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An Evening in the Australian Bush

Discover the diversity of nocturnal sounds to be heard in the Australian bush

Late afternoon birdsong gives way to the rhythms of frogs and nocturnal insects on dusk. As diurnal birds settle down to roost, the creatures of the night begin to be heard; sugar gliders, possums, nightjars, a distant koala, and a variety of owls including the haunting powerful owl.

Nocturnal insects create a calming wash of sound, and eventually the hypnotic calls of tawny frogmouths blend with the soft chirruping of crickets, leading you into the stillness of the deep night.

"This album presents the diversity of animals and night birds that can be commonly heard at night in the bushland of southeast Australia.

"Actually, some are not that common. Powerful owls are not often encountered, and it is always special to hear their haunting calls. Whilst boobook owls are very common, the first vocalisations from one presented here are a rarely heard call variation (which could easily be mistaken for something else, and I suspect may be a begging call from either juvenile or adult). Similarly, I've only ever heard the clicking call from a white-throated nightjar once - fortunately, I had the mics on!

"Understandably, some people find being outdoors in the dark a little frightening, but personally, I love being out in the bush at night. The air is often still, sound carries far, and listening for those night animals is fun. Many nocturnal creatures use sound, and some listening skill offers the opportunity to recognise what is around. So as well as being enjoyable, I hope this recording may help you recognise some of those mysterious sounds of the night."

Part 1 - Late Afternoon to Dusk

This recording begins in the late afternoon, with birdsong very characteristic of that time of day, in particular the 'tut-tut'ing and piping of eastern yellow robins, the mournful trilling of cuckoos and the communal calling of currawongs. Species heard here include:

Grey Shrike-thrush - rich, song phrases
Red Wattlebird - loud and harsh scolding calls, heard frequently
Wonga Pigeon - continual and rapid, 'oom, oom, oom...', far off in the distance
Common Bronzewing - lower frequency 'oom's, each repeated singulary every few seconds
Eastern Yellow Robin - heard fluttering close by; chapping and sequence of soft piping notes on the same pitch
Yellow-faced Honeyeater - 'chick-up, chick-up'
King Parrot - loud, bell-like whistles
Satin Bowerbird - a variety of churring, buzzy or slurred vocalisations
White-throated Treecreeper - loud, downward series of piping notes
Pied Currawong- communal calling, a loud rollicking song phrase and wild, upslured whistles
Fantailed Cuckoo - mournful, downward trills
Common Froglet, Crinia signifera - ratchety 'crick, crick, crick...', in chorus

Part 2 - Early Evening

The wailing cries of Bush Stone Curlews lead us into the night (18.19). Thereafter, in sequence, we hear:

Boobook Owl - beginning with a rarely heard call variation (20.59) (possibly an adult begging or pair greeting call), followed shortly after by their well-known territorial call (22.27) (Sulphur-crested Cockatoos settle down to roost in the background). It returns later (42.16)

White-throated Nightjar - wierd, rising and accelerating laughter (24.18, 25.48, and later 29.51), plus a very soft and rarely heard 'ticking' call (30.17)

Part 3 - Creatures of the Night Emerge

Brushtail Possum - Spitting call, quite loud when its up close (24.45). Another can be heard later, when the Boobook returns (44.36)

Sugar Glider - steady, soft yapping (26.15)

Barking Owl - closely related to the Boobook, but a distinctively dog-like 'woof-woof' call (28.05). Male and female often duet, where the male's voice can be heard to be lower than the female. Here it is just a male calling.

Barn Owl - harsh screech (30.59)

Koala - It may be a matter of taste, but I welcome the loud grunting of male koalas as these animals are facing increasing environmental pressures (31.47)

Powerful Owl - A deliberate, double note 'oom, oom', which carries great distances. This is the male, the female has a slightly higher call. Often heard more in autumn and winter, when breeding (34.13).

Ringtail Possum - Like brushtails, 'ringies' also a spitting call, but their vocalisation reflects a gentler temperament (to my ear anyway); more delicate and less aggressive (37.50)

Part 4 - Into the stillness of the deep night

Tawny Frogmouth - repeated sequences of low, booming notes (48.20)

Owlet Nightjar - Falseto screeches, usually a few quickly in succession (63.04, 64.04). When you really listen to them, this species has a subtle variety of calls, some of them being ambiguous to identify.

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