Ian’s Bird of the Week – Azure Kingfisher

Azure Kingfisher (Ceyx azurea) by Ian

Ian’s Bird of the Week – Azure Kingfisher ~ by Ian Montgomery

Newsletter – 2/2/2016

Although the second boat trip at Daintree didn’t produce any more Black Bitterns, it did produce a few gems including this Azure Kingfisher. This has featured as bird of the week before, but that was almost exactly nine years ago so I imagine you’ll forgive another one. They’re small (17-19cm/6.5-7.5in) usually quite shy and often hard to spot perched in dense riverine forest but these ones on the Daintree seem to be used to boats full of birders. Anyone this one let us get very close. Incidentally, I meant to provide a link to Ian Worcester’s website last week but forgot, so here it is: Daintree River Wild Watch.

The one in the first photo is an adult, probably a male from the bright colours. The second photo is on another one on the Daintree from an earlier visit. This one is a juvenile, I think, with scalloping on the crown and blacker wings. Azure Kingfisher normally perch on a branch over water and dive for their prey, returning to the same perch to administer the coup de grace. They feed mainly on small fish, but also on crustaceans and other invertebrates and occur on both fresh and tidal rivers.

Azure Kingfisher (Ceyx azurea) by Ian

Azure Kingfisher occur in New Guinea and northern and eastern Australia and in Tasmania. Three Australian races are recognised. The bluer nominate race occurs in eastern Australia, while the smaller, more violet northern race ruficollaris, third photo, occurs from NW Western Australia eastwards as far as Cooktown in Far North Queensland. The northern race has more blue extending much farther down the flanks than in the nominate race. Cooktown is only about 100km north of the Daintree as the Kingfisher flies, so the birds here are probably intermediate between these two races.

Azure Kingfisher (Ceyx azurea) by Ian

I’ve included the bird of the week from February 2007 for comparison, fourth photo. this was in the Sydney area and belongs to the nominate race. The third race diemensensis occurs only in western Tasmania and is classified as endangered by the Tasmanian Government. It is larger, has a smaller bill and a dark crown.

Azure Kingfisher (Ceyx azurea) by Ian

Work progress on the website. I’ve finished updating nearly all the galleries of the Australasian non-passerines (58 families) with only the members of the Cuckoo family to do. Then I’ll start on the Australasian Passerines (46 families).

On Saturday 13 February I’m giving at talk at the BirdLife Townsville AGM (see Activities for details and location) on the birds of New Caledonia. I’m calling it “New Caledonian birds: from strangely familiar to very strange” with reference to the Australasian origin of most of the species. If you’re in the Townsville district, it would be great to see you there. Greetings
Ian

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Ian Montgomery, Birdway Pty Ltd,
454 Forestry Road, Bluewater, Qld 4818
Tel 0411 602 737 ian@birdway.com.au
Bird Photos http://www.birdway.com.au/
Where to Find Birds in Northern Queensland:  iTunesGoogle Play Kobo Books
Recorder Society http://www.nqrs.org.au


Lee’s Addition:

Let them praise the name of the LORD: for he commanded, and they were created. (Psalms 148:5 KJV)

What a cute little bird! Love those kingfishers anyway, but this one seems special. It is in the river kingfisher part of the family.

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Ian’s Bird of the Week

Ian’s Birdway – Kingfishers

Alcedinidae – Kingfishers Family

Good News

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Ian’s Bird of the Week – New Zealand Pipit

Ian’s Bird of the Week – New Zealand Pipit 
~ by Ian Montgomery
Newsletter – 1/12/16
There are two ways to acquire photos of additional species to add to the website: one is to go out and photograph something new; the other is to sit at your computer and wait for the taxonomists to provide them via splits. I mentioned, in passing, the Eurasian and Pacific Wrens last week. This week we have the Australian and New Zealand Pipits, a split I discovered a week ago when revising the Pipit and Wagtail family page and switching the sequence from BirdLife International to the IOC. That split stirred vague memories of pipits on Enderby Island in the Auckland Islands group south of New Zealand and I dug out some neglected photos of New Zealand Pipits from my archives and published them on the website.
New Zealand Pipit (Anthus novaeseelandiae) by Ian

