Ian’s Bird of the Moment – Gentoo Penguin

As I’ve finally published Volume 2 of the ebook Diary of a Bird Photographer, please bear with me as I begin with a commercial. It is a compilation of the more than 240 Bird of the Week/Moment episodes sent out in the period 2010 to 2018. As these episodes grew in contents over the years, the ebook ended up as a hefty tome of 130,000 words and more than a thousand photos,with the fixed format pdf version running to more than 1,100 pages.

Like its popular predecessor Volume 1 it is designed for ease of use with many internal links, external links to relevant websites particularly additional photos on the Birdway website, and a comprehensive alphabetical index to bird species. Volume 2 contains a new taxonomic index in case for browsing the episodes by members of particular families such as Barn Owls or Honeyeaters. Read more about it by clicking on the image below or its caption to take you to page on the Birdway website.

Diary of a Bird Photographer, Vol 2 by Ian Montgomery

Diary of a Bird Photographer Volume 2

When I retired and wrapped up the Birdway company, I could no longer sell ebooks through the Apple or Google book stores and I started selling them by gettiing intending buyers to contact me for bank account details. This was inconvenient for everyone concerned – particularly for payments in other than Australian dollars – so I have now started selling them through the Payhip website. Payhip takes payment by credit card or PayPal so you can pay and download the books immediately. The new Diary Volume 2 is priced at six Australian dollars. You can visit the Payhip Birdway Store by clicking on the image or caption below.

Ian’s Birding Ebook

The Birdway eBook Store on Payhip

The cover photo of me on the ship the Spirit of Enderby on the trip to the Sub-Antarctic Islands in 2011 brings back great recollections of a memorable voyage, the highlight of which for many of us was the visit to Macquarie Island and its four species of penguins. Two of these, King Penguin and Royal Penguin feature as birds of the week in Volume 2, but here is one, the Gentoo Penguin, which hasn’t been honoured in these pages with its fifteen minutes of fame, to quote Andy Warhol.

Gentoo Penguin (Pygoscelis papua) by Ian

On the morning of our day on the island, the King and Royal Penguins provide us with endless amusement on the main beach on the sheltered eastern size of the island, number 3 on the Google Earth screen capture below. At lunch time we went to the Research Station, number 1, at lunchtime to meet the personnel and we find the Gentoos in reasonable numbers in their preferred breeding habitat, the tussocky grass just south of the station.

Northern Tip of Macuarie Island from Google Earth by Ian

Gentoos look to me quite small and dumpy in illustrations and photos, but they are fairly large, with a length up to 80cm/32in and weighting between 4.5-8.5kg/10-19lbs. Unlike the curious King and Royal Penguins they don’t take much notice of us and stand or lie around looking rather bored. Adult Gentoos, first two Gentoo photos, have a white eye ring, a white patch over each eye and a white line joining the two patches across the top of the head. Their plumage is blackish and the bill and legs are brightly coloured, red or orange.

Gentoo Penguin (Pygoscelis papua) by Ian

Most of the Gentoos have finished breeding bur their are still a few juveniles in the breeding area, like this rather woolly individual on the left below below. Unlike other Penguin species, Gentoos will relay if the first clutch is lost, so maybe this has happened here. Gentoos are unusual in that the parents continue feeding the young for up to two months after they have fledged.

Gentoo Penguin (Pygoscelis papua) by Ian

Unlike the Royal and King Penuins on the sheltered eastern beach, the non-breeding Gentoos show a preference for the exposed beach on the western side of the island. The beach in this photo faces northwest and is shown and number 2 in the Google Earth image above. This beach is also popular with the Macquarie (Imperial) Shags which are busy ferrying seaweed as building material for nests on a rocky headland. The thick-skinned Elephant Seals are also at home on this beach and you can see their prostrate forms in the photo below.

Western Side of Macuarie Island by Ian

Immature Gentoos are to be seen wandering around on this beach either full of the joys of Spring (next photo) or pretending to be Elephant Seas (following photo). You can see that their plumage is browner than that of the adults, the white supra-orbital patches and eye-rings are incompletely developed and their bills and feet are less brightly coloured. Gentoos take two years to reach sexual maturity but I suppose, given their proximity to the nesting colony, that these ones are older juveniles from the current breeding.

