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Looking South from Croquette Point by Ian

Ian’s Bird of the Week – Greater Sand Plover ~ by Ian Montgomery

Newsletter ~ 4/14/14

As I mentioned in the last email, I took advantage of a spell of reasonable weather to make a trip to Cairns to take location photos for Where to Find Birds in Northeast Queensland. On the way back, I visited Coquette Point near to check it out as it is listed in the book as a good spot for both mangrove birds and waders. Coquette Point and Flying Fish Point are the charmingly named headlands on the southern and northern banks of the mouth of the Johnstone River on which Innisfail, 100 km south of Cairns, is situated.

Although it mightn’t live up to the dream of an idyllic tropical paradise – I’m still itching from some sandfly bites and there have been recent sightings of Saltwater Crocodiles in the neighbourhood – it did indeed turn out to be good for birds. As well as a pair of Beach Stone-Curlews in the mangroves, there were several pairs of Greater Sand Plovers feeding in the shallows. At this time of the year, many waders are migrating back to their breeding grounds in the northern hemisphere and it is a good time to look for ones in breeding plumage, such as the one in the first photo.

Greater Sand Plover (Charadrius leschenaultii) by Ian

In non-breeding plumage most waders are, frankly, drab and often difficult to identify. Here is a Greater Sand Plover in non-breeding plumage on Cape York. This particular individual shows the characteristic long legs and large bill that distinguish it from the very similar Lesser or Mongolian Sand Plover, but Sand Plovers are quite variable in both size and bill length and I’m not always certain of identification, even with the aid of photos.

Greater Sand Plover (Charadrius leschenaultii) by Ian

Here, to illustrate the point, is a pair at Coquette Point. The bird in non-breeding plumage looks smaller than its companion, has the slightly hunched posture of the Lesser Sand Plover but its large bill, and guilt by association, would indicate a Greater.

Greater Sand Plover (Charadrius leschenaultii) by Ian

Finally, to complete the series, here is one of the Coquette Point birds in flight. The birds wintering in Australia belong to the nominate race leschenaultii and nest in Southern Siberia, Western China and Southern Mongolia. Their movements are not well understood but it is thought that they migrate non-stop, so this at least is one species of wader that doesn’t have to rely on the fast-disappearing mudflats of the Yellow Sea for refuelling stopovers.

Greater Sand Plover (Charadrius leschenaultii) by Ian 4

I’d always vaguely assumed that the person who named Flying Fish Point did so because he or she had seen Flying Fish there, but Coquette Point aroused my curiosity as there seemed nothing flirtatious about it. With the help of Google, I found out that George Dalrymple, one of the explorers in this part of the world was sent by the Queensland Government in 1873 to explore the inlets and rivers between Cardwell and Cooktown. His boats were two cutters, the Flying Fish and the Coquette and one of his companion policemen was Robert Johnstone. In Dalrymple’s report to Parliament he said “I therefore considered that I was justified in naming the river after Mr Johnstone, a gentleman who has become identified with discovery and enterprise on the north east coast and who first brought to light the real character and value of this fine river, and it’s rich agricultural land…”. This, incidentally, is what 19th Century cutters looked like.

Ancient British Navy Gun Cutter from Ian

Ancient British Navy Gun Cutter from Ian

Which, of course, begs the question of why a Queensland boat would be called Coquette. The only clue I could find was that the first Royal Navy ship called Coquette was a 28 gun one captured off the French in 1783 and put into service. After that the name ‘Coquette’ was used repeatedly for a series of smaller ships.

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/
Recorder Society http://www.nqrs.org.au


Lee’s Addition:

Even the stork in the heavens knows her times, and the turtledove, swallow, and crane keep the time of their coming, but my people know not the rules of the LORD. (Jer 8:7 ESV)

Thanks again, Ian, for sharing another interesting bird. I find it interesting that his birds are migrating, but for the opposite reason ours are migrating. Cold is coming on down there and our are heading home because it is getting warmer. Either way, the birds are on the “move.”

