Bush stone-curlews at Mulligans Flat Woolshed

Bush stone-curlews at Mulligans Flat Woolshed
November 2022
Bush stone-curlew drawn near the Mulligans Flat woolshed at dusk

Next in my Canberra Birds artwork series: Bush-stone curlews at Mulligans Flat. This is a drawing of a family of Bush stone curlews standing beneath an evening sky at Mulligans Flat Sanctuary in Canberra.

Image detail: Bush-stone curlews at Mulligans Flat

Cartoon drawing of Bush stone curlew head and neck
Drawing of craggly dead gum tree snag
Drawing of a pair of Bush-stone curlews standing on ground in front of old farmhouse
Close-up drawing of bush stone-curlew with expressive eyes illustrated
Drawing of two bush stone-curlews with worried expression on face

The bird: Bush stone-curlew

Bush Stone Curlew - Casuarina Coastal Reserve, Darwin, NT, Australia
Image: Bush Stone Curlew – Casuarina Coastal Reserve, Darwin, NT, Australia by Geoff Whalan

Bush stone-curlews are a ground-dwelling bird that live in open plains and woodlands. Curlews are most active at night; they stalk slowly in search of insects and other invertebrates.

They walk with a distinctive peristaltic style. Taking a few steps, pausing to assess the surroundings, then making another move.

One of my favourite things about the Bush stone-curlew is its approach to camouflage. When approached by humans, they will usually freeze, standing still as a way to avoid being noticed. They strike some bizarre poses. The problem is that they often choose very prominent places to employ this camouflage technique!
Bush stone-curlews hiding in plain sight - frozen on a path
Image: Bush stone curlews at Tangalooma by Janette Asche
Frozen bush stone-curlews hiding in bushes
Image: Bush stone curlew hiding by Ralph Green

Bush stone curlew in camouflage pose
Image: Bush stone curlew in camouflage pose by Benjamint444

Bush stone-curlew eyes

Bush stone-curlew eyes are comically expressive. They often have either an annoyed or worried look to them, which I tried to capture in my drawing.


Bush Stone-Curlew eyes are expressive
Image: Bush Stone Curlew eyes by adustylife

Bush Stone Curlew (Burhinus grallarius) at Edith Falls (NT) by Shoshanabird
Image: Bush Stone Curlew (Burhinus grallarius) at Edith Falls (NT) by Shoshanabird

Curlew under the mango tree by john skewes
Image: Bush stone curlew under the mango tree by John Skewes

Bush stone-curlews have a distinctive call that gladdens me whenever I hear it. Listen to the embedded video below:


The location: Mulligans Flat Sanctuary in Canberra

Aerial view Mulligans Flat nature sanctuary Canberra
Image: Drone capture of the woolshed in Mulligans Flat by Alex Humphreys

Mulligans Flat Sanctuary is a fantastic conservation area on the northern fringes of Canberra. 1,253 hectares of endangered Box-gum Grassy-woodland area are managed for conservation by the Woodlands and Wetlands Trust in partnership with the ACT Government. Located less than 20 minutes’ drive from my house, it is on the edge of Canberra’s suburbia in the Gungahlin district of the city.

Unlike most of Australia’s land area, Mulligans Flat is free from predators such as feral cats and foxes. A predator-proof fence was built around the perimeter of the reserve, and the cats and foxes were systematically eliminated from inside the fence. This approach was also applied to other feral animals such as goats, deer, and European rabbits within the fenced area.

This ‘blank slate’, free from invasive competitors, allowed conservationists to introduce vulnerable Australian native animals into the reserve. Species such as eastern bettongs, bush-stone curlews, and eastern quolls have been successfully introduced into the sanctuary, with more species such as goannas planned to be introduced in the future. Other less-vulnerable species such as kangaroos, wallabies, possums, gliders, and echidnas flourish without the need for special wildlife introduction programs.

The sanctuary has entrances protected by double-gates, but is open to the public for free, respectful access 24 hours per day. Excellent twilight tours are available, with the funds from the tours going to support the sanctuary’s ongoing work.

Postcards for the Mulligans Flat Wildbark visitors centre

After deciding to draw my eight Canberra Birds scenes, I brainstormed local retailers that would be interested in stocking these artworks if printed into merchandise. One possible option was Mulligans Flat Sanctuary. I knew that they had long been planning a new visitors centre, so I got in touch to see if I could supply them with greeting cards. They agreed to this idea. The Mulligans Flat Wildbark restaurant and visitors centre ‘soft opened’ in late 2022, with a full opening due in 2023.

Postcards, greeting cards, art prints

Greeting card: Bush Stone-Curlews at Mulligans Flat Woolshed
Support my work by buying this artwork as a postcard, greeting card or signed and numbered art print from my online store.
Visit the Bush-stone curlews at Mulligans Flat Woolshed product range category, or use the following links for these items on my web store: