Chris Watson

Birding Central Australia #41

Chris Watson

Australian Ringneck Barnardius zonarius

The Australian Ringneck, pictured, could fall into the same category as the Galah as one of our most underrated birds. Common throughout most of Australia except the wet tropics and Tasmania, these colourful, brash birds are never far away. Here in Alice Springs you are rarely more than a stone’s throw from a group of Ringnecks. They’re common up and down Todd Mall, and the Todd River, usually obvious by their clattering calls.

It’s a bird that exhibits a great amount of regional variation which has earned it different names around the country. Folks in WA call them Twenty-eight Parrots in reference to the way the birds sound in the south-west. There’s the Mallee Ringneck down further south which has much more green and turquoise about the head. Then to our east you will find the Cloncurry Ringneck which is much paler overall. The variety that we see around Alice Springs is known as the Port Lincoln Ringneck and can be found all the way down to that part of SA. Despite all these regional colours and different names, genetic research has shown that all of these parrots are the same species.

This week I managed to track down a bird which is more familiar from south of the border, the Cinnamon Quail-thrush. These birds are showing up in increasing numbers along the Maryvale Rd, Deepwell Rd, and the Old Andado Track. The Orange Chats have now well and truly colonised the sewage ponds and this week we had a visit from a pair of White-necked Herons as well. Richard Waring had success tracking down last week’s bird, the Sacred Kingfisher, in the Hugh River west of town.