Lee’s Six Word Saturday – 7/1/17

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Parakeet Resting on Pen ©Wild Horse Photography

HANDLE THE PEN OF THE WRITER

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“Out of Ephraim was there a root of them against Amalek; after thee, Benjamin, among thy people; out of Machir came down governors, and out of Zebulun they who handle the pen of the writer.” (Judges 5:14)

Parakeet Resting on Pen ©Wild Horse Photography

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More Daily Devotionals

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Ian’s Bird of the Week – Horned Parakeet

Ian’s Bird of the Week – Horned Parakeet ~ by Ian Montgomery

Newsletter – 7/27/15

The Kagu was naturally top of our target list in New Caledonia being the most bizarre in appearance, behaviour, taxonomy and general curiosity value. Second on my list and I think third on Joy’s were the horned parakeets of Grande Terre (the main island) and Ouvéa, one of the Loyalty Island off the east coast of Grande Terre. These birds used to be treated as a single species, but have recently been split into the Horned and Ouvéa Parakeets respectively. I mentioned in a previous post that the Kagu nearly got upstaged as bird of the trip by an individual Horned Parakeet at Mont Khogis near Noumea, so here is the bird in question and the interaction that we had with it, a memorable birding experience by any measure.

On an earlier visit to the Inn (Auberge) at Mont Khogis we’d had brief views of three Horned Parakeets flying across the road and we had been told by Serge, the owner of the Inn, that the parakeets came in the late afternoon to feed on the Lavender trees in front of the building. On our visit to Rivière Blue we also tried with little success to photograph a back-lit one feeding in dense foliage right above us, a good situation for chiropractic business but not much else. All was quiet at the Inn on our second visit, so we started on the nearby rainforest walk until Roman, one of the staff, came charging after us with the welcome news that a parakeet had arrived.

We set ourselves up very cautiously at an unobtrusive distance from the tree and started taking remote photos of the parakeet and very gradually working our way towards it. I mean gradually: I and Joy had each taken about a hundred more distant shots before the first one in this series, above. As you can see the bird was very aware of our presence and looked as if it could take off at any time.

We moved slowly closer and the bird started to look more relaxed. In the second photo it is showing its skill at perching on one foot, holding a little bunch of Lavender fruit in the other, munching on them and watching us at the same time. We started to get the impression that it was actually enjoying the attention and showing off for our benefit, third photo.

Eventually,we worked our way up to the tree and around the other side so that we could photograph it in the sunlight a little over an hour before sunset with the mountains in the background. The bird munched on regardless and seemed completely unworried by our approach. It seemed to have an extraordinary appetite. We reckoned that it ate about 700 of the fruit in the time that we were there. It wouldn’t take too long for a small flock to complete strip the tree.

They’re referred to as ‘horned’ rather than ‘crested’ as the feathers of the horn are permanent erect. There should be two horns, but one of this bird’s may have been broken off. They are probably more than just decorative as they nest in hollows in trees and the horns seem to be used to sense the space, or lack of it, above the head. That at least is the suggestion made for the similarly equipped but very different Crested Auklet. It nest in holes in coastal boulders and being able to avoid cracking your skull against rocks would seem to be very desirable.

We can become blasé about even the most riveting spectacles. Three hundred photos each later, here is Joy relaxing under the tree and the parakeet, top centre, looking in the opposite direction. It was still there when we decided it was time to leave but it called after us as if sorry to see us go. By the time we walked around to the car park below the inn, it had left too and joined a couple of other parakeets in another Lavender tree. Joy and I agreed that this was one of the most beautiful parrots that we had encountered.

The horned parakeets belong to the sub-family of Australasian parrots called broad-tailed parrots. The best known members of this group (Playtcercini) are the Australian Rosellas, Ringnecks and Mulga Parrot and its relatives. The group also includes the Shining Parrots of Fiji and the Cyanorhamphus Parakeets of various islands of the southwest Pacific including Norfolk Island, New Caledonia, New Zealand and its sub-Antarctic islands and, formerly, Lord Howe Island and Macquarie Island. Most parrots are fairly sedentary, but these island ones seem to be quite good at island hopping, maybe helped by the cyclones that move generally in an easterly or southeasterly direction in this part of the world.

The Horned Parakeet is listed as Vulnerable with an estimated population on Grande Terre of between 5000 and 10,000 individuals. The Ouvéa Parakeet has a limited distribution on the northern end of this small island (about 40km long) and is listed as Endangered. Recent estimates of the population are about 2000 individuals and it is thought to be increasing. We did, of course, go to Ouvéa later in our stay….

