Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Cryptic Resident .... Bassian Thrush

Having spent many hours in the Wielangta Forest on Tasmania's East Coast recently, of course I've seen a lot more than just the Scrubtits and Tasmanian Thornbills that I've recently written about. One of the more noteworthy and quite commonly seen birds, particularly on the narrow tracks, is the Bassian Thrush. As you can see from the shot at left, they're not the easiest bird to spot (or photograph!). At the sort of distance that you usually notice them, they don't look, or indeed act, very differently from their close cousins, the Common Blackbird. The Bassian Thrush is a somewhat more robust bird, and in the hand, you really appreciate that it's a beautifully marked bird. It has over the years suffered something of an identity crisis, having had a number of name changes. I learnt to call it a Ground Thrush, but its also been 'officially' called, Scaly, White's, and Mountain, before finally? settling on its present name of Bassian.
I stopped on the track to watch a pair of Brush Bronzewing, one scratching around on the track, the other perched in the nearby scrub. I say a pair with some confidence, as I had just picked up a recently discarded eggshell, almost certainly a bronzewings. Suddenly, from a few feet away, there was a great commotion, startling me for a few moments, as a Bassian Thrush burst from what proved to be its nest, and fluttered down into the low scrub. The nest was basically similar to a Blackbird's, but considerably larger, and 'decorated' on the outside with moss. I have seen other nests over the years, but they had all been on rock shelves, this one was in a fork of a tea tree, a little over head height. I quickly moved on down the track, but returning later, took the accompanying shot of the sitting bird. I don't usually photograph birds at nest sites, but as it sat tight, I couldn't resist the temptation, (at an exposure of 1/15th of a second!)
. There has been some suggestion that Blackbirds, now commonly seen in similar habitat to the Bassian's, may be having a detrimental effect on them, but the jury is still out on that.


Anonymous said...

Hi Alan,
They also have amazingly similar, high-pitched "seep" alarm calls - usually my first indication there MIGHT ba a Bassian Thrush about....or it might just be a Blackbird!

Duncan said...

You did well Alan, I haven't been able to even find one for ages.

BirdingTas said...

Thanks Duncan, unfortunately the images are pretty ordinary, taken from a long way off in fairly dark surroundings. Bassian Thrushes are not uncommon here, but actually finding them can be frustrating. They were often seen on the Fern Glade track on Mt Wellington, but it's been a while since I've seen one there.

Anonymous said...

I live in Fern Tree and often walk along the Fern Glade track, and others. We've seen a Bassian Thrush frequently on the track, and also seem to have one living in our garden (bottom of Pillinger Drive)which we've spotted several times, most recently about 2 weeks ago.

Anonymous said...

The other day I had a bird land near me rather close so I reached out and stroked it on the back and chest with my fingers. It then flew off only to come back and land on my arm. I have searched photos and compared to photos I took of it. I have come to the conclusion that it is a Bassian Thrush. Are they normally this friendly - I was to the point of wondering if there was some hidden message in tis happening! Margie