Wednesday, December 10, 2014

A review of our vagrant visitors to the Top End in 2014

2014 proved to be an exciting year for Bird watchers in the Top End of the NT!
It all started with the arrival of the Grey (Red) Phalarope (Phalaropus fulicaria) in January! A true 'Mega' arrival indeed, but this guy was then joined by the arrival of 7, 11 and 21 of his cousins the Red-necked Phalarope (Phalaropus lobatus) before they all flew after about 24 days of R&R.

 Phalaropus fulicaria - Grey (Red) Phalarope, Leanyer WTP, Darwin  Jan-Feb 2014

Phalaropus lobatus - Red-necked Phalarope, Leanyer WTP, Darwin Feb 2014

March then saw the arrival of a White (Black-backed) Wagtail Motacilla lugens for a week to the same venue. White wags (or Pied) have turned up occasionally but are always welcome. Unfortunately access to the ponds didn't allow any good shots (from me anyway), so please excuse the record shot below!




A number of Eastern Yellow Wagtails (Motacilla tchutchensis), a regular vagrant, started to appear from October throughout the NT.  This young individual (up to 6 months old) was a first record at Lake Copperfield, Pine Creek on the 23rd November.

 Eastern Yellow Wagtail (Motacilla tchutchensis), Lake Copperfield, Pine Creek, November


Darwin is aiming to finish off the birding year similar to its start! A less frequent vagrant, and very much a highlight, was the arrival of a Grey Wagtail (Motacilla cinerea) at the Charles Darwin University drainage channel.  The shade of the large outflow pipes, combined with the gravelly/muddy surface of the nearby mangrove creek proved to be ideal for this individual to hang around for awhile (still reported at 10th December)

 Grey wagtail (Motacilla cinerea), CDU, Darwin, Nov-Dec

The year is not finished yet and with the arrival of Citrine Wag at Mudgee this year, it would bode well for all birders to keep an eye out for any other vagrants which add to the ever expanding list of species seen in the NT!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

A Gouldian Work Distraction

Male Red-faced Morph Gouldian Finch

This fine Male was seen incidentally in my front yard whilst I was making a phone call while working from home. He was accompanied by a female and I did hear at least another flying over. My place is on the border of Nitmiluk Park on Gorge Road, so there must be more around!!


Good birding

Mick

Sunday, March 30, 2014

A visit to the mangroves around Darwin

 Broad-billed Flycatcher

 Mangrove Robin

 Large-billed gerygone

 Mud-skippers

 Northern Brush=tail Possum

Striated Heron

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Red Morph Pied Heron (Egretta picatta) at Fogg Dam

On the morning of the 25th Jan, this unusual looking bird was observed at the overflowing water on Fogg Dam.  It created an optimistic flurry and conversation.  The bird is a Pied Heron (Egretta Picata) and is a Red or Rufous  morph.  Similar sighting have been seen in the past at Leanyer Waste Treatment Plant but with varying degrees of the Red (and the cap prominent on the Pied). According to Birding expert Jeff Davies, he receives 1-2 reports of this morph on an annual basis.

Its an interesting find and needless to say, a 'Smart' looking bird.

Red Morph of Pied Heron (Egretta picatta) Fogg Dam NT Australia 25th Jan 2014

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

First NT Grey Phalarope (Phalaropus fulicarius)

This morning (21st Jan), fellow birder Gus Daly and I decided to have a quick visit to Leanyer Ponds, just on the off chance that something interesting has landed.

In about 3 minutes we spotted something different and called straight away 'Phalarope'!

Well, this shabby little fellow has created quite a stir.  He has obviously been challenged by the recent monsoon activity in the area and got blown from the sea down to us.

This is the 7th report in Australia of Phalaropus fulicarius although BARC (Birds of Australia Rarities Commission have only accepted 4 reports.

1.  Lake Woorinen, Vic, Feb-March 1976
2.  McGrath Flat, SA, 7th July 1989
3.  Port Fairy, Vic, 12th July 1992
4. Lake Mitchell, QLD, 4th November 2003
This is the first record and the NT and yet another Mega rarity, a great start to the new year.

Breeding in the Artic/Alaska and wintering off of Chile or w Africa it has been pretty rare for a visit here and particularly up in the NT.



Grey Pahalarope ID Lateral widening of bill at tip


311 Final Count for NT 2013

After an inability to find some common species in the area, such as Cicada Bird and Feral Rock Dove, I was lucky enough to embark on a last ditch effort out Timber Creek way with Experience the Wild's Mike Jarvis.

A hot but enjoyable time saw us catch the elusive Chestnut-backed Buttonquail at a little site 40km along the Victoria Highway on the 28th of December....Hooray

A couple of days earlier, I caught up with David Webb out at Fogg Dam and an early showing of an Oriental Reed Warbler.  (I havent seen it since, so am feeling lucky)

Anyway  Final result is 311 Species seen in the Northern Territory and an increase to 338 NT life species seen from about 323 at the beginning of the year.

Good Birding

Mick
mick@nttours.com