Memories of Spring (Pilliga Goodnight)

It is the tenth of November, at dusk, and I am gazing at a picturesque bend in the Missouri River. The sky is pink and autumn leaves still cling to oaks on the hillside.

photo of Missouri River at dusk

Winter is almost upon us here in North America, yet I am immersed in fresh memories of spring from a faraway land. We have returned from our Australian expedition, arriving at Carl’s home-in-the-woods late last night. I slept a solid twelve hours and still feel as if I need more rest.

Today I browsed a number of recordings I made in Australia. I have a LOT of great material to sift through … enough, I believe, to put together at least two titles (70-min digital download CDs).

Below is a really nice recording made at dusk in dry forest in Pilliga Nature Reserve, not far from Coonabarabran, New South Wales. It includes prominent songs (calls?) of the Noisy Friarbird. What I like most about this recording is the way it ends, with the songs of several additional bird species, including White-plumed Honeyeater and White-throated Treecreeper (thanks to Vicki Powys for ID’s). Note too the measured low-pitched coos of a Common Bronzewing (a kind of dove), heard throughout. At the very end you will hear a single metallic squeak of a Galah (a kind of Cockatoo):

Noisy Friarbird and other species sounding off at dusk. 7pm, 13 October 2012, Pilliga Nature Reserve near Coonabarabran, Australia. © Lang Elliott

Below is a sonogram showing the last minute of the recording. It’s a work of art all by itself, at least to my eyes. My friend and bird song expert Vicki Powys of Australia ( has graciously labeled the various species that sound off.

Pillaga Goodnight Sonogram


Sunday morn, November 11:

During the winter months my mind always wanders forward into spring. With a smile on my face, I tell my friends that “spring is just around the corner,” even when it is months away. This winter is special indeed, with spring so fresh in my mind, both in hindsight and in foresight. Truly, I feel surrounded and embraced by the warmth of spring, even as the cool autumn rains blows against the window and browning leaves flitter across the wintering landscape.

photo of rain on window


  1. Zack: My next blog entry will be about a mysterious night sound, followed by a post featuring the Eastern Screech-Owl. I also plan to send out our first official Newsletter, bringing folks up to date concerning our primary goals for the next year or so.

  2. That’s a good idea, to know what the next blog entry will be ahead of time. I would really love to see what the next blog is.

  3. Hi Lang met you at David’s house inBaradine I now have a fractured vertebrae and am living in Coonabarabran Near the PILLIGA -sorry to correct your spelling. But as i am now grounded I earn the right to be a little grumpy. Love your work!

    • Ann: Thanks for the spelling correction. Australia names are challenging: Pilliga, Pillaga, Pilligra, etc. I had the same problem with Kuranda NP up in Queensland: Kuranda, Karunda, Karanda. Coonabarabran or Coonabaraban? Warrenbungle or Warrembungle or Warrumbungle? And on and on it goes.

  4. Hello Lang,
    Another wonderful recording. To me, the prominent bird call, sounds more like a member of the Wattlebird family over a Grey Butcherbird. However, if you sighted it, then I am wrong. The call late in the example is somewhat like that of the Pale-Headed Rosella, which has that reiterated single note call, however, so do other species.

    Thanks again for sharing.
    Robert Burrell

  5. I agree, that sometimes, I just don’t like hearing the sound of traffic, although other times, living in the city, I do. I wish I lived in a remote area like my grandparent’s. They live on a hill in the middle of a large forest.

  6. I saw that you commented on one of the pictures to my website, My website could now slowly be spreading by mouth.

    • I’m glad to be back. As successful as my trip was, it was also hard work and involved a lot of sleep deficit. I also saw way too much of Newcastle city life, but that had to do with being involved with the frog research, which was based at Newcastle University. Next trip Down Under, I will go to more remote locations where I’m not dealing with traffic noise, jet overflights, etc.

      Yes, it was a great trip, but I’m glad to be home.

  7. Excellent! How does it feel being back home in the US? I’m not saying this to make you mad. What a wonderful bird recording. I have no idea what most of the birds in the recording are. I’m not an Australianbirdologist.

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