Friday, March 7, 2014

A First, (for me)!

Back in Nangara Reserve yesterday, I dipped again on getting the quintessential Rufous Fantail shot. I did get some nice views through the binoculars and managed one distant shot with heaps of blown out highlights! Nice to know they are still in residence and haven’t headed north yet – if indeed they do – so I just have to be persistent.

 While chasing the fantails I also had some encounters with a Black-faced Monarch. This flycatcher too should be heading north soon.

After stalking the fantails and monarch I took advantage of a comfortable log to sit down for a bit. I seem to stumble more frequently these days if there are logs and holes hidden in the undergrowth.  As often is the case, letting the birds come to you can be a worthwhile strategy – well, that’s what I call sitting down for awhile anyway.

Brown Thornbills, Blue Wrens, Grey Fantails, Eastern Yellow Robins, etc all flitted by to say hello and then a small plain bird hopped into view. I mentally ticked a White-browed Scrubwren at first but then its behavior sent a signal that things were not quite right. This bird acted similarly to a treecreeper and spent much of its feeding time winkling out prey from under the bark of trees.

 I got the bins focused quickly and discovered a rather long bill, complete lack of any evidence of a white brow, and no ‘window’ in the wing. The pale face and dark eye were further indicators that this was no White-browed Scrubwren.

 Resisting the urge to ID the bird straight away I got off a few hurried shots and headed for the field guide back in the ute. I think it might be a Large-billed Scrubwren.

A first for me and the literature tells me this bird is just about at the southern end of its range but that it is sedentary, so I’m hopeful of coming across it again for some better views.


  1. Your post captures nicely the excitement of finding a bird species new to one and the challenge of working out what it is. The Birds Australia new atlas and my Viridans Wild Animals of Victoria data base shows the Large-billed Scrubwren's most westerly limit in Victoria is just east of Melbourne (the Dandenong Ranges no doubt is the end of their range in southern OZ). Wet habitat along the southern slopes of the Great Dividing Range seem to be their preferred habitat with lots of records in your area and then a break until another large number of records across East Gippsland east of Bairnsdale. That said they are not that common from my experience however this may be partly due to their retiring nature and preference for dense vegetation where they are hard to find and see?
    It would be interesting to note when the Rufous Fantails depart your area. We found several in the Orbost area last Monday.

    Cheers, Avithera

  2. Congratulations on your new bird. I've seen them in the Kinglake area before the Black Friday fires, and they do get reported from the Dandenongs sometimes so they do come this far south.