Chris Watson

Birding Central Australia #87 - Red-necked Avocet

Chris Watson

Red-necked Avocet Recurvirostra novaehollandiae

Looking at the Wikipedia entry for our bird for this week reveals that the Red-necked Avocet graced a thirteen cent stamp back in 1966. This is an interesting claim to fame, but perhaps more for the fact that a thirteen cent stamp ever existed, than for the subject. Regardless, our avocet is a remarkable wader. That preposterous-looking bill is equipped with pressure-sensitive receptors that detect the slightest resistance as the avocet scythes it back and forth through the surface of the water. The bill will close in a fraction of a second on any small invertebrates picked up by the receptors, and in this fashion the avocet gleans its sustenance. This is an Alice Springs resident and can almost always be found employing its distinctive feeding technique at the sewage ponds and on saline water-bodies in remote areas. Once heard, its comical ‘toot-toot’ call is not easily forgotten.

It’s been a massive week in The Centre with two teams of birders heading out to Jupiter Well (just across the WA border, beyond Kintore), and reporting great sightings of Princess Parrots in flocks as large as 28 birds – dispersal from the recent residency at Newhaven Sanctuary perhaps?

Not content with this coup, the same groups witnessed the super-rare Grey Falcon hunting at the sewage ponds in Alice Springs and have the photographs to back up the claim – exciting times indeed.

The other big report this week is the always rare Painted Honeyeater being seen out to the east of town, and it is this report that I will be out trying to confirm this week. Grab your binoculars and send me an email to let me know what you find this weekend!

Happy birding!