Chris Watson

Birding Central Australia #22

Chris Watson

Whiskered Tern Chlidonias hybridus

Whiskered forager of the inland

The picture this week is one of our more common species of inland tern, the Whiskered Tern. These birds are very common over many inland bodies of water and are also known as marsh terns.

            This bird is in breeding plumage but often when we see them here they will be in non-breeding plumage without the dark belly, or the bright red bill.

            That dagger-like bill is used for plucking insects out of the air or from the surface of the water. These birds can often be seen working in teams, patrolling in lines up and down a body of water and skimming insects from the surface.

            If you’re ever out looking for this bird it is worth keeping an eye out for the related White-winged Black Tern. This is a smaller, paler bird but it is superficially similar. The difference is in the head markings, where the White-winged Black Tern more closely resembles an ‘Elvis Presley’ hairdo with pronounced sideburns.

Sightings this week: 

-          A Rainbow Lorikeet has been reported in Arunga Street. No doubt this is a lonely aviary escapee – let’s hope he doesn’t have any mates.

-          Grey Fantails of the stunning albicauda race have been reported at Kunoth Bore and Jessie Gap.

-          Orange Chats are making something of a comeback with reports from Tilmouth Well and the Lasseter Highway near Curtin Springs.

-          Another pest, Peach-faced Lovebirds, a Namibian native, are now being seen very regularly in a number of different areas of town.

If you spot any feral bird species around town you can ring the feral hotline – 1800 084 881

We’ve got to keep control of the ferals as this wet weather continues as conditions are ripe for any introduced species to take advantage and establish a breeding population.

Happy birdwatching ‘til next week!