Chris Watson

Birding Central Australia #14

Chris Watson

Straw-necked Ibis Threskiornis spinicollis

This fellow has many cousins

This week’s bird will be familiar to most, and in fact familiar to many around the world. Varieties of Ibis are found throughout Asia, Africa, and parts of Europe and the Americas, as well as here in Oz. There is the colossal Giant Ibis of South-East Asia growing to over a metre in height.  There is the neon-bright Scarlet Ibis of South America which puts some parrots to shame with its display of outrageous colour. Then there is the Northern Bald Ibis (or Waldrapp) which may be down to as few as 500 birds scattered among its last outposts in Syrian and Moroccan deserts. 

Ibis are well known from ancient Egyptian mythology where the Ibis-headed God known as “Thoth”, acted as intermediary between good and evil, and perfectly mummified Ibis remains have been found in many archaeological diggings. The list of cultures in which the Ibis appears in mythology or scripture is truly amazing; the Egyptians, Greeks, Phoenicians, Mongols, Malays, and countless North American nations all told stories featuring this bird in one of its many forms.

But this is our stunning local, the Straw-necked Ibis, found loafing around Blatherskite Park with his mates this week. This picture makes it abundantly clear why he is so named. With local grasses doing so well this year the Ibis are gathering in good numbers anywhere there is some good open grassland near water.

Sightings this week: 

-          On an evening out Frog-watching in the Western Macs, 3 Eastern Barn Owls in quick succession out on Larapinta Drive

-          Australian Crake seen by the dozen, scurrying around Ilparpa Swamp

-          Also down the swamps, plenty of Stubble Quail splashing about among the reed beds