Chris Watson

Birding Central Australia #66 - Spiny-cheeked Honeyeater

Chris Watson

Spiny-cheeked Honeyeater Acanthagenys rufogularis

The Spiny-cheeked Honeyeater is one of the characteristic sounds of the arid zone. Its melodic, piping call is an ever-present component of the Alice Springs dawn chorus. This nectar lover is common in gardens across Central Australia, but the name is a puzzle to many. On closer inspection though, the fine white spines below the eye become obvious.

There’s been some respite from the heat this week with a bit of rain bringing lots of birdlife out to play. Bill Low and Holger Woyt did well on a trip out to Palm Valley this week when they came within one species of seeing all the Centralian pigeon species; Common Bronzewing, Spinifex Pigeon, Crested Pigeon and Diamond Dove, only missing out on a Peaceful Dove for the full house.

A lone Pelican has been hanging about the sewage ponds and has now been in residence for a couple of weeks. There probably isn’t too much for this bird to be eating around here, so I’d expect him to be moving off shortly.

Farther afield the big news in national birding has been a Hudsonian Godwit which has been identified by several birders at Lake Joondalup in Western Australia. This species, a North American native, has managed to go seriously wayward during its southern migration. From northern Canada and Alaska, it has ended up coming down through Asia rather than following its traditional course down the coast of North America and across the Panama Isthmus to disperse through South America.

During the current spate of stormy weather it is an excellent time to keep checking the storm fronts for Fork-tailed Swifts; an uncommon species around these parts which are occasionally seen surfing the strong winds pushed along by low pressure systems.

Happy birding!