Saturday, 29 September 2012

First Frogmouths have hatched

The female frogmouth comes in to the nest

The first tawny Frogmouths hatched over the 26-27th September, taking less than forty hours from the first fidgeting of the incubating adult to seeing the two chicks in the nest. All this was recorded using a remote camera, set to record on registering movement in the field of view. There is very little sound on the recording as all took place in silence: the birds did not call to one another, the chicks did not even cheep when begging for food, and the birds' flight is almost silent. This is all in defense against predators hearing them, especially powerful owls, even though there are none near the nest?. They are considerable predators in parts of the Tawny Frogmouth's range.

To see more, click on the link to a YouTube video below, it is 3m 20sec long and 7Mb.

The video opens with the male sitting on the nest, as he had done for the whole previous day. The female then comes to relieve him of his duties, but brings no food for the chicks as she would not have known there were chicks in the nest - they had hatched since her last vigil on the previous night. 

The male is recognizable as the larger bird, with a broad, well striped head, bold necklace markings and stronger markings on his wing and tail feathers. She is smaller and has less markings.

He then comes in with the first food for the newly-hatched chicks. The prey they both bring in is small, linear, legless and wingless - earthworms? The chicks were fed thirteen times during the night, seven by the male and six by the female, each taking it thier turn.

The male delicately feeds the chicks with their first meal

The camera used was a Bushnell Trophycam HD, with black flash.

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Follow up on the colour-banded frogmouth

Thanks to everyone who showed interest and helped track down the origins of the colour-banded Tawny Frogmouth which I found the other day. And there were lots of you!

The local ACT branch of the RSPCA came back to me with the news that she was a bird which they had nursed back to health. She was found in Ainslie, a nearby suburb, after being hit by a car, then after four months in re-hab she was released in the same area. That all happened in 2010. So since then she has fully recovered, moved a few kilometers and is now playing an active part in the local breeding population of Tawny Frogmouths.

So, well done, to the person who found her, the staff and volunteers at the RSPCA.

For more information on what to do if you come across an injured wild animal in the ACT follow this link RSPCA wildlife and if you would like to donate any money in appreciation of their part in this happy ended tale follow this link donate to RSPCA

Monday, 24 September 2012

Colour-banded Tawny Frogmouth

I was out checking tawny frogmouths today, and was glad to see this female's partner on a new nest. But she had a surprise for me - she is colour-banded. I hadn't approached her too closely on previous visits and she hadn't shown her legs, nor have I had any reason to look at them as I have not marked any of my study birds to date. She has one pink plastic band on each leg and no metal ring from the banding scheme, so I suspect that she has escaped from captivity of some form. The bands look like pigeon racing or bird-fancier type; plastic with a clip closure. They also seem to have once been red, but now faded to pink under the UV light. If anyone out there knows anything about her origin, where and when she was banded, it would be very interesting to me. How far has she traveled and how old is she?

I am glad to see her free and breeding whatever her story. She is quite a well-marked bird with lots of rusty flecking in her plumage, and she has a thick dark necklace pattern.Well done if she did escape.

Yeh!! Free!!

Monday, 17 September 2012

New collection

I have started a new collection of images in my associated website portfolio

 Spotted Pardalote

To go to the page click here on Bird faces

Striated Pardalotes

                                                                             Striated Pardalote Pardalotus ornatus

Over the weekend I was out helping Mark Clayton banding birds with his long-term bird-banding project at Charcoal Tank Nature Reserve near West Wyalong. The study site is in western New South Wales, in a remnant of once extensive woodland growing on the western plains.

  Striated Pardalote Pardalotus striatus, with a yellow wing spot

It is still early Spring and many migrants are on their return flights home to their respective breeding grounds after spending winter elsewhere. And one of the birds we caught and banded was of a race of Striated Pardalote Pardalotus striatus, which only breeds in Tasmania, but overwinters within the range of two other races of Striated pardalote. On the same day in the same place, we also caught and banded pardalotes of the eastern race, P. ornatus, which only breeds in south-east Australia. The distinguishing feature between them is the colour of their wing spots - coloured tips to their greater primary coverts. In the Tasmanian race they are yellow, and in the Eastern race they are red.

                                                              Striated Pardalote Pardalotus ornatus, with a red wing spot

                                                      Striated Pardalote Pardalotus striatus, showing the yellow tips  to 
                                                      the primary coverts which merge when folded to form the wingspot,
                                                      and a single narrow white stripe on the seventh primary. 
                                                      (Pardalotes only have nine primaries).

The study site sits on the boundary between the range of the P. ornatus race and that of the very similar race P. substriatus, which breeds in west and central Australia. The two races described above have only a narrow white wingstripe on the outer web of one primary feather (p7), while the P. substriatus race has a wide stripe over several primary feathers (p3-7). See the report for September 20 2011 for comparison with these. Click on this link to go directly there. Pardalote substriatus

Book review

There is a review of my book Eagle Days in the current issue of  British Birds.

'there is no shortage of information about the eagles themselves and there are detailed accounts of many fascinating aspects of eagle behaviour based on first hand observations.....
The book is superbly illustrated with the author's own photographs....'

Click on the link below to read the full review by Ian Carter.

And there was another recent review in the British Ecological Society's Bulletin.

'This is a fascinating read by one of our finest hill naturalists who has spent much of his life
observing golden eagles and other wildlife in the Scottish Highlands...... 
Ecologists, hill walkers and naturalists working in upland areas would do well to read this book to broaden and deepen their knowledge.'

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

Wattle in flower

There is a tremendous bloom of wattle in Canberra this year. Whole hillsides are bright yellow and the bushes are full of insects and birds. But not all the birds are there to chase the insects or sip nectar. This pair of tawny frogmouths were quietly roosting on an old tree limb, basking in the sunshine. Their part-built nest was fifty metres away. The male is on the left - he is slightly larger and has less rufous on his neck and wing coverts.