Buff-breasted Button-quail observations near Lake Mitchel

To: birding aus <>
Subject: Buff-breasted Button-quail observations near Lake Mitchel
From: robert morris <>
Date: Fri, 6 Jan 2012 01:44:47 +0000
I was fortunate to see a female Buff-breasted Burron-quail this morning about 
150m uphill from a previous sighting near the lorry layby.
I arrived an hour before light at about 4.30am. I walked to one of the recent 
sighting areas (GPS use) and slowly worked the area in the dark with a 
spot-light. I have seen Red-chested, Red-backed and Little using this technique 
at night. But no luck. Just before dawn I heard an unfamiliar deep booming 
button-quail noise. I looked and looked - no luck. As it got light i scoured 
the general area. Again no luck accept a covey of Brown Quail in thicker wet 
grass. At 7.30 I returned to the area where I'd heard a Button-quail. This was 
on the slope above the gentle break (I have GPS coordinates). To my delight the 
bird which I suspected to be a BBBQ started calling again. I walked up slope to 
a rocky area and it called very close to me. I rounded a knowl slowly and it 
was still calling. I nearly stood on it as it flew up the slope and landed in 
view c. 30m directly uphill amounst a rocks. I got reasonable views in flight 
(Brown quail sized, medium brown coloured with darker wing t
 ips) and on the deck  (thick bill, pale eye, dull buff (the sun wasn't on this 
area yet) breast. The bird started moving uphill towards the sun and I saw it a 
couple more times as it went out of sight. I felt very priviliged. I then spent 
an hour looking for it but nothing. I then walked down hills and return to the 
spot where it had been calling only to flush a second smaller bird which 
otherwise looked very similar. This bird flew to the same area but I didn't see 
it land and despite again looking for another 40mins - nothing.
The habitat was exactly right - sparse grassy tussocks on the lower rocky 
slopes of very open woodland. The grass is very sparse still (although there 
are thicker areas on the flats) and I suspect looking for them is going to be 
good for a while. A calling female (with a male at the exact same spot) must 
indicate they are preparing to breed? No photos or recordings I'm afraid. I 
only thought of photography once it was too late!
I booked a relaxing holiday to Port Douglas months ago (wasn't planning on 
birding) and my first wet season trip to FNQ has produced BBBQ and Red-necked 
Crake, and lots of Buff-breasted Paradise Kingfishers. 3 lifers isn't bad as I 
head towards 700sp in Auz!

Rob Morris 
Brisbane, Australia 

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