Chris Watson

Birding Central Australia #88 - Pink-eared Duck

Chris Watson

Pink-eared Duck Malacoryhnchus membranaceus

At first glance, the Pink-eared Duck may seem poorly named. “Zebra Duck”, might seem a more fitting appellation, and this been an alternative English name for this species ever since early pioneers saw them. If you look a bit closer though, you might be able to make out just a small patch of pink behind the eye. This feature can be easily missed at greater distances, but what is impossible to miss is that amazing bill. The Pink-ear is a filter feeder that ploughs that enormous instrument through the water to sieve out small invertebrates. 

The birding around The Centre is approaching fever-pitch at the moment with several interesting reports through the week. A reliable source had good views of Grey Falcon at the Alice Springs Desert Park – the same bird seen at the poo ponds previously?

Several local birders have been enjoying a pair of Chestnut Teal at the poo ponds. These ducks are uncommon up this way, usually sticking to the southern and eastern parts of the country. The female looks superficially similar to our local Grey Teals but the male is unmistakable with his pale brown body and metallic green head.

A flock of 4 Red-winged Parrots were seen in Arthur Creek on the Plenty Highway, and Lucy Creek Station is hosting one of the biggest flocks of Little Corellas I’ve seen in years. At a rough count there were 900 birds in one flock with a few other smaller flocks seen about the area.

The first waders in worn breeding plumage have arrived at Broome, so all eyes will be on the sewage ponds here in coming weeks to identify the first of our returning long-distance champs arriving from the Russian tundra.

Happy birding!