Bush Stone Curlew

Skyrail Nature Diary: October 2011

With a milder than usual winter behind us, we are now moving into spring and have been excited to note that some of the migratory birds are beginning to arrive. The main two observed at Skyrail so far have been the Pied Imperial Pigeon and the Metallic Starling.

Here at the cableway, the Bush Stone Curlews (Burhinus grallarius) have again been nesting and now have two young (see photo). Largely a ground dwelling bird, the Bush Stone Curlew is related to oystercatchers, plovers and avocets and is a terrestrial prediator filling a similar niche to the roadrunners of North America.

Generally this bird is nocturnal preferring to hunt small mammals and grassland animals such as frogs, insects, snakes and lizards, to name but a few. Usually hunting in pairs, the Bush Stone Curlew can often be seen foraging for food at night whilst during the day, they remain largely inactive.

The plumage of the Bush Stone Curlew is such that they are well camouflaged, thus protecting them from potential predators. By standing in poses, perfectly motionless, those which hunt by sight alone often miss them. However, for scent animals such as dingoes, this tactic is not as successful. Agile in nature they are graceful in flight and sure-footed on the ground scaring off any perceived threat by lifting their wings high and hissing loudly.

This is the second time in three years the Bush Stone Curlews at Skyrail have had young by our lake and a very exciting time for everyone at Skyrail.