I had some interesting correspondence on giant tree ferns after the last Kagu bird of the week. The Guinness Book of Records has a Norfolk Island Cyathea brownii species as the tallest and I had photos of a very tall one in Vanuatu, and a carving made from another one.

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: iTunes; Google Play Kobo Books
Recorder Society http://www.nqrs.org.au


Lee’s Addition:

And hath raised up an horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David; (Luke 1:69 KJV)

What an amazing “horn”! As Ian said, it was supposed to have a second one. Sounds like the usefulness of their “horn” spares their head. I’ve raised up under things before and hit my head. Maybe I need one of those. :)

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Ian’s Bird of the Week – Budgerigar

PSI-Psit Budgerigar (Melopsittacus undulatus) by Ian
Ian’s Bird of the Week – Budgerigar ~ by Ian Montgomery

Newsletter ~ 3/3/15

Judging by the number of emails that I received about Pied Butcherbirds, iconic species are popular and there were many interesting stories about experiences with them. So here is another, perhaps globally the most familiar Australian bird. Although it’s quite common and sometimes very abundant after good rains in the drier parts of Australia, you have to go out of your way to find it. So it it’s much less well-known as a wild bird than say other iconic species like Australian Magpie and Laughing Kookaburras that turn up in backyards.

It wasn’t until after I moved to North Queensland in 2002 that I first saw them in the wild, and that was on a trip to Moorrinya National Park between Torrens Creek and Aramac, 370km southwest of Townsville. In places like that you usually see them in small flocks of maybe 10-20 in rapid undulating flight. These make sudden turns in the sunlight showing alternately green and yellow in a characteristic and delightful display of vivid, fluorescent colour.

PSI-Psit Budgerigar (Melopsittacus undulatus) by Ian

The sexes can be distinguished either by differences in behaviour, sometimes subtle as in the first photo with an attentive male and a bored or playing hard to get female, or less subtly as in the second photo. Her the male is concentrating seriously, and the female is rather inscrutably either in a state of bliss or thinking of the motherland. An easier way though is by the colour of the cere – the tissue surrounding the nostrils – blue in adult males, and brown in females. Juveniles have duller plumages, barred foreheads and lack the black spots on the neck.

PSI-Psit Budgerigar (Melopsittacus undulatus) by IanAfter good inland rains, the population can explode and Budgerigars may be seen in flocks of thousands. When dry conditions return and seeds become scare, flocks wander far and wide in search of food. They move into areas beyond their normal range and can turn up in coastal areas such as near Townsville. The birds in the third photo were near Woodstock just south of Townsville on the way to Charters Towers and I have seen them near Bluewater.

Sometimes escaped cage birds turn up in odd places in strange colours, such as this almost completely white one near the Strand in Townsville. I don’t know about you, but I prefer the natural colours. I was in Ireland once for a family funeral in February and was birding on Dun Laoghaire pier in Dublin Bay on a very cold, dull winter’s day, when I spotted a bright yellow budgie looking very out-of-place among some roosting waders. It was a moment of great empathy and I thought ‘you and I should be back in sunny Australia’.

PSI-Psit Budgerigar (Melopsittacus undulatus) by IanI’m in Melbourne at the moment to visit East Gippsland next weekend with my Victorian birding pals who know of a good site for both Greater Sooty Owls and Masked Owls (both cousins of Barn Owls) near Orbost. I haven’t seen or photographed either of these, so may I request your customary friendly support and spiritual goodwill to help us find them? It would be lovely to be able to bring at least one of them to you as the next bird of the week.

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
Check the latest website updates:
http://www.birdway.com.au/#updates


Lee’s Addition:

Declare His glory among the nations, His wonders among all peoples. (Psalms 96:3 NKJV)

Ian is correct, at least for me. The Budgerigar or “Budgie” as I was taught, was one of the first bird names I ever knew. Almost everyone I have ever seen was in a cage or aviary. Few have been pets and one was sitting on someone glasses look down into their lens. But, to see them in the wild where they live would be a great experience.

Thanks, Ian, for again sharing your adventures with us. The most I have ever seen at one time has been at Lowry Park Zoo. I’ll also be praying that Ian finds those Greater Sooty Owls and Masked Owls so that he will share them with us on another Bird of the Week.

