Thursday, January 2, 2014

Letter-winged Kites

Last week, some Letter-winged Kites were reported less than an hours drive away on a property near Port Wakefield.  Letter-winged Kites are an irruptive species normally associated with remote outback locations.  They are an Elanus kite, similar to the much commoner Black-shouldered Kite. It wasn't until new year's eve that I had a chance to try for them. The property owners were kind enough to allow birders access to look for the birds. 

When I arrived at the property, a fox crossed in front of me and ran across a paddock, being soundly scolded by a bold little Willie Wagtail.   Willie Wagtail 1 - Fox 0!

On a power pole was a Brown Falcon, and in trees around the homestead were a few Black Kites.

As I followed the instructions through a couple of paddocks, a small kite flew over and hovered in front of me - Black-shouldered.

I scanned the trees again.  Another small kite flew in - Black-shouldered again!  Then a shadow across the ground.  I look up at another Black-shouldered Kite.

By now the raptors are beginning to thermal overhead.  Black Kites, Whistling Kites, and another Black-shouldered.  Then into my view flies a Letter-winged Kite! Unmistakeable!

Over the next couple of hours I saw 6 of these beauties, perched in various trees and also flying.  An amazing birding experience.

Also on the property were a few pairs of Australian Pratincole, another species difficult to tie down, so I had a quick look for them, and found some in a tiny paddock by an old farm building.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Greenfields Wetlands

Just before Christmas, I went to Whites Road to look for a reported Painted Snipe, but the pools were almost dried up, and no sign of the bird.   This Great Egret - in full breeding plumage - was on another pool as was the Black Swan family

I moved on to Greenfields Wetland where the problem was just the opposite - too much water!   Again in full breeding plumage, this Royal Spoonbill spent all its time chasing anything that was white, including ibis' and even stilts!

A couple of waders managed to find shallow water, Sharp-tailed Sandpiper, a summer visitor from Siberia, and a resident Red-kneed Dotterel.

Black-tailed Nativehen is an irruptive species that follows the water, and there were lots of them running around here.

Further along, another Great Egret, and both small grebes, firstly Australian Little Grebe and then Hoary-headed Grebe.