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Stumbling onto a Brolga nest

Rob Wager (Freshwater ecologist)
Published 14 Mar 2017 by Rob Wager (Freshwater ecologist)

I make a point of visiting every population of Red-finned Blue-eyes each time I am at Edgbaston Reserve. If I can I’ll walk quietly, even stealthily, between springs and often past nearby spinifex clumps – there might be lizards sunning themselves, or interesting insects to see.

On a recent trip I was on my own. I had approached a spring quietly, but not having seen anything of note, I started counting Red-finned Blue-eyes for the ongoing census. And then right behind me something crashed through the spinifex and squawked in a harsh guttural croaking sort of way.

I jumped and ran. There was no thought of fight – I thought I was about to be consumed by frogzilla!

I had unknowingly approached a nesting Brolga hidden by a spinifex clump. I suppose the bird may have had a rough night and had slept through my approach.

There were dingo tracks all around. In the way of animals it must have sensed my presence and half opened an eye, seen me and panicked. The big bird probably got more of a fright than I did.

I turned and snapped a quick picture of the nest, and retreated. After our reciprocal frights eased, the Brolga wasn’t too fussed about my presence – after all we get quite used to seeing each other around the springs.

I took another picture as the bird returned to the nest, checked the eggs, and then settled into the spinifex. It was hot and I imagine shading the eggs was probably important.

Good luck big bird.

The Brolga returns to the nest. The Brolga returns to the nest.
Two Brolga eggs amongst spinifex. Two Brolga eggs amongst spinifex.

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