A natural history blog by Greg Roberts, Sunshine Coast, Australia
Sunshine Coast Birds
Birding and other wildlife experiences from the Sunshine Coast and elsewhere in Australia - and from overseas - with scribblings about travel, environmental issues, kayaking, hiking and camping.
Saturday, 26 August 2017
Day Time Marbled Frogmouth
found a Marbled Frogmouth at its day roost in a grove of piccabean
palms in rainforest in Mapleton National Park in the Sunshine Coast
hinterland. This was a different site from where I found two birds at
a roost in September last year.
The two frogmouths found last year
birds in the rainforest included Russet-tailed Thrush, Pale-yellow
Robin and Paradise Riflebird.
was in the Blackall Range rainforest last week with Jennifer Nichols
and Bruce Atkinson from the ABC, who put together a fine piece on the
Marbled Frogmouth. Audio of interviews with myself, Susie Duncan and
Steven Lang can be found here. Reprinted below is an abridged transcript from
the full story.
Jennifer Nichols & Bruce Atkinson
rare native night bird once feared extinct in Australia is making a
remarkable comeback in the Sunshine Coast hinterland of Queensland. It has taken the combined efforts
of Sunshine Coast Council, landholders and volunteers to bring the
marbled frogmouth back to the Blackall Range, where 95 per cent of
its habitat was cleared for timber and farming.
decades, no one could find the southern subspecies of the native
night bird in Australia, until bird fanatic Greg Roberts rediscovered
it in south-east Queensland in the 1970s. "This
was one of the big mysteries in the natural history world of
Australia," Mr Roberts said."We were aware that this bird
was in existence because there were museum specimens, but there were
no photographs; it hadn't been recorded or seen.For
all intents and purposes, the bird had disappeared; many people
thought it was extinct."
night in 1976 he was bird watching in the Conondale Range when he
heard the marbled frogmouth's distinctive song."I heard this
amazing call from inside the rainforest. I went in and there it was.
There's nothing like it. It still sends a chill up my spine. We
recorded its call, we did a series of surveys and we found it in
several other places, so we don't know to this day exactly why it
went unreported for so long, but it was very exciting to rediscover
the Conondale Range was declared a national park, logging threatened
one of its most important habitats in Australia.
the 1970s we had a pretty vigorous campaign underway to protect the
Conondale Range because it was significant for a whole lot of
reasons, among which was the presence there of the remarkable gastric
brooding frog," Mr Roberts said. "The marbled frogmouth was
found essentially at the height of that campaign so it became
something of an icon — to save the Conondale Range — which of
course, ultimately was successful."
on, the night bird's population is building. "What we've seen in
recent years is connectivity — corridors of bushland being
re-established to connect areas of remnant vegetation," Mr
Roberts said."It's a remarkable story that you've now got birds
like the marbled frogmouth reappearing where they've not been seen
for many, many years, if ever. This is a rare good news story in
terms of conservation."
Duncan is coordinator of Hinterland Bush Links, which is working with
landholders and volunteers on weeding and bush restoration.
marbled frogmouths have gradually come back into the Blackall Range,
into the Maleny area, and we've even seen them quite close into the
town itself," she said.
work is supported by Sunshine Coast Council, which provides a
terrific Land for Wildlife program and many other incentives for
landholders to look after their land, like landholder environment
grants. That work together has turned the tide of loss of some of our
local and diverse wildlife."
Duncan said hundreds of people had volunteered for the Hinterland
Bush Links Roving Restorers program."People learn skills about
how to identify weeds and manage them, [and] take that knowledge back
to their own properties, so that's been great. She said the
restoration had benefited other endangered species including the
sooty owl and Australia's largest night bird, the powerful owl.
praised hinterland farmers for their involvement."Farmers are
very aware of what's there in their local landscape. Many of them
have a great knowledge of the local birds and the local mammals and
the local frogs and reptiles that they hear around them.”
night bird is still listed as vulnerable, with just 12 pairs
identified over a 13,000-hectare area of the Blackall Range.Lake
Baroon Catchment Care Group secretary and author Steven Lang was
excited to find a pair of marbled frogmouths in rainforest next to
his Balmoral Ridge property.
than 100 years ago this area was pretty well all cleared and that was
a valid thing. This was dairy country and people had to survive by
that," Mr Lang said. "What we're seeing now is the
restoration of the creeks and of the steeper slopes and as a result
of that, corridors appear which allow wildlife to move around in
them, which is why I think we're hearing things like the marbled
frogmouth come back. For the last decade or even longer I've been
very involved in riparian restoration and it just makes it all