Left: Noisy Pitta photo by Todd Burrows.
Right: Cracked rainforest snail shells photo by Deborah Metters.

Whack! Whack! What’s that? Coming from our bush, which is mainly rainforest on Woogaroo Creek. Sounds like someone whacking rocks with a big stick.

This was just after the last big rain and it was still drizzling and everything was dripping wet. A good time for snails to be out and about, or so they think. Not much for humans though especially significant others.

Our property is part of a corridor for mobile rainforest species and we get various ‘visitors’ at different times of the year. A recent arrival is the Noisy Pitta and he gives a lively “walk to work” call at dawn and dusk.

Now the Noisy Pitta is a snail specialist! And there he was, all wet and bedraggled, bashing a big snail on a rock. Whack! Whack! Bits of snail shell began to fly off.

A lot more whacks and the snail shell fell apart – and down the hatch. Yum. Breakfast! Like a hammer and nail is a pitta and snail.

The Noisy Pitta is a largish bird and quite colourful – yellows and greens with a little brown hat. They spend their time on the ground. But they are very secretive – I have never seen one whacking a snail.

You often see bleached snail shells (broken of course) on the rainforest floor – breakfast for pittas. They must catch these native rainforest snails when it is wet or raining as a special feast and scratch through the leaf litter for bugs the rest of the time.

So it was quite a treat to see this one eating a treat. The next time it rains, I am positive I can convince my wife to go out looking for snails and pittas. You think?

Article by Keith McCosh Land for Wildlife member Bellbird Park, Ipswich

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