Wednesday, 29 September 2010

A Family of Scholars.

Long-eared Owl

A school (on the outskirts of Niigata City) has had its own pair of breeding Long-eared Owls for at least the last few years. There is currently a family of five, with the two adults and the three young of 2010.

The school's principal seems proud of them and takes photos of them almost daily.

The above photo was taken by my wife this afternoon. She complained that the 400mm lens I gave her was too close. Of the four photographs she took, this is the best. I think she did pretty well...

Sunday, 19 September 2010

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.

Thursday, 16 September 2010

The Tragic Nest.

  This is a sad story but I’m posting it in the hope I’ll get some replies and learn what to do under similar circumstances in the future.

Magpie-larks are very common in Australia and are also known in English by other names such as “Mudlarks” as well as “Pee-wees”, the latter being my favourite name for them. They are very territorial like other black and white Australian bird species. They usually build beautifully sculptured cup-like, mud nests.

A couple of elderly residents in Toowoomba were enjoying following the progress of a Magpie-lark nest in a tree in their backyard.

The Magpie-larks had been nesting in the same tree successfully almost year-round, for years with the residents accepting their relentless calls and territorial attacks on the windows of the house.

Sadly, in May this year one chick attempting to leave the nest got its leg caught on the outside rim of the nest. The baby bird fluttered and called frantically as it was stuck hanging upside down on the outside of the nest.

About five metres up, the nest was well out of reach for just about any domestic ladder. The elderly residents were distressed but helpless to rescue the struggling bird on their own. They phoned their local veterinarian for advice. The veterinarian in turn gave them phone numbers for various animal carers. They spent the day, a public holiday, calling different phone numbers seeking help. Nobody came.

The little bird died later that night. Its remains still hanging in the very place in which it died.

The residents received a letter from one animal care organisation apologising for being unable to help. Apparently such incidents do happen, especially when birds include man-made materials in the building of the nest. The letter also suggested that a tree surgeon is the best to call. I guess one problem with this idea is that the matter was urgent and it was also a national, public holiday.

I would like to get constructive advice to help the residents in case there are any such occurrences in the future.

The Mudlarks have now built a new nest on the other side of the tree.

Thank you for your help.

Sunday, 5 September 2010

What's in a Nest?

A retired Wedge-tailed Eagle's nest.

If only nests kept paper records. I wonder how many eaglets had become eagles in the nest pictured above?
Can't believe it's already more than two weeks ago that Kay and Kevin took me to meet Lloyd and Lynne north of Toowoomba. Many thanks also to Lloyd and Lynne for showing us a couple of beautiful Wedge-tailed Eagles nests. Lloyd imformed me that the one in the photo above was used until just three years ago when the tree died. The eagles remained however, and rebuilt right in the tree next to it.

Another view of the same nest. It has become tilted to the right. I'm not a good judge of measurements but I'm sure I can say it is a few metres tall.

Standing back and I can get the two nests in. The one on the left is currently in use and the 'retired' one is more obvious on the right.

 A view of the occupied nest.

Another view of the desserted nest.

Unfortunatley the eagles weren't to be seen when we were visiting but appeared in the distance when we hiked back. Many thanks to Lloyd and Lynne for sharing these views and for the information and for the beaut bickies! A super pleasant late winter morning.

Photographed in the beautiful country north of Toowoomba on the morning of August 21 2010.