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
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.
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