Chris Watson

Birding Central Australia #38

Chris Watson

Grey-headed Honeyeater Lichenostomus keartlandii

It’s been another big week for birding in The Centre. The Alice Springs Field Naturalists Club conducted their quarterly wader count at the poo ponds on Sunday. Thanks to all who turned out to help, and that data will be forwarded on to the Shorebirds 2020 project by the tireless Barb Gilfedder, who also organised the whole shebang.

On the weekend I caught up with some sizeable flocks of Grey-headed Honeyeaters feasting on blooming hakeas atop Mt. Gillen. If you ever wondered why we don’t have hummingbirds here in Australia, then the answer is in the photo this week.

Honeyeaters have evolved to fill a similar niche in our ecosystem as hummingbirds in other parts of the world – pollinating plants. These blokes are high-octane nectar feeders, but aren’t averse to taking the occasional insect or two. The slightly powdery effect on the forehead of this bird is the pollen from the hakea that it has picked up in its travels and will transport all around the neighbourhood.

Honeyeaters are the largest group of Australian birds by a fair margin, and many of them can be found here in The Centre. Just recently, there has been a report of a Yellow-tinted Honeyeater in the area around Tnorala. This northerly species would be an interesting addition to the list of Centralian vagrants in this season of plenty.

Another interesting report of an albino Brown Falcon came from Mark Carter while birding out on Deep Well Road earlier in the week. That’s one bird that should certainly stand out so keep your camera handy if you’re birding out that way.

Other sightings of note; a much-beleaguered Barn Owl has been roosting in the Ghost Gum behind Office National despite the best efforts of local Butcherbirds, and some huge flocks of Spinifex Pigeons frolicking in the thick spinifex atop the Heavitree Range. The Peregrine Falcons continue to entertain early commuters passing through Heavitree Gap.