New Zealand Pipit (Anthus novaeseelandiae) by Ian

Pipits have been completely ignored as subjects for bird of the week because they aren’t, I don’t think, very interesting: they all look much the same – brown and streaked; they don’t behave in particular interesting ways; and they aren’t famous for the quality of their songs. So I was left the problem of finding a way of making them interesting. You could do a spot the difference quiz between the Australian  above, and the New Zealand below but even that is a bit limited in extent. The Australian is more buffish, the New Zealand more rufous; the New Zealand has more streaks on the flanks; if you had the birds in the hand you might notice that the Australian has a white belly, the New Zealand has a greyish one. That’s about it.
I could talk about their biology and show this photo of an adult feeding an insatiable fledgling, which was begging raucously for more food in another photo taken less than a second later. Instead, I decided this morning to Google the information contained in the sentence: “I took this photo of a New Zealand pipit (Anthus novaeseelandiae, J. F. Gmelin, 1789, Queen Charlotte Sound, South Island, New Zealand) on Enderby Island in November 2011”. Google led me on never-ending links of interesting information about the history of the Auckland Islands, voyages to Queen Charlotte Sound in the late 18th century, the work and publications of Johann Friedrich Gmelin and even to the novel Moby Dick* while I reminisced about the 2011 trip to the Sub-Antarctic Islands and dug out more photos of what we saw on Enderby Island. My task now is to distill all that stuff into a few sentences.
The Auckland islands are a rugged group of now uninhabited islands about 460km south of the South Island of New Zealand. Traces of Polynesian settlement dating back to the 13th century have been on Enderby Island, a small island about 5km long at the north eastern tip of the main island. They were rediscovered in 1806 by the whaling ship Ocean. Captain Bristow named the Islands after his friend the first Baron Auckland and Enderby Island after his boss Samuel Enderby, whose company owned the ship. The islands became an important sealing and whaling station, though by 1812 most of the New Zealand Sea Lions had been hunted and the focus switched to Campbell Island and Macquarie island farther south. There were several unsuccessful attempts at settlement later in the 19th century.
Most of the human activity on Enderby Island was at a sheltered bay called Sandy Cove on the south side of the island (below). That was where we landed and we hiked from there across to the north coast and then back along the coast in a clockwise direction, a distance of about 10km. Sandy Cove had lots of sea lions and Red-crowned Parakeets, strange to see on such a chilly windswept island.
I remember the last few kilometres along the south coast as being hard work wading through waist-deep tussocky grass but the wildlife along the way was wonderful and well worth the effort. In the tundra on the north coast there were New Zealand Snipe and Double-banded Plovers, while the cliffs on the north coast (below) had nesting Light-mantled Albatrosses. We watched their display flight  in the updrafts along the cliffs,a  veritable aerial ballet a deux, and could look down on other birds on their nests.
There were flightless Auckland Teal both along the coast and in pools of freshwater and we had to run the gauntlet of assertive male sea lions. We found that if you held your ground, they calmed down quite quickly and the following photo shows me making friends with one.
See? I’ve hardly mentioned pipits and, given the competition, it is surprising that I actually took any photos of them. Because various pipits all look much the same their taxonomy has long been, well, a mess.  There are – at the moment based on DNA studies – five similar species in Eurasian, Africa and Australasia that have in the past been treated as a single species. The other three are Richard’s pipit (central Asia), the African Pipit and the Paddyfield Pipit (south and southeast Asia). The first one to be named was a New Zealand specimen in 1789 by the German naturalist Johann Friedrich Gmelin, below, so according to the rules of taxonomic precedent that single species should have been novaeseelandiae.
Gmelin, 1748-1804, is best known for continuing to update and publish new volumes of the Systema Naturae after the death in 1778 of Linnaeus, the father of modern taxonomy. Here is the cover of the 1788 edition of Gmelin’s Volume I. Note that the classification is of the three natural kingdoms (Regna Tria Naturae) of animals, plants and minerals. This was in the days before anyone had to worry about evolution, and was all about managing the complexity of specimens of everything that were accumulating in vast numbers in museums, herbaria and other collections in Europe.
There were four levels of generalisation: classes, orders, genera and species. So the New Zealand Lark (as it was called then) belongs to the class Aves (birds), the order Passeres (sparrow-like), genus Alauda (larks) and species novae Zeelandiae (of Nova Seelandia). The system has proved remarkably robust. Class ‘Aves’ is still used for birds; ‘formes’ has been added to avian order names so Passeres survives as PasseriformesAlauda is still used for true larks. The New Zealand Lark is now recognised as a pipit and has been moved to the Pipit genus Anthus. The main change to the classification structure is the addition of the Family level between order and genus. Pipits and Old World Wagtails are in the family Motacillidae and I was interested to find that the name Motacilla, the Wagtail genus, is to be found later in the same volume.
The volume makes interesting reading just at the level of habitats which hints at the enormity of the task faced by Linnaeus and Gmelin. The species above the New Zealand Lark is the ‘Cape Lark’ Alauda capensis from a specimen collected at the Cape of Good Hope (caput bonae spei). On just these two pages are species from Portugal, Argentina, Mongolia and Siberia and this on pages 798-799 of the volume on birds. I found another whole volume on worms and another on a subset of plants. Gmelin was primarily a botanist was published various books on plant and chemical poisons. On the zoological side he specialised in amphibians, reptiles and molluscs, so his publication of bird species was fairly incidental. Such was the all-encompassing nature of scholarship in those times.
Meanwhile, back at the website, progress continues. I’ve finished updating all the family pages and I’m now working through the 1,500 species and updating their pages to make them mobile-friendly. On a good day, I can do about 20 species. On the way, I’m adding new photos of previously prepared but not included photos and you can track this progress on the new Recent Additions page – the most recent photos are at the top of this page. This used to be a section on the Home Page which had become unmanageably large for mobiles and needed to be broken up. The Home Page now serves as a gateway to the rest of the website and to advise of updates. such as recent additions and the latest bird of the week.
I started by listing the two ways of getting new species for the website. I’m planning to do the other way next week, take a break from the website and go up to the Daintree River in search of nesting Black Bitterns. This is one of my bogey birds. I’ve seen them only flying away since the single occasion on which I saw one stationary at Chittaway Point on the Central Coast of New South Wales in the year 2000 before I took up serious bird photography with serious equipment. So this (scanned from film) is what I’m trying to improve on:
As usual I ask for your moral and spiritual support!
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Greetings
Ian
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*PS. In Moby Dick the fictitious ship Pequod of Nantucket met a whaling ship from London called the Samuel Enderby which had also encountered the white whale. The Samuel Enderby was a real ship belonging to the Enderby company and was one of three that arrived at Auckland Island in 1849 to attempt a new settlement with 150 settlers.
**************************************************
Ian Montgomery, Birdway Pty Ltd,
454 Forestry Road, Bluewater, Qld 4818
Tel 0411 602 737 ian@birdway.com.au
Bird Photos http://www.birdway.com.au/
Where to Find Birds in Northern QueenslandiTunesGoogle Play Kobo Books
Recorder Society http://www.nqrs.org.au

Lee’s Addition:

Are not five sparrows sold for two farthings, and not one of them is forgotten before God? But even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not therefore: ye are of more value than many sparrows. (or Pipits) (Luke 12:6-7 KJV) (emphasis mine)

All work and no play is hard for anyone. We will be praying that you find that elusive Black Bittern. Then you can tell us all about them next.

Here are a few articles that tell about Carolus Linnaeus:

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Ian’s Bird of the Week – Temminck’s Stint

Ian’s Bird of the Week – Temminck’s Stint ~by Ian Montgomery
Newsletter – 12/31/15
Surprise, surprise, Facebook can be useful! I was contemplating a suitable species to wish you a Happy New Year, when I discovered from a post by Rohan Clark that Temminck’s Stint is the newest addition to the Australian bird list, one having turned up in Broome, Western Australia about a month. And no, I didn’t rush off there to photograph it: here are a couple of old photos that I took in India twelve years ago. So that satisfies the Old Year/New Year metaphor. You’ll have noticed by now that I’ll use any excuse as a metaphor to nominate a species as Bird of the Week.
This is probably one for the serious birder as small waders in winter plumage not only pose serious problems of identification but also fail to excite people who are into more dramatic plumages. That said, it’s distinguishing features are the down-curved bill, short legs and, in flight, the white sides to the tail. The latter is probably the best field mark, as it’s shared with no other members of the genus and easy to see in flight, even if it doesn’t show when the birds are on the ground. There are four species of Stints (see Typical Waders on Birdway) the Eurasian name for very small waders; comparable species of the same genus in North America are usually named Sandpipers, e.g. the Least Sandpiper  and are collectively, colloquially and somewhat disparagingly called Peeps after their calls.
Temminck’s Stint nest right across northern Eurasia from Norway to eastern Siberia. The short Arctic breeding season is something of a frenzy, as Temminck’s Stints of both sexes are territorial and serially bigamous and sometimes fit in three clutches with different mates. They winter mainly in equatorial Africa and southern and southeastern Asia, with Borneo being the closest regular winter haunt to Australia. It is to be expected that they would sometimes overshoot their destination and there have been several reports of them in Australia in recent years but none has been accepted until now.
Coenraad Temminck was a Dutch ‘aristocrat and zoologist’ born in Amsterdam in 1778. He was director of the National Museum (then the Rijksmuseum) of Natural History in Leiden from 1830 until his death in 1851. He made a huge contribution towards the classification of birds and other vertebrates at a time when the species and type concepts were contentious. He inherited a large collection of bird skins from his father who was treasurer of the Dutch East India Company, so it would be easy to imagine that his specimen of the stint came from Indonesia.
Sixteen bird species still include his name as part of the scientific and/or common name, including the Australian Logrunner (Orthonyx temminckii), which as featured as bird of the week before. He also make a fundamental contribution to biogeography, though his views on the divine aspects of species design and their unchanging nature proved unpopular with other scientists after about 1840.
You nearly got the Eurasian/Winter/Pacific Wrens as bird of the week as today I’ve got as far as the wren family page in the website redesign. I’m switching from BirdLife International to the IOC for classification and the IOC splits the old Winter Wren of the almost the entire Northern Hemisphere into Old World (Eurasian Wren) and New World (Winter and Pacific Wrens , which also suited the Old Year/New Year transition nicely. However, the Eurasian Wren has featured as bird of the week before in the guise of Winter Wren so you ended up with an obscure wader instead.
I send you very best wishes for the New Year and a rewarding 2016 and don’t make your New Year Resolutions too ambitious!
Ian
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Ian Montgomery, Birdway Pty Ltd,
454 Forestry Road, Bluewater, Qld 4818
Tel 0411 602 737 ian@birdway.com.au
Bird Photos http://www.birdway.com.au/
Where to Find Birds in Northern QueenslandiTunesGoogle Play Kobo Books
Recorder Society http://www.nqrs.org.au

