Butcherbirds Invite Us To Visit Their Nest
Larry and Harrie our favourite Grey-butcherbirds have always been keen to show us their nests. We got to meet them through Vicky magpie when we would trek into the bush to see her. The first year Larry and Harrie's' nest was on a tree that grew at the edge of the gully and we had a pretty good view (see logo above) as we walked across to Vicky's tree. The following years they moved their nest to the midst of some thick growth on the other side of the gully as their original nest got covered by vines growing on the branches. We were unable to find their nest from either side and had to wait for their chicks to fledge before we could see them.
This season (2007) Larry and Harrie have stopped coming to the edge of our yard as there seems to be some new arrangements between them and Vicky. But Larry and Harrie would always call us from the distance and say hello. During the storms many of our birds lost their nests and first clutches. We were concerned for Larry and Harrie, knowing that their fate would most probably have been similar. Suddenly Larry and Harrie stopped calling or replying to our calls. Weeks passed and we were really worried as to what might have befallen them.
After another fortnight of bad storms bringing a cold spell and heavy rains, when we couldn't see Josie for several days and feared the worst, we trekked into Maggie's patch to look for Josie. Unable to find any sign of her and getting no happy response from her parents or siblings we were on our way back, when Larry called out several times from the next paddock at the edge of the gully. We answered and he replied. We realised that he was talking to us and wanted us to know he was around and had something to show. Encouraged, we decided to go and see if we could find Harrie and their nest. As soon as we started to move in their direction, Larry's call became very excited. We rolled under fences and started to look around the gully, to see if we could spot their nest. Larry called us from a tree opposite. Unable to see their nest and delighted to hear their call, we decided to trek all the way across and see if we could spot more. The birds were overjoyed at seeing us walk downhill, cross the gully and walk up to their tree. Along the way we found that the wildflowers had taken advantage of recent rains and filled the previously dry, drought-stricken terrain with such beauty and colour. Nature has such an amazing way of rejuvenating itself. These weeds as we commonly call them, replenish the soil with much needed nutrients as some farmers are discovering (see Peter Andrews book: ''Back from the Brink: How Australia's Landscape can be Saved').
As we got closer, Harrie flew over to the nest so we could see where to go. The nest was well hidden behind the branches and we had to walk a fair way to the other side to get a better look. The two birds flew back and forth and posed for us, so thrilled that we had gone all the way to see them.
We pondered about their actions. On one hand they had not been not calling us or replying to our calls for weeks. But on this clear day, they saw us in the paddock and called out to us. Their joy on seeing us approach was undeniable. One could hear their excitement in the tone of their call and the new sounds that they made. When we started to return, they changed their song again to a new softer call. Both birds singing a 'thank you'.
Take a look at the slideshow below for a peek at the birds and scenery.
(click on the 'next' button to forward through the slides).
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