Rainforest: The Secret of Life

To: L&L Knight <>, Birding Aus <>
Subject: Rainforest: The Secret of Life
From: Syd Curtis <>
Date: Sun, 01 Nov 2009 22:29:10 +1000
Greetings Laurie, Inger Vandyke, Rob Geraghty et al.,

Immediately the program ended, I phoned my son in Perth, to tell him that it
was the best nature program I've seen on TV, and not to miss it.

One of my criteria for a good nature program is that it should have a
minimum of footage in which humans appear.    AND THIS HAD NONE!  The more a
program has people shown in it, obviously the less nature material there has
been available to fill the program.

And yes Rob, much of the lyrebird material, if not all, was Glen Threlfo's.
(He's mentioned in the credits.)

The  display performance on the platform of vines was the lyrebird Glen has
dubbed "George".  I first tape-recorded his voice in 1984, a decade or so
before Glen painstakingly persuaded George to tolerate a discrete human
observer, and George was still going well last winter, so I'm assured. It
probably takes about 7 years for a male Albert's Lyrebird to mature and hold
a territory (6 to 8 years for Superbs; nobody knows with Albert's), so
George must now be over 30 years old.

For anyone who wishes to see more of George (as well as a female, nest and
chick), O'Reilly's Guest House in Lamington N. P., sell a really beautiful
Albert Lyrebird DVD made from Glen's filming.

For me, there was rather too many appearances of carpet snake in the
program, but I'm being a bit picky there, I guess.

Not really a criticism, but perhaps the makers missed one good opportunity
in not giving more prominence to Logrunners.

Schodde and Mason in their "Directory of Australian Birds ­ Passerines"
(CSIRO Publishing, 1999), when writing about logrunners (in which they
include chowchillas) say:

    "As now understood, they comprise just two living species in one genus
endemic to Australia-New Guinea, survivors of an ancient lineage that
extends back at least to the mid Miocene of Tertiary times (Boles 1993).
The family is thus one of the oldest known among song-birds, its nearest
relatives being other members of the Australo-Papuan Corvoidea or
Meliphagidae, and these not at all close."

So in Logrunners we have a species with perhaps the most ancient lineage of
all among songbirds.  They nest on the ground.  Easily found.   Domed nest
with side entrance, but when leaving the nest, the female often pauses for a
second or so on the platform in front of the opening, before leaving.  (Good
photo opportunity?)  And when foraging in the leaf litter of the rainforest
floor, they have the unique practice of propping themselves on their
spine-tipped tail-feathers and one leg, while vigorously scratching sideways
with the other leg.

Inger, please pass on to your friends my congratulations on the best Oz TV
program I can remember seeing.


Syd Curtis

> From: L&L Knight <>
> Date: Sun, 1 Nov 2009 20:32:08 +1000
> To: Birding Aus <>
> Subject: [Birding-Aus] Rainforest: The Secret of Life
> I was very impressed with the wildlife footage in this program,
> screened this evening on the ABC -
> 00.htm
> It included most of the species present in the rainforests of SEQ's
> Scenic Rim, including Alberts Lyrebird, Noisy Pitta, Satin and Regent
> Bowerbirds, Logrunners, Ground Thrush, Riflebirds, Catbirds,
> Whipbirds, Eastern Yellow Robins, and the Fantails etc.  It included
> impressive footage of an Alberts performing on his platform and of a
> family of Noisy Pittas at their nest.  The footage of the snakes was
> also impressive.
> Regards, Laurie.

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