Budgerigar (Melopsittacus undulatus) by Lee LPZ

Budgerigar (Melopsittacus undulatus) by Lee LPZ

Ian’s Birds of the Week

Ian’s Budgerigar Photos

Ian’s Psittacidae Family

Psittacidae – Parrots Family

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Ian’s Bird of the Week – Norfolk Island Parakeet

Norfolk Parakeet (Cyanoramphus cookii) by Ian 1

Norfolk Parakeet (Cyanoramphus cookii) by Ian 1

Ian’s Bird of the Week – Norfolk Island Parakeet ~ by Ian Montgomery

Newsletter ~ 3/15/12

Well, your unwavering moral and spiritual support has done it again: here is the Tasman or Norfolk Island Parakeet (better known here as the Green Parrot to distinguishing it from the introduced Red Parrot – the Crimson Rosella). Thank you very much!

We were met at the airport by Albury-Wodonga birder Dougald Frederick, excitedly carrying the news that there was a vagrant Ringed Plover at Slaughter Bay. So we picked up the hire cars, checked into our accommodation and went down to the Bay, whose name is a corruption of Slackwater Bay, rather than the site of a messy event in the generally nasty penal history of the island. Ringed Plovers are indeed rare in Australia, but I was brought up with them in Ireland and couldn’t conceal my impatience to get to Palm Glen near Mount Pitt, where Dougald had been regularly seeing the Parakeets in the evening.

Eventually we went there and eventually, just before sunset and after my travelling companions had left to buy food for breakfast, the Parakeet in the first photo arrived and starting feeding on the feral guavas, fruiting prolifically around the picnic area. The guavas have dense foliage and the red fruit made the feeding Parakeets very hard to see. They were easier to see, but harder to photograph, when they used the top of the numerous tall Norfolk Island pines as vantage points, second photo. This less brightly coloured bird is a female or juvenile; the ones in the first and third photos are males.

Norfolk Parakeet (Cyanoramphus cookii) (fem or juv) by Ian 2

Norfolk Parakeet (Cyanoramphus cookii) (fem or juv) by Ian 2

After that, we visited Palm Glen regularly in the evenings and always saw at least one, distant Parakeet, with a flock of 6 on the second day when I took the third photo, the last occasion on which the birds were close enough to photograph. As well as being a pleasant spot to watch the sunset, it was also a good site for the other two remaining endemic species, the Norfolk Island Gerygone and the Slender- or Long-billed White-eye, and for the endemic races of the Golden Whistler and Grey Fantail.

Norfolk Parakeet (Cyanoramphus cookii) by Ian 3

Norfolk Parakeet (Cyanoramphus cookii) by Ian 3

The Norfolk Island Parakeet was originally regarded as a race of the Red-crowned Parakeet of New Zealand until genetic studies showed that it was sufficiently distinct to warrant the status of a full species. It came close to extinction in the 1980s when the population declined to an estimated 32 individuals with 4 breeding pairs (the sex ratio was heavily biased towards males). Since then, it has been the subject of an intense recovery program to control introduced predators and competitors, and the population is now estimated at perhaps 200 individuals, though our birding guide on Monday, Margaret Christian reckons that that is optimistic, given the frequency of sightings.

It’s a lovely island, friendly and historically interesting, so we have had an enjoyable week. If you intend to visit, we can highly recommend our accommodation, Poinciana Cottages – we all agreed that we could quite happily live in them permanently, and they gave me a free upgrade from an extra bed in one of our two cottages to solo occupancy of a third cottage. If you’re birding, then a morning spent with Margaret Christian is essential and she bakes delicious cake for morning tea. We also did a trip to Phillip Island for the seabirds. That too is highly recommended if the weather is suitable and David Bigg is the person to see about that.

Best wishes and much gratitude,

Ian

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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:

Glad we could assist with our prayers. What another neat creation to observe. I love the way they were designed to blend right in with the plants they like to eat. It protects them, but it does make for the challenge of birdwatching photographers and watchers. Thanks for your persistence, Ian.

Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? (Matthew 6:26 NKJV)

The Norfolk Parakeet (Cyanoramphus cookii), also called Tasman Parakeet,[1] Norfolk Island Green Parrot or Norfolk Island Red-crowned Parakeet, is a species of parrot in the Psittacidae family. It is endemic to Norfolk Island (located between Australia, New Zealand and New Caledonia in the Tasman Sea).

Its natural habitats are subtropical or tropical moist lowland forests and plantations. It is threatened by habitat loss.

