Ladies of the Trees

Ravensbourne National Park

Lookout and picnic area

Queensland, Australia

December 31, 2013

Thank you for visiting the Stoop Files in 2013. I really enjoyed your visits and comments.

For the last day of the year, Kevin and Kay Williams and myself started early on a damp and misty morning at Ravensbourne National Park then headed down the Great Divided Range where we ran into Mick Atzeni who was also out birding. We ticked 105 species for the one day, and I clicked 467 exposures on one camera and a handful on another.

At Ravensbourne, numerous birds were flying in and out of the above pictured tree where I guess they were getting fruit then taking it into the forest at the right. Bad light for photography but a very beautiful place to visit. 

I hope you have a super 2014 and find many birds that thrill you!


Superb Fairy-wren

Regent Bowerbird

Amphibian eggs at the base of a damp tree
When we were heading down the range

I read that there are 6 introduced deer species in Australia. (Of course none are native)
I'm guessing this is a Red Deer but I'm not sure. If you have a better idea I'd be grateful to know.

TBO March Outing

Red-necked Wallaby
(I think?)

Cooby Dam, Toowoomba, Queensland, Australia

March 30, 2013

Enjoyed a nice outing at Cooby Dam with the kind folk from the Toowoomba Bird Observers. I think the highlight was a displaying Musk Duck. A first for me. Sadly, I failed to photograph the female and yet again, I have later thought about the benefits of having a video mode on my camera. I will have to look at it someday. 

Now that I spend time overseas, I am excited by macropods, kookaburras and go gooey over fairy-wrens. I am pleased to see them doing well. Now is the time for wildlife to benefit after fire, rain and floods. The place is looking lush. I think the last time I visited Cooby Dam it was almost completely dry due to drought.

Musk Duck displaying male

Musk Duck male

Gull-billed Terns

as I think it was concluded by TBO members?

Thanks to Mick Atzeni for pointing out an earlier error!

Laughing Kookaburra

Superb Fairy-wren male and female

This picture is a good example of how high and healthy the grasses were everywhere!
-making for lots of happy little birds.

Superb Fairy-wren male

male Superb Fairy-wren and Double-barred Finch

Too bad I didn't have a tripod with me,
 -I could have stopped down a bit to get both birds in focus.
All pics here were handheld with Nikon D800 and Nikkor AF-S 300mm f4 and TC 1.4II.

Rufous Whistler male

White-bellied Sea-eagle hiding on the opposite side of the dam.

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

Early Adventures for 2011.

Breeding Cattle Egret. (Gatton, Queensland)

Had a couple of nice outings with some interesting naturalists to start the year off. Rod, Rob, Mick and I scanned around a vast area of the Lockyer Valley on Sunday and then down and around Murphys Creek with Olive and Mick for Monday morning. On and off sunshine was a little challenging to photograph subjects up against clouds but we saw some cool things. I usually overlook Cattle Egrets but we came across a breeding colony and I thought they were quite striking up-close.

...yellow eyes...

...Red eyes... They are all in breeding plumage.

 Wandering Whistling Duck.

We passed by many creeks and lakes that showed the signs of the recent floods. These horses decided the best way to the opposite side of a lake was straight across.

 Young Black-shouldered Kite.

  Yellow-spotted Monitor Varanus panoptes
(Thanks Michael Atzeni) post edit.

First encounter with the above monitor species. His pose was so nice but he turned around when I opened the car door. Rod identified him and informed us that he isn't a common one in the area. Wish I got him in a better pose. I'll chase up the scientific name and add it later...

 Red-backed Fairy-Wren. (male) (Murphys Creek, Monday)

 Superb fairy Wren (male) (Murphys Creek, Monday)

 Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoo. (Murphys Creek, Monday)

Got more shots of Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoos while they were high up in a tree but a bright cloud behind them made for poor pics. A lifer for me, as far as I can remember. I've mostly found red-tails in the past.

Rainbow Bee-eater. (Murphys Creek Bridge, Monday)

Thanks for the outings everyone!

Fairy Fixations.

Male Superb Fairy-wren.

I can find myself power walking along with world issues on my mind when hear a trilling bird call from shrubs or long grass. Suddenly I realise I'm carrying a large camera and I become transfixed on tiny, little elusive subjects with upright tails hopping about. I find myself fiddling with camera controls and stumbling about for untold hours. I have buckets of the same photos from my film days but when ever I see Australian Fairy-wrens I am lost. I regret I messed up the exposure of these pics. (I should have underexposed them) Australian contrasts are so strong. The light is so white and shadows so dark.

These photos were taken at Lloyd and Lynne's place north of Toowoomba on the morning of August 21, 2010.