Young Variegated Male

Variegated Fairy-wren
Young male

Highfields Falls, Queensland, Australia

Monday, December 23, 2013

Here's a young male Variegated Fairy-wren I photographed with Kevin Williams last Monday. I think I could spend all my time photographing this one species and I wouldn't get bored. They don't stay still however, and it's difficult to get a clear shot without twigs or leaves in the way. I think he is just changing into his colours. There was one adult male in the group and he was very rich in colour in comparison but more difficult to get in front of the lens.

Cicadabird Nest

Common Cicadabird

Female on nest

Highfields, Queensland, Australia

December 23, 2013

Kevin Williams and I had an early start on Monday. It was surprisingly cool at 5am and I would have been comfortable with long sleeves. Kevin showed me a Cicadabird nest with the female sitting. We had a quick look then went off birding. We went back about 4 hours later when it was much warmer, and the female had gone and we could just make out the face of a single chick. We waited for a while but the Mum didn't return soon so we left. I bet she was watching and waiting.

Thank you, Kev.

Cicadabird chick in nest.

Notice the change of colours as it went from foggy and overcast in the early morning to quite sunny and blue.

Summer Christmas

Yellow-billed Spoonbill (left and right); Royal Spoonbill (centre)

(There's a small plover bottom left too)

Wyreema Water Treatment Plant, Queensland, Australia

December 22, 2013

Having my first Christmas back home since before the floods and great earthquake of 2011. (I have been back since then but not in summer). Niigata had a maximum of 8 yesterday and I imagine grey skies. Nice and blue here. The sun is strong if you stand under it but in the shade the breeze is cool and dry. Different from the radiant heat of Niigata in summer. The forecast here is for a temperature rise over Christmas however.

On Sunday afternoon I had a nice outing  with Michael Atzeni and Rod Hobson to Wyreema. Many waterbirds about the place and we were looking for avian visitors from the west which would be avoiding the hot dry drought out there. Michael and Rod are highly efficient naturalists and we recorded some exciting records but I was too useless with my camera to get rarities such as Freckled Duck and a possible Black Honeyeater. 

Pink-eared Duck and Plumed Whistling Duck looked so beautiful and unique on ground an in air but even commoners such as Australian White and Straw-necked Ibis were familiar faces that I was so happy to see. I regret now that I didn't spend more time trying to photo a Nankeen Kestrel that was busy going back and forth overhead. 

Had a nice outing the following morning with Kevin Williams and will post some pics in a couple of days. Just two short outings and over six hundred shots taken. 

I hope you are having a nice time this Christmas and I'm looking forward to having more time the next few days to check other blogs. Holidays are a grand time. 

Same spoonbills with an Australian White Ibis (second from the left)

Pink-eared Ducks and Plumed Whistling Ducks

Eastern Grey Kangaroo (above and below)

Looks nice a green east of the draught.

White-necked Heron with blue sky

Straw-necked Ibis

Australian Hobby thumbing a ride roadside


Black-shouldered Kite

Southbrook, Queensland, Australia

March 2013

A couple of Black-shouldered Kites sitting on electrical lines in the Southbrook to Felton area. They're lovely little graceful raptors and it's a healthy sign to have them around. Notice their short, fat  toes for dropping belly first into long grass after rats and mice. I have seen them go for birds such as starlings as well. 

Black-shouldered Kite

Felton, Queensland, Australia. 

Sakata, Niigata

Sakata, Niigata, Japan

January 5, 2013

Although I’ve posted some images and subjects from Sakata before I haven’t mentioned what an important birding place it is for Niigata. It was the tenth designated wetland site in Japan for the Ramsar Convention. Click here for more about the Ramsar convention. 

It has a wonderful glass-fronted observatory equipped with scopes and literature and heating. It is a very worthwhile place for any birder to visit. 

When I first went there, I was greeted by the staff (that are usually in the office) and they happily showed me the sights. I remember being seated to watch some incredible video of a White-tailed Eagle hovering like a big kestrel in pursuit of a duck on the water, (maybe a merganser). The duck dived under water to escape but the eagle plunged in deeply, then, swam to the shore like a dog with the duck in foot. They have a large automated digital scope that can be controlled at the observatory (By anyone game to take the controls) and the extraordinary close-up footage was taken with it. That was my first visit back in 2004.

The site consists of a freshwater lake with a path encircling it. I recommend anyone to go for a stroll with scope and/or camera. Sometimes we walk past groups with scopes or individuals with tripods and cameras or visa-versa. 

I’ve posted about it here as “Sakata” (Sa-ka-ta), because all their literature, as well as city and Ramsar websites spell it as Sakata. Even the Japanese writing at the actual place uses the sounds, Sa-ka-ta, but some local Niigata folk, including birders often pronoun the name “Sagata” with a “ga”, and I’m often corrected when I pronounce it, “Sakata”. 

Also check out this pdf  and this website

June, 2013

It's a nice bike ride from the city

Giant Lotus almost completely covers as far as you can see in September, 2013

October, 2013

The Hiragana says Sa-ka-ta, ba-shi

Long-tailed Tit

Winter birdlife

Grey Heron

Eurasian Bittern a rare bird in Japan

I have amended this from "Yellow Bittern" and relabelled it thanks to the comment by John below.

Great Egret

January 4, 2005

January 4, 2005

January 4, 2005

There is some nice reference material
available in English and Japanese at the Observatory and Visitor's Center
kindly provided free by Niigata City.