Chris Watson

Birding Central Australia #50

Chris Watson

Nankeen Night Heron Nycticorax caledonicus

Once seen, the Nankeen Night-heron is never forgotten. This creepy little heron is sometimes found lurking secretively around reed beds and thick undergrowth around permanent bodies of water. As such, they’re not seen too often around Alice, but lately they’ve been showing up everywhere. Out at Glen Helen they are roosting in many of the trees along the river and there have been recent sightings at the Telegraph Station near town.

The bird in the picture is the juvenile that was rescued a couple of weeks back and released at the sewage ponds. I checked on him a few days later and he seemed very much at home. The “nankeen” in the name refers to the buff colouring taken on in adulthood. Nankeen is a type of cloth produced from a yellowish cotton which was originally made in Nanjing, China. After a bit of Anglophonic mangling, we ended up with the name nankeen for both the cloth and its characteristic colour. The colour reference is now used in the names of several Australian plants and animals.

Red Centre Birdweek is about to reach its apex with the 24 hour twitchathon kicking off out the front of the Alice Springs Desert Park at 6pm this afternoon. For this event, competitors will have the southern NT as their playground and try to tick off as many different species as possible within the time limit. Event adjudicator Mark Carter will attempt to put the entire field to shame by completing all his birding by pushbike – and there’s a fair chance he’ll out-tick the lot of us.

 It’s never too late to register a team, so grab your binoculars, grab a partner, and get involved! I’ll see you out there.

 Happy Birdweek!