Red-necked Crake (Rallina tricolor) by Ian 1
Ian’s Bird of the Week – Red-necked Crake ~ by Ian Montgomery
Newsletter ~ 2/7/12
Every serious birder has his/her bogey birds. We’re talking about ‘an evil or mischievous spirit’ here that is invisible in his/her presence, not golf scores even though competition for longest life list among ‘twitchers’ is sometimes disparagingly called ‘birding golf’. I have, or had, two, both Northern Queensland species that proved almost impossible to photograph despite numerous attempts. The Red-necked Crake was the harder, to the extent that ‘don’t tell Ian’ became a standard joke and sensible advice to anyone who got good views of one.
So, when I heard last week that a pair of Red-necked Crakes had been seen with 3 chicks at Kingfisher Park, Julatten, http://www.birdwatchers.com.au/
I had no choice but to go up there for a few days for yet another attempt. I had looked for them there many times and at other places such as Cassowary House in Kuranda http://www.cassowary-house.com.au/ch/
(where I saw one briefly in 2009), Red Mill House in Daintree Village http://www.redmillhouse.com.au/
, Broadwater State Forest, Pavey Road near Hastings Swamp, Queens Park in Townsville, Paluma, etc.
Red-necked Crake (Rallina tricolor) by Ian 2
Red-necked Crakes are most active at dawn and dusk in gloomy rainforests, so I got up early, for me, on Friday and went in search. I was quickly rewarded with a frustratingly good but brief glimpse of an adult bird hopping over a fallen log: no photo opportunity of course as befits a bogey. Later in the day, I sat hidden for a couple of hours near a rainforest pool that they visit without success. Only when I gave up and returned to the lodge did one cross the path in front of me and vanish into the undergrowth. I waited quietly, and eventually the bird came back into view, more or less, and I was able to get the first two photos shown here.
Red-necked Crake (Rallina tricolor) by Ian 3
That evening, I returned to the pool and eventually one of the adults appeared leading the three black, fluffy chicks, third photo, down for a bathe. Shortly after, the other adult joined them for the delightful spectacle of all 5 foraging and bathing at the far end of the pool. Two of the chicks appeared very nervous and kept hiding, but the other was bolder and remained near the adults, fourth photo, even when a tree limb, weakened by the nearby tropical low that became cyclone Jasmine the following day, came crashing down.
Red-necked Crake (Rallina tricolor) by Ian 4
After about ten minutes, one of the adults collected the other two, still dry, chicks, fifth photo, and the family disappeared into the rainforest. You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make it drink.
Red-necked Crake (Rallina tricolor) by Ian 5
Red-necked Crakes have a limited distribution in Australia, found mainly in rainforest in the Queensland Wet Tropics north of Paluma near Townsville. They also occur in New Guinea, and some are thought to migrate there from Queensland during the dry season.
Good. Now I can concentrate on the other bogey bird, the Black Bittern another shy rainforest lurker that sees you before you see it and makes a quick, in this case aerial, getaway.
Ian Montgomery, Birdway Pty Ltd,
454 Forestry Road, Bluewater, Qld 4818
Phone: 0411 602 737 +61-411 602 737
Preferred Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Oh the patience of Ian! Most of us would have given up sitting that long, but that is why he “gets his bird.” Love those little black chicks. Those are cool.
Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. (James 1:3 KJV)
See Ian’s Rallidae Family photos.
Crakes are in the Rallidae – Rails, Crakes & Coots Family of the Gruiformes Order.