Chris Watson

Birding Central Australia #11

Chris Watson

Red-capped Robin Petroica goodenovii.

Rarities are flocking into Alice Springs

Well, wouldn’t you know it? I leave town for one week and it’s the biggest week in Alice birdwatching in yonks. This beautiful little Red-capped Robin, caught during a morning of bird banding earlier in the week, suddenly seems very ho-hum by comparison.

Two amazing Red Centre rarities have shown up at the sewage ponds in Alice this week. First up - a couple of Pied Heron – a coastal and northern species we’d much more expect to see on the Mary River than around these parts.

Then some sharp-eyed birdos managed to pick out an Australian Painted Snipe lurking around some of the weedy areas. One of the most cryptic and sneaky species in the country, this bird is not often seen out this way, so lets hope it hangs around until I can get back and have a gander.

Neither of these species are first records for Alice but they are both seen so infrequently that it warrants great excitement and hearty congratulations to everyone involved in these sightings.

In the meantime I’ve been down in SA doing a few surveys around Lake Cadibarrawirracanna, Coober Pedy, and parts further south. As expected, the birding has been exceptional with flocks of up to 40 Banded Lapwing in some areas, up to 1000 Banded Stilt, and Inland Dotterels are everywhere down this way. At one point I had 18 Australian Crake at Coober Pedy and some of them approaching within arm’s reach.

Other highlights include plentiful flocks of Orange Chat and Blue Bonnets along the highway and a single Rufous Fieldwren at the sewage ponds in Coober Pedy.

Happy Birdwatching until next week, and somebody please nail down that Painted Snipe until I get home!