Wednesday, 22 March 2023

Yet more bats

 There is still a major flight out each evening, usually with a focus towards Lakeview.  I visited the camp this afternoon and it seems to have expanded towards the road somewhat, so the numbers are, I think, up on the estimate calculated by Tony Mitchell a few weeks ago.  Here are some photos:


Saturday, 11 March 2023

A short ride in Mallacoota

 After successfully finding a Powerful Owl yesterday (by following directions given by other birders) I went back on my bike to try my luck again today.  When I got to the area there were my informants from the day before assisting another birder to photograph Rufous Fantails.  They knew why I was there and advised that:

  1. the Owl was there but had shifted across the creek, and 
  2. they had scratched a line on the dirt to mark the spot.

After a little searching my crappy eyes picked up the mark, and a gap in the foliage nicely framed the Owl.  It had no prey today, so just as well it had surplus bat yesterday.

Riding home I had just got to the boardwalk area and noticed  bunch of folk peering into the bushes.  On stopping there was a chubby chappie (or chapess) peering out.
As I started the ascent of Mount Angophora I noticed a Whistling Kite posing nicely.  Needless to say it bolted at the sight of the camera but after a swerve round another Angophora it perched to adjust a small bird it had picked up en route.  At 150m range I couldn't get a clear look at the prey, but suspect there is 1 less New Holland Honeyeater around.  The Red Wattlebird looks totally unfussed.

Friday, 10 March 2023

A right Charlie's Creek track.

 I have read a few explanations of why, in English slang, the phrase "a right Charlie" means a fool.  This one is well off (my understanding of) the mark, and I suggest the author gets professional help.  I was always told that it is a reference to Mr Chaplin, reflecting the number of daft situations in which the Little Tramp finds himself.  Whatever: the meaning seems to have a fair application to the walk we did today, shown in the following extract from Google Earth.

I will come back to this a little later, but as a depiction of the two tracks I'd say the material Google accessed was an approximation drawn by someone in the Bairnsdale or Melbourne offices of Parks who has never been East of Orbost.  And their drafting tool was the famous "thumbnail dipped in tar".

Here is the track which eBird logged from where we actually went.
At an early point we came across this sad specimen.  I have asked iNaturalist for suggestions about identification (the first suggestion by their AI - emphasising 'Artificial' rather than 'Intelligence' - was European Dormouse).
The track - well cleared (presumably to let the Parks contractors get to rebuild the jetty at the end) is surrounded by densely regenerating Acacia scrub of which A. terminalis was well into bud.
The bloodwoods (Corymbia gummifera) were well into flower, explaining why a proportion of the fruit bat flyout has been pointing in this direction.
It never fails to astonish me how the autofocus function on my camera will find something other than my target to focus on.  In this case it has ignored the blossom (~80% of the image) and gone for Frances arm (~5% ) in the background.
A nice new jetty with some anglers well ensconced.  When we were last here (before the fire) the piles of the jetty were covered with sea squirts: they have yet to re-establish.
A Pelican passed over, giving me at least one bird snap.
Here is the eBird track.  Many diversions from that shown on Google Earth, amounting to an extra kilometre of distance.  It also suggests far better the amount of ups and downs along the way rather than the flat track I had been expecting from the straight line on Google Earth.
Flowers were generally hard to find.  A pretty little Dianella sp.
An orchid!  Eriocholus cucculatis , with the vernacular name Parson's Bands: the column etc always makes me think of a ranting evangelist, rather than a timid Parson.
I find it hard to capture steepness in photos.  This was one of the early gullies which the track took.  This was quite a surprise as on our previous foray (from the Double Creek car parking area) partway along the track the difficulty had been flooding rather than altitude sickness.
The contrast between the burnt black branches and the green foliage justified this image.
Two interesting holes: I think Bandicoot, but advice has been sought.
An attractive butterfly kept fluttering in front of us.  Every time it landed it shut its wings rendering itself both less attractive and harder to find against the fallen leaves.
Eventually I got a shot of the upper wings: a Variable Sword-grass Brown (Tisiphone abeona).
Colourful Gahnia sp. fruit
Finally we get to Charlie's Creek: by this stage I had realised that the track shown on Google Earth was garbage, as we had already done 2.9km and that shown was only 3km.  It was also interesting that the last1 kilometre we had walked had had NO maintenance from Parks for at least 2 years, and possibly not since the fire.
I had hoped that with the shiny new signs at each end of the track they would have fixed up the crossing here.  Hah: I am talking about Viv Parks here.
Frances crossed upright doing a sideways shuffle.  I sucked in my dignity, threw it away  and crossed on hands and knees.  But I didn't fall in!
Along the rest of the track the wattle showing signs of flowering was Acacia longifolia.
This is the low lying area which was flooded last time we walked this track.
Attractive bark on some sort of burnt tree.
Double Creek: a pleasant sight as it meant the end was close(r).
Nice new signs are always possible in Parks-land.  Slashing a track, or replacing a bridge not so often.

