Chris Watson

Birding Central Australia #53

Chris Watson

Pheasant Coucal Centropus phasianinus

The bird in the picture this week may be unfamiliar to a few Centralian bird lovers. Anyone who has been to more northern parts of the NT, from about Katherine up, will know it as a Pheasant Coucal – this one is in breeding plumage.

This is a bird which has recently demonstrated exactly how extraordinary the last couple of seasons have been for central Australia. First a few reports of this species came in from Tennant Creek; then there were a few from Ti-tree and Burt Plain. Another report came in from Namatjira Drive west of Alice and then the icing on the cake – a report of this bird way down at Erldunda, the most southerly NT record of this species in history.

Another exciting northern visitor has appeared this week, the Channel-billed Cuckoo. This huge hornbill-like behemoth has been reported by a couple of people around town. With their immense size, noisy habits, and their ability to attract the attention of other birds in the vicinity, they will surely be turning up everywhere soon. Commonly known as a Rainbird throughout The Territory it seems quite fitting that they have timed their arrival, from as far away as New Guinea, to coincide with a couple of days of midweek drizzle in The Alice.

Another interesting turn-up this week has been a few Flock Bronzewings that have been sighted around Yulara. This enigmatic pigeon has been in huge numbers in sandy deserts 500kms to the east but it is the first time in many years that they have been seen near Uluru. Also around Yulara are increasingly frequent sightings of Pied and Black Honeyeaters – let’s hope they’re headed our way!

Keep your binoculars dry ‘til next week.