Gentoo Penguin (Pygoscelis papua) Juvenile by Ian

The Gentoo is the most northerly of the three species in the genus Pygoscelis and its circumpolar range is mainly north of Antarctica, breeding on Sub-Antarctic islands in the southern Indian and Atlantic Oceans. The only place it breeds on Antarctica itself is on the Antarctic Peninsula south of South America. The other two members of the genus, the Chinstrap and Adelie Penguins, have more southerly ranges particularly the Adelie. The specific name papua, odd for a Sub-Antartic species, does in fact refer to the natives of New Guinea as J.R. Forster, who named it in 1781, as he thought erroneously that they had curly feathers.

Gentoo Penguin (Pygoscelis papua) Juvenile by Ian

The fourth species of Penguin on Macquarie is the Southern Rockhopper Rockhoppers indeed, they are not to be found on the easily accessible part of the island where we spend the day. In the afternoon we return to the ship in the Zodiacs and do a detour via the rocky headland shown as number 4 on the Google Earth image to have a look at them.

I’ve been leading a fairly sedentary existence since my last visit to Europe three years ago. Editing Volume 2 of the Diary has given me itchy feet, so a visit to South America this coming October is being planned.

Greetings

Ian Montgomery


“All flesh is not the same flesh: but there is one kind of flesh of men, another flesh of beasts, another of fishes, and another of birds.: (1 Corinthians 15:39 KJV)

They may swim in the sea, but those Gentoo Penguins are still birds.

Thanks again, Ian, for another Bird of the Moment. They are always a welcome surprise when they arrive. Glad you were able to complete your second volume of the Bird Photographer Diary. We have produced many of those Bird of the Week articles here over the years. We have been enjoying your adventures around the world as you seek our Avian Wonders.

See Ian’s Birds of the Week

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Ian’s Bird of the Week – Lesser Sooty Owl

Ian’s Bird of the Week – Lesser Sooty Owl ~ by Ian Montgomery

Newsletter – 9/7/15

You may remember that in March of this year Greater Sooty Owl featured as Bird of the Week when I visited East Gippsland east of Melbourne with my Victorian birding pals Barb, Jen and Joy. Last Thursday I met up with the trio again, this time at Kingfisher Park west of Cairns, Far North Queensland. The main target was, naturally, Lesser Sooty Owl , another member of the Barn Owl family and a species as elusive as its larger cousin. I’d seen one at Kingfisher Park in 2002 but hadn’t photographed it and none of the trio had seen it before.

Lesser Sooty Owl (Tyto multipunctata) by Ian

It’s a Wet Tropics endemic ranging from Paluma – and perhaps Bluewater Forest near me – in the south to Cedar Bay in the north, with an estimated population of 2000 pairs. I’ve searched for it many time since without success so I’d agree with the field guides that say: “seldom seen” (Morcombe) and “until field studies in recent decades … among our least-known birds” (Pizzey and Knight). On Wednesday night I’d searched for it along some dreadful tracks in Tumoulin Forest Reserve near Ravenshoe and on Thursday night we spotlighted the 10km length of the Mount Lewis road near Kingfisher Park with the usual result.

Lesser Sooty Owl (Tyto multipunctata) by Ian

It does occur at Kingfisher Park and Andrew Isles told us to listen for it in the evening “after the barn owls” which live in adjacent Geraghty Park. Barn and Sooty Owls make chirruping calls and both species of Sooty Owl have a characteristic descending whistle like a falling bomb. Sure enough at 6:55pm an owl chirruped maybe 50 metres from the trio’s apartment and we raced around the corner to find this bird had come to visit us and was perched in full view in a tree at a photography-friendly height. Later, I agreed with Joy that it was an OMG moment on a par with encountering the Kagu family on a forest track in New Caledonia.

