Waders, nesting birds and nest robbers

To: "Birding Aus" <>
Subject: Waders, nesting birds and nest robbers
From: "Bill Jolly" <>
Date: Tue, 25 Nov 2003 21:12:27 +1000
Bird action in the Lockyer Valley has been heavy over the last couple of
weeks, and I've been trying to hold back from posting anything until I
managed to update my website, but even now I've gone digital
(photographically that is) I still can't keep up. So I'll advise about the
pictures later, but get on with some facts now before they become history.

We found a couple of Little Curlew in the valley on Saturday - just 2 birds
in a stubble paddock, with their beaks continually open, seemingly panting
in the heat of the day. I'll put the photos on the website, along with one
of a Greenshank standing alongside a Marsh Sandpiper (once called Little
Greenshank), at the edge of a local farm pond - providing an interesting
reinforcement of the similarities and also the striking differences between
these two, apart from the major differential of size. A Plum-headed Finch
popped up while we were watching the Greenshank, let me take his photograph,
then moved on.

I saw an amazing sight in Helidon the other day. A bird the size and colour
of a Tawny Frogmouth seemed to be zooming up the side of a tree alongside a
gateway where I'd stopped! What I couldn't see initially was the big Lace
Monitor that had the poor thing by the scruff of its neck, as it did its
usual escape trick of scaling the tree on the side furthest from the
intruder - me, with the young frogmouth dangling to one side from its mouth,
the bird alone being just visible from where I was standing, scooting
quickly and smoothly up the side of the trunk!

The parent birds were watching on, in that apparent frogmouth daze that they
display during the day - eyes wide open, but no movement. Meanwhile, a big
sibling was flapping around on the dirt road, almost flying but never quite
getting off the ground. It seemed sensible to shift this endangered
youngster somewhere out of sight of the monitor, but in sight of the
parents, though I don't know that anywhere would be safe from one of those
big predators with his mind made up. The monitor had meanwhile let go of the
lifeless frogmouth as it made its way higher up the tree. We left the dead
bird where it was on the ground at the foot of the tree in the hope that he
might return to it and perhaps feast on it rather than anyone else in the
family. Again, some photos of the whole incident will follow.

Plenty of cuckoos are about. I've been seeing young Brush Cuckoos and
Horsfields Bronze Cuckoos being fed, while adult Pallid, Brush, Shining,
Horsfields and Little Bronze are all around as well as Koels and
Channel-bills. That only just a cuckoo, the Pheasant Coucal, is calling a
lot at present, as they always do after a bit of rain.

A pair of Ground Cuckoo-shrikes which have been nesting locally appeared to
be off the nest ten or so days ago, though I didn't see any young - but on
Sunday one was sitting again, with the other very attentive. In the same
tree Striped Honeyeaters were feeding offspring in their dangling purse of a
nest, with a Magpie-lark sitting tight on a mud-cup on another adjacent
limb. There just had to be a Willie Wagtail nesting in there somewhere! But
I couldn't explore closely with three active nests so close together, all on
the same side of the one tree.

Rainbow Bee-eaters have had a great nesting season in umpteen local
creekbanks. White-backed Swallows often nest in the same locations as
bee-eaters, and at one bee-eater colony we visited on Sunday a party of five
White-backed Swallows was busily feeding above Rainbow Bee-eaters, Welcome
Swallows and Fairy Martins. What a very beautiful bird!

I won't list everything, I'll save some for another posting as soon as I've
got the website updated.....

Bill Jolly

Lockyer Valley, Queensland.

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Ph: (+61) 7 4697 6111  Fax: (+61) 7 4697 6056

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