And the bush has friends to meet him, and their kindly voices greet him, In the murmur of the breezes and the river on its bars,
And he sees the vision splendid of the sunlit plains extended, And at night the wonderous glory of the everlasting stars.

Banjo Paterson (1889)

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Peregrine Falcon Video

Here's a video taken in Kalamunda National Park of some of the birds found there. It's a video I put together of a local Peregrine Falcon that's been hunting in the area. He watches Varied Sitella, Common Bronzewing, Ringneck Parrots and a Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike, deciding on what to have for lunch.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Kalamunda National Park

Kalamunda National Park with the recent rains is now turning green again after our hot dry Western Australian summer. The park is only 200 metres from our house and a place we often go to for a birdwatch, bushwalk or just to relax .

The mornings have been wonderfully cool and misty lately. Today we went for a four hour bushwalk with some birding along the way. It was nice to see a number of pairs of Red-tailed Black Cockatoos flying along the ridge in the park, including two big Wedge-tailed Eagles circling over Helena Valley.

Helena Valley has always been one of my favourite places and I remember many a sunny day when I was a kid, spent birding and exploring all the nooks and crannies for animals there.

Misty morning.

Red-tailed Black Cockatoo female.

Is this a leaf caught in a spider's web? No, it's a special species of spider, the Leaf-curling Spider that hauls up a leaf, curls it and then lives in it. A good, safe and natural-looking home!

For more info about this interesting spider see Leaf-curling Spider

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Black-necked Stork

It looks like my Camballin fauna survey has been postponed until at least next Monday, due to heavy rain in the area. If it rains up there, you can get bogged and spend a week waiting for it to dry out! I was ready to go, but it will be nice to spend the weekend with my wife and go on some bushwalks, as the Perth rains have started and the forest is turning green and smelling moist and earthy again.

I'm hoping that on the journey next week from Broome to Camballin, we may have time to call into a big billabong located 20km south of Derby. I was there a couple of months ago and it's a great place for wildlife at this time of year, especially Kimberley waterbirds. A good place to see birds, such as Australia's only stork, the Black-necked Stork or as it used to be called Jabiru.

On the lookout for any fish, frogs or snakes.

This bird was a male with the dark eyes. Females have yellow eyes.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Kimberley Woodlands

Well, it looks like I’m off to the Camballin fauna survey area again on Thursday (see Camballin 2009). This is the repeat autumn survey, so hopefully we will get some different animals and it will be interesting to see what Camballin’s like after two cyclones went through during the summer. Hopefully we haven’t had too many buckets for our pit traps, pop out and wash away. It was hard work last time digging in 120 twenty-five litre buckets into the hard clay!

Seeing I’m going back to the Kimberley, I thought I’d post some more of the Broome photos from the trip with my cousin a few months ago. A lot of the Kimberley area is a grassy woodland, so here are some of the animals found in those areas.

A colourful, but slightly moulting Rainbow Bee-eater.

The shrike-like Pied Butcherbird.

A young (female?) Red-winged Parrot.

A Frilled Lizard (Chlamydosaurus kingii).

Great Bowerbird. A very reptilian-looking bird!

Gilbert's Dragon or Ta-ta Lizard (Amphibolurus gilberti).

Australian Bustard.

Grey-crowned Babbler. They usually hang around in noisy family groups of about half a dozen.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Bimbijy and Beyond

The Easter birding holiday to Bimbijy station turned into an interesting 1400 km road trip, covering a large area of the remote dry northern goldfields of Western Australia. The lack of rain over the last couple of years has taken it's toll. We woke every morning with no dawn chorus. A silent earth! Just an occasional bird calling in the distance.

One of Australia's most interesting lizards, a Thorny Devil (Moloch horridus), which we found on our way to Bimbijy station the first day. My wife Liz also got a new lifer for her birdlist near here, the often elusive Malleefowl.

A weird and wonderful reptile that looks like some type of alien.

This lizard is well-adapted to living in arid areas, with camouflage and hard spines, grooves on his skin that channel water to his mouth and a diet of small ants (up to 5000 in one meal).

One of the many rock outcrops on Bimbijy station.

These outcrops with their flaked rocks are great homes for many of local reptiles, such as the rock-loving Ornate Dragons.

One of the big monitors of these arid areas, is the Yellow-spotted Monitor (Varanus panoptes). We saw these guys a number of times, often near old wells, probably feeding on dead animals.

A beautiful lizard. The change in body colour is due to skin shedding.

Rob, Myles and Liz checking the overhangs. We stopped at one of the breakaways on Bimbijy to have a look for animals, especially old Stick-nest Rat homes.

Not very attractive, but very interesting. An old  Lesser Stick-nest Rat nest, made of sticks mixed with saliva and excreta. Two species of Stick-nest Rats (Lesser & Greater) were found across vast areas of arid Australia before the foxes and cats arrived. Now the Greater is only naturally found on some small islands off South Australia.

We arrived at the neat and tidy little town of Sandstone on Saturday. Sandstone has always been one of the places I wanted to visit, as it's in the middle of the northern goldfields and basically over 2 hours travel on dusty gravel roads in every direction.

We camped south of Sandstone in the Mulga, which had some recent rain, but still didn't have too many birds. We did manage to catch this lovely Spotted Military Dragon (Ctenophorus maculatus).

This guy (female?) was a little cold and slow when caught, but quickly warmed up and shot off like a rocket.

An area on the road south towards Mt Jackson. A good spot for reptiles with nice clumps of spinifex, but again birds were hard work.

A view of the main road heading towards Mt Jackson. Our Troopy handled the gravel roads well, especially with the new mud terrain tyres which gripped the roads like glue. The only hiccup we had, was when we didn't see a big deep washaway due to the dust and afternoon sun, and  hit at high speed. Luckly we didn't damage anything.

Liz and me in the big saltlake country at Lake Barlee station and it's big 100 km saltlake.

A hard job! A fence across one of the smaller arms of Lake Barlee.

Life is tough on a outback station, especially one on a huge saltlake.

A big monitor sunning on the road south of Lake Barlee. This Gould's Monitor (Varanus gouldii) looks very similar to the Yellow-spotted Monitor, but tends to be more slender and have a slightly different pattern.

A view of Mt Jackson and it's mine. It's sad that so much mining is allowed on ironstone ranges, as these often  have large numbers of endemic flora and fauna. Ironstone ranges in Western Australia act basically as islands, supporting animals that don't tend to cross the flat areas.

We did have a few thunderstorms moving through the goldfields and starting to fill some of the saltlakes.

Myles and Rob checking the maps to find the small cross country tracks we need to get to our camp for our last night. We managed to get to a big rock outcrop in the Salmon Gum woodlands north of Muckinbudin.

It was a great Easter trip with two good friends, exploring remote station tracks and seeing some wonderful country and it's animals. Birdwise it was a bit poor with less than 40 species. Birds were in low numbers, but with the drought and time of year, it's not surprising. We can't wait to visit those areas again, especially in spring and after good rains!