A walk in the bush at this time of year will often result in hearing one of nature’s most remarkable bird songs. You might hear a Kookaburra laugh cut short, followed immediately by the unmistakable crack of the Eastern Whipbird, the machine-gun rattle of a Lewin’s Honeyeater, ‘chok-chok’ of a White-eared Honeyeater, (who perhaps shouldn’t be about at the moment), and various miscellaneous whistles and squeaks of other species sometimes uttered too rapidly to identify.
First published in the 29 may 2015 edition of the Warragul & Baw Baw Citizen.
Often this soliloquy will end with the identifiable ‘bilik-bilik, bilik-bilik’ of the one and only Superb Lyrebird.
Lyrebird mimicry is legendary. Everyone has a Lyrebird story – an axe man chopping wood, a chainsaw, the motor drive of a camera, barking dogs, even the imitated whistled tune of a working bushman.
One particular yarn I enjoyed is of a park ranger who heard a Lyrebird repeat the knock-knock sound of his spray tank on his back as he sprayed the weeds along the track. The ranger thought he might test the bird out and deliberately ‘knocked’ the tank three times, ‘knock-knock-knock’. Back came the call, knock-knock-knock. The workman knocked his tank four times and back came four knocks from the bird. The bird kept following as the ranger got to seven deliberate knocks on the tank. After seven the bird stopped. Perhaps Lyrebirds can only count to seven!
Lyrebirds breed through the winter months. The male begins renovating his display mound in autumn and the female starts building a nest through May and June. Both species will perform mimicry at this time, but it is the male who is the expert.
The bird in the photo circled me while I sat quietly on a log for half an hour, just off the track in Nangara Reserve at Jindivick.
Other local spots where Lyrebirds can be seen or heard, particularly at this time of year, include Mt Worth State Park at Yarragon, Morwell National Park, Tarra-Bulga National Park, Glen Nayook at Neerim Junction, Crossover Regional Park at Rokeby, Uralla Nature Reserve at Trafalgar and almost any deep and moist fern gully in our beautiful Baw Baw Shire and surrounds.
Words and photo by ‘Gouldiae’. For more, visit gouldiaesblog.blogspot.com
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