Chris Watson

Birding Central Australia #12

Chris Watson

Black Swan Cygnus atratus

Settle for swans

This week the birds have dragged me halfway across the continent and back again. It’s been all about getting back from Adelaide and tracking down the Australian Painted Snipe which I’m told is still at the sewage ponds. This bird would be, for me, a lifer. The holy grail of any birdwatching outing. A species I have never seen before, making it briefly more special than any other bird.

The mornings have seen me up at 4am to beat the rising sun down to the treatment plant in my failed attempts to lure this bird from its hiding place. As is sometimes the way, my quest began to reach a frantic level of frustration when I had to stop and say to myself, take a deep breath. Look around you.

In the early morning light the ponds were alive with birds of all varieties that I’d been ignoring simply because they weren’t the one I was looking for. Birdwatching often turns into these zen moments of serendipity.

Black Swans trumpeted their welcome to the new morning. As the sun streamed through the white feathers of their wingtips, and they took to flight all around me, it was well worth getting out of bed for. The Snipe will wait another day.

Sightings this week: 

-          4 Swamp Harriers on a drive out to Yuendumu earlier in the week.

-          A Southern Boobook has been calling very persistently at night around the top of Dixon Rd

-          A mysterious Snipe (not the Painted one) lurking at the poo ponds has local pundits still guessing, Latham’s or Swinhoe's?