Buff-banded Rail at Lake Annand, Toowoomba

Sightings within the local survey area for the period 1 Dec 2010 - 28 Feb 2011. The local survey area is a rectangular area extending from Kingsthorpe NW of Toowoomba to the Mt Whitestone/Fordsdale area SE of Helidon.

Moderator: Mick Atzeni

Post Reply
Rod Hobson
Posts: 509
Joined: Thu Jan 19, 2006 8:03 am

Buff-banded Rail at Lake Annand, Toowoomba

Post by Rod Hobson » Tue Dec 14, 2010 3:07 am

Folks,

Last Thursday , 09th December about 5.15 pm I was walking along the western edge of Lake Annand when I saw a railish form scuttle into the ornamental shrubs planted just by the base of the bridge over the lake there. I lingered a while and the bird eventually emerged from its sanctuary. I was then able to identify it as an adult Buff-banded Rail. This was my first personal record of this species for this waterbody.

On Saturday morning last I was again in this area and again saw the rail on the same piece of lake bank. This was about 8.00am and it was raining, which didn't seem to worry the rail. On this ocassion the bird was displaying very aggressive tendencies towards other birds that had the temerity to intrude on its territory. I noted two displays. One was towards a Magpie-lark and comprised of a crouched posture with humped back and fluffed out body feathers accompanied by an erratic rush at the interloper. When the Magpie-lark flew off the rail flew after if for a short distance before returning to its 'beat'. When a Pacific Black Duck approached too closely the rail adopted another attitude. In this instance it approached the duck in a very upright posture with its neck greatly extended in the vertical plane but with its beak sloping down at about 45 degrees to the horizontal; sort of 'looking down its nose' at the duck. It seemed to have the necessary effect as the duck quickly took its leave on the rails' approach.

As I was watching this I heard a call from the adjacent island that sounded very like the 'chuck-chucking' of a reed warbler but that, on closer investigation proved to be another adult Buff-banded Rail. And at its feet I saw a single downy young which clearly explained all the hullabaloo by the first rail on the lakes' bank. Obviously a mated and reproductive pair that had bred on the island.

This afternoon I again visited this place but there were a lot of people about enjoying the sunshine after so much recent rain and the adult rails were no where to be seen. After a long search, though, I actually saw three young rails getting about the island. By the state of their plumage they look to be about 11-12 days old. They certainly seem much bolder than their parents and were quite unconcerned by the hubhub of human traffic nearby.

I am always quite happy to get a new animal record for an area that I visit regularly, the more so in this case as it was a breeding record of a bird that is fairly rarely encountered locally.

Regards,
Rod Hobson

p.s. Southern Boobook calling in Sugars Park as I write this; a resident bird there.
Last edited by Rod Hobson on Sat Jan 01, 2011 11:50 am, edited 2 times in total.

Rod Hobson
Posts: 509
Joined: Thu Jan 19, 2006 8:03 am

Buff-banded Rail at Lake Annand

Post by Rod Hobson » Fri Dec 31, 2010 10:34 am

Folks,

I took a walk along the edge of Lake Annand yesterday and was pleased to see that the Buff-banded Rails are still in residence despite the buffeting the area has received by floodwaters of late. I saw an adult and two juveniles on the island yesterday about 10.30am. I didn't see the second adult that is usually on the western lake shore near the foot of the bridge. There was a lot of people about, however and it may well have been skulking under cover, as a result.

The chicks have now reached adult size, all within 21 days of my first record of this rail at the lake. Two days after my first sighting of an adult bird I saw a second adult with a single young. On that occasion the chick was still a little black and downy 'ball' so would have been less than 10 days hatched. This now makes it about a month old, at the stage that young are said to have achieved adult weight according to "HANZAB". Yesterday's youngsters were certainly comparable in size to the accompanying adult. Their plumage was also very similar except that they lacked the warm brown of the face, nape and 'shoulders' of the adult. The chestnut band across the adult's forefront was also absent but there were indications of its appearance on the upper chest. The young birds' beaks were also a dull horn colour. They were still somewhat bolder than the adult bird but appeared to be adopting the adult's retiring habits; scuttling in and out of cover more often than previously. I have also noticed that the railish habit of tail-flicking has been well established in the young since very early when only a nubbin of a tail was present. Today, as well the adult bird was giving vent to a single high-pitched piping note at irregular intervals; perhaps a contact call to the young rails?

