Toilers are not able to meet due to current restrictions but are still visiting the park for exercise. Maggie sent this to us.
"A friend was in the park this morning. She said when she arrived at the Union Rd end the bird calls were amazing. She couldn't get over the volume and variety. When she neared the Anderson St section of the park she came across a young boy (approx 7yo) who had binoculars. She asked him what he was looking at and he said it was the birds and he pointed out a pair of Tawny Frogmouths in a tree."
Pam is travelling around Queensland at the moment with John and staying in their A-Van. She sent us this.
A Beginner Birdwatcher
Last year in lock-down I decided to identify a greater number of bird species by their call. I am much better at visual identification and generally happy if I can hear any bird song. My learning involved sitting in my back yard and listening for sounds of magpies, wattle birds, currawongs and the occasional kookaburra.
When out walking I am happy to play can I identify that bird rather than seeking a specific bird. A recent bird watching trip out from Karumba on the Gulf in northern Queensland took my understanding of what being a birdwatcher means. When I arrived at the bird-watching boat the captain asked if there was any specific bird I wanted to see. My answer was no, just whatever we came across. Then a group of birdwatchers on a week-long trip in northern Queensland joined the two hour trip. I had never seen cameras with such big lenses. An aim of the bird-watching experience was to find a small red headed honeyeater. Recorded bird calls were played and the cameras readied. Eventually we did locate a fast moving pair in the mangroves. Below is my rather blurry image of the brightly coloured male red headed honeyeater.
Somehow, I think I still prefer the excitement of not quite knowing what bird I might find. I have taken lots of photos of birds while I have been away. This majestic black necked stork or Jabiru hung round the caravan when we were having lunch at the Burke and Wills camp 119, their last camp before they got to the Gulf. He just wanted to know what we were up to and then flew off as we departed.
Our Friends group has been in existence for 25 years. During that time we have developed and grown as a group as has the re-vegetation in the park.
Our reputation has grown also and we have been approached by people wishing to set up a similar friends group. Pam has recently been contacted by someone belonging to an advisory group in Whitehorse Council area. They are being asked to change to a Friends group instead.
In the Park this month -Tawny Frogmouths
Tawny Frogmouths are between 34cm (females) and 53cm (males) long and can weigh up to 680g. Their plumage is mottled grey, white, black and rufous – the feather patterns help them mimic dead tree branches.
Their feathers are soft, like those of owls, allowing for stealthy, silent flight. They have stocky heads with big yellow eyes. Stiff bristles surround their beak and these ‘whiskers’ may help detect the movement of flying insects, and/or protect their faces from the bites or stings of distressed prey (this is not known for certain).Their beaks are large and wide, hence the name frogmouth.
The genus name, Podargus, is from the Greek work for gout. Why? Unlike owls they don't have curved talons on their feet; in fact, their feet are small, and they’re said to walk like a gout-ridden man! Their species name, strigoides, means owl-like.They’re nocturnal and carnivorous, but Tawny Frogmouths aren't owls – they’re more closely related to Nightjars.
There are two other species of frogmouth in Australia – the Papuan Frogmouth (Podargus papuensis) lives in the Cape York Peninsula, and the Marbled Frogmouth (P. ocellatus) is found in two well-separated places: one in tropical rainforests in northern Cape York and the other in subtropical forests of southern Queensland and north-eastern New South Wales.
Tawny Frogmouths are found throughout Australia, on the mainland and Tasmania. They prefer open woodlands, but are found in a wide variety of habitats – rainforest margins, alpine woodlands, parks and gardens. They’re seldom found in arid regions or in dense rainforests.
A breeding pair often stays in the same territory for more than 10 years. Common where they occur, chances are you’ve picnicked under a tree concealing a Tawny Frogmouth or two!
The species is considered of Least Concern by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species.
Tawny Frogmouths sleep during the day, often camoflaged among tree branches. At dusk they shake their disguise and begin their nocturnal hunt. They catch prey in flight, or by sitting motionless in a tree and then swooping down on ground-dwelling prey.
Tawny Frogmouths eat insects and centipedes, worms, spiders, snails and slugs. Sometimes they eat larger prey like frogs, reptiles and small birds and mammals. It’s thought that most of their water requirements are obtained from their prey, rainfall and dew.T
Tawny Frogmouths mate for life and in the wild they can live up to 14 years. Females typically lay two to three eggs each breeding season (around August to December). The nest is made of sticks and rests on a horizontal tree branch.
At night the breeding pair take turns incubating the eggs, but the father normally takes the day shift.Their call is a low booming "Oom-oom-oom-oom" noise. When threatened they may hiss loudly and strike a defensive pose that makes them appear larger than life – eyes and beak wide open. But for Tawny Frogmouths, disguise is the best form of defence!
While roosting, Tawny Frogmouths can be taken by Carpet Pythons. When on the ground hunting their own prey, these birds can be killed by feral cats, dogs and foxes.
However, habitat loss, whether through land clearing, forestry or intensive bushfires, is the most serious threat to the ongoing health of the species – they're reluctant to move to other areas if their habitat is destroyed.Tawny Frogmouths need woodlands with mature trees to nest and roost in, and to serve as a backdrop for their clever disguise.
Organochlorine insecticides (used for termite control) and rat poison, when present in the prey of Tawny Frogmouths, has caused many deaths in urban areas.
Finally, being nocturnal, the species is vulnerable to vehicle collision – they're known to fly after headlight-illuminated insects.
(From Trust for Nature website.)