Three bower day!

September 23
Well, its the first full day of spring! We awoke to cries from our local bowerbird and after a brief trek into the bush to scope out further bowerbirds, we packed the car and headed off to Sherwood Nature Reserve. On the way we stopped at a bowerbird site to sleuth out where his bower was. We had stopped there almost every day and usually left a twig covered in blue tape, which he invariably took upon our absence. Today was no different. The decoration was missing. Right away we saw the male in some bushes near the car so we just hunkered inside. Immediately a female popped up. She followed him to the little ditch beside the car and there the male started singing and dancing in a bower not five feet from the car door! We had never looked in that spot right beside the car for it just didn’t fit our image of what good bowerbird habitat should be like. From our viewpoint we could only see the tip of the twigs of the bower. After the courtship display we popped out and took a few brief measurements before heading on.

The dirt track into Sherwood can be viewed on Google Earth street view. As we drove in we spied another male bowerbird. Sara let me out while she took the car the rest of the way in to the picnic area. Within minutes I saw the male carry something in his beak, like a cicada casing, across the track and into the brush. Immediately, I found his bower! So that was number two for the day.

Turns out in the end that Sara tracked down a third bower near the car park. Three in one day must be our all time record! I went further into the rainforest to scope out another likely place but it was pretty quiet in there. During these forays we communicate with our walkie-talkies which have a range of about a kilometer when in the deep forest. Out in the open country they can operate at greater distances. This is not only a safety thing, but it really helps us coordinate our efforts.

As for safety we also carry a mobile phone that can get reception even in the deepest jungles we have been in. That’s nice to know in case we needed to call someone on the outside. We try to be careful in there but I can only hope that any snakes hear me coming no matter how quietly I poke along. Sometimes I grab a stick from the forest and whack at the vegetation in front of me as I go along. It’s sort of like a blind person using a white tipped cane to navigate a busy sidewalk in the city.

Well this wraps up our progress for today. We spent the boring afternoon in Coffs Harbor getting things done like insurance for our trailer. During one errand I had to make a U turn on Marsha Street. Three years ago we found a bower along the bike path there, next to the creek. So I popped out of the car to take a look for the site was just a hundred yards away. Low and behold, there was the bower in pretty much the same location. I am sure it must be the same male from three years ago. Bowerbirds can live to be almost twenty years old or so.

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