Check out Ian’s photos of others in the Psittacidae – Parrot Family.

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Ian’s Bird of the Week – Yellow-crowned Parakeet

Yellow-crowned Parakeet (Cyanoramphus auriceps) by Ian 1

Yellow-crowned Parakeet (Cyanoramphus auriceps) by Ian 1

Ian’s Bird of the Week – Yellow-crowned Parakeet ~ by Ian Montgomery

Newsletter ~ 3/8/12

Last December, the Red-crowned Parakeet was the bird of the week http://www.birdway.com.au/psittacidae/red_crowned_parakeet/index.htm . That was photographed on Enderby Island in the Auckland Islands one of the New Zealand Sub-Antarctic islands. Here is a close relative the Yellow-crowned Parakeet photographed on the same trip in Fiordland on the South Island. I’ve chosen it for this week’s bird, as I’m going to Norfolk Island tomorrow and I need your moral and spiritual support to help me photograph the endangered Norfolk Island or Tasman Parakeet.

In Fiordland, I camped at Cascade Creek camping site because it’s within striking distance of Milford Sound for the Fiordland Penguin and also because it’s right beside a nature trail through Antarctic Beech forest to Lake Gunn. This particular trail had been recommended as a good site for various native birds including the Yellow-crowned Parakeet. I found the Parakeets with relative ease as they chatter away when feeding or in flight. In the first photo, the bird is perched in a beech tree, and you can see its lovely, serrated, spoon-shaped leaves.
Yellow-crowned Parakeet (Cyanoramphus auriceps) by Ian 2

Yellow-crowned Parakeet (Cyanoramphus auriceps) by Ian 2

With a length of 23-25cm/9-10in, they’re smaller than the Red-crowned but otherwise very similar, apart from the colour of the crown and the lack of red behind the eye. In sunlight, the colours stand out well, as in the second photo, but in the shady areas of the forest they are well camouflaged and the presence of faded yellow leaves in both photos show well how the patches of colour in the plumage help to break up the outline of the bird.
Yellow-crowned Parakeet (Cyanoramphus auriceps) by Ian 3

Yellow-crowned Parakeet (Cyanoramphus auriceps) by Ian 3

The third photo shows another bird in a patch of sunlight on a very mossy tree stump. It’s a delightful forest, very Lord of the Rings, and it was easy to imagine encountering Treebeard along the way. It’s no wonder that the movie was filmed in New Zealand, and Tevora Lakes – not too far from here – was the location for Fangorn Forest, and you will, of course, remember that ‘Fangorn’ was the Sindarin for Treebeard http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Treebeard .
Yellow-crowned Parakeet (Cyanoramphus auriceps) by Ian Middle Earth

Yellow-crowned Parakeet (Cyanoramphus auriceps) by Ian Middle Earth

http://www.virtualoceania.net/newzealand/culture/lotr/Anyway, I’m wandering. The Norfolk Island trip is being organised by the same birders from Victoria that were my companions on the Sub-Antarctic trip. I’d originally turned down the invitation to join them on the grounds of extravagance so shortly after the other trip. We had such fun together, however, that I changed my mind, particular when their flights were re-routed through Brisbane, an easy, if horribly early, connection away from Townsville.

The Tasman/Norfolk Island Parakeet looks similar to the Red-crowned but yet smaller (21-26cm/8.3-10.2in). Like all the 10 members of this South Pacific genus (Cyanorhamphus – ‘blue bill’) it has suffered from the introduction of mammalian predators by Europeans, is classified as endangered and is restricted in distribution to the Norfolk Island National Park. Its numbers have increased recently from a dangerous low as a result of conservation efforts. There is talk of reintroducing it to Phillip Island, a small predator-freed island off Norfolk, and to Lord Howe, where a similar parakeet became extinct. It is thought to belong to the same species, hence the name Tasman Parakeet. So, wish me luck, keep your fingers crossed and transmit the same spiritual energy that is has been so successful before, and I’ll try to bring you the Tasman Parakeet as a future bird of the week.

Best wishes

Ian


Ian Montgomery, Birdway Pty Ltd,
454 Forestry Road, Bluewater, Qld 4818
Preferred Email: ian@birdway.com.au
Website: http://www.birdway.com.au/index.php


Lee’s Addition:

Our prayers will go with you for safety and that you might find your next “Bird of the Week.” We like following your adventures into the wilds. Must be nice to have so many parakeets and parrots around.

