Birds nesting inside the starting hut on the Willowbank Raceway drag-strip.
Birds nesting inside the starting hut on the Willowbank Raceway drag-strip. Contributed by Tracey Fletcher

Chicks nest over dragstrip

EXPOSED to the roar of revving engines and the smell of burnt rubber, the starter box at Willowbank Raceway seems like the worst possible place to raise a young family.

The raceway is the favourite haunt of Ipswich rev-heads, but now a family of birds has taken their passion for motorsport one step further by nesting right above the starting line of the dragstrip.

Willowbank Raceway managing director Steve Bettes said his team had kept an eye on the small family of willie wagtails right from the start.

"We noticed the nest a while back and watched the eggs hatch after a meet on November 5," Mr Bettes said.

"There's a race here almost every week and the two chicks and the mother would just sit in the nest and not be too bothered by the commotion or the two guys who stand in the box.

"We thought about moving the nest when they were just eggs, but we decided it would be too detrimental."

Mr Bettes was baffled as to why the birds chose the starter box, given that the strip is surrounded by trees.

"There's a second nest at the front of the box now too, so there must be something about it that the birds like, but I have no idea what it is," he said.

The baby birds left the nest this week, a decision that Mr Bettes said was wise.

"We've got a big flame and thunder event coming up this Saturday, so they've timed their stay pretty well," he said.

Willie wagtails are known for their resilient and at times aggressive natures, and the starter box mother wagtail was often spotted at the raceway taking on crows and larger birds to defend her patch.



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