Tuesday, 29 December 2015

Wild Bird Wednesday 179 - 2015 Highlights

As the year rolls to an end it's always good to take stock.  Here are some of my favourite images from this year - I have avoided any Lord Howe images, as I am still working with them.

So, thanks to all who have been involved in WBW this (and any other) year.  As ever, all suggestions for improvement and innovation welcome!  I'll see you in 2016!

Eastern Spinebill, nr. Lorne, Victoria, Australia

Jackdaw, Bempton Cliffs, UK.

Masked Lapwing, Phillip Island, Victoria, Australia

New Holland Honeyeater, nr. Lorne, Victoria, Australia

Purple Swamphen, Phillip Island, Victoria, Australia

Chestnut Teal (female), Ruffey Lake Park, Victoria, Australia

Shy Albatross, off Queenscliff, Victoria, Australia

Silver Gulls, off Queenscliff, Victoria, Australia

Sooty Oystercatcher, Wilsons Prom National Park, Victoria, Australia

Tree Sparrows, Bempton Cliffs, UK.
So, now, for the last time in 2015 its time to click the big blue button!

Wednesday, 23 December 2015

Wild Bird Wednesday 178 - White Terns

These remarkable birds were some of the first that I photographed on Lord Howe.  I would be reasonable to say that I got very excited when I first saw them!

Although you may not be able to tell from the pictures, these birds can actually fly and do not spend all of their time sat on branches looking photogenic! I was pointed in the direction of some birds which were nesting on some low branches and got absolutely wonderful views of them.

What makes these pictures all the more remarkable is the the set of pictures showing the bird on the large pale branch, show the bird sitting on an egg!  There is not nest at all, just maybe a slight depression in the branch under the bird - and that's it! They lay the egg on the branch, incubate the egg on the branch and raise the chick on the branch!  I tried to out-wait this bird to get some evidence of the egg, but its patience was better then mine.  Maybe next time!

The White Tern is also called Gygis alba which means "mystery white bird" - although why this bird is a called a mystery bird, is a mystery in itself!  The white bit makes perfect sense, although I am surprised the the colour of the beak did not get some kind of mention.

Like other terns this bird is a wonderfully fast and agile flyer, and I managed to get not a single decent image of them in flight - as I said above 'maybe next time'.

Sitting on its egg

Sitting on its egg

Sitting on its egg

The eyes of these birds are not as huge as they look - there is a ring of dark feathers around the eye that makes it look larger than it really is.

I saved these images for this week, as I thought that there was something just a little Christmassy about these wonderful birds!

Hope you all have had a good year, and that WBW played a small part in that goodness.  WBW will be back next week for the last time in 2015.  So, click the blue button and off you go!

Monday, 21 December 2015


Hard to believe that it's Christmas this week!  I was thinking about the passage of time and other end of year thoughts, and then I found this image from earlier in the year - somehow it seemed appropriate!

Hope all your preparations have gone (are going?) well!  WBW will keeping popping up during the holidays - so why not use the time off for some birding!!!

You can find more pictures from around the world at Our World Tuesday.  Cheers SM

Friday, 18 December 2015

A Christmas Helper (?)

I was deeply involved in wrapping some presents last night when I was visited by my faithful and furry friend, Mr. Hudson.

He had a very close look at what I was doing, then decided that he would sit on the wrapping paper.  After I had persuaded him to move on so that I could actually gain access the the paper, he discovered that the very best place for him to sleep was the recycle basket, where (you will not be surprised to hear!) I was trying to place the offcuts from the wrapping paper!


You can find more images of cats animals from around the world at Saturday Critters.

Wednesday, 16 December 2015

Wild Bird Wednesday 177 - Buff-Banded Rail

This Christmas thing is getting out of hand!  However, you will be pleased to know that the still centre of the week that is Wild Bird Wednesday is still here, reliable as ever (if possibly a little shorter than normal this week!)

This bird is a Buff-Banded Rail - a bird which is normally rather secretive, but on Lord Howe Island is rather more bold.  If the truth be told I think that the bird in the first set of shots had just been clipped by a car (or possibly a bike) and was sitting by the side of the road getting its act together!  Eventually it did such off into the bushes, so I dont think there was any serious harm done.

The buff band that gives this bird its name is clear on the chest.  You can also see that it was raining in some of the shots; I have included these so that you know that it was not all sunshine and paradise on the island when I was there! (Oh, the lengths I go to for WBW!)

Although it's not a great picture, I like the beads of water on the back of the last bird.

Now its over to you - put down that Christmas list, and link up to WBW - you know you want to!!  Click on the blue button as ever!  SM

Friday, 11 December 2015


I think many of us have been sucked into that period of madness that is called "Christmas" - too busy! I think these rather fine beasts may be a lot less flustered!

