Sunday, December 03, 2006

The Bronzewing & The Airbus

An early morning start in the Meehan Range, largely to avoid another confrontation with "dog lady", saw me meandering up the road towards 'my' pond. I'd only gone a few hundred metres, when I noticed a bronzewing in the dappled light of the track. It waddled across the track, and although it was far too far away (30+ metres) to get a good shot, I took it anyway! I've many times flushed the odd bronzewing or two here, and I've often wondered what the attraction is--probably the acacia seeds. I walked on and it took off with the usual clapping of wings and I quickly lost sight of it. As I 'tuned' in to the many bird calls, I became aware of the noise of a high flying jet, probably some 30 or 40 thousand feet above. High flying jets are none too common at this latitude and this was 4 engined, rarer still. A quick shot. I spent the next hour or so at 'my' pond, at present only a shadow of its usual self. A few inches of stagnant water is all that's left, but as there's little or no water in the creek either, it continues to attract the birds. I stood amid the scrub on the crest of the dam and noted the coming and going of numerous birds, and attempted to photograph those that ventured near me. At present, the most numerous are the Brown Thornbills, followed closely by family groups of Strong-billed Honeyeaters. Some days the most numerous are the Silvereyes, but strangely not today. Green Rosellas, always very wary, watched from nearby saplings for some minutes before venturing down to bathe. One of these Rosellas landed in a yellow flowering shrub only an arms length in front of me, and proceeded to lick the pollen off the flowers, while I just stood stock still and enjoyed the moment. Cramping up somewhat, I moved, flushing an unidentified Bronzewing from the edge of the water, probably a Common, by far the most numerous here, as I did. I hadn't observed its arrival, but I suspect that it had landed some way away and walked in, as I have observed them doing often before. Other visitors included Scarlet and Dusky Robins, Grey Fantails, Golfinches, a solitary Beautiful Firetail, and numerous and quarrelsome Yellow-throated Honeyeaters. I saw only a single Black-headed Honeyeater, and I suspect that they, as largely leaf gleaners, have suffered more as a result of the recent fires. After about an hour, the wind started to get up, a frequent occurence of late, and I decided it was time to leave. An enjoyable morning, but it hadn't quite ended. While looking closer at the many images I had taken--it's not unusual for me to take a hundred or more shots in a morning, good job it's digital--I looked closer at the bronzewing image and found it was Brush Bronzewing, not the expected Common. They're not uncommon, but generally found in wetter areas than this, and the shot's not that good, but it's the first image of this species that I've managed to get in a year of photographing birds. As I moved onto the next image, the high flying jet, I realised that I had photographed an Airbus A380. This is the so called, double decker Jumbo, yet to go into airline service, on a proving flight to Sydney, via the South Pole, which was why it was flying over Hobart. For me, an aircraft enthusiast as well as a birder, this was a great sighting--I hope the birding purists will forgive me for blogging it!


meika said...

I guess that airbus flew south to north then.

Do you know who or what are those large jet planes are that fly east to west over Hobart at 10 000m or so? Four contrails. Big planes. I work in vineyards on the east coast, though I've noticed them in Hobart too, and they come in from the east, and head due west, without the slightest change in bearing. Every few months or so. Completely mysterious.

BirdingTas said...

Hi Meika,
Yes it would have been flying south/north. The large jets that come over Hobart are mainly, but not exclusively, Air New Zealand Boeing 767s, making use of high level jetstreams, and they are, parhaps surprisingly, mostly going to Singapore. Occasionally get Qantas and British Airways 767 and 747 a/c doing similarly, but I suspect some are only going to Perth.

John Tongue said...

Hi Alan,
The 'flukey' shot of the Airbus is great, but I thought it was a beaut shot of the Bronzewing, because they're usually so wary of letting you get anywhere near them, it's very hard to get a decent shot!

BirdingTas said...

Hi John,
Thanks for your comment, but I'm still loking for a much better result. I think my best chance is probably from my vehicle down a bush track. Although I suggested it was after acacia seeds, it's also possible/likely that bronzewings in these sort of situations are after small stones or grit, presumably to aid digestion of hard cased seeds.

John Tongue said...

We've found both Bronzewings a bit 'inconsistent' - mostly, they're very wary, and don't let you approach very closely at all. Then just occasionally (usually when you don't have a camera!) one will be quite confiding. A couple of weeks ago, we were at Mortimer Bay Reserve, where there was a Common Bronzewing calling from the TOP of a dead and bare tree (quite unlikely habitat, we thought). It allowed us towalk right up under the tree without flying, and even kept calling most of the time. Other times, both Common and Brush get one hint of your presence and they're off. I think you're right, though - the most likely chance will be from a car driven quietly along a bush track. I wish you well with it.