I spent the day along the Lady Carrington Drive in the Royal National Park
(south of Sydney) with Ricki Coughlan and Lyn Scott, and had the most
enjoyable time watching Lyrebirds.
We first came across a trio of immature males (identified from tail
characteristics), which turned into a group of four as the resident adult
male trotted in and began chasing the younger ones who then displayed with
fanned tails, raised crests and waving wings. The chases and displaying
continued, and a fifth lyrebird joined in!!! It was another adult male that
had lost all its tail feathers (looking rather like an oversized rail) -
this bird joined in the wing waving and tail wagging (with his stumpy
'tail') and interestingly was being chased by the immature birds (maybe he
lost his status and dominance over the youngsters along with his tail) -
this adult was banded with a metal band on the right leg.
Anyway, the antics continued and only got better - much much much
better!!!!. The fully tailed adult male began singing with some mimicry and
wagging his tail side to side as he approached one of the foraging immature
males. Soon he started giving a few plik calls as he moved closer to the
immature bird and then all of a sudden inverted his tail over his head and
went into full display, directing this at the immature, who just stood and
stared. Lyn, Ricki and myself also just stood and stared - we were
mesmerised, and very pleasantly suprised! This display continued for some
time with the male out in full view - ON THE TRACK!! After a while the male
started giving more plik calls and accompanied these with side to side
'dance' movements and slight wing movements, not the typical plik display
but a mix of full display and plik display with the tail fully fanned open.
Eventually the displaying died down and with the male in the middle of the
track he relaxed his tail.
But that was by no means the end. Immediately after the display ended all
five males appeared together in a 'flock' and trotted down along the track.
At least one immature male resumed the fanned tail/waving wings/crest raised
display, and then the tailless adult was once more chased for more than 10
metres down the track by one of the immatures.
The three of us could not believe how much of a treat these birds had given
us, not only a displaying adult in full view on the track of all places, but
such interesting interactions between all birds. We heard the tailless adult
and one of the immature birds mimicking White-Throated Nightjar, which I
have previously only heard from an immature once at Lady Carrington Drive.
There was none of the usual mimicked species (like Whipbird, Crimson
Rosella, Sulphur Crested Cockatoo etc) - one immature really favoured the
King Parrot and gave only this call for some time.
Further along the track we sighted two females, each with curved tails
indicating they were nesting, and one or two more fully-tailed adult males,
and another male that had lost all his tail feathers and was re-growing
them. After that I continued along the rest of the drive alone and Lyn and
Ricki returned to Audley.
The lyrebird rewards continued for me. I revisited a nest where I had
observed a female sitting last month, and found her foraging with a throat
pouch full of food. I waited patiently and she eventually visited the nest,
put her head inside and I could hear the soft begging calls of her chick as
it was fed. She then departed the nest with a faecal sac in her bill and
headed to the river to get rid of it. I thought this was great, what a
morning!!!. But later, I came across another female with a throat full of
food and found her to be the most tame female lyrebird I have come across -
I was on the track only a few metres from her as she quietly foraged. She
continued foraging for some time then disappeared into the vegetation, I
looked for her, only to find another nest!!. Soon after, the female flew up
to her nest (situated in an aptly named bird's nest fern) and then fed her
chick. Like the previous female she left with a faecal sac, flying down to
the creek where she deposited it in the fast flowing water (from the recent
To round off a great day of lyrebird watching I saw another adult male along
the Couranga Track.
Besides lyrebirds we also saw some other good birds like a very vocal
PILOTBIRD singing loudly with head held high and bill opening wide, a
ROCKWARBLER (and a couple more along the Couranga Track) and the other Lady
Carrington Drive regulars.
What a great day!
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