Friday, 30 October 2015

In-between fieldwork: Black-fronted dotterel

Black-fronted dotterels (Elseyornis melanops) are not very common around Canberra and I only managed to see a pair during my visit.

They were very easy too spook and didn't allow me to approach at all, every time I tried to take a step in their direction they would strut off hurriedly. They were moving around quite nervously and most of my photos came out rather blurry.

Tuesday, 27 October 2015

In-between fieldwork: Australian pelican

The Australian pelican (Pelecanus conspicillatus).  Beautiful and so very big, wing span of over two meters and bill around 45 cm long! If I'm not mistaken that's the species with the biggest bills. Very majestic too and not particularly fast-moving, so taking photos was a bit easier.

This guy kept spreading his wings and posing for me!

Friday, 23 October 2015

In-between fieldwork: Red-necked wallaby

The red-necked wallaby (Macropus rufogriseus) - see the red just above the shoulders? I think that black nose and paws, and that white stripe around the mouth can be used to distinguish the red-necks from other local wallabies too. Although to be perfectly honest I find it rather tough to tell some of those guys apart.

Cute, right?

...and they had the biggest pouches I have seen so far. Some of the pouches were pretty much resting on the ground while females foraged.

In-between fieldwork: Yellow-tailed black cockatoos!

Yellow-tails black cockatoos (Calyptorhynchus funereus) were my must-see in Australia. Those guys are absolutely stunning creatures! They seem quirky, fly beautifully and softly for such a big bird, have heaps and heaps of charm... Even their calls are lovely (which is fairly unusual for a parrot!).

I was lucky enough to see them earlier in my trip with one of the local birders. Unfortunately, we accidentally spooked the birds, they flew across the river and even though we could still watch them from a distance I couldn't get decent photos.

This was the only ok-ish one I got:

Since then I have been on a hunt for the yellow-tails. There is just something about them - seeing them once simply wasn't enough. Such beautiful birds. Despite the efforts and assistance from aforementioned birder I haven't managed to see them again. Until today.

Yay! Finally today I have stumbled on a bigger flock and managed to get some photos. I've been bouncing of the walls with excitement the entire afternoon :]

The conditions for taking photos weren't great, but I'm quite happy with what I got, especially considering that I'm leaving Australia soon and this was my last chance to see the yellow-tails on this trip.

More photos to come in the future :]

Thursday, 22 October 2015

Fieldwork: Almost there!

I have a couple of more trials to do on Saturday morning and then I should be done with collecting data for this season. Two months went past really quickly. I'm glad I extended my stay too, I would have been short of time otherwise.

I thought I'd show you another one of my pretty boys. Say hi to Timor (TMR):

He is a curious little guy :]

Tuesday, 20 October 2015

In-between fieldwork: Eastern rosella

Those little colourful guys are not as common as Crimson rosellas, yet are fairly easy to see, I think I've seen a couple of them at least every other day. They are easier to spook than the crimsons though and don't seem to hang out in big groups.

Eastern rosellas (Platycercus eximius) seem to prefer open spaces and grasslands, and I've seen them mainly foraging on the ground.

Those photos don't show them off though, so I've been trying to catch them when they are perched on branches. Aren't they beautiful?

Sunday, 18 October 2015

Update on the "in-between fieldwork" posts

I have seen quite a few things in-between fieldwork so far* and I still have two weeks to go. I realise now that if I want to post a good chunk of it (and I'd love to have a record of it here and be able to share it with my friends) I will have to space it out a bit more.

I will upload photos when I get a moment, but I might schedule the posts to get published in the future so that you don't get too overwhelmed. Hope you enjoy the photos at least to some extend!

*Australia's wildlife is awesome

Saturday, 17 October 2015

In-between fieldwork: Painted button-quail

Stumbled across this little guy digging in the ground, while spinning around - quite a funny sight! They are apparently not the easiest things to find, so I'm pretty pleased this one decided to come out and say hello :]

Painted button-quail (Turnix varius), male.

EDIT: Those circles in the leaf litter made by the bird spinning around are called platelets. I learn something new every day!

Saturday, 10 October 2015

In-between fieldwork: It's mine!

This morning there was a whole bunch of galahs and gang gangs having a heated debate over who gets a nest cavity. I took a few photos before starting the fairy-wren trials, but the noisy debate continued for quite a while right above my head!

Thursday, 8 October 2015

In-between fieldwork: Red wattlebird

While superb-fairy wrens are just starting to lay eggs many other species have been at it for a while. One of them is the red wattlebird (Anthochaera carunculata).

Cute proof:

Red wattlebird chicks

They don't stay this cute forever though. This is what they will look like when they grow up.

The adults seem to be pretty aggressive towards smaller birds, including fairy-wrens. They keep chasing them around and swooping at bushes full of little birds. I don't know whether this is a seasonal behaviour linked to the breeding season or whether they act this way the whole year around.

If you can't quite work out where their name comes from here is a shot where you can see the red wattles.

Wednesday, 7 October 2015

In-between fieldwork: Tawny Frogmouth

Finally! I have been looking for those guys for a while now. I have been told more or less where to look in the Australian National Botanic Gardens (ANBG). It turns out that they are actually on the other side of the lawn than I thought... Typical!

The tawny frogmouths (Podargus strigoides) look a little bit like owls and are nocturnal, which means that they snooze during the day. They can be very still and well camouflaged (resembling bits of tree bark) so it's easy to miss one. I have only managed to find one and will definitely try to find the other one (there is a pair at ANBG). I'd love to see chicks! I can only imagine how cute those would be.

Tuesday, 6 October 2015

Fieldwork: Never work with animals

I think it's probably even more true for wild animals.

It's not even that the little buggers are not doing what I want them to do, they are simply not doing much at all. During multiple focal watches absolutely nothing happens, the birds just forage and preen themselves.

This means that data collection has been going rather slowly and I started to get a little bit stressed - what if I don't get enough data? I know it's not the end of the world, but I feel committed: I'm investing hours and hours of my time here (including on weekends) and feeling a little bit of pressure that I don't have much to show for it. I'm still learning a lot while I'm here, but something tangible would be nice, especially that this time would have been otherwise spend on results-producing analyses.

I know that I can complete my PhD without these data... Yet, somehow, I know it will feel just a little bit like a failure if I don't get the data. The impostor syndrome is hiding just around the corner, pocking it's ugly head out.

Decision has been made - I'm going to extend my stay by a couple of weeks, till the end of October. Hopefully that will be enough. I shall find out I guess! Now onto flights re-booking and accommodation-searching.

To illustrate how slow and late everything in the field is - some of our males are still not through their moult!

Look at that scruffy face!

Thursday, 1 October 2015

In-between fieldwork: Sulphur-crested cockatoos

Those guys are super sociable and love to play. It can be soooo much fun to watch them interact with other, jump around, investigate things, swing... They even seem to play while flying!