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A flurry of wings resolved

June 11, 2013

The vegetation on the eastern side of our property consists of open Box–Stringybark forest. The understorey consists mainly of grasses — natives with a few exotics. In summer the long grass hides a multitude of creatures, primarily Red-bellied Black Snakes, Brown Snakes and smallish birds that suddenly burst from the grass in a flurry of wings and disappear equally quickly back into the grass some distance away. We call these LQJ’s (little quail-ey jobs)—not to be confused with LBJ’s (little brown jobs), which are the unidentified birds that flit around the tops of trees. Trying to photograph the LQJ’s for identification purposes is almost impossible. They appear when you least expect them—sort of like the Highway Patrol, and then are gone.

DSCN2116 - CopyBecause of the drought, the long grass is flat and there are not many places for the LQJ’s to hide at the moment. And so it was during my dusk stroll I saw an LQJ power-walking across my path. I managed to get a couple of photos that helped me identify it as a female Spotted Quail-thrush (Cinclosoma punctatum, from the Greek words kikhle meaning thrush, soma meaning body and the Latin word punctus meaning sting—hence spot).

The Mrs. Note the orange cheeks

The Mrs.   –     note the orange cheeks

These birds build a loose nest of bark, leaves and twigs against rocks, stumps or native grass tussocks from June to November. This one was probably out looking for a date.

Now one species has moved from LQJ status to a big tick on the identified bird list. I wonder how many other LQJ’s are out there?

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