Chris Watson

Birding Central Australia #56

Chris Watson

Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos

The Common Sandpiper is one of the long distance migrants currently at the sewage ponds fattening up for the next marathon flight. These tiny birds (about 20cms long) are just one of a host of species that visit from the Arctic north during our summer. Also feeding and resting in Alice Springs at the moment are Black-tailed Godwits, Marsh Sandpipers, Wood Sandpipers, Sharp-tailed Sandpipers, and the occasional Red-necked Stint. These are fairly specialised birds that are most easily seen at large bodies of water like our sewage ponds.

Alice Springs is currently seeing an influx of different migrants of the more short distance variety. In the last few weeks the reports have been trickling through of Channel-billed Cuckoos, Rainbow Bee-eaters, and Sacred Kingfishers. These are less regular migrants which can sometimes be found year round if the conditions have been suitable in the inland. Normally they will spend our winter up in PNG and parts of south-east Asia. The bee-eaters are often the first to arrive back on their southward journey.

The Channel-billed Cuckoos, also known as rainbirds or stormbirds, herald the arrival of the wet in the Top End and when conditions are right will make it as far inland as Alice Springs. Many residents of Alice Springs are now being roused from their sleep by this raucous visitor on most mornings.

 Sacred Kingfishers are often present over summer in small numbers around permanent bodies of water. This year they seem to have done well and are being seen commonly right across the region. Their early morning kek-kek-keks will be familiar to many Centralians.

Sightings of note this week include 4 Emus at Kulgera by Richard Waring, Rainbow Lorikeets seen at Melanka Park by Mark Carter, and a flock of 20 Glossy Ibis were at Ilparpa Swamp.