Plovers are members of the Charadriidae – Plovers Family.

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More:

Ian’s Bird of the Week

Charadriidae – Plovers Family

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Palm Warbler (Dendroica palmarum) yellow by Lee

Palm Warbler (Dendroica palmarum) yellow by Lee

And ye shall take you on the first day the boughs of goodly trees,branches of palm trees, and the boughs of thick trees, and willows of the brook; and ye shall rejoice before the LORD your God seven days. (Leviticus 23:40 KJV) [Foretold]

The next day a great multitude that had come to the feast, when they heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem, took branches of palm trees and went out to meet Him, and cried out: “Hosanna! ‘BLESSED IS HE WHO COMES IN THE NAME OF THE LORD!’ The King of Israel!” Then Jesus, when He had found a young donkey, sat on it; as it is written: “FEAR NOT, DAUGHTER OF ZION; BEHOLD, YOUR KING IS COMING, SITTING ON A DONKEY’S COLT.” (John 12:12-15 NKJV) [Fulfilled]

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Hosanna (Messiah Has Come) and Messiah – (Solo by Lisa Brock) from the Easter Musical 2013 by Faith Baptist Choir.

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(I pushed the photos a little bit by including the Semipalmated Plover and Sandpiper)

See:

More Sunday Inspirations

Gospel Presentation

Formed By Him – “Palm” Birds

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Marvelous Spatuletail (Loddigesia mirabilis)©©

Marvelous Spatuletail (Loddigesia mirabilis)©©

Peru’s Marvellous Hummingbird

(from Creation Moments)

In that day the LORD of hosts will be for a crown of glory and a diadem of beauty to the remnant of His people. (Isaiah 28:5)

In 1835, when scientists first saw Peru’s most unusual hummingbird, they were so overcome with its beauty that they gave it the name “Marvellous.” This little bird treats the eye to iridescent green, yellow, orange, and purple feathers. But its most unusual feature is its tail. While most birds have eight to twelve tail feathers, the Marvellous hummingbird has only four. Two of these are long, pointed, thorn-like feathers that don’t seem to help much in flying or landing. The other two feathers are truly marvellous. They are six inches long, three times the length of the bird’s two-inch body. On the end of these two long narrow feathers are large feather fans that nearly equal the surface area of its wings.

Marvelous Spatuletail (Loddigesia mirabilis) ©©

Marvelous Spatuletail (Loddigesia mirabilis) ©©

Astonishingly, the Marvelous hummingbird has complete control of these feathers. At rest, the bird perches with these two feathers hanging down an inch or so from its body, and then crossing them until they are horizontal. In flight and landing they provide remarkable maneuverability. During mating, the hummingbird moves them as semaphores. Interestingly enough, evolutionists admit that they are stumped as to why these unusual feathers should have evolved.

One look at our creation clearly shows that our Creator appreciates beauty. But even the beautiful Marvelous hummingbird is but a poor and cloudy hint of the beauty of our Creator Himself.

Prayer:
Dear Father, help me treat the beauty You have created as You would have me to do. Let me be filled with thanksgiving to You for it, and let it remind me that You are the source of all that is truly beautiful. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.
Notes:
Crawford H. Greenewalt. The Marvelous Hummingbird Rediscovered. National Geographic, Vol. 130, No. 1. P. 98-101.”

©Creation Moments 2014


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Lee’s Addition:

This was originally done in 2010, but needs to be re-blogged again. Also, the YouTube above was added. It is astonishing to watch the little bird in action. Thanks to one of our readers who found the video to add to their site. See The Vine Vigil.

The Marvellous Hummingbird is now the Marvelous Spatuletail (Loddigesia mirabilis). It is in the Hummingbird Family (Trochilidae) and is part of the Apodiformes Order.

