Wednesday, September 26, 2007

A Sunlit Forest Clearing.

Just before going overseas recently, I visited the Wielangta Forest. My main interest was in the extent of the damage caused by last Summer's fires. Certainly there are extensive areas that were burnt, mainly on the eastern side of the road as you enter from the South, but not as bad as I feared. Since returning from overseas, I've made 2 further visits, and on both I stopped off at the picnic huts at the southern end of the Sandspit River track. As usual, I made a 'bee' line for a clearing among the rainforest. I've found this to be a good spot for photographing some of the more elusive rainforest species. It's here that I've photographed Scrubtit and Tasmanian Scrubwren. It's not that these species regularly occur here, it just has more light to work with, and if you're patient, you might just be lucky.
Well on the first trip, I patiently waited, and as nothing stirred, as I so often do on these occasions, my mind wandered off. I was abruptly brought back to the real world by a movement far to my right. A Bassian Thrush running along the fallen tree only a few feet in front of me! I hardly dare move for fear of scaring it off, and was torn between putting my camera up to my eye or not. As you can see by the upper image, I eventually managed a shot, and that's virtually the full frame. Shortly afterwards, it flew to the forest floor and raked around, before moving off. I'm sure they're not that uncommon here, but I've not seen one previously at this spot.
A few days later I made another trip to The Wielangta Forest, and the self same clearing, hoping to get the chance to see the thrush again, and improve on the photos. That wasn't to be. After a moderate wait, in which I had a visit from a lone Scrubwren and a group of Tasmanian Thornbills, neither presenting a photo opportunity, and as I was about to leave, I caught a glimpse of a darkish bird in the nearby scrub. Expecting it to be the thrush, I was a little disappointed to see that it was an, as yet, unidentified Whistler--both Golden and Olive occur in the area. As you can see by the lower shot, it was an Olive Whistler. Most of the time, it preferred the dappled light among the scrub, as from my experience they often do. Fortunately, it finally, all too briefly, came out of the scrub, and the dappled light, and allowed a few shots. I've attempted to photograph 'Olives' on several occasions recently, but they're generally much shyer that 'Golden'. A search for images of Olive Whistlers on the internet, would suggest that they're photographed infrequently.
I'm sure I shall be returning to this clearing!


Duncan said...

Once again great shots Alan, I still haven't managed to get a good picture of a Bassian Thrush, very elusive. I rarely see an Olive Whistler, so I can only dream!

Unknown said...

Hi Alan,
I would agree about the Olive Whistlers being far more elusive, and sticking to the deeper forest. However, the one half-way decent image I have of one is sitting on a picnic table in quite an open picnic area at Martha Lavinia Reserve, on King Island.

BirdingTas said...

Thanks Duncan. I've actually only managed a single shot of a Bassian Thrush before. It was a juvenile shot in deep shade, and it was only on looking closely at the digital image sometime later, that I realised what it was! Both that bird and the recent one, were in bush that has many Blackbirds. I don't know whether Blackbirds have any detrimental effect on numbers of "Bassians".

BirdingTas said...

Hi Kim,
Interesting your commenting on Olive Whistlers on King Island. Both they and the Bassian Thrushes occupy similar niches there, among the tea tree scrub. The only 'Bassians' that I've ever caught while mist netting, were on King Island. My shot doesn't do them justice, as they are quite exquisitely marked. Getting back to 'Olives', they are seen in suburban gardens, mainly during Winter. A friend of mine, living in Taroona, asked me to ID a bird (from a photo) that was visiting his garden, which turned out to be an Olive Whistler. I've recently photographed them at Goat Bluff, in coastal heath, so they're probably nomadic at times.

Anonymous said...

Bassian thrushes --- beautiful birds. And great photos of both species!

BirdingTas said...

Your comments are much appreciated, Snail. But,you may wish to reconsider--I've just read that molluscs are among Bassian Thrushes food preferences, presumably mostly snails!!

Anonymous said...

Hi Alan,
The comments attributed to "Kim" were actually from me (not sure what my daughter, Kim, do to re-set the settings on my computer!!).

We were surprised on KI to see how the Olive Whistlers were occupying such open ti-tree scrub, when compared to mainland Tassie. Also, my best Bassian Thrush shot comes from quite an open lawned area in the Blue Mountains.

Interesting how similar the Bassians are to Blackbirds in many ways. Even their high pitched 'seep' alarm calls I find hard to distinguish in the forest.