Wednesday, August 24, 2011


So, the council's wombat sign has been up on the Exeter side of town since early June. I was hoping, really hoping, that that might make a difference and save a few wombats in our area. Sadly, I've counted, since the erection of the sign, 4 or 5 deceased animals between the sign and the first few houses of Bundanoon.

LJ, 24 August 2011.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011


I had decent views of a White-eared Honeyeater near Bundy's sewage treatment plant yesterday (again, my new clapping technique brought it closer). Interestingly, this foraging individual (brought to ultra-life thanks to that magical conspiracy of prisms and light) had white tips to its tail. This feature isn't mentioned in any of the current field guides. Maybe, I'll declare this bird a subspecies and dub it the Bundanoon Honeyeater!

LJ, August 23 2011

Sunday, August 7, 2011


One crowded hour of birding from 4:30 to 5:30pm produced the following...

2 White-eared Honeyeaters at swamp by Ferndale Reserve (I was clapping my hands in case of flushing a rail or a quail - instead I brought these two out of the brush - unexpected and thrilling - with each of my claps the birds came closer - another newie for my list).

1 Brown Goshawk by railway tracks near Shangri-la Road (the raptor startled, then pursued, a Crested Pigeon - not sure of outcome as chase continued through blur of eucalypts).

2 Musk Duck on dam by Shangri-la Rd.

1 Cattle Egret in paddock by Shangri-la dam.

1 Little Wattlebird (heard in scrub east of Penrose Rd and Shangri-la Rd intersection; another newie!).

An Australian Magpie with a hell of a lot of white on its back (race tyrannica from South Australia and Victoria?) feeding on lowlands adjacent to Birchwood Drive.

12 Grey Teal on sewage works near Ferndale Reserve.

LJ, August 7 2011.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011


I'm loving the brilliant Big Bird-yellow galaxies of Silver Wattle in Morton NP.

Lyrics from John Williamson's gorgeous 80s number Cootamundra Wattle spring to mind...'Hey, it's July and the winter sun is shining and the Cootamundra wattle is my friend, for all at once my childhood never left me and wattle blossoms bring it back again.'

LJ, August 2 2011

Monday, August 1, 2011


The Superb Lyrebird would have to be THE most hypnotic Australian bird. It has it all: a memorable, complex and voluble call, interesting feeding habits (endless scratching in the soil for invertebrates), a mesmerising courtship display, speed when provoked, unique plumage etc. We're blessed to have them in the bush surrounding our township. As it's now their breeding season, the males are very vocal.

Last Saturday, mid-afternoon, I had the pleasure of watching a male complete part of his courtship hullaballoo, in rugged terrain, at Echo Point. There was much wing-flapping and noise-making. Unfortunately, I didn't get to witness the celebrated tail-over-the-head culmination of the courtship extravaganza, where the bird's feathers are spread into a lyre-like arrangement.

This particular male mimicked (perfectly) the calls of 10 other birds - Pilotbird, Crimson Rosella, Sulpher-crested Cockatoo, Eastern Whipbird, Bassian Thrush (or European Blackbird; their calls are similar), Noisy Friarbird, White-browed Scrubwren, Golden Whistler, Satin Bowerbird and Laughing Kookaburra - on several occasions. The mimicry was interspersed with a thread of its own classic song and various peculiar noises, adding up to a bizarre, chopped-up soundscape that musicians DJ Shadow or Trent Reznor would be proud of emulating. Interestingly, when the male was desperately trying to seize the attention of a foraging female close-by to him, he ended his mimicry, replacing it with a five-note sequence (the fifth note less clear than the previous four) of otherworldly, almost mechanical, clipped buzzes, looped over about five minutes. Once the female wandered off, utterly underwhelmed, the male fell back into his original repertoire of song and mimicry. I've never heard a male do this before.

Female lyrebirds can also use mimicry in their assembled vocal routines, but they do it far less frequently. Males tend to be the major songsters. Ornithologists believe males put so much effort into their calls so as to (a) attract a mate and (b) establish territories. Hardly revelatory stuff. I wonder whether it's really that straightforward. Perhaps the male enjoys what he does and this outpouring of noise cum music, this grand Hallelujah to the day, is a bi-product of sheer joie-de-vivre. Think a breaching humpback.

I've had several close encounters with Superb Lyrebirds out at Fitzroy Falls over the last few years. In June 2010, I listened to a male imitating twelve bird species that frequented his local area; I've not found a lyrebird to mimic more species than this. It would be interesting to note whether males have a limit to the number of species they can mimic. I will follow this up asap.

Stay tuned.

LJ, August 1 2011.