My friend George took this photo of a Whipbird from his kitchen, the other day. He told me he had seen a rare bird, with a white throat, a black head, with a crest, and a black wedge-shaped tail.
Nicely described George. - you got all the diagnostic points in that description.
I said was it on the ground? He nodded. "Whipbird", said I.
We looked it up in a birdbook which George has, and sure enought, there it was.
The only thing is that the Whipbird is not rare, just "seldom seen". George lives cheek by jowl with these birds, and probably hears their distinctive whip crack call, or their little grumbling, cackling noises regularly. It is just that the Whipbird is a classic rainforest "sculker". It will nearly always manage to keep a shrub between itself and you, so you cannot see it, but it can peer throught the shrubbery and know that you are a safe distance away.
So, while George's bird is not rare, the photo is.
The Whipbird's call is famous. The male makes the long drawn-out whistle, and the "whip-crack" sound. Then the female answers with two fast "chew, chew" sounds. In Robertson the local females do three of these fast calls at the end of the male's call.
If that is too confusing a description, then you can listen to the call of the Whipbird, if you have sound access on your computer. Go to the Lamington National Park website. Click on "Birds of Lamington" (under "special features" - on the right of the screen), and look under the list of "Ground Birds" for Eastern Whipbird. Click on that.
That next screen will show you a description, and a photo. Under "calls/sound" there are two "ear" symbols. Listen to the call. It may take a moment to download, if you are not on broadband (as I am not), but once downloaded, you can play it back smoothly.
Reality birdwatching, from your computer. I love it. Lamington National Park has an excellent website, set up for them by the computer geeks of the local University. Well done guys.