Our bird books all say the tawny frogmouth is a common bird in the Melbourne area and I’ve been keen to see it for a while. Whenever we go for a walk in Yarra Bend Park I always look at trees and point to a small piece of wood sticking up, believing that I’ve spotted it. Since, after all, the tawny frogmouth’s ability to blend in with eucalyptus bark is nothing short of legendary.
Alas, none of these broken branches ever were the bird.
After months of searching to no avail, Jason tried a new tactic: e-bird. He looked for sightings in our area.
Finally, a pair of tawny frogmouths were spotted in Yarra Bend Park in the parking lot by the Boathouse. Excited to finally see them, we made an outing of it. It was the Thursday before the long Easter weekend and the park was very busy. It was hot and I was wearing long pants and after a long search including a very convincing broken branch, we couldn’t find the birds. It was very disappointing to say the least.
A few days later, Jason and I followed a separate lead on e-bird. There had been a tawny frogmouth sighting by the pipe bridge in Yarra Bend Park.
“Do we want to check it out?”
“Okay, let’s check it out.”
“Do you think we’ll see it?”
“Maybe. Probably not.”
“Okay, let’s go then.”
Our previous failure caused us to predict a chance of fifty-fifty success.
We walked down to the pipe bridge. We went along a trail beside it, examined every single stinking tree. Nothing.
Well. Maybe it just wasn’t meant to be.
We were about to walk over the bridge and see if we could spot it from there, when I insisted we walk underneath the bridge and check out a path on the other side. Just as Jason pointed to a tree that “wouldn’t be suitable for it,” I grabbed his arm.
I knew I had cried wolf with too many broken eucalyptus branches to be very confident of my identification so I said, “There’s something different in that tree.”
I pointed. “I know maybe they could be ducks, but…”
Nope. They weren’t ducks.
They were a pair of tawny frogmouths!
The more reddish one that probably was the female was sleeping. The male did some preening.
The next day we checked up on them and the male was on his lonesome.
A couple of weeks later, the tree was empty.
However, they are known to keep the same roost, so I anticipate that we’ll be able to check on them from time to time.
Or, we’ll just have to check e-bird again for another sighting. 🙂