May I add to Michael Hunter's interesting report on Two Peoples' Bay and the
rediscovery of the Noisy Scrubbird.
Harley Webster was the astute bird observer whose attention was caught by a
strange bird call and who correctly deduced that it was the long-lost Noisy
Scrubbird. He was a School Teacher, - which of course doesn't rule out his
also having been a fisherman.
I have on my desk as I type, an historic tape recording which I greatly
treasure: a copy of a recording made by Harley Webster of what I was told
was the actual bird he heard when he made the discovery. (Because they are
so strongly territorial, it is almost certain it would have been the same
bird.) Webster made the recording using CSIRO equipment under the
supervision of the late Norman Robinson who gave me the copy.
I'm not a twitcher, but I reckon finding a species believed to be extinct
should be worth at least 5000 ordinary ticks! Agreed?
When I was visiting the CSIRO field station in late August '71, Norman
pointed out that without leaving the hut, we could hear Noisy Scrubbird,
Western Bristlebird and Western Whipbird, a very fine trio of species. It
was therefore with a certain degree of satisfaction that in '74 I wrote to
Norman to say that from the one spot I had been able top hear Rufous
Scrubbird, Eastern Bristlebird, Eastern Whipbird, AND Albert Lyrebird.
Michael Hunter referred to the Noisy being reintroduced to other suitable
areas. Mist-netting a male is possible (though tricky) because of their
territorial response to play-back. But how can one catch females? The
problem intrigued me and on a visit to the West I asked the Warden. Some
bright scientist reasoned that because they scurried along the ground
instead of flying, they could be regarded as feathered mammals rather than
birds. So: use the mammal trapping technique of running low fences with
traps at intervals along the fence. Problem solved! A fine piece of
lateral thinking, I reckon.
But wasn't it fortunate that the birds were in Western Australia! Had it
been Queensland, can you imagine the Government under Joh cancelling the
sale of Crown land for a holiday town on such a superbly beautiful coastal
site, just to preserve some bird habitat? Not Pygmalian likely!
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