Noisy Scrub-bird Cheyne Beach

Subject: Noisy Scrub-bird Cheyne Beach
From: Frank O'Connor <>
Date: Tue, 07 May 2002 00:15:45 +0800
Last Thursday 2nd May 2002 I was going to the Waychinicup Nature Reserve east of Albany with Alan Rogers from Sydney, and Alan and Susan Cowan from Canberra to look for the Noisy Scrub-bird. To my horror the road was closed while they were reconstructing the camp site.

I was about to turn around and head for Two People's Bay when I remembered being told a few months earlier by Mel Lintern that the Noisy Scrub-bird was a chance near the Cheyne Beach caravan park. So we went there to give it a try.

We got out of the car and I heard a Noisy Scrub-bird call across the road. We followed the call back to Cheyne Beach Road and about 50 metres or so further along. I told everyone that it never leaves the ground and to look for it on the ground. It was calling often and very loudly, but after a couple of minutes where was it? Then someone spotted it about 2 metres off the ground on a branch of a banksia. We all had great views from across the road for about 10 minutes, but it moved off to the left and was seen running very quickly across the road. This is the first time I have seen a Noisy Scrub-bird calling, and the first time that I have seen it off the ground. It was giving its usually very strong voice, with its mouth wide open and its tail usually cocked while calling.

We then went back along Cheyne Beach Road to try for Western Whipbird, Western Bristlebird and Rufous (Western) Fieldwren. We had great views of the latter two, but only heard the whipbird in the distance a few times.

We returned to the Cheyne Beach caravan park to look for the whipbird because we had heard it call once earlier. We heard it call a couple more times along the sandy track (Bald Island Road). We drove along the bay to bird at a few other sites and returned along Cheyne Beach Road. About 50 metres from where we saw the scrub-bird earlier I heard a scrub-bird call again. Looking across the road we saw it in the open on the edge of the vegetation. This is the first time that I have seen it from a car! It continued along the vegetation and so I grabbed my camera. We followed the bird for about 20 minutes or so seeing it in the open or calling from branches. I hope that I have got some good photos. When we left it was still calling.

This was a different bird from the first scrub-bird that we saw. The first bird had a black throat. The second bird had a grey throat. The field guide (Pizzey and Knight) suggests that this is a female? But only males are reputed to call. So maybe this was an immature male? With the two territories so close, it seems very unusual to me that this bird was not responding when the first bird (with black throat) was calling, and that the first bird didn't respond when this second bird (grey throat) was calling. I have no explanation.

I recommend this site at the junction of Cheyne Beach Road and Bald Island Road near the Cheyne Beach caravan park as probably the best site to look for the Noisy Scrub-bird. I have seen the Noisy Scrub-bird 15 to 20 times previously at a number of sites at Waychinicup and Two People's Bay but never like this!
Frank O'Connor     Birding WA
Phone : (08) 9386 5694                Email : 

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