Lee’s Addition:

“If a bird’s nest happens to be before you along the way, in any tree or on the ground, with young ones or eggs, with the mother sitting on the young or on the eggs, you shall not take the mother with the young; (Deuteronomy 22:6 NKJV)

Well, Happy New Years to you also, Ian. We look forward to your newsletters again this new year. Thanks for letting our blog share your very informative articles along with super photos of species. Many of those species we have never heard of, let alone have the opportunity to see. Thanks for sharing.

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Ian’s Bird of the Week articles

Ian’s Scolopacidae Family

Scolopacidae – Sandpipers, Snipes – Stint Family

Good News

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Ian’s Bird of the Week – Acorn Woodpecker

Ian’s Bird of the Week – Acorn Woodpecker ~ by Ian Montgomery

Newsletter – 12/23/15

I’ve been working obsessively with the redesign of the Birdway website for mobile devices that everything else has been rather neglected. ‘Everything else’ includes both the Bird of the Week and Christmas (no cards this year) so this one addresses both. I wanted a bird with a red cap to represent Santa or one of his helpers and have settled on the Acorn Woodpecker, a member of one of my favourite group of birds.
The black and white face pattern often earns it the description of ‘clownish’, which I think is a bit unfair, so I’m going to emphasise the red cap and the other features of its rather smart plumage. The male, first photo, has the more extensive red cap which reaches the white forehead and so is closest to a Santa one. The female, second photo, has a red cap only on the back of the head. If you know your northern hemisphere trees, you’ll recognise the wavy-edged leaves as belonging appropriately to oaks. Acorn Woodpeckers are quite small – 23cm/9in in length and the male is supposed to have a longer bill than the female, though this isn’t obvious in these photos.
In North America it occurs on the west coast of the United States (Oregon and California) and south west (Arizona and New Mexico). The range extends through Central America as far as the Andes in Columbia. Some populations are monogamous but others are group breeders with quite complex social systems. The bird peering out of the nesting hollow in the third photo is a juvenile; note the dark eye compared with the white or yellowish eyes of adults.
Acorns make up about 50-60% of the diet so the birds are most abundant in forests with plenty of oak trees. Particularly in the north of the range, acorns are the staple energy food in winter and the acorns are stored in crevices or specially make holes in bark. The bird in the fourth photo is showing us how it’s done and you can see that the bark has many holes, some containing acorns. These larders are excavated over many years and may contain as many as 40,000-50,000 holes. The pairs or groups are strongly territorial and will defend these larders. The nesting hollow take a lot of hard work to excavate too and may be reused year after  year.
The bird in the fifth photo in the highlands of Costa Rica, is a female showing us that they’re quite versatile in their diet. The Latin scholars will have noticed the specific name formicivorus which means ‘ant eater’ and the birds eat insects and various invertebrates throughout the year. Other seeds and nuts supplement the acorn part of the diet.
On the website, I’ve been concentrating on the family pages which have the thumbnail links to the species. I had hope to have these family pages finished by Christmas, but I still have about 30 of the 150 families left to do. Anyway, I wish you a peaceful and safe festive season and I hope to get another bird of the week out in time to wish you all the best for the New Year.
Ian
**************************************************
Ian Montgomery, Birdway Pty Ltd,
454 Forestry Road, Bluewater, Qld 4818
Tel 0411 602 737 ian@birdway.com.au
Bird Photos http://www.birdway.com.au/
Where to Find Birds in Northern QueenslandiTunesGoogle Play Kobo Books
Recorder Society http://www.nqrs.org.au

Lee’s Addition:

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. “But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. (Matthew 6:19-21 NASB)

Thanks, Ian for such a neat “red capped” woodpecker. I enjoyed seeing the Acorn Woodpeckers when we were out west earlier this year. It is amazing how many acorns they can stuff in one tree. Merry Christmas to you down in Australia and trust you get your project finished in time for our New Year’s greeting. The website is looking great.

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Ian’s Bird of the Week

Acorn Woodpeckers at Birdway

Wordless Birds

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Ian’s Bird of the Week – Oriental Plover

Ian’s Bird of the Week – Oriental Plover by Ian Montgomery

 Newsletter – 12/10/14
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You may remember that we had Oriental Pratincole as bird of the week early last month as I couldn’t fulfil a request from a local birder for Oriental Plover. Since then, Rex Whitehead, a bird photographer in Mt Isa, 900km west of Townsville as sent me some lovely Oriental Plover photos that he took very recently on Lake Moondarra, a reservoir just outside Mt Isa.
The first two photos are of adult birds in non-breeding plumage. These are elegant mid-sized plovers slightly smaller than Golden Plovers with a length 22-25cm/8.5-10in. The second photo shows the slim profile well. The third photo is of a juvenile bird, and like many plover species it has buff fringes to the dorsal feathers.
The entire population of about 70,000 birds breeds in Mongolia and adjacent areas of southern Siberia and northwestern China and migrates to northern Australia for the northern winter. In both regions it is a bird of dry arid areas and in Australia it visits the coast less frequently and in response to severe drought inland. Some birds reach the southern states, but it’s main range is north of the Tropic of Capricorn. On migration in both directions it appears in large numbers in the Yangtze Valley but records are rare both in more northerly parts of China and in Indonesia. So it is assumed that it is a long distant migrant and does the entire journey in two hops.
In breeding plumage it has a chestnut breast-band with a dark lower edge which forms a sharp border to the white breast. With some reluctance I’ve included a poor distant shot of mine taken at Norfolk Island airport in March 2012 to illustrate the breeding plumage and do a size comparison with the Pacific Golden Plover. if you look carefully you can see the chestnut breast-band on the Oriental Plover and the Pacific Golden Plover is also coming into breeding plumage. Oriental Plovers can run swiftly and the specific name veredus is the Latin for a swift horse.
I’ve been busy working on the website to make it ‘mobile friendly’ so Christmas has approached stealthily and more-or-less unnoticed. I did see in my calendar program yesterday that there is a full moon on Christmas Day and the same program reminded me today that there is a New Moon tomorrow. That gave me a shock as it means Christmas only a couple of weeks away. So, don’t forget the gift giving facilities on the Apple Store and Kobo Books and the ebooks Where to Find Birds in Northern Queensland and Diary of a Bird Photographer! Use the Gifting Gifts section in the Publications Page for links and instructions. Both the thumbnails below are linked to their newly mobile friendly pages on the website.
    
