Friday, August 08, 2008
Denizens of the Deep.....Shade that is!
After several days of birding the South Arm area, yesterday I decided to try my luck in some of the wet forest areas, and opted for a visit to the Wielangta Forest. Specifically, I birded both ends of the Sandspit River Track, in fact I have to admit to never having walked the whole length of this track, perhaps this Summer? I stopped off at the picnic huts at the southern end, noticing that the sun had yet to clear the tree tops, so the area was still in deep shade. I always listen out for the resident male Pink Robin here, and wasn't disappointed, noting another 'Pink' answering his call from the other side of the road. I walked a few yards, looking for the robin, without success, and anyway deemed the area too 'gloomy' for photography, and set off for the northern end. While still at the northern car park, getting geared up, I noted several more Pink Robins calling in the very still conditions. Tasmanian Thornbills scolded me from the riverside vegetation, and I could hear a distant Golden Whistler calling, as well as a nearby Scarlet Robin. As I neared the forested area, I realised that although I had recorded several species, I had seen very little, and this seemed to be the norm for much of the next couple of hours. The lesson here is, make sure you know your bird calls, otherwise you could have a very frustrating visit! I heard numerous Eastern Spinebills and Strong-billed Honeyeaters, but saw neither. I did see a few of the numerous and very vocal Crescent Honeyeaters, and a glimpse of an Olive Whistler, a common, but retiring resident. I arrived at a spot where I've photographed Scrubtits on previous visits, and I hoped for a repeat performance. The area is primarily of Man Ferns surrounded by thick scrub, with overmature acacias growing up through it. It's main attraction from a photographic stand point, is that a recently dozed firetrail runs close to it, allowing more light into the area. Despite that, it's still not the easiest of spots, and I usually manage to collect leeches as I wander through it, one of those beings that I have an unhealthy loathing of. But, at least on this morning, it proved to be worth the effort, as I quickly found the resident pair of Scrubtits. Scrubtits are thornbill size birds, very active, and often shy, The accompanying images are a few that passed muster, most exhibiting movement of bird or camera, or both, in the less than ideal conditions. Perhaps that's why there seems to be so few images of Scrubtits to be found on the www. Eventually, the pair just disappeared into the scrub, and that was that. I wandered a little farther down the track, but apart from a fleeting view of a Brush Bronzewing, little else was seen. Time to call it a day, well, morning. I did however stop at the picnic huts on my return journey, and walk down to the creek, hoping to see the Pink Robin, which I did, but also in search of more Scrubtits, which I didn't. But I did spot a Bassian Thrush, scraping among the leaf litter in a verdant patch of rainforest. Despite the dingy conditions, I took several shots while it continued feeding. Later, looking at enlarged views of what it was feeding on, I was surprised to see that its prey was mostly winged insects. It continued feeding despite my close approach, and I eventually managed to get a few usable shots, including the accompanying image. For those of a photographic bent, the image was taken at 1/20th second, with a tele lens and no tripod, which says a lot for the Canon image stabilisation system! At least these thrushes do spend a lot of time standing stock still, in much the same way as their cousins, the European Blackbirds do, in many of our suburban gardens.Eventually it flew up onto an overhanging branch some 6 or 7 metres above me, which was something of a surprise, as I've rarely seen them more than a few metres above the ground, they were after all known as the Ground Thrush for many years.