Chris Watson

Birding Central Australia #36

Chris Watson

Little Black Cormorant Phalacrocorax sulcirostris

These wonderful blue-eyed birds might come as a surprise to some birdwatchers. Cormorants are primarily fish-eaters so they might seem slightly out of place here in the desert.

This is the Little Black Cormorant, and anyone who has been out to visit the waterholes and rivers in the ranges this year will realise there is no shortage of fish for these blokes. These birds can usually be found in spots along the Finke - all the way from Ormiston Gorge through Glen Helen, Finke Gorge and beyond. More recently they’ve even been spotted splashing around in puddles in the Todd River bed in town.

Cormorants don’t have as much oil in their feathers as other waterbirds. This reduces their buoyancy and allows them to dive underwater for their prey. This means that their feathers don’t repel water like a duck’s, necessitating the ritual of standing on posts and tree stumps at the water’s edge drying their wings before flying again – just as I found these two doing at the sewage ponds here in Alice.

Sightings this week: 

Brown Quail – A frequent sighting by firies as they flushed from the long grass during burning off at Simpson’s Gap and along the Todd River

Banded Lapwings – Currently a regular visitor to the poo ponds hiding among the Masked Lapwings

Peach-faced Lovebird – Another small flock of this dreaded feral was seen out on Lyndavale Drive during the week

Diamond Doves – Possibly our sexiest little native dove has been in flocks of up to 80 birds along the roadside out on Colonel Rose Drive

Crested Bellbird – lots of this shy species being seen as juveniles start to grow up and disperse from the family territory.