Lesser Sooty Owl (Tyto multipunctata) by Ian

In the past, the Greater and Lesser have been treated as a single species, but the species split is now generally accepted. They are genetically close, but there is a big difference in sizes – Lesser 31-38cm/12-15in , Greater 37-51cm/14.5-20 (females of both are larger than the males) – and differences in appearance, call and behaviour. Their ranges are disjoint with the Greater found from near Melbourne (Strzelecki and Dandenong Ranges) along the east coast to Eungella National Park near Mackay in Central Queensland. There is also a Sooty Owl in New Guinea. It’s still lumped with the Greater, which is biogeographically unlikely, but has been placed with the Lesser and may even be a different species.

Lesser Sooty Owl (Tyto multipunctata) by Ian

The behaviour of the Lesser differs in that it uses lower perches for hunting, good for photographers, and is known to cling to the side of tree trunks like the Eastern Yellow and Pale-yellow Robins. The last photo shows its impressive talons: these would be able to cling on to anything.

Lesser Sooty Owl (Tyto multipunctata) by Ian

If you’re into benchmarks, last week’s bird, the Ouvea Parakeet, was the 1500th global species on the Birday website (15% of all bird species) but the Australian total was stuck at 699 waiting for something special of course. The Lesser Sooty Owl will be a fitting 700th – I haven’t put it up yet, you get to see if first – that’s 700 out of the 898 ever recorded or 78%.

I’m back home now planning my next project now that the Diary of a Bird Photographer Volume 1 has been published. So far, 27 copies have been purchased and favourable comments are coming in from all over the place including California, UK, Italy and Dubai. The Fat Birder has published a review in which he said:

“I hope anyone who enjoys fine photography and fantastic birds will go to iTunes and download the book… I for one can’t wait for volume 2”

Happily, the remaining 940 members of the bird of the week list don’t have to wait that long for Volume 1!

Greetings
Ian

**************************************************
Ian Montgomery, Birdway Pty Ltd,
454 Forestry Road, Bluewater, Qld 4818
Tel 0411 602 737 ian@birdway.com.au
Check the latest website updates:
http://www.birdway.com.au/#updates


Lee’s Addition:

The beast of the field shall honour me, the dragons and the owls: because I give waters in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert, to give drink to my people, my chosen. (Isaiah 43:20 KJV)

I am impressed with this neat Lesser Sooty Owl from our Creator and also with Ian’s number of Global and Australian birds he has on his birding list.

Now that he is producing these books, I hope he will continue to give permission to reproduce his Bird of the Week Newsletters.

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Ian’s Bird of the Week 

Ian’s Birdway

Barn Owls – Tytonidae

Wordless Birds

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Diary of a Bird Photographer!

y electronic book Diary of a Bird Photographer has been released worldwide today, 31 August, on Apple iTunes BooksGoogle Books and Kobo Books! Find out more about it including availability, pricing, compatible devices and screenshots on the BIrdway website: http://www.birdway.com.au/birdphotographersdiary01.htm.

Ian's Book

Ian’s Book

With the increasing abundance of excellent bird photos on the internet, I am finding it more difficult to sell photos so moving into publishing is important for the future of my Birdway website and the Bird of the Week newsletter. Diary of a Bird Photographer contains the first 341 Bird of the Week postings spanning the period 2002-2009, contains more than 500 photos and 80,000 words – the length of an average novel. Depending on sales, l plan to publish 2010-2014 as another book.

With a recommended retail price of 8.00AUD, 7USD, 6EUR or the equivalent in your local currency it represents great value. By buying it for yourself and/or your friends or family and recommending it to others, you’ll earn my gratitude and show your appreciation for the bird of the week! Maybe you could forward this email to anyone who you think might be interested: that would be wonderful.

Greetings
Ian

PS Next bird of the week, a special parrot and the random bird of the week, should be out later today.

**************************************************
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:

Seem’s as though Ian has written a book. Here is his newsletter telling about his “Diary of a Bird Photographer!”

His regular weekly newsletter – Ian’s Bird of the Week – will be published tomorrow.