FW: Freckled Ducks and friends.

Subject: FW: [Birding-Aus] Freckled Ducks and friends.

On the subject of Bustards I was fortunate enough to be staying at ” Bustard
Downs ” on the Atherton Tablelands last Spring when the cock birds started
displaying.
I was at Mareeba when I rang and asked had they started displaying yet and
was told they had, so booked in for two nights at their caravan Park.

On arrival I was told I was a week or two to early, there were plenty of
Bustards walking around in pairs and groups but nothing displaying, at about
two in the afternoon I went for a drive and before I got to the gate I
looked across the paddock and saw what looked like a white post standing
amongst the tall grass, getting closer I realized it was a male standing
with his head held high and his breast puffed up hanging to the ground.

He was prancing around in all his glory, looking at the various hen birds
that were feeding in the same paddock completely ignoring him.
He was making a noise like a Lions roar heard from a long distance with the
noise carrying for quite a distance, I stopped and took photos out the
window of the car and I had been warned entry into that paddock was strictly
banned.

Within an hour there were Bustards displaying everywhere ,back in the
paddock next to the C V Park, 500mts up the road in a paddock on the
opposite side of the road and another one a km further on.
I went back and picked up the Wife and went for a drive, they were still
displaying and as we drove up the road on the other side of the creek we
came across several more displaying and although we were close to a km from
the original ones we could hear their call drifting across the paddocks. (
He got them all going )

They all seem to display about a 100 to 150 mts from the road and if you got
out of the car and walked towards them they immediately stopped displaying
and quickly deflated their air bag and started to move away but always came
back close to the same spot to start again.

I pulled my car up within about 2 mts from the fence to get a bit closer for
some shots and looking around there were 11 females in the vicinity, while
watching and taking photos the hens kept feeding and two walked between the
car and the fence, not a bit shy. ( No wonder they were shot in the
thousands by the early settlers and by a few not so early settlers )

There was one very big male doing his thing about 200 mts up a track in a
paddock with an open gate so I went to the homestead and asked permission to
drive in to get closer, I was told this big fellow had been displaying in
the same spot for over 10 years and he also told me I wouldn’t get close to
him as many had tried.
He also told me that when the Grasshoppers are in plague proportions the
Bustards are there in the hundreds.
He was right, I quietly drove up the track and before I had got 50 mts he
was back to normal and under the fence into the other paddock, twenty
minutes later he was back displaying in the same spot.

Each cock bird seemed to have at least a dozen hens in various positions
feeding around them but I never saw one come close although they get very
excited if one walks towards them.

Driving back to camp at dusk there was a Bustard close to the caravan with
large feathers sticking straight upright on his back, when I inquired what
was the story I was told by the owners that there was a pair of Wedge-tailed
Eagles that brought their young one to the farm and had it practice his
skills at catching its own meals on this poor unfortunate one, he was hit
several times but was lucky enough to survive and now looked quite heathy
except for his unusual back feathers.

An interesting spot with well over a dozen seen displaying and more than a
hundred Bustards spotted and is close enough to drive to Mt Molloy etc but
worth inquiring if they are displaying before going.

Subject: [Birding-Aus] Freckled Ducks and friends.

Hi All.
Bustards were once widespread including the Southern States, and are a
Protected Species.
Exceptions include shooting in Self Defence, and the Indigenous hunting
for traditional food.
Hand(s) up if you have seen an unstuffed Bustard south of the border.
Sad

Michael
Sent from my iPhone



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