Friday, September 24, 2010

Eastern Barn Owl

Eastern Barn Owl, Tyto javanica.

This week’s magical bird encounter occurred on a late evening drive home from Glen Helen. The plentiful supplies of grass seeds around The Centre have brought with them a healthy population of local rodents. Namatjira Drive was overrun with scurrying mice as I drove along on Tuesday night. On three occasions I had to pull up to let an owl finish its meal on the road before I could pass. This Eastern Barn Owl flew into a roadside tree and decided to stay for a while to enjoy the spotlight. Keep your eyes peeled for more night birds as the warm nights approach and rodent numbers increase.
Sightings this week: 
- 10 Australian Pelicans in formation flying over Ryan Well to the north of town
- Spotted Harrier continue to be seen in good numbers, particularly in open areas north of town
- Australian Pratincole at the sewage ponds in Alice Springs
- Small flocks of Scarlet-chested Parrots seen just prior to road closure, 80kms past Kata Tjuta on the road to Docker River
- a pair of the very rare Grey Falcon seen close to the north west of town
- another rarity, Grey Honeyeater reported from a number of different sites in the vicinity of Hamilton Downs, owing no doubt, to the continuing eremophila blooms in this area
- 8 Oriental Plovers, the first for the year, at the Coober Pedy sewage ponds
Best of luck to all the teams heading out to the Desert Park for the start of the Twitchathon at 6pm today. I’ll see you all at the start line.
Until next week, keep your eyes to the skies!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Rainbow Bee-eater

Rainbow Bee-eater, Merops ornatus.

The Rainbow Bee-eaters are back! Twitchathon time is almost upon us and these welcome omens of warmer weather are here to colour our skies again.  With the rain continuing, the country is bursting with life and we have a wealth of waterbirds being spotted around the town.
Notable Sightings this week:           
- large swarms of grasshoppers are supporting huge flocks of 1000+ Masked Woodswallow on the Stuart Highway north of town and along the Tanami Rd.
- swampy areas between Native Gap and Aileron are supporting White-necked Heron and flocks of 20+ Straw-necked Ibis.
- A Glossy Ibis at the sewage ponds in Alice reported by visiting Victorian birdos Paul Dodd, Ruth Woodrow, and Tim Dolby.
- Great Cormorant at Taylor’s Creek
- Cattle Egret seen regularly at the sewage ponds in Alice.
-  immature Great-crested Grebe at Lake Mary-Anne in Tennant Creek.
-  White-winged Black, and Whiskered Tern both seen in the last week at the sewage ponds in Alice.
- Ground Cuckoo-shrike seen along the Santa Theresa Road and in good numbers along the Kintore Rd.
- a lone Black Falcon continues to be seen along the Santa Theresa Rd immediately behind the airport.
There are a few unconfirmed reports of Princess Parrot beginning to appear near the roads around Watarrka, so keep your eyes peeled. The Scarlet-chested Parrots along the road to Docker River have not been seen since the last report over two weeks ago.
Remember to register your team for the Twitchathon and get involved in this great event to kick off Red Centre Bird Week 2010. For details visit the Alice Springs Desert Park website at
Send your sightings for next week’s bulletin to
Until next week, Happy Bird Watching!