Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Tawny Frogmouths breeding

The first tawny Frogmouths are now incubating eggs.So the field season is now on for me until at least Christmas. That means lots of walking through the woods, checking locations where there have been frogmouths nesting in previous years and always looking out for more in new places.

A male frogmouth sits on his nest, as all males do during the day.

His female sits quietly all day in a nearby tree, they will share the 
incubation during the night, never leaving the eggs unattended.

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Garden Possum

Brush-tailed possum in the garden
Click on the link below to watch the video

I have set up a trap camera in the back garden to try it out and here are the first results. These are infra-red images of a Brush-tailed Possum, which are our common garden pet/pest depending on one's attitude to wildlife. He is feeding on scraps which we place on the old log for the birds during the day and the possums at night.

Not bad, for my very first wildlife film.

The camera I am using is a Bushnell Trophy Cam HD, and it was set about 4m from the log..

Saturday, 25 August 2012

Spring rain

After a cold fairly dry winter there has been some rain recently, and spring is on the way. The tawny frogmouths have started to build their nests and are sitting close by. This male was sitting on his own while two females sat in a nearby tree. The rain has awakened the frogs which are now calling, and the invertebrates are moving. All good food for frogmouths, so they will lay their eggs soon.

The rain was rather heavy most of the day but he was quite sheltered, tucked in under the main stem of the tree above him. His head was catching some water though, and the water droplets were beading on his head and bristles.

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Lyrebird chick

The lyrebird chick I found is now three weeks old and is beginning to shed it's down. Although it might benefit from that deep soft plumage for a few days yet as there was a fall of about two feet of snow last week up on the hill range in the nesting area and it was still lying around the nest. The adult female was nowhere to be seen when I approached the nest or while I was there. She will be spending most of her time foraging and will bring food back to the chick maybe once an hour. The chick is independent of her for daytime warmth now, but she will continue to brood it at night for another two weeks or so. Then it will be wholly on its own, until it fledges at seven weeks.

The blue irides are the true colour of the young bird's eyes.

Tuesday, 14 August 2012


Yesterday, I was surveying lyrebirds up in the Brindabella Mountains behind Canberra. This was done by listening for and mapping singing males. I have been doing this since 2000, before the big fire which burnt out most of their habitat of leaflitter-rich ground cover beneath tall forest canopy. And as an aside I check a few places where I have known the birds to build their nests in the past. One such site is on rocks at the head of a gully, and I soon found a new nest from this year, set a few metres up on a cliff.

Their nests are large stick-built affairs about a metre in height and width, within which there is a tight spherical cavity lined with roots. And in the base of that the female lays her single egg in a bed of down and feathers.I expected to find an egg hidden in the down (the female was nowhere near the nest as they habitually leave eggs and young for long periods of the day) but was surprised to find a chick. In previous years I have found recently laid eggs at this date. So this was an early breeding attempt. 

The chick was lying quietly in the warm nest and would be easily overlooked by a predator. It was only as I looked closely that it raised its head and squawked at me with a very shrill call, which I am sure would deter many a predator to poke its head into the nest.

Thursday, 9 August 2012

Magazine article

Leopard magazine have published an article in their August issue based on pieces lifted from the Eagle Days book. This is a general interest, and the best-selling magazine in north east Scotland. So it is good that some of what I have described in the book will now reach people who do not usually read wildlife books or magazines.