Beautiful wrens

To: "Birding-Aus" <>
Subject: Beautiful wrens
From: "Val Curtis" <>
Date: Sat, 25 Sep 2004 22:17:24 +1000
Yesterday a friend and I went for a birding walk around the Suffolk Park Sewerage Treatment Plant in Byron Bay (north coast NSW ). It's a fairly low key STP but is very good for bush birds and ducks and as my friend comes from Victoria I thought she might see a few new birds. Too right she did! The first birds we saw were a group of Rainbow Bee-eaters sitting on a low fence and on the ground showing off their wonderful colours in the bright sunshine. Ducks and grebes, spoonbills and stilts aplenty with a few somnolent pelicans and probing ibis kept us interested for the first half hour after which we were nearing the area where I expected to see the first bunch of Superb Fairy Wrens. Sure enough they turned up on cue together with a group of very tame Red-browed Finches. We watched them for a while and then I had the most incredible view of a male SFW holding a yellow petal in its beak, black feathers all fluffed out so that he looked like a little blue and black ball offering his yellow petal to a female. I have read about this display but in all my thirty odd years of birdwatching have never seen one using the yellow petal. We had wonderful views of this and were very thrilled to witness such a spectacular event.
Further along the path were a group of Variegated Wrens, a new bird for my friend, and these also performed well for us with a group of two males and three females in a bush chasing and sparring with each other and making quite a racket. A few White-breasted Woodswallows were the next excitement then various honeyeater species kept us busy for a while. In a clump of reeds the loud calls of a Clamorous Reed Warbler could be heard but no sign of the bird at first, then one flew across the path and settled in a clump of low grass where we had excellent views. I was searching constantly for a Tawny Grassbird, a species that has eluded me for many years, but this was not to be the lucky day. Maybe next time!
I was trying to move along a bit quickly to get to the place where the third wren species is usually seen but I needn't have bothered as one brilliant male Red-backed Wren appeared right in front of us on the path and hopped about in the short grass and showed off his magnificent crimson back as he flew ahead of us along the path. The female was there too and I was able to make a good comparison with the female Variegated Wrens.
We felt very privileged to get such terrific views of these wonderful jewel-like birds and were then thrilled to see a magnificent Brahiminy Kite soaring about overhead and then later a White-bellied Sea-Eagle as we walked back to the car.
Val Curtis
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