Friday, 15 August 2014

Getting rid of a bogey.

I will justify the title of this post with a comment from Sue Taylor's blog:
"Most birders have a bogey bird - that's a bird that they've looked for on several occasions, but which continues to elude them. It's sometimes called a 'jinx bird.' "
Now I have searched for Pied Butcherbirds within the ACT in at least the following ways:

  • Hall Cemetery on several occasions;
  • Chapman Ridge at a ridiculously early hour of the morning;
  • Mulligan's Flat for many hours including some rather long bike rides to get there;
  • Urriara Village on several occasions

all to no avail.  To make matters worse by the time I got home (wherever that was at the time) there is usually a post to the COG Chatline explaining how the bird had just stolen someone's lunch (or in the cases like Chapman Ridge, breakfast) 5 minutes after I left the area.

So when I saw Maurits Zwankhuizen's post to the COG Chatline yesterday ....
"Seeing Peter Milburn's posting, I went looking for the Pied Butcherbird yesterday without luck, although Noisy Miner alarm calls did lead me to a Grey Currawong. "I was more fortunate this morning and found the Pied Butcherbird sitting quite openly in the trees right in front of the National Film & Sound Archive.  This was around 9:40am."
.... I thought here is another nice waste of my time coming up.

When we got to the National Film and Sound Archive 
My attention was immediately grabbed by Noisy Miners making a ruckus at point A.  Sure enough ...
 .. just like Maurits' experience the miners were mobbing a Grey Currawong.  So I carried on to Liversedge St, where some more Miners and an Australian Raven were creating a noise.  No sign of a Butcherbird.

So I lapped the Archive building with my usual level of success (in the middle of -1 and +1).  When I returned to my start point there was still noise coming from Liversedge St so I cut through some gardens close to the Archive building.  A bird landed in an old pine tree at point B, with its back to me: definitely a butcherbird but what sort?  Then I saw the front!  Bingo!  A bogey no more.
 A dead tree next to the building seems to have been selected as a des-res by bees and the butcherbird was stooping into the insects and appeared to be taken then for food.
 Here is another image: taken because I could!
Following Ian Fraser's comment (see below) I checked the excellent COG Birdinfo page for this species and took this snapshot of the distribution around 'Canberra':
 In essence the darker the pink the higher the reporting rate.  A dash shows no reports of the species and a grey box means o reports at all for that 2.5" square.

The reporting rate is an interesting shape.  I will try to form some hypotheses (OK guesses) about

  • why the species has increased in the area in several recent years and/or 
  • why the rate has a couple of drops.



Ian Fraser said...

Excellent - congratulations! I only managed it late last year near Uriarra Village, after numerous attempts. And on that day I was so brain-dead having just got back from Sth America that I went out without binocs (!) - fortunately the universe took pity on me and the bird flew down almost at my feet!

Flabmeister said...

Thanks Ian. I am surprised that people have still "needed" this species. I thought they were getting so common around Canberra that I was the only person who hadn't got the ACT tick. I feel a little research coming on!