Chestnut-backed Button-quail appear to inhabit a range of habitats.
I've sightings from many sites throughout the Top End over the last
twenty years or so. As mentioned in my book it is present in low numbers
on the South Alligator River plains - easiest time to see it is in the
early Wet Season, just after rain when they and Red-backed Button-quail
sit on the roads. Also along the road to the Ranger Uranium Mine site,
on back roads throughout Kakadu, and the Fountainhead/Pine
Chestnut Rail is still fairly easy to see at Stuart Park mangroves. Or
hire a dinghy and sit quietly in one of the small estuaries off Shoal
Bay, Leeders' Creek etc.
Several birds breeding in the yard or nearby at present - including
Sacred Kingfisher, Helmeted Friarbird and Dusky, White-gaped, Red-headed
and Rufous-banded honeyeaters, Varied Triller and Yellow Oriole.
A young Rufous-banded Honeyeater half-flew, half-fell to the ground this
morning behind my giant, spreading Black Wattle (Acacia auriculoformis).
Concerned my various reptiles might eat it I put the youngster on the
clothesline whereupon it was attacked by a White-gaped Honeyeater. The
parents flew to the young bird's aid but weren't really a match for the
bigger bird. A palm frond over the top of the juvenile's perch shielded
it from the White-gaped's view, and the parents began to feed it again.
Then junior obviously a youngster with an eye for adventure again tumbled
to the ground. A Northern Water Dragon eyeing it off for an early dinner
was sent off no questions asked by Mum (or Dad)!
I wonder how often songbirds fail to breed successfully because of
interference by other birds. Earlier a breeding Dusky had an all-out,
foot-grappling, mid-air brawl with a White-gaped that ventured too close
to young. .And a pair of Brown Honeyeaters abandoned their nest in the
front yard last year after other honeyeaters discovered it. Dusky and
White-gaped were the most persistent resisting attacks by the parents to
peek in the nest. One Brown Honeyeater chased a Dusky, having a similar
mid-flight brawl to that mentioned above. However in the end the parents
had had enough and moved away.
Rufous-banded Honeyeaters are feeding themselves and their young at the
moment on green and brown caterpillars (Eurema hecabe and ?) that infest
the Breynia cernua in my yard. They also go after the Catopsilia larvae
and leaf-rolling larvae (not sure what species) on the Cassia fistula,
but appear to have less success here than the larger-billed White-gaped.
Both species also glean.
This morning a lovely great dragonfly, one of the species I'd been
hunting for my insect book, fell at my feet on the back landing.
Unfortunately it was headless, but for what am I an artist? No predator
was to be seen, but whoever you are, thanks!
The insect book is great fun to work on. My Kunwinjku sisters were here
the other night and I showed them some of my specimens, the first one
being a lovely blue Orthetrum. 'Ah' Esther said, 'Djalangaridjalangari
(two wings)! Tells you when fishing is good.' However that name holds
for every dragonfly and probably damselflies as well! A bit like the
Denise Goodfellow (Lawungkurr Maralngurra)
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