Red-backed Button-quail at Baillie Henderson Hospital.

In 2006, we set up the inaugral Challenge to see if we could collectively record 250 species during the year in the club's survey area. How did we go? Extremely well considering the drought... Plenty of unusual and rare birds .... some great records from non-members too. It was a fascinating year. And a worthwhile exercise which we encourage other groups to follow. See for yourself...

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Red-backed Button-quail at Baillie Henderson Hospital.

Postby Rod Hobson » Thu Mar 30, 2006 7:44 am


Yesterday afternoon I took our mutt for the usual walk around the grounds of Baillie Henderson Hospital, Willowburn, Toowoomba. I was talking to another dogwalker along the small unnamed creek that transverses the hospital grounds about 4.45pm. After about a five minute yarn the lady moved off but very shortly called me over to inspect a dead bird that her Border Collie had found. I was very surprised to find the subject of her attention to be a dead female Red-backed Button-quail, about 4-5 days dead but still in very good condition although a bit 'on the nose'. The bird had died spreadeagled with the only sign of damage being a hole in the lower belly just above the vent. Quite a bit of the facial tissue is missing but the crown still retains its feathers. The legs and feet are desiccated. The cause of death is not apparent; quite a long way from nearest road.

I do not know of any previous records of the species from the Toowoomba City area? My previous personal records of this species are from the Lockyer Valley (Withcott, Grantham) and a single record from Soldiers Road, Bunya Mountains. It certainly wasn't a species that I'd expected from Baillie Henderson although the creekline there represents very good habitat for the species. GPS: AGD84 - S27deg 31' 40", E151deg 56' 26".

The specimen is now in residence, in a Chinese take-away container, in our refrigerator, much to Bette's pique. It's off to the Q.M.'s reference collection next Monday.

Also, this afternoon, at this same location I saw a female Australian Kestrel perched with a Black Rat (Rattus rattus) in her talons. I could see the rodent clearly through my binoculars (Zeiss 10x40B) from directly under her perch. It was clearly a Black Rat rather than a House Mouse by its size. Nor was it the local native rat there, the Pale Field Rat (Rattus tunneyi) judging by the length of the tail. The Black Rat has a tail that is quite a bit longer than its head-body length, which was apparent on this particular rodent. The Pale Field Rat's tail is equal to, or slightly shorter than its head-body length. I could also see the victim's large ears, another feature of the Black Rat, as well as its 'rattish' profile. Its size was apparent when compared against its captor. This surprised me as a Black Rat is a large and formidable prey item for a kestrel.

Rod Hobson
Rod Hobson
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Joined: Thu Jan 19, 2006 8:03 am

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