Friday, October 19, 2007

Horsfield's Bronze-Cuckoo.....One Year On.

It was only a year ago, that I was bemoaning the fact that I had seen or heard, very few Horsfield's Bronze-Cuckoos. Whereas, I had seen the similar, Shining Bronze-Cuckoos, at a number of sites, in varying habitats and in good numbers. Well, one year on, and I have already seen Horsfield's at Goat Bluff, Peter Murrell Reserve, Cape Deslacs, Sandspit River, Meehan Range, and the Risdon Brook Park. I've even managed to get a few reasonable shots of one, these taken at Goat Bluff, earlier this week. Further, by chance, I managed to get a shot showing one of the diagnostic features of Horsfield's, the rufous outer tail feathers (top image), lacking in the Shining.
It proved to be fairly difficult to get close enough to photograph them. I heard the familiar call, traced the caller down, realised that there were two birds, which I presumed were a pair. One or perhaps both birds, used a "chrrrp" call, to keep in contact. They often flew past me, always travelling at high speed, in an undulating flight, usually alighting in the dense banksia scrub. Several times, being small, around 17cm, and cryptically coloured, I only found them as I flushed them, which added to the problem. With patience, I eventually managed a few shots.
In the field, they were noticeably browner bronze, lacking the Shining's greener back. They also have a dark red eye, the Shining having a much lighter, orange red eye, but that's not likely to help you in the field!
Why they're much more prevalent this year, or appear to be, I can't even hazard a guess at. Conversely, I've seen and heard fewer Shining than last year, perhaps it's just swings and roundabouts. The areas that I've found Horsfield's in, appear to be relatively open, with few mature trees (or none), and all have healthy populations of Brown Thornbills, which may well be the main host in Tasmania.

1 comment:

John & Shirley Tongue said...

Congratulations, Alan!
We hope to see some of both bronze cuckoos today and tomorrow, as we head out for our round of "The Great Tassie Twitch".