Marvelous Spatuletail (Loddigesia mirabilis) ©WikiC-Gould_Troch._pl._161

Marvelous Spatuletail (Loddigesia mirabilis) ©WikiC-Gould_Troch._pl._161

The Marvelous (also Marvellous) Spatuletail (hummingbird), Loddigesia mirabilis, is a medium-sized (up to 5.9 in/15 cm long) white, green and bronze hummingbird adorned with blue crest feathers, a brilliant turquoise gorget, and a black line on its white underparts. It is the only member of the monotypic genus Loddigesia.

A Peruvian endemic, this species is found in the forest edge of the Río Utcubamba region. It was first reported in 1835 by the bird collector Andrew Matthews for George Loddiges. The Marvellous Spatuletail is unique among birds, for it has just four feathers in its tail. Its most remarkable feature is the male’s two long racquet-shaped outer tail feathers that cross each other and end in large violet-blue discs or “spatules”. He can move them independently.

Information gathered from Creation Moments, Wikipedia, and YouTube.

Wordless Birds

Peru’s Marvellous Hummmingbird – The Vine Vigil

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Palm Warbler

Palm Warbler

Last weekend, we had a family reunion at my brother’s place. He lives near Bushnell and Webster, FL on 5 acres of land. Since it is so wooded with Oak trees and others, I kept my camera at the ready.

We heard lots of birds, saw some and photographed even fewer. We still had a great time.

My nephew from south Florida was there with his family, so I asked four of my great-nieces and great-nephew to join me on a birdwatching adventure.  Figured I might as well start training another generation of birdwatchers. We headed off and my almost 5 yr old “chatterbox” nephew produced the first lesson. We encouraged him to “talk less” and “listen.”

Train up a child in the way he should go, And when he is old he will not depart from it. (Proverbs 22:6 NKJV)

We heard several, but never saw any. (Northern Cardinal, Tufted Titmouse and a Blue Jay) When we got to the end of the property, turned right and followed the fence line. Not very far we came upon a tree with a rope hanging down with knots on it. At that point, all birdwatching and birdwatching lessons stopped.

The rope with the "Chatterbox" aboard.

The rope with the “Chatterbox” aboard.

Later, I gathered some more and off we went again. This time my great-niece and nephew from Tampa were with me. We heard those same birds, plus a Palm Warbler, and saw them very briefly. Another lesson was taught about having “soft eyes” as you look at trees. Don’t stare, just sort of look lightly and watch for movement. Fine, we turned the corner at the fence and ran into the “rope” again. That birdwatching adventure ended and another “rope adventure” began.

Oh, that men would give thanks to the LORD for His goodness, And for His wonderful works to the children of men! (Psalms 107:8 NKJV)

At the rope again.

At the rope again.

Needless to say, that “rope” became an unexpected highlight of the reunion. Every attempt to take a trip ended up there. They even loaded up my brother’s golf cart and brought a whole crew down there.

What did I eventually see and here? Let’s see; Northern Cardinal, Tufted Titmouse, Blue Jay, Carolina Wrens, Pileated Woodpecker, Ruby-throated Hummingbirds, Grey Catbird, and some Black Vultures flying overhead.

Carolina Wren

Carolina Wren

To me, one of the highlights was watching the Carolina Wrens flying into a cabinet in my brother’s pole barn. When they weren’t around, this is what I discovered:

Wren nest in a paper box.

Wren nest in a paper box.

On the next to the top shelf they had a nest in the works.

Wren nest in a Pepsi paper cup.

Wren nest in a Pepsi paper cup.

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Wren nest in a Pepsi paper cup.

Wren nest in a Pepsi paper cup – closeup.

Talking with my sister-in-law, also a birdwatcher - who lives there, she figures that they feel safe in the pole barn because the hawks can’t fly through there and attack the nests. Several years ago on one of my visits, the Wrens had made a nest in a paper sack. There were eggs in it that time.

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I had the blog on autopilot last week and through the week-end. My sister spent time with us before and after the reunion. Now it is time to get back to blogging.

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