Sunday, 27 April 2008

Unseen birds

After a marathon drive from Biloela, I spent last night in Townsville. I stayed with a friend who lives near Anderson Park. As I pulled up outside the house, I could hear the bush stone-curlews (aka bush thick-knees) (Burhinus grallarius) wailing in unison. Or what passes for unison. They never seem to be sure if they're in a chorus or are soloists.

I thought they'd either wail all night or fall quiet until everyone was asleep and then … Well, if you've heard them, you'll know what I mean. But they didn't. They were the perfect neighbours and didn't make so much as a peep.

But I was woken up by another sound. In the wee hours, a couple of dogs started yapping. One had a slightly higher pitched bark than the other. Sometimes they'd yap together, sometimes they'd do it in sequence. It took a while before I realised that they would always give two barks. No more, no less. Then it dawned on me — the source of the noise wasn't pooches, it was a pair of barking owls (Ninox connivens). Sweet!

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