Chris Watson

Birding Central Australia #94 - Grey-tailed Tattler

Chris Watson

Grey-tailed Tattler Tringa brevipes (front) with a Black-fronted Dotterel Elseyornis melanops

Red Centre Bird Festival has been and gone for another year, and I’m sure there are many out there nursing black eyes from so much energetic binocular use. On behalf of the entire Central Australian birding community, I’d like to extend a big thank you to the Alice Springs Desert Park and everyone involved in the organisation of Birdfest. Thank you also, to the many participants who are a crucial part of the success of this event. Your efforts continue to raise the profile of desert birding, and therefore the conservation of desert birdlife.

Our bird in the picture this week is one that got bumped from the top slot last week by the spectacular arrival of that little wagtail, but it is worthy of its own feature, however belated. This is the Grey-tailed Tattler that showed up at the sewage ponds in the week before Birdfest, but failed to hang around for all the fun. Nonetheless, it is a very interesting visitor, as this species is only very occasionally recorded inland. Plumage features tell us that this is a juvenile bird that is only a few months out of the egg, and on its first southward migration from its birthplace in northern Asia. The stormy weather of a couple of weeks ago, and the inexperience of the bird, may explain how it ended up so far off the usual course of this species, around the coast.

Some interesting reports have arrived during the week; local biologist Holger Woyt had occasion to traverse the Tanami and observed small groups of Emus and two Brolgas not far from the WA border. Mick Jerram from up the track at Katherine had an interesting encounter with a Little Kingfisher at the Pine Creek Water Park, which is a very unusual spot to find this predominantly northern coastal species. 

Happy birding!