Birdwatching in Wagga Wagga

The Birds of Lake Albert
September 28, 2009, 12:15 pm
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Yellow-billed Spoonbill (Platalea flavipes)

Yellow-billed Spoonbill (Platalea flavipes)

Three species of migratory wading-bird have been recorded on the lake in the past five weeks. The first to be sighted was the Common Greenshank (Tringa nebularia), a large wader with a distinctly upturned bill. It breeds in Europe, from Scotland to Siberia, and is generally seen in Australia between September and April. The second of the waders to be recorded was the tiny (around 15cm) Red-Necked Stint (Calidris ruficollis). This is one of the more common migrants, arriving typically in August. The third of the waders to be sighted was the Sharp-Tailed Sandpiper (Calidris acuminata). This is another relatively common migrant, having been recorded in flocks of around 2000 at the Fivebough Wetlands near Leeton.

Red-Kneed Dotterel (Erythrogonys cinctus)

Red-Kneed Dotterel (Erythrogonys cinctus)

It is not surprising that these birds should be recorded at the lake: any body of water would serve as a temporary stopping-point en route to a larger wetland. It is interesting, however, that two of the three species should choose to stay. The Common Greenshank has been recorded only once in my surveys, but the Red-Necked Stint and the Sharp-Tailed Sandpiper have been recorded on multiple occasions over the last three to four weeks. Several other species have also arrived or, in some cases, returned: the Whiskered Tern (Chlidonias hybridus; one flock contained almost 40 individuals), the Black-Winged Stilt (Himantopus himantopus), the Red-Kneed Dotterel (Erythrogonys cinctus), the Black-Tailed Native-Hen (Gallinula ventralis) and the Australian Reed-Warbler (Acrocephalus australis). The lake appears to have sufficient resources to support these new arrivals, without any obvious diminution in the year-round resident population.

Six species of duck have been recorded on the lake, the most common being the Pacific Black Duck (Anas superciliosa), the Grey Teal (Anas gracilis), and the Australian Wood Duck (Chenonetta jubata). Among the shorebirds, the Masked Lapwing (Vanellus miles), the White-Faced Heron (Egretta novaehollandiae), the Black-Fronted Dotterel (Elseyornis melanops), the Royal and Yellow-Billed Spoonbills (Platalea regia and Platalea flavipes) and the Eastern Great Egret (Ardea modesta) are the most common. Small groups of Silver Gulls (Larus novaehollandiae) and large flotillas of Australian Pelicans (Pelecanus conspicillatus) are often seen. Seven species of raptor have also been recorded in the area. The most common are the Black-Shouldered Kite (Elanus axillaris) and Nankeen Kestrel (Falco cenchroides). Large mixed flocks of Whistling Kites (Haliastur sphenurus) and Black Kites (Milvus migrans) are also seen from time to time.

Red-Necked Stint (Calidris ruficollis)

Red-Necked Stint (Calidris ruficollis)

The wetlands at the southernmost end of the lake support a number of small birds, including the Superb Fairy-Wren (Malurus cyaneus), the Red-Browed Finch (Neochmia temporalis), the Golden-Headed Cisticola (Cisticola exilis) and the Australian Reed-Warbler. Larger waterbirds are sometimes spotted here, most notably the Black-Tailed Native-Hen and Dusky Moorhen (Gallinula tenebrosa). Brown Quails (Coturnix ypsilophora) were recorded here several months ago but may not be present any longer.

Golden-Headed Cisticola (Cisticola exilis)

Golden-Headed Cisticola (Cisticola exilis)

The surrounding parks support several species of native woodland bird. The most common are the Weebill (Smicrornis brevirostris), the Yellow and Yellow-Rumped Thornbills (Acanthiza nana and Acanthiza chrysorrhoa) and the Red-Rumped Parrot (Psephotus haematonotus). These areas also contain a number of familiar urban and introduced species.

White-Faced Herons are sometimes seen in the fields on the opposite side of Lake Albert Rd. A group of eight Cattle Egrets (Bubulcus ibis) in partial breeding plumage was also recently recorded here.

In all, 83 species (79 native, 4 introduced) have been recorded on and around the lake since April of this year. A full list is available here.


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