and had no time to consider the camera settings. I had the camera set to shutter priority at 1/1000 and strangely the camera automatically went to f32 when the eagle flew in front of the hedge. The raw files just came out black and I could only extract the following using imaging software...