Last weekend we made the long trip from Canberra to Gloucester Tops to try,
once again, for the elusive Rufous Scrub-bird.
We arrived mid-afternoon and immediately went up to Kerripitt's Lane. On
the way up through the forest diversion was provided by a Long-nosed
Bandicoot running across the road (in broad daylight)?I have obsevred
before that Gloucester Tops is a very good area for mammals, in previous
trips we have seen all sorts of things you don't normally see out in the
Anyway Kerripitt's Lane is closed (we knew that from a posting to
birding-aus of last week), but this makes no difference as you can easily
walk the last 1.5km to the former car-park, and all this is through likely
RSB habitat anyway. This afternoon was very quiet, with no RSBs calling, or
responding to the tape at all. The only birds about were Flame Robins,
White-throated Treecreepers, Grey Shrike Thrushes, Brown Thornbills, Grey
Fantails &c &c. The weather was cold and blowy, but it was was not raining,
After finding K's Lane so quiet we retreated the camp-ground area and had a
walk around, seeing the usual rainforesty spp for this area, Lyrebirds,
Satin Bowerbird, Whipbird, Rufous Fantail, Rose Robin and so forth.
After dark I went spotlighting and was wandering around bemused by the
complete lack of possums of any kind. I walked up the road from the
camp-ground for about a km and a Tawny Fogmouth flew by. Then I turned the
spotlight out through a break in the bushes where you could see the ground
falling away and trunks of the big eucalypts. A dark grey stump on a branch
burst into life as soon as my spotlight beam hit it, and flapped away
through the trunks?a Sooty Owl! Having seen this bird I now realised why
there were no possums about.
The next mornign we returned to Keripitt's Lane. The morning was less blowy
and rather sunny and pleasant. The birds along the track were much the same
as before except there were a couple of Eastern Whipbirds, and some distant
Lyrebirds calling. About a third of the way to the car-park is a creek with
dense tea-trees along it, beyond this on the north of the road we heard a
distant RSB calling, which responded to the tape, but did not come any
closer. Further along another RSB responded from the north side of the
road, but even more distantly. There was no response at all from the
And so we agve up on Kerripitt's Lane and spent the rest of the morning
trying in other spots around the top, though without success.
Two points about using the tape:
1. The Buckingham and Jackson Tape has a RSB using mimicry, of White-browed
Srcubwrens and Brown Thornbills, amongst others. When we used the tape we
found that we were suddenly surrounded by Thornbills and Scrubwrens
responding to the mimincry, this happened on a couple of occasions!
2. More seriously, at the car-park when we used the tape the only response
was that two Kookaburras came in and sat watching us; I hope they weren't
thinking 'Ah ha, now what usually happens is that a Rufous Scrub-bird pops
out and is so preoccupied that it's easy to swoop down and grab it.' Worth
bearing in mind anyway.
These RSBs certainly are elusive.
John Leonard (Dr),
PO Box 243,
Woden, ACT 2606,
To unsubscribe from this list, please send a message to
Include ONLY "unsubscribe birding-aus" in the message body (without the