Friday, May 28, 2010

Skywatch Friday

Not really a sky photo, but I love the way the sun's rays come through the trees.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Texas 2002 - From the archives

Last weekend was tied up completely with domestic duties, and then it rained, so I didn't manage any birding at all. I am following a few blogs from America, and recent posts regarding spring migration there reminded me of my trip to Texas in April 2002 with Birdseekers holidays. This was my first birding trip to USA, so I knew I was in for a great trip!! We started at Houston, then headed southwest to Rockport, west along the coast, up the Rio Grande, then to Edwards Plateau before turning East back towards Houston. My trip report, as used by Birdseekers on their website, is here. Back in 2002 I was using a 3MP Nikon Coolpix E995, mostly digiscoping with my Kowa TSN823 (both of which I still have). Looking at the shots now, you can really see how far nature photography has come in a very short time. Many thanks to Kelly, Mary and Kathy for reminding me of this great trip and inspiring this post through their great blogs. Here are a few shots taken on that trip. They are not in any particular order. On the trip I saw my first wild Alligator Our guide spotted some Barred Owls My first Skimmer. I had heard about the Scissor-tailed Flycatcher, and it certainly lived up to it's reputation - beautiful! Red!! (for Kelly!) The Green Jay was also stunning Golden-fronted Woodpecker Plain Chachalaca My first Hummingbirds - Black-chinned Seeing around 12 Million Mexican Free-tailed Bats emerging from their cave at dusk was the highlight of the trip for me. Rufous Hummingbird And searched for and eventually saw the striking Golden-cheeked Warbler. Ash-throated Flycatcher Harris' Hawk

Friday, May 21, 2010

Skywatch Friday

Autumn skies over the Adelaide Hills, South Australia

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Parrot Identification

Today I attended a workshop in Goolwa. On the way I spotted a raptor sitting in a pine tree. It was one of the more common Australian raptors, a Whistling Kite. Outside the church hall where the workshop was held was a large flowering eucalypt. It was full of New Holland Honeyeaters. The workshop was hosted by the Department for Environment and Heritage, and concerned the critically endangered Orange-bellied Parrot. This parrot is on the verge of extinction with only 50 birds left in the wild (all of which breed at one site in Tasmania)and approximately 200 in captivity. The reintroduction of captive birds at a second site in Tasmania has been suspended as it was not successful. You can read more about the OBP here. The workshop was held to help people identify OBP from the other three common similar species in the area, Elegant Parrot, Rock Parrot and Blue-winged Parrot in preparation for the first of three winter surveys. After the workshop, we all went to Hindmarsh Island to look for parrots. OBP has been recorded here in the past, but we were not expecting to see any and were not disappointed. Hindmarsh Island is at the northern end of the Coorong National Park, and the area we visited was an area of saltmarsh and Samphire. We found at least five Rock Parrots here, and I managed a few shots, but they are highly cropped, so apologies for the quality. There were also a few Singing Honeyeaters here. A short distance away we also saw some Elegant Parrots. They were too far away to be photographed, so here is one I photographed a couple of years ago. Finally, on the way home I spotted an Australian Black-shouldered Kite, and as I watched he caught some prey, which the female then took from him. I have not seen this behaviour in Black-shouldered Kites before. Oh, when I said we didn't see an OBP, I was not quite telling the whole truth, as we did see one..............

Friday, May 14, 2010

Skywatch Friday

Sunset, Severn Beach, Gloucestershire, UK

Monday, May 10, 2010

Mount Lofty Botanic Gardens

Sunday was Mother's Day here in Australia, and so I took Maryann out for Lunch in the Adelaide Hills. On the way we stopped at Mount Lofty Summit, a look out with fantastic views over the city. You can clearly see the green of the Adelaide Parklands surrounding the CBD (City Business District). In common with many Australian Cities, Adelaide only allows high rise buildings in the CBD. After lunch we visited the Mount Lofty Botanic Gardens. The gardens were packed with families picnicking, and generally enjoying a beautiful autumn day. As we walked around, we heard the evocative sound of a didgeridoo being played, which really created a wonderful atmosphere. There were leaves of many colours, and the kids were having a ball with them. One thing I noticed there was a huge variety of lichens on the trees, something that I rarely see in the city. Finally, by the car park, there was a huge hedge of Hebe which was full of busy bees!!

Friday, May 7, 2010

Skywatch Friday

A misty morning in Bavaria, Germany

Monday, May 3, 2010

Red-back Spider

Working in the garden yesterday I came across this large Red-back Spider. This is one of the most common venomous spiders in Australia and is of the same genus as the Black-widow Spider in North America, and like the Black-widow, the female Red-back eats the male after mating. This one had a body about 1cm across. Though many people are bitten each year, many do not require treatment as the spiders mouth parts are small and cannot inject venom through thick skin. There have been no deaths from Redback bites since 1956 when a commercially available anti-venom was introduced.