Tuesday, 26 December 2017

Hooded Plover

Hooded Plover Thinornis rubricollis cucullatus

I love these birds. They’re small but braver than their size suggests. You find them on beaches, including the largest, wildest and stormiest. There will usually be two of them, but sometimes more (including offspring). As you walk along the beach, they will walk away from you, which is how they avoid you but also lead you away from their nest. After a little while, they will fly back around you, and, if nesting, check their nest (but only when you’re not obviously watching).
The nest is found above the high tide line, in the sand, shingle or dune-edges. Try not to walk close to dunes, especially if you see them wandering about the beach. Walk below the high tide line, as they are smart enough not to nest there.
These two were on Roaring Beach on the Tasman Peninsula. I saw them there earlier in the year, and very recently went back to try to photograph them with the new lens. They were still about, and led me up and down the beach, dutifully protecting a nest. I also attempted to get them votes in the Guardian’s Australian Bird of the Year award. They didn’t win, but I still think they’re the pluckiest little birds in the book*.
There’s a problem with the naming of this bird – “they” seem to have changed their name to Thinornis cucullatus, and there are two sub-species. In addition, of course, they’re also known as the Hooded Dotterel, and there's a lengthy online article explaining why they are NOT dotterels.

Nikon D7200, Nikkor 200-500mm@500mm.
1/1000s, f8, ISO 100.

*So, what book? Well, it’s Watt’s Standard Book of Tasmanian Birds**, the unexpurgated version, with the Gannet*** (Australasian).
**Ok, really it’s the Field Guide to Tasmanian Birds by Dave Watts. Buy one, it’s great!
***Like this one

Little Wattlebird

Little Wattlebird Anthochaera chrysoptera

This bird was very active and gymnastic, bouncing from tree to tree looking for food. I found him at the Franklin riverside walk, along with a couple of others in this calendar. He wasn’t too concerned about me, presumably having correctly assessed my chances of climbing the tree he was in. They have a red-brown patch under their wings. I like these birds, they’re sort of cheeky. I like to think he’d say “Thanks mate, got me looking all undignified. And then put it in the calendar. Champion!”

Nikon D7200, Nikkor 200-500mm@500mm.
1/800s, f5.6, ISO 2500.

Masked Lapwing Chick (“Plover”)

Masked Lapwing Chick (“Plover”) Vanellus Miles

The parents are supposed to stop me getting this close, but the parents of this chick at Franklin had obviously become used to cars being around the Wooden Boat School, and also tolerated a bloke gardening nearby. This was shot out the car window. They are very cute, especially when they waggle their tiny wings. If you email me, I’ll send you a picture of that. This one has now grown into a normal angry plover.

Nikon D7200, Nikkor 200-500mm@500mm.
1/1000s, f5.6, ISO 160.

Superb Fairy-wren

Superb Fairy-wren Malurus cyaneus

These beautiful little birds are fairly shy, and getting close enough can be tricky. They’re also quick. This fellow was at Franklin on the riverside walk north of the Wooden Boat School. You have to sneak about slowly. The alternative method of photographing some birds is to drive around in a car. They don’t worry about cars in some circumstances, and you can fire away out the window with impunity. The lady Fairy-wrens are brown, round and sort of cute. Only the blokes have the pretty blue. Some close observers will also note that I misspelt this bird’s scientific name in the early versions of the calendar.

Nikon D7200, Nikkor 200-500mm@500mm.
1/1000s, f5.6, ISO 250.

Sooty Oystercatcher

Sooty Oystercatcher Haematopus fuliginosus

Another Pirates Bay photo, this one on a stormy and rainy day. The oystercatchers will watch you very carefully as you walk along a beach, calling angrily as you close, then fly around you back to the beach, rather like the Hooded Plover does. I think for once I tracked this one perfectly in flight. Birds-in-flight are even harder than birds-avoiding-humans. Like the Hooded Plover, they maintain a nest on or near the beach among rocks, seaweed and the like, and their angry calls are warnings to stay away.

Nikon D7000, Nikkor 70-300mm@300mm.
1/3200s, f8, ISO 800.

Black Currawong

Black Currawong Strepera fuliginosa

The quintessential currawong, so emblematic of the Tasmanian bush. This one was strutting about at Ridgeway, quite unconcerned about my presence. He knows he can fly away if I make a move. I don’t know if there’s an actual collective noun for them, but I use a “carry-on” of currawongs. That’s more, “Well, some carry-on that was”, rather than reminiscent of a tacky English movie called “Carry On Currawong”. I recently read they prey on other birds; chicks, mothers, fathers. The claws and beak aren’t just for show.

Nikon D7200, Nikkor 200-500mm@200mm.
1/1000s, f5.6, ISO 560.

White-faced Heron

White-faced Heron Egretta novaehollandiae

These herons are found in many habitats, and are fairly common. (Maybe in a few years I’ll be able to do a calendar of uncommon Tasmanian birds.) I’ve got good shots from the Huon, and I’ve even seen them in the Hobart Rivulet outside work. Not only found across Australia, they also live in Indonesia and New Guinea, and have colonised New Zealand since 1941. They are graceful flyers, with an unusual motion with the body seeming to move up and down between their wings. I found this one foraging in the rockpools at Bellerive.

