Chris Watson

Birding Central Australia #60 - ex-Spinifex Pigeon

Chris Watson

Perentie Varanus giganteus, devouring a Spinifex Pigeon Geophaps plumifera. Pic by Sabine Gonelli.

We have a spectacular start to a year of birding updates with this stunning image from Alice Springs ecologist, Sabine Gonelli. Just after Christmas she was lucky enough to find this Perentie gorging on a plump Spinifex Pigeon near the car park at King’s Canyon, Watarrka National Park. Among the largest lizards on Earth at well over 2m in length, the Perentie would make short work of even much larger prey than a Spinifex Pigeon.

Spinifex Pigeons are a much sought after species by many international and interstate birders visiting the Red Centre, and the King’s Canyon Rim Walk is probably one of the most reliable (and picturesque) spots to find them. Closer to town, you’ll have no trouble tracking down one of these stunning birds at Alice Springs Desert Park, and they can usually be seen on the walk up Mt. Gillen.

While I’ve been gallivanting all over the countryside, the sewage ponds have re-opened to the public and there have been some interesting bird movements around town. Horsfield’s Bronze-cuckoos and Channel-billed Cuckoos have been calling every morning around Braitling, and out at Connellan the Pallid Cuckoos are well and truly back. Brown Honeyeaters seem to have done very well last year and are moving in to many areas where they haven’t been seen in a while.

The other interesting sound about town has been budgies. These haven’t been seen around town for a little while now but a few reports are starting to drift in. Huge flocks, tens of thousands of birds strong, have been photographed recently in areas of outback Queensland and Western Australia so no doubt we will start to see a few of these irrepressible desert nomads in the near future.

Happy birding!