Christmas Bells

Christmas Bells
Christmas Bells - Blandfordia nobilis

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

More images from West Wyalong.

Following up on yesterday's post, I wish to publish a few more birds. But firstly I will show some habitat shots.

These Ironbark Eucalypts were flowering, but not very heavily. However, they were the main food plants for the large numbers of Honeyeaters present in the Nature Reserve.
The next plants to flower will be these Mallee Eucalypts. They have made good growth since the rain in February, and now are budding heavily and should be in heavy flower in about 3 weeks, I would think. Some were already starting to flower.This plant is the iconic "Wyalong Wattle" Acacia cardiophylla
Here is the whole shrub, about 2.5 metres tall
starting to swell the buds, and hence it is looking slightly yellowish
against the blue-grey foliage of the Ironbarks..
Here is a close-up of the leaves and buds.
And now back to the birds.
A lovely clean image of a female Red-capped Robin
By contrast, this image (click here) shows some considerable variation in this species, as it is a shot of another female without a red cap, which I photographed last year. And click here, to see the male.

Another Honeyeater we caught was the medium-large species - the White-eared Honeyeater. Not as large as the Spiny-cheeked HE, but much larger than the Brown-headed HE. This species has a very wide distribution and it is not fussy about its habitats. One thing I noticed was the variation in its calls, across its range.
This next is probably the smallest bird we handled this weekend - the Western Gerygone. (Gerygone fusca)

It is very small, grey above and silver underneath.
Its red eye, white ring around the eye
and white bar across the tip of the tail are all distinctive features.
This one will be familiar to many readers - the Eastern Rosella.
It is a male in fine breeding plumage.
It is being handled very carefully, as Rosellas can really bite hard.
Here it is at the banding table,
with scales and wing measuring ruler in evidence.
By contrast with all Crimson Rosellas, this species has white cheek patches.
I promised Mick from Sandy Straits and Beyond that I would publish this tonight. It is a male Rufous Whistler. Mick has photographed a fine male on her blog, too.


mick said...

The Rufous Whistler is beautiful and your photo shows such perfect detail! OK - all the birds are beautiful but that whistler is very special for me having just struggled to photograph one high in a tree. You had a wonderful opportunity to see the birds so closely - something most of us will never have so thanks for all the photos! The tree photos are very interesting too. Ironbark often has a good heavy honey flow. Do you know any results from the banding - where any of the birds have been found if they don't stay locally?

Denis Wilson said...

Hi Mick
Glad you liked the Whistler. I knew you would. It is a lovely bird.
Your question on re-trapping is good. There is a high level of recovery of banded birds at the site itself, which indicates a stable population of many species. Babblers, Wrens, Thornbills and White-naped Honeyeaters spring to mind.
That is in marked contrast to your waders, of course, which are migratory species.
The unknown factor is the number of nomadic species which just drift around in the bush, and appear when food is abundant, then move on. Where do they go? How long do they live, etc?
They really need more banding stations to try to gather that level of knowledge, but alas, there are not enough Banders. That's why they are busy conducting these sessions - largely as training for new Banders.

mick said...

Thanks Denis, that is all so interesting. Wish they would conduct a few sessions up this way! It is so hard to get info about local bush birds. The books are little help - the info is so very broad. A local birder would be great - if there was one around here. For instance - I observed the third brood of pee-wees that had been up in the pine tree next door - don't know if it was the same pair or more than one pair nesting there - but this was over a period of at least 5-6 months and then I was told that birds in this area can raise multiple numbers of broods so long as the season stays good. I grew up in NZ thinking birds only nested in the spring - which is not right over here of course.

Tyto Tony said...

Good work. Surprising how many people hold anti-banding views. Mainly misguided, IMHO.

Denis Wilson said...

Hi Tony
Interesting comment.
I am wary of posting too much about Banding, as there are some (occasional) problems. But the Banders are aware of risks to birds, and work hard, especially in hot weather, to avoid any problems.
I have not heard overtly negative comments - but nothing would surprise me.

Gouldiae said...

G'day Denis,
Nice stuff. Great to get up close to some of those beautiful creatures.
I'm with Tony. My experiences with banding is that the operators are extremely well trained, dedicated people who are helping to determine the habits of our birds. We need all the knowledge we can obtain to help ensure their survival I reckon.

Denis Wilson said...

Hi Tony
Well I can certainly vouch for the experience and dedication of this team of Banders.
I think there is a vast amount of "life history" information which we could do with to try to help the birds survive climate change, habitat reduction, etc. But then again, if we just stopped wrecking the country then that would go a long way to preventing loss of species.
The early bird researchers, of course, used shot guns to capture their subjects. "Trap, Band, and Release" is a gentler form of science.