Noisy screaming night bird waking us up every night…

This is the noisy night bird, the bush stone-curlew (Burhinus grallarius) are a nocturnal, ground-dwelling bird that makes its home in Australia’s open forests, grasslands, mangroves and salt marshes.  (Not our photo).

Andy and Sylvie warned us the day we arrived that there was a noisy bird we’d definitely hear during the night.  We shrugged it off thinking nothing of it after all the roosters crowing beginning at 4:00 is in Kauai over our many months on the island. In a short time, we no longer heard them.

Here’s a video that illustrates the noises we’re dealing with during the night:

We spotted this Straw-necked Ibis in the same field where we saw the kangaroos.
I doubt that we’ll stop being awakened by these birds during our three months in Queensland. It’s comparable to a person screaming “bloody murder” as much as two or three times a night. Luckily, we’ve both been able to get back to sleep after each screeching session.

I’d love to actually spot one of these during the day. Andy explained that they wander about the bush surrounding the house but their natural camouflage makes them almost impossible to spot.

The fluorescent colors on the back of the Straw-necked Ibis were beautiful.
“The Straw-necked Ibis is widespread across much of the Australian mainland except the harshest deserts, and they often fly hundreds or thousands of kilometers between temperate locations in the south and tropical areas, and between inland sites and the coasts, possibly as regular seasonal movements, and sometimes in response to local environmental conditions. The longest recorded movement of a Straw-necked Ibis was from Muchea in south-western WA to Beaudesert in south-eastern Queensland, a distance of well over 3500 kilometers.
The Straw-necked Ibis is a large waterbird with a naked black head, long down-curved black bill, and yellow throat plumes. It has a glossy blue-black back, with metallic purple, green and bronze sheen, white nape and sides of the neck, and white underparts. Its preference for grassland insects such as grasshoppers and locusts have earned it the name of Farmer’s Friend.

Actually, we can hear a number of birds but getting a photo is tricky. They seem to alight and fly away so quickly that it appears unlikely we’ll be able to capture as many as we’d like. Of course, we’ll continue to try.  We saw an amazing deep bluebird we’d love to see again for a photo. 

There is a wide array of tropical birds in Australia. A few days ago we spotted a wild cockatoo stopping for a short rest atop a nearby tree. By the time I grabbed the camera, she was long gone.

Lillies growing in the yard.  Andy and Sylvie had left a vase filled with these flowers on the dining room table when we arrived on June 11th.

As for the below, yellow-billed Bush Stone-Curlew, here’s some information we found at Australian Geographic:

“Once widespread, the species is now rare in most regions of the country, thriving in just a few areas in Queensland, the Northern Territory, and Kangaroo Island. By night it feeds on a selection of prey including insects, crabs, lizards, and small mammals, and by day it hides among the tall grasses and shrubs, folding its slender legs up under itself as it rests.

It might look demure, but the Bush Stone-Curlew has a call that would make just about anyone’s blood run cold. Nicknamed the ‘screaming woman bird’, their high-pitched, drawn-out shrieks can be heard across the night as they try to contact each other. This eerie behavior could explain why the species is thought to have close associations with death and suicide in some indigenous Australian cultures.

Once a bush stone-curlew finds a mate, this bond remains throughout their lifetime, which can last up to 30 years. This means that courtship behaviors are rarely observed, but it’s believed that a complex dance and call are performed, and sometimes in the air. Whatever they do, it must be pretty impressive, because the behavior has been described by observers as a ‘whistling concert’ or ‘glee-party’.

During the breeding season, the bush stone-curlew will become particularly territorial, even with its own kind, and will try to ward off its competition with that powerful cry. It will also puff up its chest and spread its wings in an aggressive display to appear larger and more formidable.

Its response to a predator, however, is almost the exact opposite. If it catches wind of a fox, dingo, or goanna nearby, the Bush Stone-Curlew will freeze, dead-still, often committing itself to the strangest and most awkward of poses.”

As we explore the area we’re always on the lookout for birds, some of which we’ll be able to identify and others we will not. As it turned out, the wifi signal at the house is so poor it’s almost impossible to look up multiple photos of anything in an attempt to identify plants, trees, shrubs, flowers, and wildlife.

This is a Masked Lapwing, also known as Spur-winged Plover.  For more details on this bird, please click here.

“Masked Lapwings are large, ground-dwelling birds that are closely related to the waders. The Masked Lapwing is mainly white below, with brown wings and back and a black crown. Birds have large yellow wattles covering the face and are equipped with a thorny spur that projects from the wrist on each wing. The spur is yellow with a black tip. The Masked Lapwing has two subspecies resident in Australia. The southern subspecies has black on the hind neck and sides of the breast and has smaller facial wattles. Northern birds are smaller, without the partial black collar, but have a much larger wattle, which covers most of the side of the face. The sexes are similar in both subspecies, although the male tends to have a larger spur. Young Masked Lapwings are similar to the adult birds but may have a darker back. The wing spur and facial wattles are either absent or smaller in size. The southern subspecies is also known as the Spur-winged Plover.

The Masked Lapwing is common throughout northern, central, and eastern Australia. Masked Lapwings are also found in Indonesia, New Guinea, New Caledonia, and New Zealand. The New Zealand and New Caledonian populations have been formed from birds that have flown there from Australia. 

The Masked Lapwing inhabits marshes, mudflats, beaches, and grasslands. It is often seen in urban areas. Where this bird is used to human  presence, it may tolerate close proximity; otherwise, it is very wary of people, and seldom allows close approach.”

It was challenging getting photos of the Masked Lapwing birds when they wouldn’t sit still for more than a second.

Instead of using the wireless broadband in the house, I’ve been using the free “loaner” the Telstra rep gave us to use while we’re here. At US $108.81, AUD $140 for a 16 gig SIM, which we’ll use up in a month, it makes life a lot easier being able to be online with a decent signal. 

We spotted these three Masked Lapwings hanging out in a vacant lot near the Bluewater Marina.

Tom is using the house’s broadband since he’s less of a heavy user than I am as a result of posting each day with photos, which after ancillary research, uses approximately 300 mg a day. With other online research, I do each day, it appears I’m using one gigabyte every other day. As a result, the 16 gig SIM card will last a little over one month. 

Thus, if we post a bird, plant, flower, or animal without a description, please write to us if you know what it is.  I’ll go back to the post and update the information with your suggestion. This saves considerable data use in performing research to find items that aren’t easily found online.

That’s all folks! Have a fabulous weekend and Father’s Day for all the dads out there. We’ll be back soon.

                                              Photo from one year ago today, June 20, 2014:

Hanging clothing outside is common in most areas of the world. Here in Australia, we are able to use a clothes dryer which is a nice perk, although we never mind using an outdoor line when necessary. For details, please click here.

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