Chris Watson

Birding Central Australia #33

Chris Watson

Australian Bustard Ardeotis australis, on Colonel Rose Drive sent in by guest photographer Matt Lefeuvre

Out-of-town heavyweight drops in

The boom season here in the centre has delivered another unusual feathered visitor. The Australian Bustard (Ardeotis australis) has been hunted out in most areas around human settlement. Fortunately, they are still found in scattered populations around Central Australia but rarely close to town.

Local marine biologist (yes, they exist in Alice Springs!) Matt Le Feuvre was heading down Colonel Rose Drive last week when he found this bloke standing beside the airport side of the road. This is a spectacular discovery. These birds are famously cryptic and adept at freezing in long grass and becoming almost invisible. Luckily, Matt was paying attention and managed to snap this photo before he flew off – a great effort.

For those of you hanging out for an answer to our mystery corvid picture last week – I’ll put you out of your misery. I had a truckload of emails, and I am aware of at least a couple of wagers hinging on the identity of the bird - a juvenile Little Crow, Corvus bennetti. The sharp-eyed birdos out there pointed to the smaller size of the upper mandible and the proportionately longer tarsus (lower leg).

Well done one and all, and thanks for your participation! If you got the correct answer you have well and truly earned the right to crow about it… sorry, I couldn’t resist. Happy birding ‘til next week.

Sightings this week: 

Horsfield’s Bronze-cuckoo – Plenty of these about at the moment, particularly south of the ranges.

Scarlet-chested Parrot – Some of these beautiful desert nomads have been reported out near King’s Canyon.

Little Eagle – Drew Pendavingh had a few close encounters with this species along the Lasseter Highway this week.