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Pipits and Bushlarks

On the way back from our trip to Townsville we stopped at St Lawrence.

We had been told by a New Zealand couple who had just been there that there were "lots of birds at St Lawrence", and since we felt that we had suffered from something of a deficit of birds on the trip to date, we thought that we had better see for ourselves. Maybe some of the birds that were missing from the Townsville Common were there.

For the uninitiated, St Lawrence is a small village on the Queensland coast, about halfway between Mackay and Rockhampton. Its main claim to fame is that it is situated next to a large estuary with shallow waters that attract water birds.

There is a viewing platform, but it wasn't clear to us, how to reach it. We had more success along the roadside where it crossed the water, and were able to take quite close photos of grebes and other waterbirds by poking my camera lens out the window of the truck.

As we travelled along the road towards the township, a small ground bird on the side of the road disappeared into the long grass. Suspecting that it was a pipit, a species that we have rarely had a chance to photograph, I asked Joe to drive back in the hope that we might see it again.

And there it was.

I stood on the side of the road beside the truck and this very obliging bird did what every bird photographer dreams of, it came closer, ..... and closer!

As it did all the things that come naturally to a pipit foraging for insects in the grass, I was able to take photos of it from every aspect - front view, back view, side view, looking up and looking down, eyeing things in the grass above, pulling things out from below.

In the end I felt it had exhausted its potential for photographic novelty for the time being, and we drove on towards the village.

And there, on a triangle of mown grass just on the edge of town was another pipit, and then two more!

But I was tired of taking photos of pipits, and these were further away so I didn't waste much time on them. This was the cause of much sorrow later on because a pair of the "pipits" near the village turned out to be bushlarks - a new species that I had never had the opportunity to photograph before.

So unfortunately I can tell you very little about bushlarks, but just in case you ever see a pipit/bushlark I have put together comparison shots below so that you won't make the same mistake that I did!

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