Thursday, 9 March 2023

A trip up the Mighty Wallagaraugh

 On 8 March I joined a bunch of other folk on a trip by Dale Winward on the Gipsy Princess from Gipsy Point up the Wallagaraugh River.  A birdlist is on eBird (with some of the photos below).  I have ended with 33 species. 

Here s our route, courtesy of the track recorder in eBird.

It shows how close we got to the State border.  The small 'tick to the right' is where I walked down to the wetland at Dale's farm.

The gathering at Gipsy Point wharf was greatly enhanced by the presence of a pair of Azure Kingfishers (sorry about the odd colour of the background - my camera was still set up for evening fruit bat photography).  The birds are arrowed.
A rather more helpful image of one of the Kingfishers.
A small backwater near Dale's farm which we briefly explored.
One of several Gippsland Water Dragons (Intellagama leseurii) seen hauled out on logs.
Adult White-bellied Sea-Eagle.
A photograph of an Australian Hobby: technically poor, but good enough to support the identification.
This shows the width of the River - probably just beyond The Bullring - and the regrowth of vegetation after the Black Summer fire.
Creepers covering trees in a rainforest patch.
The only member of the Heron family seen on the trip.
A magnificent Wedge-tailed Eagle seen on the way home.  This was one of two adults: a juvenile was also present, first detected by constant whining calls, and then seen flying.
Adult, ready to launch.
The Johnson Bridge, carrying the Fairhaven Freeway over the River.  Although water was a little high there was enough clearance for the boat.  The driftwood in the middle pier suggests recent spate height: Dale commented that in a big flood the whole bridge has gone under.
Heading for lunch at the farm.  The water level was a bit higher than expected!

Wednesday, 8 March 2023

Full Moon and Bats

 It had been suggested to me that the evening of the 7th with a full moon would be a good time to watch the bats fly out.  This post starts with a preview, of moon set at 0552 that morning.

We went to Lakeside Drive near the intersection with Karbeethong Rd and, using my compass app, found the bearing of moonrise to point more or less directly at Howe Hill.  This image was taken at 0738, 3 minutes begore moonrise was scheduled.
Allowing for the ridge of the Howe at 0751 this is pretty much on time (or, to give credit/blame where it it due, the time on my camera is set quite accurately).
0754: the background colours vary a little according to which mode I used!
The first bats emerge 0754.
An attempt to get one crossing the moon.  This failed as the brightness of the moon obliterated the bats: they disappeared as they crossed the disc.
This was the closest I got, with a wingtip dipping in.
The camp empties en masse 1958hrs.
The line in the water becomes clear 1959hrs.
The flock gets denser.  I counted 111 bats in this image and estimated it was taking an average bat 8 seconds to cross the image pane, giving - on possibly rubbery logic - 830 bats per minute.  As the flight had pretty much stopped by 2004hrs my guess is there are (8*830  = 6640, plus a few heading out the back to other feeding sites) call it 7,000, bats in the colony at present.

I think this is the best line in the water still with a few mammals!.