The chronology of events thus far seems to be:

09 th. December: Species first recorded at lake; an adult bird.

11 th. December: Two adults and one downy young first observed; estimate youngster at around 8-10 days old. Precocial and foraging away from adult even at this early stage. Interspecific antagonism noted by adult rail towards other birds.

14 th. December: Three youngsters observed. Young in early stages of juvenile plumage; constant tail-flicking observed. Adults not seen and juveniles appear independent of, and not as shy as adult birds.

30 th. December: One adult and two juveniles seen with the latter in full juvenile plumage and as large as the adult bird. Estimate young to be about a month old at this time.

From what I've since read the young rails have about another month to go before they are fully grown and able to fly. It'll be interesting to keep track of them in the interim. It'll also be interesting to see if they and/or the adult birds set up residence at the lake after they young are fledged and parental obligations fulfilled.

Regards,
Rod Hobson

Rod Hobson
Posts: 509
Joined: Thu Jan 19, 2006 8:03 am

More on Buff-banded Rails in Toowoomba

Post by Rod Hobson » Thu Jan 27, 2011 10:05 am

Folks,

Since my last posting on the Buff-banded Rail family at Lake Annand on the 14th December I regularly saw the birds, both an adult and juveniles up to, and including the week-end of the 8th-9th January 2011. They were always on the island there and, on all occasions, only a single adult bird was present. The Monday following, the 10th of January, however, will be forever etched deeply in the collective consciousness of Queenslanders. This was the day that the malestrom hit Toowoomba, the Lockyer Valley and SEQ generally.

On this day Lake Annand was inundated within an instant in a roiling mass of floodwaters and debris that completley covered the Buff-banded Rails' island. I fear that the then still flightless youngsters were immediate casualties of this flood although, hopefully, the adult bird may have winged it to safety in front of the deluge. I have inspected the lake's precincts regularly since this date and cannot see a trace of the rails; gone as if they never existed.

Yesterday, however, I was walking the mutt through the Kearney Springs wetlands on the southern edge of Toowoomba when I happened upon another family of Buff-banded Rails; an adult bird with four advanced downy young. By the looks of the juveniles they would be about three weeks old, which would indicate that these birds were mere hatchlings when the flood ripped through this area just over a fortnight ago. It appears though, by the state of the ponds there, that the bulk of floodwaters were diverted away from these waterbodies and down an adjacent gully to eventually emerge in the main business area of Toowoomba with catastrophic results. The ponds by which the rail family is ensconced, are still covered in flowering waterlilies with emergent and submerged flora still intact; no sign of the rip-roaring deluge here. And the big, fat Spangled Perch are still there, hanging in the water column with the Macquarie Short-neck Turtles. As if nothing at all happened That Monday ........

It's interesting that these are the first two breeding records that I have personally for this bird for Toowoomba proper. Hopefully the Kearney Springs' rails will fare better than their Lake Annand counterparts.

Regards,
Rod Hobson

Rod Hobson
Posts: 509
Joined: Thu Jan 19, 2006 8:03 am

A Rail Back at Lake Annand

Post by Rod Hobson » Fri Jan 28, 2011 10:53 am

Folks,

Whist walking to work this morning about 6.00am I saw an adult Buff-banded Rail back on the island in Lake Annand. No sign of the youngsters though. It looks as if one of the adult birds has survived the recent flood at least.

Regards,
Rod Hobson

Post Reply

Return to “Summer Within 2010-11”