The Tawny Frogmouth has a special place in our family folklore. Back in the mid 1980s we were camped in the Hattah-Kulkyne National Park in north west Victoria. We were right next to Lake Hattah, a lovely camping spot and place full of interesting birds. On this occasion we were disturbed around midnight by an “um-um-um-um” sound in the distance – or so we thought. Imaging the worst we feared someone had a portable generator, something forbidden in most Australian national parks. It really annoyed us.
Just as we were retiring the following night we heard the noise again. My attention was drawn to a dark shape in the tree just above our tent. Sitting there quite at home was our “generator”, a Tawny Frogmouth calling. This was the first time I’d heard this bird calling. And it kept on calling for a long time but we slept soundly, now knowing where the noise was coming from.
We occasionally have this species in our garden which is great. We don’t often hear it calling due to other noises – such as the television. My latest encounter with the species was at the Visitor Centre of the Innes National Park. We were paying our entry fees and I saw the lovely bird (shown above) sitting on display on the counter. A beautiful bird.
Sad to think that its um-um-umming days are over.
Over recent days we have had the delight of hearing two Rufous Songlarks in our garden and in the nearby scrubland. This species is one of those that arrive in the springtime to breed. They spend the autumn and winter months in northern Australia where it is warmer – clever birds.
Around this time of the year they migrate south to breed. We don’t have them in our garden every year, but when they do come we love hearing their rich, melodious call echoing through the scrub. Some field guides describe the call in this way: “twitchy-tweedle”. I like that. You can hear a recording of the Rufous Songlark here, but be warned – it is not a very high quality recording and their call is partly drowned out by another bird, a calling Common Blackbird.
I will be keeping an eye on them in case they decide to make a nest nearby. I also need a photo of this species.