Just to add a little to this story, over a few years of intermittently
driving the roads between Patchewollock, Ouyen and Walpeup I have seen
single Malleefowl by the edge of the road a few times. That may not sound
much, but compared with other areas/roadsides it's a good strike rate ( no
pun intended )
Then on 23rd August last year, after telling the birder sitting next to me
that this is a good road for a chance of a Malleefowl, we saw one ahead of
us. There was much excitement, we slowed down and got some reasonable views
before it slunk off into the mallee. A few hundred metres further along
there was another one. This bird allowed great views for some time. I told
my travel companion how lucky he was. Then another kilometre further up the
road a third Malleefowl appeared. This was when the "Twilight Zone" music
rang around my head ( apologies if you never caught that show) but needless
to say I was wondering what the hell was going on. It was mid to late
afternoon on an overcast day.
Later that day we bumped into a ranger in Murray-Sunset NP, who reported
seeing the best numbers they had ever seen in the "sunset" country that
year. A long early morning drive he said produced around 30 sightings. I
was shocked to say the least.
A few questions arise from this. Malleefowl feeding by the edge of roads
and tracks is not necessariy associated with grain spill. Late August is
definitely not the time for that.
And birds on tracks within the national park again says they are finding
something other than grain spill.
Common Bronzewings have always been a feature along the roadsides around
Ouyen/Patchewollock, I had always assumed gathering stones for their crop.
Is this a possibility for Malleefowl. They eat a lot of Wattle seed,
particularly in summer, so stones for their crop might be important ? Others
may know more on this than me.
As an aside, after observing Malleefowl regularly and reliably for number
of years in north-west Victoria, I am still yet to see a young bird that has
not reached adult size. !!
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