Rufous Bristlebird -at last!

To: Margaret Cameron <>
Subject: Rufous Bristlebird -at last!
From: Brian Fleming <>
Date: Thu, 18 Jan 2001 19:33:53 +1100
Since it's school holidays I'd expect Rufous Bristle birds to be
> better early as there tend to be lots of people round in the afternoon even
> late.
  Many thanks to Margaret and Tim whose information on finding Rufous
Bristle-bird at Airey's Inlet stimulated us to celebrate my birthday a
bit early, by making an early start and getting to the lighthouse by
9.15 Eastern Summer Time. 
  Conditions were drizzly and cool, with a strong wind and the sea
making a lot of noise. But we heard occasional birdcalls which we didn't
recognise. So we headed down the path, and right at the end of the
Point, a brown bird dashed into a bushtop - then raised its head to peer
over the twigs at us. Hooray! Binocs showed very distinctive facial
markings. We heard two birds calling back and forth to each other, a
loud sweet ringing call, very pleasant to hear, and then one flew across
the path, to drop below it and peck about in the open under the bushes.
It was joined by another which ran across the path with its tail up like
a giant blue-wren, or like my solitary glimpse of Noisy Scrub-bird back
in 96. Fortunately it didn't move at anything like Scrub-bird speed. A
third bird, less well marked and plainer followed. Meanwhile Brian had
been peering under the original bush and announced that he could see a
very young Bristlebird with almost no tail. This one also crossed the
path, half-flying, half-running, to join the family - definitely a RBB
but rather fubsy and with very little tail. It looked as if it had not
been out of the nest for more than a day or two.
  I'd once been told to look for something like a hen Blackbird. But
it's nothing like one. The proportions are quite different, with the
long tail spreading a little from a narrow base; the stance with raised
head and half-cocked tail; the running or walking gait; and the quite
distinctive markings make it very different indeed.

 With only two of us humans there, the birds did not seem at all
disturbed by our presence - they seemed rather jaunty and confiding. It
was a memorable experience - we don't often see a new bird these days.
Now we are even with all our non-birding relatives who got to feed them
cake-crumbs at Port Campbell NP parking area!

 The nearby wetland (Allan Noble Sanctuary)had a lot of assorted
waterhens, a few Black and Wood Duck half a dozen Latham's Snipe, more
Superb Blue Wrens than you could shake a stick at, a Little Grassbird
(heard only) and great flock of Little Wattlebirds and new Hollands at
flowering trees by 'Angahook's front gate. The lady who lives there told
us that Swamphens fly onto her nectarine tree, knock down the green
fruit, and carry them in their beaks to their young ones.

 A lot of cockatoos about - 4 Gang Gangs, a Yellow-tailed Black, Galahs,
and a few Sulphur-crests. Also Crimson Rosellas. And on the fence in
Bambra Road were 5 Blue-winged Parrots.

 Point Addis in mid-afternoon had no Bristlebirds audible - Homo
sapiens' heavily amplified music from a parked car, plus people
everywhere, and a Nankeen Kestrel hanging in the wind overhead may have
been too much for them.

 The horrors of the Geelong Freeway on the way home were mitigated by
raptors - a male Peregrine, a Hobby and what I believe to have been a
Whistling Kite. A great day.
Anthea Fleming in Ivanhoe, Melbourne

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