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Birdlife Central Australia Shorebirds Survey at the Ponds

— by Caragh

waterbird-feather

Birdlife Central Australia ran a summer Shorebirds count at the Alice Springs PowerWater stabilisation ponds on the weekend. The surveys are a part of the Shorebirds 2020 program, which aims to raise awareness about how incredible shorebirds are by engaging the community to participate in gathering the information required to conserve shorebirds, by conducting national shorebird population monitoring at over 150 key sites around Australia. You can follow Birdlife Central Australia on Facebook to see what other birds they find around Alice Springs.

Pam Walker and Jocelyn Davies spotting birds on the far side of the pond.
Pam Walker and Jocelyn Davies spotting birds on the far side of the pond.

Barb Gilfedder, who was organising the event, states that the Bar-tailed Godwit (Limosa lapponica) was the most significant bird seen on the day, with the Grey Teal (Anas gracilis) coming out on top as most common (500!) and runner up of White-headed Stilt (Himantopus leucocephalus; marked on the graph under the previous name of Black-winged Stilt, Himantopus himantopus).

Data property of Birdlife Central Australia, data within graph provided by Barb Gilfedder.
Data property of Birdlife Central Australia, data within graph provided by Barb Gilfedder.
White-headed Stilt (Himantopus leucocephalus) juvenile
White-headed Stilt (Himantopus leucocephalus) juvenile

My personal favourite was a toss-up between the Red-necked Avocets (Recurvirostra novaehollandiae) that were swooping overhead, and the Variegated Fairy-wren (Malurus lamberti), which is of course not a shorebird but is utterly delightful. Plus, there were a couple of visiting reptiles, such as the Long-nosed Dragon (Gowidon longirostris)… not a bird at all!

Red-necked Avocet (Recurvirostra novaehollandiae)
Red-necked Avocet (Recurvirostra novaehollandiae)
Variegated Fairy-wren (Malurus lamberti) being chased around by three very keen females.
Variegated Fairy-wren (Malurus lamberti) being chased around by three very keen females
Long-nosed Dragon (Gowidon longirostris)
Long-nosed Dragon (Gowidon longirostris)

As coordinator of Land for Wildlife, which is hosted by Low Ecological Services P/L, I am fortunate to enjoy visits to the PowerWater stabilisation ponds on a somewhat regular basis to conduct water testing. It’s difficult to stay focused on the task at hand when there is such an amazing array of birds around. A few chicks have been making their way into the world of late (see last month’s Bird Breeding Bonanza post and the October/November newsletter).

Masked Lapwing (Vanellus miles) and chicks
Masked Lapwing (Vanellus miles) and chicks
Pink-eared Ducks (Malacorhynchus membranaceus) and a massive brood
Pink-eared Ducks (Malacorhynchus membranaceus) and a massive brood
Pacific Black Duck (Anas superciliosa) family
Pacific Black Duck (Anas superciliosa) family

Birdlife Central Australia has also helped me to identify some of the more common species that I have noticed around the ponds, including the Wood Sandpiper (Tringa glareola) and the Common Sandpiper (Actitis hypoleucos). A large Wedge-tailed Eagle (Aquila audax) is sometimes seen at the ponds (see the video), along with many Whistling Kites (Haliastur sphenurus). If you want to visit the ponds for birdwatching, see the PowerWater factsheet for more information.

Wood Sandpiper (Tringa glareola)
Wood Sandpiper (Tringa glareola)
Common Sandpiper (Actitis hypoleucos)
Common Sandpiper (Actitis hypoleucos)
This showy one was swanning around for a good while trying to look pretty
This showy one was swanning around for a good while trying to look pretty (pardon the pun)
... and had left it's print for sure.
… and had left it’s print for sure.