Chris Watson

Birding Central Australia #55

Chris Watson

Peregrine Falcon Falco peregrinus

If you look up the word peregrine in the dictionary, you find it has a wealth of meanings. The etymologies are through Middle English to Latin, and all have to do with wandering, being from a foreign land, or having an unsettled lifestyle. Hence, the name of our bird this week is quite fitting, although the Peregrine Falcons here in Alice are anything but unsettled. They are quite at home in the rocky ranges with occasional forays to areas like the sewage ponds to hunt down water birds, honeyeaters, or their favourites, pigeons. The wandering name of this bird has to do with its successful occupation of every continent on Earth except the frozen Antarctic. It is known for holding the record for animal speed and can effortlessly accelerate to over 300km/h in pursuit of airborne prey.

There have been a few curious events this week. A Pelican and a Hoary-headed Grebe were handed in to wildlife carers in Coober Pedy who had to appeal to Australian Seabird Rescue experts in Ballina NSW for advice.

The Channel-billed Cuckoos are back in force and there are two pairs of Collared Sparrowhawks on Eastside who are guarding their nests from the noisy marauders very carefully.

Farther afield from The Alice, it has been a historic week for Australian birdos. Two firsts for the Australian list have shown up in the space of one week. This is enough to get twitchers everywhere scrabbling for their frequent flyer points to try and get a look at these birds before they move on. First, a Stejneger’s Petrel (a type of pelagic seabird native to Chile) appeared in the waters off Southport, Queensland. As if this wasn’t enough, birders on the other side of the continent found a Hoopoe at Roebuck Plains Roadhouse outside of Broome, WA. The origin of this bird is uncertain. The species is found from Africa, right through the Middle East, across the Sub-continent and through much of South East Asia; wherever this bird calls home, it’s been a long and stormy ride to get where it is.