Buttoning up a Quail ID in SEQ

To: Birding Aus <>
Subject: Buttoning up a Quail ID in SEQ
From: knightl <>
Date: Sat, 12 Nov 2005 15:33:53 +1000
With a mild day forecast for today, I took my toddling offspring to the Enoggera Reservoir - near The Gap in the western suburbs of Brisbane. We set off on the Araucaria Walk - a 5 km return track that runs around part of the reservoir. The track starts beside the Walk About Creek complex, and is flanked by a very large turkey mound. Early on, we found a nesting oriole - it took off just as I was photographing, so that you can just see the wingtips at the edge of the shot. A bit further on, we came across and photographed a little-shrike thrush in a tree beside the water. Mark Reid, a fellow BOz contributor came past while I was waiting for the LST to move into another accessible location and mentioned that he'd seen some platelets along the way. A bit over a click from the entrance, shortly before the track goes around a 180 degree bend as it crosses a gully, we passed through a lantana patch, and stopped so offspring could pick some of the flowers, and then again to photograph some red-browed firetails [always nice to see, as they are not as common as they used to be]. We could hear a brush cuckoo calling, but it didn't hove into view, so we carried on around the cricuit, twice having to backtrack to retrieve fallen caps and lens caps. As we were heading back to the car, as we reached the lantana thicket, I noticed a quail walking off the track. It was quickly out of sight, and offspring refused to remain silent, but my brief impression was a rufous/cream plumage combination - could it be a little, red-chested or red-backed button quail I wondered. Quail that walk rather than fly are often candidates for closer inspection, but this chap didn't re-emerge. We back-tracked again to retrieve a dropped cap, and then noticed a quail fossicking about on the track a bit further along. This chap seemed to be a bit larger, and was partly/periodically obscured as it moved about. I chose to go for the camera rather than the knockers, and got half a dozen shots. The habitat could be described as a waterside woodland with significant lantana cover on a clay/shale base. There were no obvious platelets on the track - not surprising given its hard base and relatively bare surface. When I got, I downloaded the shots and had a look at the field guides - the bird had a dark eye and yellow legs, so painted button-quail was most likely bet. Looking at Pizzey and Knight, Simpson and Day, and Morecombe, however, you could be forgiven for thinking that there are three species of painted button-quail, as the illustrated plumages were very different. Where the birds illustrated in P&K are distinctly rufous/brown along their wings/backs, this bird was more like a latham's snipe / spotted quail-thrush. The rufous shoulder patch was more of a bar-shaped wash - like that on a buff-banded rail and it had two dark streaks running along a grey crown. As such, Simpson and Day had the illustrations that best fitted this bird. It's the third painted button-quail that I've seen in 11 years [the first was at the Weddin Mts in NSW, while the second was in a vine forest along the border fence near Levers Plateau]. One moral of this story, is to pay attention to the bare parts of a bird - bill, eye, legs etc, as these may be less variable than the plumage.

Regards, Laurie.

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