I released the new mobile friendly home page a few days ago. This involved breaking it up into smaller parts to make it more manageable – it had grown to become a monster over the years. The home page now has links to all its erstwhile components like thumbnails to bird families (‘Visual Links’ in the menus), the bird of the week index page, and recent additions. The alphabetic and taxonomic indices are collectively called Text Links, and like the Visual Links are all inter-connected. The move to a mobile world has provided an opportunity for a complete redesign to make the website more consistent and easier to use but, given its size, it will be many months before all the family and species pages get updated but I’ll keep you posted.
Greetings
Ian

Lee’s Addition:

[Even the migratory birds are punctual to their seasons.] Yes, the stork [excelling in the great height of her flight] in the heavens knows her appointed times [of migration], and the turtledove, the swallow, and the crane observe the time of their return. But My people do not know the law of the Lord [which the lower animals instinctively recognize in so far as it applies to them]. (Jeremiah 8:7 AMP)

Wow! If you looked at all the links Ian shared, he has really been busy updating his Birdway website. I’m impressed! The Oriental Plover is also very interesting.

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Ian’s Bird of the Week

Charadriidae – Plovers  Family

Wordless Birds

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Ian’s Bird of the Week – Northern Rosella

Ian’s Bird of the Week – Northern Rosella ~ by Ian Montgomery

Newsletter – 11/3015

Last week we had the Crimson Rosella, one of the group of blue-cheeked Rosellas. This week  here is the Northern Rosella  a representative of the other group of Rosellas, the white-cheeked Rosellas. The other members of this group are the Pale-headed Rosella and the Eastern Rosella, both of which have featured as bird of the week previously.
These three have adjoining distributions with the Northern Rosella being found from Derby in NW Western Australia through the Top End of the Northern Territory to the far NW of Queensland; the Pale-headed ranges from Cape York and the eastern Gulf of Carpentaria through coastal Queensland to NE New South Wales, while the Eastern Rosella ranges from SE Queensland through coastal New South Wales through Victoria to eastern South Australia and also occurs in Tasmania. The ranges of the Pale-headed and Eastern overlap in SE Queensland and NE New South Wales and the two interbreed to some extent. There is a fourth species in SW Western Australia, the Western Rosella but it has yellow cheeks.
The Northern Rosella is the only one with a black cap, first photo. It isn’t a common bird and I have seen it only a few times on trips to the Northern Territory. Most records in the Territory are in a triangle bounded by Darwin in the north, Katherine in the south and Jabiru in the east, but this is perhaps the area most frequented by bird watchers. In NW Western Australia another population is centred in the Kimberley region and around Kununurra.
The bird in the first photo was photographed at Edith Falls, second photo, a delightful oasis in the dry country just north of Katherine. When I was there, a resemblance to the Garden of Eden was heightened by an incident in the middle of the night at the camp ground. I had some neighbours, noisy to begin with, who did a lot of yelling at about 2am. The next day I was having a swim in the lake and found out from some other campers that one of the noisy group had stepped on a Death Adder on the way to the toilet block and had to be rushed to Katherine Base Hospital for antivenom. Venomous snakes are a fact of life in Australia so don’t let the incident put you off going to Edith Falls; just watch where you walk even in the middle of the night.
The second photo of a Northern Rosella was taken in the evening sunlight at Chainman Creek near Katherine on a different trip. I presumed chainman was something to do with chain gang, but apparently a chainman is a surveyor who holds the measuring chain. While we’re on derivations, Platycercus is Greek for flat- or broad-tailed and venustus is Latin for beautiful or charming. I think you’ll agree that this is a lovely parrot.
Greetings
Ian
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Ian Montgomery, Birdway Pty Ltd,
454 Forestry Road, Bluewater, Qld 4818
Tel 0411 602 737 ian@birdway.com.au
Bird Photos http://www.birdway.com.au/
Where to Find Birds in Northern QueenslandiTunesGoogle Play Kobo Books
Recorder Society http://www.nqrs.org.au

Lee’s Addition:

So God created great sea creatures and every living thing that moves, with which the waters abounded, according to their kind, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good.” (Genesis 1:21 NKJV)

Another delightful Rosella from Ian. Thanks again for sharing your newsletters with us. Ian has written about several others over the time here on the blog.

Ian’s Other Rosella Newsletters:

More Ian’s Bird of the Week

Psittaculidae – Old World Parrots

Is There A God?

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Ian’s Bird of the Week – Crimson Rosella

Ian’s Bird of the Week – Crimson Rosella ~ by Ian Montgomery

Newsletter – 11/20/15

Some birds are very obvious choices for bird of the week because they are beautiful and popular. Ironically, I can overlook them for exactly that reason as I assume they’ve featured previously. Here is one such, the Crimson Rosella, an iconic and popular bird of the forests of eastern and southeastern Australia.

Crimson Rosella (Platycercus elegans) by Ian

Normally rather shy in its natural habitat and can become quite tame in parks and gardens. It’s popularity is reflected in the fact that it has been introduced to New Zealand and Norfolk Island and (unsuccessfully) to Lord Howe Island. It nests in tree hollows and is regarded by conservationists as a pest on Norfolk Island as it competes with the smaller, endangered Norfolk Parakeet for nest sites.

Crimson Rosella (Platycercus elegans) by Ian

It feeds mainly on the seeds and fruit of trees and will forage on the ground for the grass seed, like the bird in the third photo. It’s a very vocal species and its ringing calls are a characteristic sound of forests in eastern Australia. Out of the breeding season, it is found in small flocks but it is territorial when breeding and the pair bond is though to persist for several years or longer.

Crimson Rosella (Platycercus elegans) by Ian

Juvenile birds of the eastern nominate race are mainly olive green with blue cheeks and patches of red on the head, breast and undertail-coverts. The nominate race extends from Cooroy in Southeastern Queensland to about Kingston in eastern South Australia.

Crimson Rosella (Platycercus elegans) by Ian

Farther north, an isolated population of the race nigrescens (‘blackish’) occurs from Eungella near Mackay north to the Atherton Tableland. This is smaller and darker than the nominate race, fifth photo, and is mainly a bird of highland rainforest.

Crimson Rosella (Platycercus elegans) by Ian

Juveniles of this northern race are much more like the adults than their southern relatives and have brownish-black feathers on the back instead of green (sixth photo).

Crimson Rosella (Platycercus elegans) by Ian

Crimson Rosella (Platycercus elegans) by Ian

In southeastern Australia the populations of blue-cheeked Rosellas look very different and were for a long time treated as two different species, the Yellow Rosella, seventh photo, of the river systems of southern New South Wales and northern Victoria, and the orange-plumaged Adelaide Rosella of South Australia from the Flinders Ranges in the north to the Fleurieu Peninsula south of Adelaide (no photo). Yellow and Adelaide Rosellas interbreed where their ranges meet along the Murray River in South Australia. The two are now treated as races of the Crimson Rosella, flaveolus and adelaidae respectively.

Yellow Rosella (Platycercus elegans flaveolus) by Ian 4

Yellow Rosella (Platycercus elegans flaveolus) by Ian 4

The Yellow Rosella looks very like the other blue-cheeked Rosella, the Green Rosella of Tasmania. It is, however, retained as a separate species. I included this photo of the Yellow Rosella when the Green Rosella was bird of the week in March 2013.

