Chris Watson

Birding Central Australia #9

Chris Watson

Pied Butcherbird Cracticus nigrogularis, wrestling with a Western Hooded Scaly-foot Pygopus nigriceps, or as he might term it - breakfast.

Pre-dawn jazz singer

Many thanks for all the emails you’ve sent this week. In particular there have been many requests for more coverage of common local species, rather than just the blow-ins and unusual sightings.

With that in mind I caught up with this young Pied Butcherbird right in the middle of his lunch this week, out near Wigley’s Waterhole. He’s wrestling here with a type of legless lizard called a Western Hooded Scaly-foot. Suffice to say that the Butcherbird prevailed and got his meal in the end.

 The Pied Butcherbird will be well known to most Alice residents as the bird with a fondness for beginning its song well before sunrise. The bleary-eyed among us might curse this habit on some mornings, but I love it.

Closely related to the Australian Magpie, bird-music lovers will hear the resemblance in their songs. The far-carrying strains of avian jazz that this maestro summons on those cool desert mornings, have a mesmerising quality to them. These pre-dawn recitals drifting through my bedroom window are one of my favourite parts of life in The Alice.

Sightings this week: 

-          Grey Falcon – I saw another of these desert nomads just beyond the rail overpass on north Stuart Highway earlier in the week

-          Red-chested Button-quail – This cryptic northern species has been creeping in to our neck of the woods and has been sighted along sections of the Tanami Road, and also at Emily and Jessie Gap Reserve, east of town

-          Australian Pelican – On the Sandover Highway, someone spotted a lone bird sitting on a roadside sand bank

-          Common Greenshank – Visiting Canberra birder, Frank Antram had some luck with these birds at the sewage ponds and also counted 28 Glossy Ibis