Wednesday, 10 June 2009

Birding from the car

So there I was, counting raptors (a lot) and apostlebirds (even more), when I spotted something big and grey in a paddock. At 100 km/hr, you can travel quite a distance before a) registering what you saw and b) whether you should go back to take photos. Fortunately, there's not much traffic on the Leichhardt, so I was able to do a U turn and pull over next to the flooded field.

The 'big and grey' turned out to be a pair of brolgas. They were aware of the car and the photographer lying across luggage on the front seat but were more interested in digging up bulbs and other nosh from the mud. They peered at me a couple of times but went straight back to feeding. Although brolgas are much more abundant in the north than they are in the south-east, it's still a privilege to see them.

I hope to see our other crane species — the sarus — on the Atherton Tablelands, where they are regular visitors. Sarus cranes are distinguished from brolgas by the extent of the red coloration on the head. Brolgas sport a scarlet cap but sarus wear a scarf as well. (That's how I remember the difference, anyway!)


Dyl said...

Gorgeous photos. Thanks for sharing. Makes me wish I lived somewhere that had the more obvious diversity that you have down there (or at least be able to experience it).

Lynette Weir said...

Hi Bronwen
Very much enjoying the trip north! And the twitter comments along the way. I love brolgas - especially when they dance...

Bronwen Scott, FCD said...

I was so lucky to see these two. And even luckier that they were relatively relaxed.

Dyl, I sometimes take the diversity for granted. (I'm sure I'm not the only one!) But then something crops up that reminds me how lucky we are with wildlife and I my interest is reinvigorated.

Lynette, brolgas really get into it, don't they?

Anonymous said...

Welcome to Queensland Bronwen - it sounds like you're enjoying the trip. Your travel descriptions are good fun to read and the Brolgas are lovely.

Dave Coulter said...

Very nice. Have you ever read the book Birds of Heaven by Peter Matthiessen? One of my favorites - it's all about cranes!

Sherrie Y said...

Thanks for taking us along for the ride and road-birding. (We need signs in our car windows warning "Caution: Road Birder" or "I stop suddenly for no apparent reason."

Large numbers of sandhill cranes winter within a day's drive of home, but on the occasion a group flies over town we all run outside and look up. I've even run out at night (d'oh!) when I've heard them trumpeting.

NanaJude said...

r out to welcome you, but not wishing to be too obvious about it.

Bronwen Scott, FCD said...

Thanks, Barbara. I feel that I'm back on old territory. Am looking forward to getting warm again, which, given the current weather pattern, probably won't be until I get to Innsifail!

Dave, I haven't read it. I'm going to have put it on my list. The only Mathiessen I've got is African Silences.

Sherrie, you could probably make a small fortune with a design for a bumper sticker for birders. I thought I might put a sign in the back window saying "Caravan driver". That should explain all erraticness. (Is that a word?)

JJ, you think this might be a traditionally laconic Qld greeting? Beats that of a friend (a Queenslander born and bred) who, after I told him I was heading his way, just said "Oh shit". (Yeah, you know who you are.)