Chris Watson

Birding Central Australia #61 - Australian Crake

Chris Watson

Australian Crake Porzana fluminea

This week I’ve been tracking down a verified lurker. Crakes and rails are small to medium-sized birds which have secretive habits and tend to live among thick scrub and reed beds, making them tricky to find at times. A report from Jenny Marshman this week set me on the trail after she saw a pair of Australian Crakes (pictured) and its chicks, scurrying across Barrett Drive into a culvert opposite the casino.

Only the size of a small quail, this is a rare sighting of this species out in the open. The water levels at the sewage ponds are too high for these short-legged waders and Ilparpa Swamp is completely dry, so some of these birds will be taking refuge in the thickly reeded culverts along the Todd. Keep an eye out when you’re riverside this week, as you may be lucky enough to spot them early in the morning and perhaps one of the closely related Buff-banded Rails that have also been reported in the area.

Out at AZRI, Jesse Carpenter had great views of a Black Falcon and a lone Plumed Whistling-duck consorting with the wood ducks on the SAT ponds. At the sewage ponds this week the big news was a lone Australian Pelican that flew in on Monday, along with a quartet of Glossy Ibis.

One of the largest flocks of White-faced Herons I have ever seen were hanging around the Ilparpa area with 46 birds counted at one point. This seems to be a sign that some of the desert waterholes might be drying up and we could be looking at an influx of a few waterbirds over the next few months. Keep those reports coming!

Happy birding!