Christmas is looming ever closer, so this wouldn’t be complete without the obligatory commercial. What do you give to the digitally-competent birder or nature-lover who has everything? An electronic book of course and both Apple and Kobo have facilities in their ebook stores for giving gifts. I’ve included a Giving Gifts section on the Publications page with help on how these stores let you give gifts. Google has facilities only for giving the equivalent of a gift token and not specific items. These book images are linked to the corresponding web pages:

Where To Find Birds - Ian

Ian's Book 2

Greetings
Ian

**************************************************
Ian Montgomery, Birdway Pty Ltd,
454 Forestry Road, Bluewater, Qld 4818
Tel 0411 602 737 ian@birdway.com.au
Bird Photos http://www.birdway.com.au/
Where to Find Birds in Northern Queensland: iTunesGoogle Play Kobo Books
Recorder Society  iTunesGoogle Play Kobo Books


Lee’s Addition:

For the LORD God is a sun and shield; The LORD will give grace and glory; No good thing will He withhold From those who walk uprightly. (Psalms 84:11 NKJV)

Thanks again, Ian, for sharing some more avian wonders. I especially like the second photos. That little guy looks like he is walking with an attitude. :)

Cause me to hear Your lovingkindness in the morning, For in You do I trust; Cause me to know the way in which I should walk, For I lift up my soul to You. (Psalms 143:8 NKJV)

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More Ian’s Bird of the Week

Ian’s Psittacidae – Parrots Family

Pale-headed Rosella ~ 8-24-14

Psittaculidae – Old World Parrots (Here)

Wordless Birds – Hummers

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Birds of the World and Bible – Groove-billed Ani

Groove-billed Ani (Crotophaga sulcirostris) by Michael Woodruff

Groove-billed Ani (Crotophaga sulcirostris) by Michael Woodruff

“every raven after its kind, and the owl, and the night-hawk, and the cuckoo, and the hawk after its kind,” (Leviticus 11:15-16 YLT)

While browsing through some of the latest photos from photographers I follow on Flickr, I came across these photos by Michael Woodruff of the Groove-billed Ani. Then I found more by two others I follow; barloventomagico and Ross Tsai.

Groove-billed Ani (Crotophaga sulcirostris) ©Flickr Ross Tsai

Groove-billed Ani (Crotophaga sulcirostris) ©Flickr Ross Tsai

So what is a Groove-billed Ani anyway? The groove-billed ani (Crotophaga sulcirostris) is an odd-looking tropical bird in the Cuculidae – Cuckoos family with a long tail and a large, curved beak. It is a resident species throughout most of its range, from southern Texas, central Mexico and The Bahamas, through Central America, to northern Colombia and Venezuela, and coastal Ecuador and Peru. It only retreats from the northern limits of its range in Texas and northern Mexico during winter. Dan and I was able to see these birds in South Texas in 2001.

Groove-billed Ani (Crotophaga sulcirostris) by Michael Woodruff

Groove-billed Ani (Crotophaga sulcirostris) by Michael Woodruff

The groove-billed ani is about 34 cm (13 in) long, and weighs 70–90 g (2.5–3.2 oz). It is completely black, with a very long tail almost as long as its body. It has a huge bill with horizontal grooves along the length of the upper mandible. It is very similar to the smooth-billed ani, some of which have bills as small as the groove-billed and with grooves on the basal half. The two species are best distinguished by voice and range. In flight, the ani alternates between quick, choppy flaps and short glides.

Groove-billed Ani (Crotophaga sulcirostris) by Michael Woodruff

Groove-billed Ani (Crotophaga sulcirostris) by Michael Woodruff

Like other anis, the groove-billed is found in open and partly open country, such as pastures, savanna, and orchards. It feeds largely on a mixed diet of insects, seeds, and fruits.

Groove-billed Ani (Crotophaga sulcirostris) ©Flickr barloventomagico

Groove-billed Ani (Crotophaga sulcirostris) ©Flickr barloventomagico

The groove-billed ani lives in small groups of one to five breeding pairs. They defend a single territory and lay their eggs in one communal nest. All group members incubate the eggs and care for the young. (Wikipedia)

It’s a different kind of beak, but the Lord made the Ani like this so that he could eat the available food in its terrain. Bills are not an evolutionary after-thought, but the design of a Creator, that loves His critters and provides for them.

Groove-billed Ani (Crotophaga sulcirostris) ©Flickr barloventomagico

GBNA – Guide to Birds of North America eField Guide: Groove-billed Ani

  • Black overall with iridescent purple and green sheen
  • Long tail, very wide at end
  • Bulky bill with grooves (visible only at close range)
  • Bill does not extend above crown
  • Entirely black plumage
  • Sexes similar
  • Often found in small groups
  • Inhabits grassy, scrubby areas

Groove-billed Ani (Crotophaga sulcirostris) by Michael Woodruff

“and the owl, and the night-hawk, and the cuckoo, and the hawk after its kind;” (Deuteronomy 14:15 YLT)

The YLT  and two other versions of the Bible, list the “Cuckoo” in the list of birds not to be eaten by the Israelites. Other versions use the word, “Cuckow.” Therefore this family of birds have been listed as Birds of the Bible.

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Ian’s Bird of the Week – Tomtit

Tomtit (Petroica macrocephala) by IanIan’s Bird of the Week – Tomtit ~ by Ian Montgomery

Newsletter – 10/30/15

Last week we had the Snares Penguin and I made a passing reference to the locally endemic race of the Tomtit, so here is it and two of the other four New Zealand races of the Tomtit as this week’s choice. It’s called a Tit after the European Tits family Paridae which includes the North American Chicadees) but it’s not one of these but an Australasian Robin (Petroicidae), which in turn were named after the European Robin but don’t belong to its family either (Muscicapidae). The Tomtit’s closest relative is the Pacific Robin (Petroica multicolor) which in turn is very close related the Scarlet Robin of Australia.

A friend of mine who is a member of the bird of the week club but not a birdwatcher as such expressed confusion over subspecies (or races) and species, so I Googled a couple of references which might be useful: 1. a simple explanation2. Wikipedia and 3. a more scholarly one. I talk about them a lot as I’m interested in the classification of birds (taxonomy) and their evolution and biogeography (how they got to where they are) so here is a brief description.

Tomtit (Petroica macrocephala) by Ian

A (biological) species is the fundamental unit (‘taxon’) of the classification of organisms, both plants and animals. It’s fundamental in the sense that it is considered reproductively isolated (genetic differences are supposed to be such that interbreeding across species boundaries isn’t possible or at least doesn’t produce fertile offspring). From a bird-watching point of view, a species is what you add to lists, whether your life list, your national list, your annual list, your yard list, or your annual bird list… The possibilities are endless but in the competitive world of ‘twitching’, a species is as important as a referees decision about a goal or score in football or tennis.

