January highlights

The weather conditions have been as expected for this time of the year – hot and humid.  Some days it seems more extreme than I remember but probably I’m just using the weather as an excuse to only work outside for a relatively short time in the morning.

Another update on Spotted Whistling Ducks: when we had some heavy rain for a few days the Wandering Whistling ducks departed along with the large flock of Magpie Geese which had descended upon us.  Our resident Magpie Geese are still here and one suspects they may be rather relieved that peace has been restored.  The Spotted Whistling Ducks stayed for a day or so longer but then for nearly a week we didn’t see them anywhere.   However, they are now visiting again and have been trying out all our ponds, we can see where they’ve been by the remnant pieces of water weed, Vallisneria, and shredded water lily flowers!  They actively feed through the heat of the day both on the water surface and diving, staying underwater for 15 – 20 seconds. After a period in the water individuals will fly to a suitable horizontal branch, or in some cases a perching post, where they busily preen and dry off before returning to the water for further feeding.

wild_wings_swampy_things_spotted-whisling-ducks

wild_wings_swampy_things_spotted-whisling-duck

wild_wings_swampy_things_spotted-whisling-ducks feedingThere have been flocks of Double-eyed Fig Parrots feeding on Glochidion, commonly known as Cheese Tree,  and we have also observed them feeding in Melaleuca cajuputi.  These paperbarks provide food and shelter for many birds, insects and fruit bats and we’re pleased that much of our swampy areas that were cleared of paperbarks in the early 1900’s are gradually returning to useful habitat.
This week the Melaleucas have started flowering, the event was announced by a loud humming sound accompanied by the sweet, nectar laden scent.

An Azure Kingfisher flew past Allen yesterday with a fish in its bill and two younger birds following behind;  a Little Kingfisher used one of our perching posts as a take-off point for fishing and Black Bitterns are frequently disturbed at the spillways both here and at our neighbour’s place, we estimate at least three regulars are moving between the two properties.  We suspect Shining Flycatchers are nesting again but haven’t yet confirmed this.  They are quieter than a couple of weeks ago when we watched some amazing displays from two males competing for a female’s attention as they went through their repertoire of calls.

Spangled Drongos have, once again, successfully harassed a Great-billed Heron until it flew back to the creek.  I confess it is a little disappointing as it would be rather fun to have more regular visits from this majestic bird but I can’t blame it for leaving as the Drongos are very persistent in their attacks.

So we’ve been enjoying the birds this month as we make the most of the sunny mornings and mostly fine ‘though cloudy afternoons – it looks like rain is heading our way.

6 responses to “January highlights

  1. Great to have your wetlands working so well.
    Nice post.

    Denis

  2. Down with Drongos – all of them, everywhere! Not the birds so much.

    Meanwhile, almost everything has quit Tyto waters: and it seems ‘my’ 4-6 Black Bitterns have cleaned up all the easy pickings after the latest minor flooding and taken off to other local feeding areas..

    • So do the Wandering Whistling ducks leave Tyto after heavy rain? The BBs will probably return Tony, it looks like we’re going to have rain in the next few days.

  3. Those rotten drongos. Absolute hooligans. I visited one of the coffee plantations nr Mareeba and there were drongos perched on every sprinkler. It was a bit sinister — like very neat version of ‘The Birds’.

    Glad to see that the spotted whistling-ducks are back. Oh, and the Melaleucas. I can smell them from here.

    • I like watching Drongos and they have a marvellous array of strange calls – I’d really be quite tolerant of them except that I just love seeing that great big Heron.

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