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


Marbled Frogmouth

I 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
Other birds in the rainforest included Russet-tailed Thrush, Pale-yellow Robin and Paradise Riflebird.

Pale-yellow Robin

Paradise Riflebird

Russet-tailed Thrush

Russet-tailed Thrush

I 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

A 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.
For 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."
One 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 bird."
Before the Conondale Range was declared a national park, logging threatened one of its most important habitats in Australia.
"In 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."
Decades 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."
Susie Duncan is coordinator of Hinterland Bush Links, which is working with landholders and volunteers on weeding and bush restoration.
"The 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.
"The 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."
Ms 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.
She 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.”
The 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.
"More 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 worthwhile."


1 comment:

  1. Greg, what a great feeling it must be for you and others to see this species returning to its original home following restoration of its habitat. This species was known as the "Banshee" in the 1940s around Gin Gin. I've recorded their call at Bulburin, north of Bundaberg, and would love to see their range extended though habitat restoration.

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