Apr 8, 2010

Autumn in Franke Scrub

Went to Franke Scrub on Tuesday. Beautiful weather with plenty of bird and butterfly activity. In fact it was difficult to pick out the birds because the butterflies were everywhere. Especially Yellow-spotted Jezabel Delias nysa I took a couple of photos.
Just as I arrived a couple of Magpies flushed something large from the upper canopy. All I got was an impression of grey and large. It may have been an Australian Goshawk, but don't quote me on that. Another one to not quote me is a female Rose Robin. I quite distinctly heard a robin 'tick' call and saw the face with it's pale rimmed eye. It likes moist gullies so Franke is perfect habitat. However I didn't see enough of the bird to give it a positive identification.

Rufous fantail taken by William Jolly.
The changing season
For a birdo the change of season is not so much the cooler weather, shorter days or changing leaf colour. It is the birds that disappear or reappear. Franke Scrub is the home to a pair of Rufous Fantails Rhipidura rufifrons from Spring to Autumn but as soon as April arrives they depart. They tend to leave us for warmer climes moving away from the Great Divide to the coast or inland to about Chinchilla, or north with some even crossing to New Guinea. There are individuals that will stay over winter but the majority of Rufous Fantails are hugging the coast north of the Queensland border. In summer they can be found as far south as the South Australia/Victoria border.
They are such chirpy residents and I miss seeing the flash of rufous as they search through the mid-canopy after insects. However, nature always compensates and a Grey Fantail Rhipidura fuliginosa has moved in to replace them. A close cousin to the Rufous Fantail, the Grey is just as active but has a sharper, more scolding call. In fact one of it's bush names is Cranky Fan. Though often seen in our area throughout the year, the majority of Grey Fantails spend their summers south of the Queensland/NSW border returning to Queensland in large numbers for the winter. Who can blame them?
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