Tomtit (Petroica macrocephala marrineri) by IanNothing in biology is ever quite so simple, so the differences between various taxonomic levels (species, genus, family, order … going up and species, subspecies going down) are really part of a continuum. At the lower levels – genus, species and sub-species – the degree of genetic separation and therefore reproductive isolation varies a lot. Some groups are particularly troublesome as apparently quite different ‘species’ have a taxonomically irritating tendency to hybridise. Among birds, the diving ducks of the genus Aythya come to mind and among plants the orchids are notorious for spreading their genes around. Subspecies or races (using the terms interchangeably) are usually geographically isolated so they don’t get the chance to interbreed and are usually sufficiently different to be identifiable in the field. That means if you’re a birdwatcher, you can make lists of them too…

Tomtit (Petroica macrocephala marrineri) by Ian

The eighteen century Swedish scientist and physician Carl Linnaeus is regarded as the father of modern taxonomy as he invented the binomial – double-name – system that is still in use today. This was a century before Darwin, so Linnaeus was concerned, lucky man, with only degree of similarity. He classified types of organisms as belonging to a genus (‘family’ in Latin) represented by the first name, e.g. Anas (Latin for ‘duck’) and a species, e.g. platyrhychos (Greek for ‘broad-billed’) to name the Mallard and distinguish it from say the similar Gadwall, Anas strepera, where ‘strepera’ is derived from the Latin for ‘noisy’. There is no linguistic rule to prevent mixing of languages but adjectival species names usually agree in gender with the genus, something of a challenge when one name comes from Greek and the other from Latin.

Tomtit (Petroica macrocephala dannefaerdi) by IanNeedless to say, taxonomists have added many levels since, but orders, families, genera and species are the most important. To accommodate races or subspecies a third name was added the binomial system making it trinomial. The first race of a species to be named is called the nominate race, and the name of the race, if any, must be the same as the name of the species. So the nominate race of the Tomtit Petroica macrocephala is Petroica macrocephala macrocephala(Petroica is Greek for ‘rock-dwelling’ and macrocephala is Greek for ‘big-headed’). Any additional subspecies described later will be called Petroica macrocephala somethingelse.

Tomtit (Petroica macrocephala dannefaerdi) by Ian

Sorry, that was supposed to be a brief description so let’s get back to Tomtits. The first two photos show the nominate race which occurs on the South Island of New Zealand. The male is black and white with a yellow breast; the female is grey-brown with a white belly. This pair was in an Antarctic Beech forest – quite Lord of the Rings – near Cascade Creek in Fiordland and both birds were busy feeding nestlings. The male has a juicy green caterpillar and a large mosquito in his bill.

The third and fourth photos are male and female examples of the Auckland Islands race marrineri on Enderby Island one of the Auckland Islands group. Both males are females are mainly black and white, the male being glossier with only a trace of yellow on the breast. The race is named after New Zealand biologist George Marriner who took part in the 1907 Sub-Antarctic Islands Scientific Expedition.

The Snares race dannefaerdi is the most distinctive, photos 5 and 6, with both sexes being completely black, the male again being glossier than the female. It is named after Sigvard Dannefaerd who was a Danish collector and photographer based in New Zealand and the original specimen was from his collection but ended up with the second Baron Rothschild who described it.

Back at the Birdway website, I’m continuing to redevelop it for mobile devices and the latest changes include the Bird of the Week page and I am gradually working my way through the various families in taxonomic sequence (that word again!): MegapodesChachalacas and GuansGuineafowlNew World Quails and, in progress, the Ducks, Geese and Swans.

Greetings

Ian
**************************************************
Ian Montgomery, Birdway Pty Ltd,
454 Forestry Road, Bluewater, Qld 4818
Tel 0411 602 737 ian@birdway.com.au
Bird Photos http://www.birdway.com.au/

Where to Find Birds in Northern QueenslandiTunesGoogle Play Kobo Books
Recorder Society http://www.nqrs.org.au


Lee’s Addition:

The little birds (sparrows) have places for themselves, where they may put their young, even your altars, O Lord of armies, my King and my God. (Psalms 84:3 BBE)

What cute little birds. I am glad the Lord saw fit to create birds in so many different sizes. Looks like Ian has been busy working on his website. I am sure he would appreciate you looking around again for his improvements.

Ian’s Bird of the Week

Ian’s Petroicidae Family

Petroicidae – Australasian Robins Family

Gideon

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Ian’s Bird of the Week – Snares Penguin

Ian’s Bird of the Week – Snares Penguin ~ by Ian Montgomery

Newsletter – 10/23/15

Before we get on to this week’s bird – the Snares Penguin – here is a postscript on last week’s discussion on the boundary between Fuscous and Yellow-tinted Honeyeaters on the Atherton Tableland west of Cairns. Keith Fisher sent me this photo of a bird taken at Springvale Road in the Kaban area between Herberton and Ravenshoe in the western drier part of the Tableland (Chapter 14 in Where to Find Birds in Northern Queensland, hint, hint). He also sent me information from Lloyd Nielsen who has been studying these birds. It would be a brave person who would identify this bird on appearance alone and it seems that the matter will remain unresolved until someone does some DNA analysis. Thank you Keith.

Fuscous Honeyeater (Lichenostomus fuscus) by Ian at Birdway

Now for something completely different and for no other reason than I like penguins and so do most people. We saw various penguin species on the Sub-Antarctic Islands trip that we did in 2011 and here is one of two that hasn’t featured as bird of the week. The first island group that we reached after leaving Dunedin on the South Island of New Zealand was the Snares, an isolated group of islands with a total area of 340ha/840acres about 200km/125miles south of the South Island.

Snares Penguin (Eudyptes robustus) by IanThe Snares are of particular scientific and conservation value as, unlike other similar islands in the Southern Pacific they were left largely untouched by sealing and whaling and survive, vegetation intact in a fairly pristine state and have no mammalian predators. The Snares Penguin and the Snares Snipe are endemic species and there is an endemic race of the Fernbird and an all black-race of the Tomtit. The islands are of huge importance for nesting seabirds with 2 million pairs of Sooty Shearwaters and large numbers of Common Diving Petrels. Because of its conservation status – ‘minimum impact’ – we weren’t allowed to land but we cruised close by in Zodiacs in ideal weather conditions and saw all the bird species of interest except the Snipe.

Snares Penguin (Eudyptes robustus) by IanThere are about 25,000 pairs of Snares Penguins. The species is closely related to the Fiordland Penguin of the South Island of New Zealand and the Erect-crested of Bounty and Antipodes Islands, but has a much heavier bill (hence the name robustus) and pink skin between the bill and the cheek and throat so it usual now to treat all three as full species. Like all penguins, they are delightful to watch and be watched by and they are quite curious and popped up beside the Zodiac to have a good look.

Snares Penguin (Eudyptes robustus) by IanThey nest in colonies of up to 1,000 pairs mainly usually under trees or bushes, but sometimes in the open. There is continual traffic between the ocean and colonies which scours away any vegetation.

Snares Penguin (Eudyptes robustus) by IanAt the colony we visited, there was a favoured spot for launching into the water and all the seaweed had been worn away. The penguins would wait for a calm period between ocean swells and then dash after the most intrepid into the water.

Snares Penguin (Eudyptes robustus) by IanLanding seemed to be done on a hope and a prayer and the birds would get washed up on the rocks and then scramble to safety. There were several landing spots and these still had seaweed, which presumably cushioned the birds from hard landings.

Snares Penguin (Eudyptes robustus) by IanSnares Penguins lay a clutch of 2 eggs, and breeding success is about 40%. The population is thought to be increasing, though the species is classified as Vulnerable because it depends on a single location. After breeding the bird disperse in the ocean and are recorded as vagrants in mainland New Zealand and Tasmania. The birds take about 4 years to mature and live for about 20 years.

