Late in the afternoon last week I was walking in a patch of rainforest when I heard noisy activity amongst the leaf litter on the side of the track. I expected to see a Superb Lyrebird in action, but the flurry in the gloom seemed to be coming from something much smaller. The small something was creating a deluge of leaves as it tossed them aside and threw them into the air.
After a couple of minutes one of the small forms ran through a shaft of brighter light and was revealed as a Southern Logrunner. They are a bird I’ve only seen a handful of times and never so close. I sat and watched, and eventually saw that there were actually five birds, two adults and three chicks.
Logrunners are about the same size as a Starling or Noisy Miner. These ones were incredibly energetic, digging so vigorously that the adults were disappearing from view into the holes they made in the litter.
The chicks made ineffective attempts to copy their parents’ technique but mostly waited to be fed. The adults called to the chicks when they caught something, passing the morsel from beak to beak in a heartbeat. I was too slow photographically capture any of the transfers, but luckily they did take the odd second for a quick rest, enough time for the camera to grab focus.
The impression was of miniature lyrebirds, but ones that made up for their diminutive size with remarkable energy.
A little later I came across another member of the ‘birds that lurk in the darkest corners of the rainforest’ cohort, a Bassian Thrush. This species is little larger than the logrunners but still much smaller than a lyrebird. Bassian Thrushes also feed by searching through the leaf litter, but rather than kicking it aside they use their beak to probe and flick. It is an altogether quieter approach to foraging, and one that is barely noticeable in the gloom. Bassian Thrushes have a habit of sitting quietly on the edge of walking tracks, only moving when you’re about to tread on them; seemingly a species with confidence in their cryptic plumage.
Odds and sods