Nikon D7200, Nikkor 200-500mm@500mm.
1/2000s, f5.6,ISO 2200.

Great Cormorant

Great Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo

This cormorant was drying his wings on Pirates Bay beach. He was visible from quite a distance, resembling a miniature dragon. He was nervous as I edged around him, but I think his wings were very soggy and he didn’t want to take to the water unless I seemed really threatening. I believe he was a juvenile (chest plumage), so maybe he just wasn’t very good at swimming, got bedraggled, and needed a good sit down. These birds grow up to a metre in length, and I think this chap was heading for that.

Nikon D7200, Nikkor 70-300mm@210mm.
1/1250s, f8, ISO 400.

Black Swan “Scooter”

Black Swan “Scooter” Cygnus atratus

I followed this swan on my blog through much of his early life. One of a family of cygnets, Scooter tangled himself in some fishing line when very young. A yachtsman removed it, but the damage was done. His left leg and foot were crippled as the picture shows. As a result, he paddled only on the right, looking like a kid riding a scooter. His family bullied him, and I’m not sure if he ever managed to fly. I last saw him full-grown, being chased away from the riverbank by two other swans, possibly his siblings.

Nikon D90, Nikkor 55-200mm@200mm.
1/640s, f7.1, ISO 400.


Silvereye Zosterops lateralis

I was walking on the Pinnacle Track on Mount Wellington, looking out for birds. There were a few, a Flame Robin, a Currawong (of course) and a Yellow-throated Honeyeater, but none of them were very keen to sit and be photographed. I finished up and returned to The Springs, and found this lively little fellow happily prancing around just at the top of the steps. He seemed to be looking for food along the branches, and didn’t fuss too much about being watched.

Nikon D7200, Nikkor 200-500mm@480mm.
1/800s, f5.6, ISO 2500.

Noisy Miner

Noisy Miner Manorina melanocephala

This honeyeater is found across the eastern and south-eastern mainland, as well as the eastern half of Tasmania. I was trying to photograph rosellas on the Domain, but the best shot of the day was this Miner – possibly because he reliably sat still and above ground level. They really are noisy. Just the other day I had to slow the car and steer around two having a mid-air tiff as I drove up the Domain road, but later having found several in a tree they eluded me vigorously once I was on foot.

Nikon D7000, Nikkor 70-300mm@300mm.
1/1250s, f8, ISO 1250.

Yellow Wattlebird

Yellow Wattlebird Anthochaera paradoxa

I found a few of these birds at the northern end of the Botanical Gardens in Hobart, where they swoop gracefully between trees, and were actually quite easy to photograph. This is Australia’s largest honeyeater, and is endemic to Tasmania. I think the yellow wattles make them look rather religious, or at least self-important.

Nikon D7200, Nikkor 200-500mm.
1/1250s, f5.6, ISO 1250.

New Holland Honeyeater

New Holland Honeyeater Phylidonyris novaehollandiae

New Holland Honeyeater Phylidonyris novaehollandiae

These birds are common across Tasmania, with bold black, white and yellow plumage. They often seem somewhat unkempt, with feathers fluffed askew. This fellow was at Franklin, where there are a number who congregate around the riverside boardwalk just north of Frank’s Cider. They are wary of people, and will move rapidly when disturbed, so you have to be patient, slow and quiet. Being small, a decent photo requires getting fairly close. It took a while. He looks a little grumpy, “Go away and STOP bothering me”.

Nikon D7200, Nikkor 200-500mm@500mm.
1/1000s, f5.6, ISO 1100.

Monday, 25 December 2017

Tasmanian Birds Calendar 2018

My calendar for 2018 is out, as Christmas gifts. For the first time I thought it was important to say a little more about the subjects. Click through below to see the birds and a bit more info about them.

I hope you enjoy the calendar through the year, as much as I enjoyed getting the photos and assembling it.

Copyright © Mark G Hanna 2017

And of course additional copies at an extravagant price can be purchased here. Sorry they're expensive, they only print them as ordered. They are very well printed on good quality materials though.

Tuesday, 28 November 2017

Hooded Plovers

Copyright Mark G Hanna 2017

Monday, 27 November 2017

White Faced Heron

Copyright Mark G Hanna 2017

Monday, 23 January 2017

Mount Rufus Scoparia Garden

Came across this lovely "garden" of Richea scoparia on the way up Mount Rufus. Managed a few photos despite the wind and rain. It obviously impressed Peter Grant, who wrote about it here. (And, here.)

I don't think I've seen so many different colours all in the one place before.

Tuesday, 17 January 2017

Mountains, mountains everywhere...

Panorama from Little Hugel. Mount Olympus and Othrys dominate the right hand side, but beyond them, and scattered across the left hand side are more mountains than most people ever climb. Marvellous view on a great afternoon. Lake Petrarch in the centre.

Full size image here.

Panorama from Little Hugel - Too many mountains to name...