Bush Royalty - Lyrebirds

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Bush Royalty - Lyrebirds

I was priveleged today to have stumbled across a group of lyrebirds. It was a nest site I found out later.

I was  sneaking up on some small birds in a thicket when I heard a multitude of loud bird calls. Lots of different calls and some whoops and whistles thrown in for good measure. I stopped and thought for a moment thinking "this has to be a mimmick". What better mimmick than a Lyrebird? I worked out where the sounds were coming from and had to climb down into a very dark overgrown creekbed area, down a steep scree embankment to the bed of the old creek/watercourse. Once my eyes became accustomed to the dark I was able to spot not one bird but two. Male and female. I stayed put and talked softly to them and didn't make any fast moves. They were making a lot of noise. Squeaks, whoops, whistles and other bird calls. I thought it was due to me but then I noticed right behind me was a small male stalking around. He was probably 1.5 metres from me when I turned he looked straight into my eyes and then all hell broke loose the other male streaked around the edge of the embankment and attacked the young male chasing him through the suburban undergrowth at a very fast pace. I had my camera and was trying to get any kind of image but it was so dark.

After the male had chased off the interloper he and the female were just digging around the ground. I moved closer snapping a few twigs and making a small amount of noise. They knew I was there but these few more noises alerted them I was moving so they jumped up into the low branches about head height and started making a racket. Then the female ran over to a hole in the embankment under a rock and went inside I could hear the sound of young birds and the male was becoming a bit agitated stalking round and round the nest opening so I departed not wanting to upset them any more than I had already. I climbed out into the (seemingly) blinding midday sunshine thoroughly exhilarated. I took about 20 pics but the darkness meant I had it on highest ISO, slow shutter speed and being hand held meant there was a lot of movement from the subject and me (I was so excited my hands were shaking, and probably my knees) Anyway I got a few shots that are recognisable as birds. I have attached the best one.

I saw another one later in the day further into the bush. I won't tell exactly where but It was in the Hornsby district of Sydney. (I also saw wallabies but only glimpses of them scarpering)

Araminta's picture

What a beautiful story Richard. I have some close by, on the other side of our fence, but can't get in there. My friend has some on his property up the road, but 120 acres of steep terrain, no good for me. But I have seen some and taken photos some weeks ago. It's their breeding season right now. They are simply devine. You would have loved the experience. Well doneyes



These birds were the stuff of legend for us when we were kids as back then they were endangered. It was something we never thought we would ever get to see. It is only since my recent first (multiple) encounters with them that I find out they are now considered common (though still a shy species).  I am happy that they have come back from the brink so to speak but it does take a bit of the glow out of my cheeks to find what I thought was a rare experience is not so.
I don't think they are too smart nesting were they are but you can't tell these young whipper snappers anything. I have alerted the local Berowra Valley Regional park mob (Office of Environment and Heritage) to keep an eye on them. I hope it doesn't rain too much as they are in bad spot for flooding. 

dwatsonbb's picture

Don't let the the fact that they are more common than you thought dampen your spirits, any such encounter would be a wonderful experience. Lyre birds are introduced to Tassie, and now have a very small range, although common with that range, the likelihood of me ever seeing one in the wild is very remote, but I would love the experience.

Dale Huonville, Tasmania

 and @UrbanBirdsOz  @birdsinbackyards
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