This bird of the week is a bit late as I’ve been busy this week finishing reformatting the ebook Diary of a Bird Photographer. I’ve made each bird of the week section start on a new page to prevent the separation of caption and content. The new version has now been uploaded to the Apple, Google and Kobo bookstores and is recognisable by a re-designed cover. If you have already purchased it, you should be able to upload the latest version from the store. The following cover image links to the Diary page on the Birdway website.

Ian's Book 2

I’ve also been redesigning the website templates to make them more suitable for viewing on smart phones or tablets. The original design was for monitors a width of 1200 pixels, but we live in a more fluid world now. I’ve applied the new design to two families, and I’d be grateful if you could check them your devices and see if they behave: Stilts and Avocets and Barn Owls. I’ve tested them on iPhone and iPad using the browsers Safari and Chrome.

Greetings
Ian

**************************************************
Ian Montgomery, Birdway Pty Ltd,
454 Forestry Road, Bluewater, Qld 4818
Tel 0411 602 737 ian@birdway.com.au
Bird Photos http://www.birdway.com.au/
Where to Find Birds in Northern QueenslandiTunesGoogle Play Kobo Books
Recorder Society http://www.nqrs.org.au


Lee’s Addition:

In the fear of the LORD there is strong confidence, And His children will have a place of refuge. The fear of the LORD is a fountain of life, To turn one away from the snares of death. (Proverbs 14:26-27 NKJV)

Sounds like Ian has been quite busy, but I am thankful he took time to share those Snares Penguins with us. I didn’t pick up how they got their name, but this from Wikipedia explains it further.

“The Snares penguin (Eudyptes robustus), also known as the Snares crested penguin and the Snares Islands penguin, is a penguin from New Zealand. The species breeds on The Snares, a group of islands off the southern coast of the South Island.”

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Ian’s Bird of the Week

Snares Penguin – Ian’s Birdway

Snare Penguin – Wikipedia

Spheniscidae – Penguin Family

Ian’s Bird of the Week – Fuscous Honeyeater

Story of the Wordless Book

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Ian’s Bird of the Week – Fuscous Honeyeater

Ian’s Bird of the Week – Fuscous Honeyeater ~ by Ian Montgomery

Newsletter ~ 10-14-15

Townsville is experiencing one of its driest years on record, with only 258mm/10.2in of rain so far this year, with most of that in January. Farmers feel the effects of the dry the most of course from a human perspective, but the wildlife is suffering too. Any remaining open water whether on farms or in gardens is very popular. My bird bath and pond are visible from the window of my study so I have been watching the variety and abundance of visiting wild- (and feral-) life and keeping an eye out for unusual birds. These include some which here are mainly restricted to highland rainforest such as Macleay’s and Lewin’s Honeyeaters and other dry country species such as the Fuscous Honeyeater, normally found west of the coastal range in North Queensland.

Fuscous Honeyeater (Lichenostomus fuscus) by Ian

This one, here ten days ago on the edge of my bird bath, is the northern race subgermanus. This race has a yellow wash on the face which makes it look rather like the closely related Yellow-tinted Honeyeater, a species I’ll say a bit more about shortly. This northern race occurs between Bowen/Mackay and the Atherton Tableland. Further south the nominate race ranges through the remainder of eastern Queensland, eastern New South Wales and through Victoria as far as about Adelaide in South Australia. The second photo shows an example of the nominate race west of Sydney. Fuscous Honeyeaters have different bill and eye-ring colour in breeding and non-breeding plumage. Non-breeding (and juvenile) birds have yellow bases to the bill and a yellow eye-ring (first photo) while breeding birds have dark bills and dark eye-rings (second photo) – unusual for the breeding plumage to be less colourful.

Fuscous Honeyeater (Lichenostomus fuscus) by IanThe third photo shows a non-breeding (or juvenile) nominate-race individual in Victoria and both the yellow eye-ring and yellow base to the bill show up well. ‘Fuscous’ comes from the Latin for ‘dusky’ while the generic name ‘Lichenostomus’ means ‘lichen-mouth’ or ‘moss-mouth’ in Greek and refers to the brush-like tongues of members of this genus, adapted for feeding on nectar. Compare that with ‘Trichoglossus’ – ‘hair tongue’ – a similar adaptation in Lorikeets of that genus, such as the Rainbow Lorikeet.

Fuscous Honeyeater (Lichenostomus fuscus) by IanThere are five closely related species of Lichenostomus, referred to as a ‘super-species’ which, although they overlap in some places, effectively carve up mainland Australia. The Fuscous as we’ve seen is an eastern and southeastern species; the Yellow-plumed (L. ornatus) occurs along the south coast from Victoria to SW Western Australia; the Grey-fronted (L. plumulus) is an inland and western-coastal species; the White-plumed (L. penicillatus) has a similar range to the Grey-fronted but extends to the coast in Victoria and New South Wales (e.g. suburban Sydney); while the Yellow-tinted (L. flavescens) occurs across northern Australia from NW Western Australia through the Northern Territory to western Cape York in Queensland (fourth photo). There is also an isolated population in south-eastern Papua New Guinea.

In case you’re wondering, subgermanus, the name for the northern race of the Fuscous doesn’t refer to Germany or a taxonomist called Germain. ‘Germanus’ means something like ‘sibling’ in Latin (literally ‘having the same parents’) and is the origin of ‘hermano/hermana’ in Spanish (brother/sister). ‘Sub’ is often used to indicate closeness in taxonomic matters, so subgermanus means something like ‘almost siblings’ and presumably refers to its similarity to the Yellow-tinted. That’s my guess, anyway, as my usual source of such gems, A Dictionary of Scientific Bird Names, OUP, doesn’t delve into races.

Yellow-tufted Honeyeater (Lichenostomus melanops) by IanThe range of the Yellow-tinted comes within about 100km of that of the yellowish northern Fuscous Honeyeater and the two species were formerly lumped into one. Recent studies have shown that although they look similar they don’t intergrade, so treating them as separate species seems justified. In the Yellow-tinted, the yellow base to the bill is a feature of just juvenile birds. All have yellow eye-rings, so there is no difference in appearance between breeding and non-breeding adults.

Fire Chopper by Ian

Fire Chopper by Ian

The dry season is an anxious time in bushland areas of North Queensland and this year particularly so. Last week a fire started beside the Bruce Highway on Saturday 3rd October and travelled the seven kilometres to my place over the next three days and then burned along the dry bed of Bluewater Creek near my house for three days. The last photo shows the bottom of my yard being water bombed on Thursday morning as I was heading down there yet again with a rake. The hill in the background is black all over. All is quiet now and we have the biggest firebreak in the country (at least 11km long covering 24 square kilometres) so I hope we’re probably relatively safe now until the wet season which should start in a couple of months, El Nino permitting. The firemen had some funny stories to tell about their arrival at a nudist colony in a secluded area about 4km west of my place.

