Saturday, March 11, 2006

"You're Sure of a Big Surprise!"

Another day in the Meehan Range, lots of birds enjoying the waterhole, until alarm calls, first from the Woodswallows, followed closely by calls from the Strongbills. Possibly, as many as 50 birds going berserk. Why? Couldn't obviously see anything, although I had seen a Butcherbird earlier, high in a dead tree overlooking the area. But I'd seen that fly off. That was obviously part of its' strategy, for I suddenly became aware of an immature Grey Butcherbird, observing me from a few metres away. The only birds remaining were either the brave or the foolhardy--the Grey Fantails and the Yellow-throated Honeyeaters. I think the former were trusting in their flying ability and the latter in their size--a risky choice. From my observations over the years, the Butcherbirds are accomplished killers of sparrow sized birds, relying on ambush. Just look at that bill! I know from handling them while banding, that once they 'lock on' to your hand, they often require assistance to remove them. Fully expecting to see a 'kill', the tension was, in part, relieved, by the appearance of a pair of Forest Ravens. The Butcherbird left, having been 'trumped' by the ravens, but the idyll of this oasis was destroyed for the rest of the morning.

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