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One lump is all you need

December 29, 2017

As an amateur photographer I rely on seeing things to take a picture. Recently I have participated in a number of bird surveys where the expert twitchers marked down that a bird had been ‘sighted’ when they have heard its call. This initially astounded me but of course it makes sense that if bird calls are unique to a species then hearing the call is just as valid as seeing the bird…and far more productive. It has opened up a whole new dimension as to how I ‘view’ nature.

Noisy Friarbird (Philemon corniculatus) 1-DSCN7074.JPG


Last week I HEARD a bird call I did not recognise emanating from the top of an old pine tree. In the uppermost branches sat a bird which was hard to photograph because of the bright sky background and the fact the camera kept focussing on the multitude of branches between me and the bird. What I did notice in profile however was the lump on its beak and that was all I needed to identify it (see picture above). In this part of the country it could only be a Noisy Friarbird (Philemon corniculatus).  Australia has several species of friarbirds with bill knobs but the others are restricted to northern Australia.

Noisy Friarbird (Philemon corniculatus) 1-DSCN7070Friarbirds are species of honeyeaters so called because their heads are bald, similar to the friars of old, and in large groups create a lot of noise with their constant chatter. Their alternative name is Leatherhead. In spring/summer they migrate down the east coast to breed in southern Australia. They feed on insects, fruit and nectar.

Even though the call was quite distinctive I don’t think I would recognise it again. I think I’ll stick to visual identification. Seeing is believing.


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