I can think of worse things to be than a cow on Lord Howe!

You can find more pictures of animals from around the world over at Saturday Critters.

Wednesday, 9 December 2015

Wild Bird Wednesday 176 - Brown (or Common) Noddy

I may get into trouble here with any passing taxonomists, but I was introduced to this rather elegant dark tern as a Brown Noddy, but I have since found it referred to as a Common Noddy.  I will have to check what the most recent guide books say - but at present I will stay on first name terms.

The Brown Noddy (Anous stolidus) is about 40 cm long - and most of the ones I saw on Lord Howe were loafing about on the beach.  Their dark colour and the bright light from both above and reflected from the sand was a bit of a challenge all in all - there was much fiddling of camera setting on my behalf.  The birds were very accommodating - if you follow this link you can see just how accommodating I mean!

The name given to this bird is not really flattering - with Noddy being a bit of an insult and its formal name meaning 'really stupid bird' - I'm not making this up!  Seems a bit harsh if you ask me.

Anyway, apart from loafing on the beach they also seem to have a commitment to looking scenic with mountains in the background and an equal commitment to making sure that there their species will still be there next year.

All of these pictures were taken on North Beach on a wonderfully sunny day!

Now, once more its over to you click on the blue button to join in with WBW - and maybe send the link to my blog as a early Christmas present to your friends and relatives!

Monday, 7 December 2015

A wet day on Mt. Gower

Now I don't want you to think that Lord Howe Island is all sunshine, abundant bird life and tropic fish.  I can also be rather wet, slippery and muddy.  My ego tells me that I fell over a few times because my boots were defective - the truth may be less flattering!

During the entire 9 hours of the trip up and back down there was water falling from the sky - sometimes with a little more determination than others, but it never really let up.  The cloud base popped up on a few occasions just to tease up with views, but the top of Mt. Gower was determined not to yield a view of any kind.

You can see that in a couple of places a rope is provided both for security and assistance.  The roped section shown here is called The Low Road and takes you under the face of Mt. Lidgbird.  In the steep sections - and those sections were pretty steep - the rope was very handy indeed; both on the way up and possibly more so on the way down.

The upper slopes of Mt. Gower are covered in Mist Forest - the place really was magical.

The Low Road - note the rope on the RHS
Upper Slope Mist Forest 
A rare view north along the island
Another section of The High Road
Not the view we wanted!
It feels a bit out of place moaning about a wee bit of rain when friends of mine in the Lakes in the UK are dealing with real floods.  So, I hope you are all drying out and getting things sorted, although I know that will take a while.

You can find more pictures from around the world at Our World Tuesday.  Cheers SM

Thursday, 3 December 2015

Crazy Coloured Fish (and a Crazy Person!)

Just a brief post today to show you some of the crazily coloured fish I encountered during an afternoons fishing on you know where.

The first is a Bluefish - which is a fish which is blue!  And the second is Surge Wrasse, which really is the most insanely colourful fish I have ever seen!  The guy in the hat? Well, the less said the better!

You can find more pictures of animals from around the world over at Saturday Critters.

Wednesday, 2 December 2015

Wild Bird Wednesday 175 - Red-Tailed Tropicbird

The Red-Tailed Tropicbird was the bird I was most looking forward to seeing on my recent trip to Lord Howe Island.  This magnificent bird is used a great deal in the publicity shots for the island, so I was keen to see one (or more) for myself.

I saw some of these birds on the second day I was there, during my climb up Mount Gower.  I think I was the only person in that group who became excited at the sight of these birds, which may be explained by the fact that the walk itself was pretty tough!

I got much better views later in the week, and I was once more very pleased to be in the digital age of photography.  Photographing moving, almost pure white birds against a bright blue sky was a bit of a challenge - and I got better results from my second set of efforts than the first!

I got great views of these birds doing their courtship flights where they circle around each other in the air.  I was also pointed in the direction of a bird that was nesting on the ground.  While this bird was determinedly hidden in bush, I was surprised at how big they were.

The bird has a rather short tail apart from the long red tail streamers that give the bird its common name.  This means the birds look a bit stubby in flight.  Their tendency to use their outstretched feet as air brakes also add a somewhat inelegant look to these birds - but they are wonderful to watch.

Their formal name - Phaethon rubricauda - means 'red-tailed shiner' and in bright light they live up to that name.

This post is a bit image heavy - they really are wonderful birds.  If I saw one bird that made the trip to LHI worth while it was this bird - and I saw many more as well!

I think you may get a better view of the pictures by clicking on one and having a look at them as a 'gallery.

Now it's your turn - click the blue button on off you go.