Chris Watson

Birding Central Australia #59 - Plumed Whistling-Duck

Chris Watson

Plumed Whistling-Duck Dendrocygna eytoni

Just as many Centralians thrilled to the sight of the total lunar eclipse last weekend, many birdos have been delighted by the spectacle of some Plumed Whistling-ducks that have taken up temporary residence at the sewage ponds recently. They’re not usually resident around Alice Springs, but they are frequent visitors. This flock of about 15 birds have been showing their beautiful plumage around the sewage ponds and Ilparpa Swamp for the last few weeks.

These birds are more commonly seen in wetter parts of The Territory, but may be seen anywhere there is a decent body of open water like a dam, claypan, or ephemeral swamp. Apart from their distinctive plumage, they can be identified in flight by their whistling call which they often emit as they take off.

Another unusual visitor lobbed in during the week, in the form of a lone Australian Pelican that was sighted by contractors at the sewage ponds during the dog incurred closure to the public.

During a drive down south of town I was lucky enough to have an early morning ramble through a mulga wonderland of bush birds including the ever elusive White-browed Treecreeper, Inland Thornbills, Major Mitchell’s Cockatoos, Western Gerygones and a single Black Falcon.

More exciting vagrant news has arrived from Broome, where Adrian Boyle has reported a find of a Cinnamon Bittern being munched on by a Brown Falcon. The bird had been recently killed by the falcon and was still in excellent condition and has been sent to the museum as a specimen. This is a species usually found from Timor Leste up through SE Asia and now joins the Eurasian Hoopoe and Stejneger’s Petrel as another first record for the Australian bird list.

Happy birding!