Looking for Malleefowl, and following explicit directions from Judie
Peet and David Geering, I went to the middle of Goonoo State State Forest,
which is just north of the Middle (West) Kingdom of Dubbo NSW.
Then stopped at the spot, found the mound, sat down, heard footsteps in
the litter, and voila! a Malleefowl walked around me to his nest fifty feet
away and started scratching.
Maybe it was the anticipation, but this was a great moment. Since buying
Frith's "The Mallee Fowl", new, many years ago, seeing photos, films, and
videos in trains, planes, tourist brochures and documentaries, following its
(mainly downward) progress in books, magazines and journals, missing it in
Victoria, S.Australia and W.A., finally seeing the bird itself was real
fulfilment. (In more ways than one; this was Oz-tick number 700, and one of
the finest. )
The bird is far better in life - the afternoon sun picking up its
camouflage patterns and colours beautifully. The small crest was a surprise,
and it was heavier than imagined, looking much more solid than a Brush
After an hour he was still building up the mound, presumably to
insulate the enclosed eggs against the cold of the night, doing circle-work
around the base with dirt scratched off that morning. I backed off slowly
and he was unpreturbed.
Two others crossed a track I later drove along, south of the main
road, so there are a few Malleefowl around in Goonoo, not news to the local
A Great Black Cormorant was also a surprise swimming in Paddy's dam
which is small. There were no people there, but parrots aplenty -
Sulphur-crested, Galahs, Eastern Rosellas, King, Australian Ring-necks, and
finally the Glossies came in.
These are Glossy Black Cockatoos, with tremulous voices and elegant
flight, entertaining boofheads when they perched, preening and playing. Two
of the females had almost completely yellow bibs and a ring of yellow
feathers around the face like the trim on a brown cowl of headfeathers.One
of these waddled down to drink, wings upright and rocking from side to side,
squawking and spreading her tail to display the red and yellow panels, quite
bizarre. Like all Black Cockatoos, these birds are decidedly prehistoric.
I counted eleven together, three or four juveniles.
While watching, a female wallaby with striking black paws feet
and tail, and rich rufous fur at the base of its ears, came down to drink,
lapping for at least ten minutes with barely a break. She had a bulging
pouch, but no protruding head.
The Glossies left at dusk, 8.05 pm., and so did I.
50km west of Sydney Harbour
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