Swamp Harrier's are migrants to Tasmania arriving in early spring. I saw my first for this year on the 19th August. Yesterday I noticed a pair near Table Cape which kept returning to the same spot on the ground. Perhaps they are preparing to nest as unlike many other birds of prey, the Swamp Harrier makes it nest on the ground, often among crops.
They will likely lay 4 to 5 eggs. Survival of the young will depend largely on the availability of food and any accidental run-ins with farm machinery. Their prey includes anything from insects to rabbits as well as carrion.
By around March next year almost all of our Swamp Harriers would have returned to the mainland with only a few choosing to spend the winter here in Tasmania. Robert Green records one bird that he banded at Antill Ponds in the Tasmanian Midlands. It was recovered the following winter at Goodwood Island at Chatsworth in northern New South Wales. According to Google Earth that's over 1,500 km's to the north (as the Harrier flies).
The photos below could be better but I'm happy in that they are the best I've managed for this species to date. Notice the loose feather on the head - perhaps the result of a dogfight with the local lapwings and ravens.
(Click Photos to Enlarge)
Swamp Harrier - Circus approximans
- Green. R. H. - 1995 - The Fauna of Tasmania - Birds , Potoroo Publishing, Launceston
- Birds in Backyards - website