Greetings
Ian

**************************************************
Ian Montgomery, Birdway Pty Ltd,
454 Forestry Road, Bluewater, Qld 4818
Tel 0411 602 737 ian@birdway.com.au
Bird Photos http://www.birdway.com.au/
Where to Find Birds in Northern QueenslandiTunesGoogle Play Kobo Books
Recorder Society http://www.nqrs.org.au


Lee’s Addition:

My son, eat thou honey, because it is good; and the honeycomb, which is sweet to thy taste:  (Pro 24:13)

Thanks, Ian, for telling more about your amazing Honeyeaters, especially the Fuscous ones. Sound like a bird I would like landing on my bird bath. Though he would have to fly a loooooong way to get here. :)

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Ian’s Bird of the Week

Ian’s Honeyeaters

Meliphagidae – Honeyeaters

Who Paints The Leaves?

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Ian’s Bird of the Week – Princess Parrot – Reworked

Ian’s Bird of the Week – Princess Parrot ~ by Ian Montgomery
Newsletter ~ 10/1/15

Lee’s Update:  Not sure what happened because I was seeing it okay on PC and smartphone. Anyway, it is now back to the way I normally add the photos back in.

A late bird of the week I regret, but I’ve been planning and designing a major overhaul to the website to the exclusion of almost everything else. The website is showing its age as I designed it in a pre-smart phone and pre-tablet era – seems like a long time ago now – for fixed, landscape screens. About 30% of the birdway website traffic comes from such devices now, so it’s an issue I can no longer ignore. Anyway, I’ll say a bit more about that later and provide an example of the new layout.

The other revision taking place is that until now I’ve only included my own photos, so Birdway has been synonymous with Ian Montgomery. The rationale was that it was a showcase for my work – some would say a monument to my ego, smile. Maybe I’m satisfied at having reached 1500 species globally and 700 Australian ones so it’s time to change. Birdway will now aim to provide the best range of publishable quality bird photos. Initially the emphasis will be on Australian ones, but later I may extend this to Australasian one. For manageability, I’m starting by invitation only but feel free to register your interest by email ian@birdway.com.au.

So, here is a landmark bird of the week: these lovely photos of the gorgeous and elusive Princess Parrot were taken by my friend Jenny Spry, a birder and photographer well-known in Australian birding circles. She leaves no stone unturned and no bush or remote island unchecked in a passionate search for the unusual and has one of the longest Australian life lists (aiming for 800!).Princess Parrot (Polytelis alexandrae) by Jenny Spry The Princess Parrot is elusive for at least two reason. The first is that it’s a bird of very remote parts of arid Australia accessible only with considerable difficulty, e.g. the Canning Stock Route. The other is that its population and range varies greatly with rainfall. In poor seasons it is almost impossible to find, but in good season the population irrupts and it can appear in more accessible locations, perhaps I should say slightly less inaccessible ones, in inland eastern Western Australia, the southwestern Northern Territory and northwestern South Australia. The core breeding range is thought to be around Tobin Lake and in the Great Victoria Desert, both in eastern Western Australia.

Princess Parrot (Polytelis alexandrae) by Jenny Spry It is one of three beautiful, long-tailed, medium sized (length 34-46cm/13-18in) parrots belonging to the endemic Australian genus. Polytelis. The others are the Superb Parrot of New South Wales and northern Victoria and the Regent Parrot  which occurs in two separate populations, one in southwestern New South Wales, northeastern Victoria and eastern South Australia and the other in southern Western Australia. All three species are uncommon: the Princess is classed as Near-Threatenedand the Superb as Vulnerable, while the Regent is uncommon in the east and declining in the west. Male Princess Parrots, first two photos, have longer tails and brighter colours than females (third photo).

Princess Parrot (Polytelis alexandrae) © Jenny Spry

Princess Parrot (Polytelis alexandrae) © Jenny Spry

Returning to the subject of website design in a mobile world, I’ve used the Princess Parrot as the first species in the new design and it was posted to the birdway website this morning: http://birdway.com.au/psittacidae/princess_parrot/index.htm. The changes will be more obvious on smart phones and tablets, but on computers you’ll notice that the thumbnails have moved from a vertical column on the left to a horizontal row on the bottom and the information about the photo has moved from left to right. You’ll also see a button at top right which reveals – and hides – the main navigation menu as vertical column which slides the rest of the page to the right. Previous, this menu didn’t appear on the pages of individual species, only – as a row of horizontal buttons at the top – on the family pages and the ten main topic pages to which these button link.
Princess Parrot (Polytelis alexandrae) by IanThe fourth and fifth images are screen shots from my iPhone. The fourth shows a page in landscape orientation. The image shrinks to fit the screen width and you can see the rest of the page by scrolling up and down. Note that the photo information is still on the left. The fifth, shows the page in vertical orientation with the navigation menu showing as a grey column on the left. The photo information has dropped below the image and both the menu column and the main window are scrollable independently.
Princess Parrot (Polytelis alexandrae) by Ian
These pages are, of course, still prototypes and there will be more changes before I apply it more generally. I’ve tested it only using the Apple browser Safari on a Mac, an iPad and an iPhone. I’d be very grateful if you could try it out on different platforms (Windows and Android particularly) and in different browsers (Safari, Windows Explorer, Chrome, Opera, Firefox and Mozilla are the most important) and report back to me with any problems: http://birdway.com.au/psittacidae/princess_parrot/index.htm.

I’ve needed to use JavaScript to show and hide the side menu, so you won’t be able to see if yet if JavaScript isn’t available. If it isn’t you’ll get a message in orange instead of the script generated ian@birdway.com.au email address to tell you that and to write to ‘ian’ (at symbol) ‘birdway.com.au’ instead. I will be adding code so that the side menu is permanently visible if JavaScript isn’t enabled, but it is something of an internet standard these day and I want to be able to hide it to make more space available on small screens.

On the subject of books, the Diary of a Bird Photographer has sold about 50 copies in the first month, and review are beginning to appear (below on the Apple store) I’m hugely grateful to those who have done reviews and would love it if some of you would. I think there were problems posting review to the Apple store, but these seem to have been fixed. If that is your experience let me know ian@birdway.com.au and if your very patient, try again. Thank you.
Princess Parrot (Polytelis alexandrae) by Ian
These images should link to the relevant pages on the Birdway site.

Ian's Book

Ian’s Book

Where To Find Birds - Ian

Greetings
Ian
**************************************************

Ian Montgomery, Birdway Pty Ltd,
454 Forestry Road, Bluewater, Qld 4818
Tel 0411 602 737 ian@birdway.com.au
Bird Photos http://www.birdway.com.au/
Where to Find Birds in Northern Queensland: iTunes; Google Play Kobo Books
Recorder Society http://www.nqrs.org.au
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Lee’s Addition:

And he said unto them, Come ye yourselves apart into a desert place, and rest a while: for there were many coming and going, and they had no leisure so much as to eat. (Mark 6:31 KJV)

Very interesting Parrot and apparently quite a change to Ian’s Site at Birdway. I’ll be checking on permission for further usage of his guest photographer. For now, I trust using this latest newsletter of his is under his permission to use.

What a beauty this parrot reveals. Subtle in colors, but very attractive.

See:

Ian’s Bird of the Week
Ian’s Birdway Website
His Parrot Family
Psittacidae – African and New World Parrots
Psittaculidae – Old World Parrots

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