Christmas Bells

Christmas Bells
Christmas Bells - Blandfordia nobilis

Friday, March 11, 2011

Some Show photos, plus bird updates

How inconvenient of the Robbo Show to compete with my need to record some interesting bird observations. The two things do not mix, but if I don't report it now, the reports lose their relevance.

So, straight to it with the birds. 

Needletails (Swifts) On Wednesday 9 March I saw approximately 50 White-throated Needletails - formerly known as Spine-tailed Swifts (Hirundapus caudacutus) from my back deck, between 5:15 pm and 5:30 pm. I watched a steady procession of WT Needletails hawking, (feeding actively) at low altitude. 

Much feeding occurred at approx twice treetop height (estimated feeding height approx 80 to 100 metres).
There were lots of "Flying Ants" around (larger and heavier in flight than Termites).
You can actually see them 
if you click to enlarge image.
Flying ants (composite image)

Click to enlarge composite image
White-throated Needletails.
They are not good images, but serve purpose of showing relatively low flying birds, and different positions and coming from different directions (while feeding and circling). If you wish to see these birds in better images, please visit the COG Bird image gallery. There is a freak occurrence recorded there, of a bird photographed in the hand, when found freshly killed, after a storm. When else would you see a Swift in the hand? They are surprisingly large birds - larger than they seem when seen silhouetted against a grey sky, zooming overhead at 100 KPH.

Weather conditions: Moderately warm late afternoon. Mid-level cloud, not threatening. Light rain fell several hours later.

It was impossible to determine accurately numbers of birds in the flock, as they were passing by in a steady trickle, not in a single large group, as sometimes happens. They were generally travelling north, but some limited "circling" makes it impossible to be sure there was not some double counting. I watched them for 15 minutes, Average 5 birds visible at any time. But in general they were passing by at roughly 90 second periods. Numbers estimated as follows: 15 minutes duration of total sighting / 1.5 minute average period of passage (allowing for a few circles by each group) X 5 birds visible at any one time = 50 birds.

The birds were coming from Shoalhaven Valley, over Belmore Falls, passing over Robertson and disappearing northwards, along Illawarra Escarpment.

Other Migratory birds still present in Robertson.
Several Rufous Fantails (Rhipidura rufifrons) were seen late this afternoon, flitting around in the Blackwood Wattles across the road from my house. I had not heard them in about a week, and thought they might have departed for Queensland or New Guinea. But htere they were still.

The other migrant still here (as of two days ago) is the Black-faced Monarch. (Monarcha melanopsis) It is a migratory rainforest Flycatcher, which is seldom seen, but which has a clear and distinctive call. There was one in the Acacia trees below my house, and it then flew back into the dense Sassafras trees. Once again, one needs to note the occurrences to know when they have been recorded last. Silence, or the absence of a record, tells one nothing, until the pattern of absence is well established. It is best to report it now, as "still here in Robbo".

And now quickly, to the Robbo Show. Just a few images.

Phillip Owen scooped the pool with his beautifully presented Spuds.
And another from the Show Bench.
Anna Williams did not know that she had won 
the Champion Vegetable Exhibit with her Onions.
Anna Williams' Onions won the Champion Vegie award.

Out in the ring, there were various Sack races, and the "Spud Olympics"
for the kids from the various local primary schools.
But this is my favourite image from those activities.
A genuine action shot!

Lena was loving the attention she got from these little tots.
(Permission was granted for me to take their photos).
Their two Mums were happy for Lena to entertain the littlies
for a considerable amount of time.
And she was delighted with the attention, needless to say.

Momentary consternation when Lena barked when she saw me coming back to her.
Lena is very good with kids. 

Ah, such days of innocence are to be treasured.
No wonder we love the Robbo Show!


mick said...

Very interesting about the Needletails flying over your place. The photo in the hand was fascinating as I had no idea they were that large. I'm glad Lena enjoyed the show as well!

Missy said...

You've got to love a genuine country show. Nothing else compares. Glad Lena was able to go. We wouldn't be able to take Missy to anything like that. She's not good with crowds.

Denis Wilson said...

Hi Mick
The point about the size of the Swifts is why I link back to that site, whenever it is relevant.
Total surprise to most people (and to me).
We assume they are not much bigger than Swallows. Totally wrong.
Not even closely related. Swallows are "Perching Birds" (passerines).
Its a case of Convergent Evolution, not linked except in feeding habits of catching insects on the wing.

Denis Wilson said...

Hi Missy's owner (Ros).
I am blessed with a sweet-natured dog who loves kids. And Kids sense that, and reciprocate.
Thanks for the comment.
The "genuine Country" does really shine through.
When we got sudden downpour late in the afternoon, nobody left. They did huddle in the BBQ area, and the Beer tent was packed.
But the kids on their "Gigs" (2 wheeled carriages pulled by miniature-sized horses, trotting) kept racing their ponies around, even in the rain. And the farmers just laughed.
It cleared up in 15 minutes, and the show continued.