No corrections yet
THE big streaked wattle-bird, per
'haps known better to most-ns the gill-bird, le one of the commonest honey-eaters I linvo met with in Southern Queensland, and certainly the noisiest. < It is even noisier than, the soldiet-biid or the friar-bird, and I hove watched it day after day, continually bullying quite small fry like tits and dia- mond birds. To our elders of a former generation, the wattle-bird was, perhaps, the most popular of all native table-birds, but nono will regret that parrots, pigeons, and wattle-birds are now rarely put into pies. When the latter big, ,rcstless rovers appear in a district thoir prcsonce is at once announced by the loud hnvsh calls, one being quite like the barking of a dog. In fact, a wattlc-bird'e large vocabulary contains hardly an agreeable cry. The little or brush wattle-bird is hereabouts also, cud is just as noisy and harsh. It has not the red, fleshy wattle« on the neck, but a Tasmanian representa- tive, the yellow wattle-bird, has the red "gills" twice as large as our Wg fighters. Very soon now- the brown young gill birds will be heard .about the hush, calling interminably, while the pugnacious parents dart at every other bird which dares approach.
A Honey-eater Singer.
^NOTHER plentiful member of tho
same clan here is Melipbnga vircscens ("greenish honey-eater"), a small and lively bird. AVIIOSO, dull green wings make it rather like the white-plumed species. But the back is brown, and the under part« a light grey, while the yellow stripe below the eye is another recognition mark. It is one of the friendlier wild birds, just Bs fond as the wagtail of building in orchards, especially in orango and lemon trees, I think that this honey- eater is moro widely distributed than 'anyof the others, and its loud oallB nre ifamiljar to Australians in all parts. This 'little bird is an enthusiastic feeder, prob
The singing honey-eater.
lag blqesopi after blossom .with great rapidity, and both bisects and wild,fruits ave welcome,BIBO. NOW apd again a dis- tinctly rich and svvoet phrase or two arrests the observer, but most of the calls .appear to me merely noisy, and one co(ild Hame half ia dozen, relatives which could bo moro properly named Singing honey« eptpra. Yet M., viroscens is the ~,only species so linmeij. It makes a deep cup nest,, always suspended, and,composed of fine grass matted with 'web, or vyoven together vvith wool or hajr, and lined .with tiny" çootlels. Tho pfetty, flesh tinted eggs ule like those of the pallid ouekop, ai(d have a darker cap around the,largei- citd.
,. ,*,,'. Surrimer Cicadas. ^,
r)NC#ag'iiîïv" tlie 'aVdehrcicaüa'ifart loud'
v in the gums, and 'àt'^undeâîcrated places such as li'erpygrove the whole bush ROW is ripgiug with their feryent, almost' passionate, -paean. To Australian ears it is not au unpleasant "sound, this universal
blended chorus of the summer ' cicadas. ' Hcyinl at a distance, it is a continuous
drone w|n'ch seems part of the-oppressive: summer heat; but when pné gets? right, among them one realises better how, strident, piercing,, and vehement is -the, spngV I counted-no-less than 27 of the',
clinging empty nymph eases op a singh
ironbark trunk, oach split down the baok,' Bhowing where the cicada had escaped'
to join the merry cjin iu the trees. In¡ some-cases a lafe-eomer had climbed upon| the empty case of a cicada already gone.) I have often watched the actual einer-' gencè in the hot sunshine, vyhen tho. long-' pent prisoner dried its veined, transpar- ent-wings and. then sailed heavily away. There is somethlns symbolic in .this pnièrgence from the long years of- cold and darkness 'underground, to enjoy a brief warm season of life and light in the world above. Sometimes the warrina monotone takes on n regular rhythmic beat, and gewnethnes a "double-drummer" or a "floury baker" will "wheel its dron- ing, flight" from one tree to another, usually about sundown. Lively little birds like wrens and white-shafted fan tails then show great skill in taking the' big cicadas on the wing. Our cicadas are sap-suckers vvith long, sucking beaks. The eggs are laid in the bark, and the hatched young drop to the ground and burrow in, sometimes to a depth of 20ft.
rpHE beautiful bronzewing pigeon still
seems to be common, and altnoBt any- where in open bush country one is likely to flush a small covey of these birds. They are certainly tho most beautiful of all the faiily plentiful native pigeons; some of the goigeous fruit' pigeons may be more elaborately adorned, but we see them so seldom. The bronzewing, feed- ing mostly on the ground, and rated ex- cellent eating by numerous killers, in- cluding meh, no doubt holds its own, because it breeds practically all'the year round. It ii a hard bird to approach, but a close view is worth no end of patience. The plump brown pigeon has exquisite sheeny bronze wings like thoBe of the bronze cuckoo, and the delicately flushed breast and clean red legs com- plete a delightful ensemble. It is per hops the best-known pigeon in Australia, and is found everywheie. For a ground bird the flight is wonderful, and startled bionzpwings dart away through the trees like shining arrows. Yet they spend half their lives in the grass, and while most birds fly direct to their drinking places tiio bronzewing alights about 50 yards away, and then walk« warily In. The soft cooing call in long, brown grass is always a welcome sound to the bushlovor, though it attracts the gunman, too. The nest is only a crazy thatch" of twigs, which docs not conceal the two white eggs, and in spite of her natural timidity the brooding bronzewing will biavely sit to tho last minute, and then will try the broken wing ruse. The only other rather similar bird is ihc brush bronzewing of the South, a smaller pigeon, without our bird's flush-
ANGLER fishes, which evolved the " baitod hook and line long before man did, were known before Austtalian shoies were ever charted, but our own sea« con- tain many new and curious kind«. Angler fishes arc usually plump and sluggish sea creatures, protectively coloured, with a rod-like plcxible fin bending over from tile, back of the head, and ending in a tempting-looking coloured "bait," which is dangled just over the great month. Prawns, squid, and often other fishes, almost as large as the miller itself, are thus lured to destruction, and angleis aie usually voracious feedeis. The best known and commonest of our own kinds IH the striped angler, n mar- vellously disguised little fish about Oin, long., whoso brown and black stripes ex- actly match the seaweed in «liallmr w.itei'
where ¡I lurks. Sin ely Nature never worked out a more effective snare than this wriggling bait above the hidden jaw» of the watchful angler. One hideous-look
ing deep-sea species, living at depths ivncr» light never pcnetrato« hni< n glow ing phosphorescent bait at the end of its
I line. Angler fishes need to swim so fci-1-¡
dom that the fins arc mostly iihcj a;
limbs for cruwling slowly along Hu I 'bottom.« , , . , ;. .