Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Bush Stone-Curlews

During the past two weeks I have been in northern Queensland, on a trip to the Iron Range national park where I was part of a group banding birds. On the way north I flew into Cairns and went bird-watching in the local botanic gardens and adjacent cemetry - a well known haunt of Bush Stone-curlews Burhinus magnirostris.
These birds forage and breed quite happily on the short turf and bare patches of earth between the gravestones. Once a familiar bird in southern Australia, the stone-curlews are now rare wherever there are red foxes. These are European predators which were deliberately introduced by man over a hundred years ago. The foxes have not yet colonised the far north-east and the stone-curlews find sanctuary in this cemetery.

 A pair of stone-curlews lead their chick through the tombstones.

A group of six stone-curlews pass the middle of the day under the shade of a tree. They are nocturnal birds and their calls at night have an eerie beauty.

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