Monday, 29 March 2010

Banding at Charcoal Tank

At the weekend I was banding birds as part of a long-term study at Charcoal Tank Nature reserve, out near West Wyalong in NSW. The project is ran by Mark Clayton and two others there were John Rawsthorne and Alistair Bestow.

Most of migrants had left as autumn is now here and so birds we caught were all local residents. One speciality of the area is the Shy Heathwren shown below. The photos below clearly showing the wingflashes of white which easily distinguish it from the closely related chestnut-rumped heathwren - both species having chestnut rumps does not help to identify them.

Among the other birds we caught were rufous whistlers, a male and female shown here together side by side showing the very different plumages of the two sexes. Most birds we caught were in fine plumage with new sets of primaries and body feathers freshly coloured. By the end of the next breeding season they will be a various stages of moult as they replace their worn and sun-bleached feathers.

There were numerous red-wattle birds, white-plumed honeyeaters, blue-faced honeyeaters and spiny-cheeked honeyeaters feeding on the flowers of the red-ironbark trees. Here is a close-up portrait of a spiny-cheeked honeyeater which shows the spiny feathers on its cheek. It is an adult as it has reddish throat feathers and a bright pink bill and gape. Young birds have yellow throats and duller bills. Note how like all honeyeaters the birds tongue is often pushed out beyond the bill exposing the brush-like tip which helps these birds draw nectar from flowers.

Friday, 5 March 2010

Magazine article

Leopard Magazine, which covers all topics of interest local to north-east Scotland have published an article which I wrote on the various survival techniques employed by animals and plants on the mountain tops. The topic was inspired by the recent snowy winter in the north-east and I describe how adaptations in form and behaviour enable species to not only survive in such conditions, but thrive.

An abbreviated version of the article is available online at the link below - the text is complete, only most of the photographs are omitted. I also supplied the photographs.