09 February, 2011

Eyebrowed Thrush

More photos of the Thrush. These from Jun Matsui

08 February, 2011

Terry's Strange Thrush

This morning my friend Terry Heidenreich rang to ask if I was interested in a strange bird in his garden. Now, Terry is a very good birder so my system went to high alert.

He said it is a thrush or that type of bird, hops quickly across the ground and will sit still for some length of time. It appeared to be hunting for worms. When it flew into a tree he could not find it. He told me that the bird was the colour of a Bower's Shrike-thrush on the head but browner on the back. Terry spoke of a long white eyebrow and black whiskers edged with white. The throat is white but he thought the chin is black. He was confident it was not in his Australian or PNG field guides.

Despite not having eaten breakfast I jumped into the car and headed straight round.

Terry showed me where he had seen the bird a couple of times and I settled down to wait. I later went for a walk around his property and along the road checking out areas of similar length grass. Eventually I left birdless. Well not really but without having seen the target.
Terry rang a little later to say he had seen the bird in the same area again and that the bill sometimes looked yellow and sometimes yellow with a dark tip. Now he had seen the bird front on and the belly was white and the flanks were buff. Michelle, his wife told me the sides of the breast were yellow-brown. He saw the bird again in the afternoon so round I went yet again.

Going on Terry's description the best we could do was to consider Eyebrowed Thrush. This time I got glimpses of the bird as it hopped through ankle length grass on the edge of longer grass. It really did look like a small thrush. Although my views were really poor and my attempts to photograph the bird equally so I was able to confirm many of the field marks. When I saw it fly, I noticed that the under wings were uniformly pale except for a hint of darker edging to some feathers, the belly was white and the sides of the breast were a warm colour.

Having looked at pictures on the web I think there is a good chance that this is a first year male Eyebrowed Thrush.

06 February, 2011

Yasi, another cyclonic event and her aftermath

Yasi was a huge category 5 cyclone which at one stage was heading just north of us. This is the worst case scenario for us as on the east coast the strongest winds and greatest rain come on the south side of the eye. Then it looked like we would experience it straight on and in the middle of the night. Fortunately for us the cyclone headed a bit further south.

The photo above shows Maria in our cyclone cubby. The table just fits between the washing machine and the shelves in the laundry. Behind and to the side we close off with mattresses to slow down any flying debris. In the shelf we had food and water, first aid supplies, torches, radio and a few tools in case we needed to dig our way out. We also had a waterproof bag with a couple of changes of clothes, money and important papers in case we had to evacuate after the storm passed. I am glad we prepared so well as we were able to relax. I went to sleep listening to "Eine kleine Nachtmusik" and Maria said she enjoyed listening to my soft breathing.

Only one fatality so far and that person seems to have become overwhelmed by fumes from the diesel generator he was running in the small closed room where he sheltered. No serious injuries ether which is great but many people injure themselves when cleaning up
The most significant damage to our house occurred as I was closing the LAST window. I pulled off the clasp. An immediate repair was called for and completed. There was a little leak in one corner of the house. I have been on the roof and sealed anything which looks like it could be the problem but still cannot understand how the water got in.
As evening deepened and the winds strengthened this pair of Northern Sedge Frogs seemed to use the tape on the windows as a stairway.
The afternoon of the cyclone Maria and I were walking in town when a sea bird flew over. Believe it or not I did not have my binoculars around my neck! It is a standing joke in our village that I remove them to take a shower. I think it may have been a Great-winged Petrel. The next morning I went to Tinnaburra on the local water reservoir and saw more birds not usually there: 4 Common Terns, 1 Lesser-crested Tern, 2 Crested Terns, 5 Gull-billed Terns (not all that unusual), 1 Pied Cormorant and a Little Egret. Saturday afternoon I found this adult male Lesser Frigatebird flying around and then roosting for the night.