Paronella Park, 2009

The Honeyeaters' Tree

The grounds were fertile for birds too as I discovered next morning when the greenery round my van brought in honeyeaters, two of which were lifers. Both in the Meliphaga genus, which are so hard to tell apart, the birds perched real close, thanks to my strategic parking. The differing shapes of their ear patches were distinguishable through the bins and these separated the two species. Graceful honeyeater with the small crescent and yellow-spotted with the more angular heart shape. Other structural and size differences were then easy to confirm with the birds side-by-side. It was the perfect breakfast diversion – better than watching the news.

The trip’s 33rd honeyeater followed on my post-prandial stroll of the rest of the site. I’d already seen yellow-faced in 2003 at Orange, New South Wales. This one’s similar to the other Lichenostomus species of Eungella and bridled. Obviously the Paronella bird wasn’t Eungella: I’d missed that chance a week previously. And if there had been any doubt about bridled… well, I’m getting ahead of the day’s events. The hidden nooks and crannies of the Park still had one more lifer for me.

Since Gladstone I had been glimpsing tantalising creatures slipping into roadside undergrowth as the van approached. Or scurrying across the tarmac some distance ahead but never close enough to confirm them. I had my suspicions. A species as high up the taxonomic order as the cassowary and hence as ancient; a bird in the same family as the ubiquitous turkey. Paronella rewarded me with my first decent look at an orange-footed scrubfowl – world bird 1,016. ⇐ ⇒

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