Friday, February 20, 2009

Beach Stone-curlews

I went out to Inskip Point yesterday and walked through the bush track out to the end of the point. There were the usual interesting numbers of birds there - including a good view of 3 or 4 Black-breasted Button-quail. Like all quail they are great at hiding in even the smallest clump of grass and I was not fast enough with the camera to get any good photos.
When I came out to the sand area at the end of the track I could hear a bird calling from somewhere out ahead of me. It took me a few minutes to spot 3 Beach Stone-curlews taking cover underneath a large tree stump that has come in on the recent high tides. I had seen photos taken a few weeks ago of a juvenile with the resident pair. I was not sure until I got home and put the photos up on the computer if the plumage would still identify the juvenile, but it is still clearly evident. I can't find any reference in my books telling me how long the juveniles retain this distinctive plumage.
I took the photos I wanted and moved back without disturbing the birds too far from the tree stump. I walked around out there for a little while and when I went back towards the bush the birds had still not moved from the tree stump although they were still calling. When I looked up into the trees at the edge of the sand this White-breasted Sea-Eagle was sitting and watching. It was not at all worried about me walking around underneath and let me get right under the tree to take photos. Was this why the curlews were sheltering under the tree stump out on the sand? I would have thought they would be too large for the eagle to touch but I know that lots of shorebirds will disturb as soon as the shadow of a raptor passes over them - regardless of what the raptor may be.


  1. The Stone Curlews look typically prehistoric - I didn't know this version existed so thanks for showing me another new species. The Eagle seemed very content to let you get that close Mick. I take it the leg is well on the mend.
    Cheers Frank.

  2. Hi Frank, they are certainly very distinctive birds! They have also been called "Beach thick-knees"! Since they don't like places with too many people it is a constant surprise that they stay at Inskip Point. My leg is on the mend thanks.

  3. Interesting. Can't help with BSC juvenile plumage change. Note that Wiki has the species as rare south of Cairns (which is a bit overstated), and one of Wiki's pictures is of Inskip Point bird.

  4. Hi Tony - I went and had a look at that pic on wiki. I have only seen them at Inskip and down on the Noosa river - and down there they are very hard to get anywhere near. I think the birds get used to people at Inskip - guess they have to!

  5. Love the second photo of the Stone-curlews, Mick!
    And the Eagle pics look like taken in the zoo :) You were very lucky!

  6. Thanks Tilcheff. REALLY lucky would be getting photos of the Quail!

  7. G'day Mick,
    Lovely story, beautifully illustrated. I've only seen Bush Stone Curlews and they were in captivity.
    You're right, a decent pic of the quail would've been wonderful.
    A lovely read this morning, thanks Mick.

  8. Hi Mick
    Great photos of a very rare bird, these days. 4WD vehicles on Queensland beaches will push these birds to the brink of extinction within my lifetime, I fear. They were once regularly seen (never common) on Fraser Island, I understand, but these days someone in a big 4WD can go the length of the island, scaring off these birds, which are typically nervous of approaching humans.
    Nice shots of the Sea Eagle too, but the Stone Curlews are really special.
    Glad your knee was up to the walk.

  9. Hi Denis, thanks for your comments. Its extra special that this pair have actually raised a young one this year.