Check out Ian’s many members of the Parrots and Allies – Psittacidae Family photos. He has quite a collection of them. He has almost 50 species there. There are 350 total members in the Parrot family. Ian has a few more trips to take. When he mentioned “in the shady areas of the forest they are well camouflaged and the presence of faded yellow leaves,” it reminds me of how well their creator provided for their protection.

There will be a shelter to give shade from the heat by day, and refuge and protection from the storm and the rain. (Isaiah 4:6 NASB)

More – Bird of the Week articles

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Birds Vol 1 #1 – The Australian Grass Parrakeet(Parakeet)

Elegant Parrot (Neophema petrophila) aka Australian Grass Parakeet

Elegant Parrot (Neophema petrophila) aka Australian Grass Parakeet

Birds Illustrated by Color Photography – Revisited

Vol 1. January, 1897 No. 1

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THE AUSTRALIAN GRASS PARRAKEET (Parakeet)

Relocated – Click Here

 

Ian’s Bird of the Week – Red-crowned Parakeet

Red-crowned Parakeet (Cyanoramphus novaezelandiae) by Ian 1

Red-crowned Parakeet (Cyanoramphus novaezelandiae) by Ian 1

Ian’s Bird of the Week – Red-crowned Parakeet ~ by Ian Montgomery

Newsletter ~ 12/20/11

Christmas is nearly on us, so a bird in the Christmas colours of red and green seems appropriate. Here is the Red-crowned Parakeet, one of the relatively few non-seabirds encountered on the trip to the Sub-Antarctic Islands.

We found these birds at several locations on Enderby Island, one of the smaller of the Auckland Islands and the first site at which we actually landed after leaving Dunedin. Enderby Island is mainly basalt with rocky cliffs, as in the second photo, and it reminded me very much of St Paul Island in the Bering Sea that I visited three years ago. On both the vegetation is mainly tundra, though unlike the treeless St Paul Enderby has patches of very gnarled dwarf rata forest.
Red-crowned Parakeet (Cyanoramphus novaezelandiae) by Ian 2

Enderby Island by Ian 2

The Parakeets feed mainly on the ground and we found them both on the tundra and in the forest. They are herbivorous, and the bird in the first photo is feeding on the dense understory of the forest – the third photo shows the same bird in close-up eating very fine shoots and leaves.
Red-crowned Parakeet (Cyanoramphus novaezelandiae) by Ian 3

Red-crowned Parakeet (Cyanoramphus novaezelandiae) by Ian 3

The fourth photo shows a different bird feeding on the flower-heads of small herbs growing on the tundra near the beach where we landed.
Red-crowned Parakeet (Cyanoramphus novaezelandiae) by Ian 4

Red-crowned Parakeet (Cyanoramphus novaezelandiae) by Ian 4

I’m used to seeing parrots in more tropical locations, so it was a startling to see these small (25-28cm/10-11in long) elegant parrots in such a cold and rugged environment. They are obvious tough little birds, though their confiding habits, ground-feeding life-style and choice of low nesting sites makes them very vulnerable to introduced predators such as feral cats,rats and, in New Zealand, stoats. The Red-crowned Parakeet used to widespread throughout New Zealand but is now rare or extinct on the two main islands, though it survives well on Stewart and other offshore islands. As you can judge from the photos, the birds are very approachable and took little notice of us.
On the website, there are now nine species of penguins http://www.birdway.com.au/spheniscidae/index.htm and thirteen species of albatrosses http://www.birdway.com.au/diomedeidae/index.htm . The additional species of albatrosses include ones that were treated as sub-species by Christidis and Boles, 2008, but are now recognised as full species by Birdlife International and the IOC.
I wish you a safe and happy Christmas and best wishes
Ian


Ian Montgomery, Birdway Pty Ltd,
454 Forestry Road, Bluewater, Qld 4818
Phone: 0411 602 737 +61-411 602 737
Preferred Email: ian@birdway.com.au
Website: http://birdway.com.au


Lee’s Addition:

Thanks again, Ian, for sharing your great adventures. This parakeet, indeed, looks decked out for the colors of Christmas. Would be pretty to have a flock of them perching on a Christmas Tree. Merry Christmas to you, Ian, and our readers.

Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. (Luke 2:10-11 NKJV)

Check out Ian’s other Parrots and Parakeets at his Parrots & Allies Psittacidae Family page. Our Birds of the World Psittacidae Family page has more Parrot and Parakeet photos.

Ian’s Other Birds of the Week

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