|To:||Michael Whitehead <>|
|From:||Syd Curtis <>|
|Date:||Wed, 24 Nov 2004 15:25:54 +1000|
Michael Whitehead, wrote (23 Nov):|
Go East, Michael, go East.
To Lord Howe Island, where Emerald Doves are plentiful and very friendly. They will walk up to you looking for crumbs if you sit still on the verandah of a Blue Lagoon unit - and presumably ditto other accommodation facilities. I once stood still on a mutton-bird (Flesh-footed Shearwater) path over Ned's Beach way, and had a family of five walk past my feet, one even paused to consider walking between my boots. It is generally accepted that if you encounter an Emerald Dove walking on the forest floor, you would have to run at it to make it fly, otherwise it will simply stroll out of your way. And what beautiful little birds they are.
Other species are friendly too. It's a delightful experience to stand on the top of the Malabar Cliff to watch the spectacular aerial displays of the Red-tailed Tropic-birds, and have a Sooty Tern ride the breeze to stay poised a metre or so from you head, occasionally pedalling like mad with its webbed feet to maintain position, while it looks you in the face. Seems to be signalling, "Look how easy it is to fly. You could do it. Why don't you try." (I wonder if that was what happened to Kim, for whom the Lookout is named?)
Then there are the Woodhens - brought back from the verge of extinction by Peter Fullagar and colleagues, and now reasonably plentiful. Once when doing a bit of weeding to help the Island, I had one work with me all day. Climbed over my legs when I sat down for a rest.
Walk the tracks and you may have a curious Currawong follow you for half a kilometre or so. Mischievous birds, they seem to be - sometimes sneaking up on you from behind and flying past inches from your head. Never hit you. Just for fun, I reckon.
Golden Whistlers are plentiful and tuneful. So are the Blackbirds and Song Thrushes - exotics in one sense, but they found their own way to Lord Howe from either Australia or New Zealand ... as did the Whistlers, Emerald Doves, and all.
Then there's the sea-birds. I'm strictly a land person, so I can't comment from personal knowledge, but I believe the list is impressive. My one exception is the White Tern. Out at sea they fly with the grace and beauty of swallows, but they nest in the forest and there they flutter around like white moths, uncaring of any human observer. "Nest" is of course, an exaggeration: the female simply lays her single egg on a flat part of a horizontal branch. One of nature's minor miracles how they balance it through incubation, and then how the chick clings on though all weathers.
And I understand that Providence Petrels can be called down to the feet of the birdwatcher simply by shouting at them, though you need to be there autumn/winter for that, and preferably on top of Mt Gower, a stiff climb, only for the fit.
Michael, do yourself a favour and visit Lord Howe Island.
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