Rufous Fantail

Elusive bird

One of my favourite Australian birds is the Rufous Fantail, a member of the flycatcher family. As its name suggests, it fans its tail out as is flits to and fro through the forest looking for insects. When the sunlight catches the spread out tail feathers they glow with an amazing deep rufous colour. The photos and illustrations of this species I had seen in books and field guides gave me a deep desire to track down this lovely bird.

My Problem

Now this desire presents a problem to me. I live in South Australia. Rufous Fantails live along the eastern and south eastern coastal areas of Australia. Only infrequently have they been recorded in my home state. That means I have to travel to see this lovely creature. A few years ago, during a holiday in Victoria, I checked out various spots on the Mornington Peninsula where this delightful bird is known to frequent.

No luck

I walked various trails day after day without even a hint of the species I sought. One day I must have walked for several hours without luck. Plenty of other species, but no fantail. Wearily I returned to the car, only to find two of them cavorting merrily around the car! It was enough to make me laugh with joy.

Unexpected Visitor

Today I received an email from a birder in Glebe, inner-west Sydney. He told of how he had a Rufous Fantail fly in through an open door and into his unit. I can’t believe how different birders have such different experiences with the same species. I walked for hours – no days – before I was rewarded with brief glimpses of this species. This fellow comes home from shopping and one flies into his unit. Sometime it’s enough to make one cry.


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