Saturday, 27 June 2015

June Birding Highlights

or… Some bad photos of uncommon birds.

Some of the following birds may be common in some parts of the country but in my local area I would consider them all to be uncommon to rare.
1. Fairy Tern (Sternula nereis)
On 9th May I sighted nine Fairy Terns at Cooee. It was high tide and they were feeding right at the edge of the shore just metres from  my car. Of course my camera was at home. The following day I returned, armed with a canon – camera that is :-).  A solitary Fairy tern made a brief appearance  as it flew overhead along the coat never to be seen again. I tried again in the following days without success until on the 30th May I stumbled on two fairy Terns at Wynyard. They were roosting on the sand among some Crested terns.  Although they were too far away for a good photo I was at least  able to detect that one had an orange leg flag.

Fairy Tern in Background

After reporting the sighting to the the Australasian Wader Studies Group I received the following reply:
This bird was flagged in Victoria (Australia), approximate co-ordinates 38 deg 0 min S, 145deg 0 min E, which uses the flag combination Orange. The resighting was a distance of approximately 339 km, with a bearing of 169 degrees, from the marking location. We can’t exactly tell the origin of this individual. It is quite possibly a chick from Inverloch 3 or 4 years ago. But we have put orange flags on adults as well before and after that date. Of course, if I could have somehow read that ring on it’s left leg,  I may have got more information on the individual. However it was still of great interest to know the bird had at some stage flown in from the Port Phillip Bay to Thornton area.
If you spot any flagged shorebirds you can report them to to,  or via the electronic form on the Australasian Wader Studies Group website:

2. Little Egret (Egretta garzetta)
Another uncommon bird in this part of the country is the Little Egret. One had been reported at the Don River Estuary on the 10th May and again on the 1st and 4th June. On Friday 5th, as we had other things to do in Devonport anyhow, we took a small detour to have a look. As we drove into the Don Heads Conservation Area we spotted the bird immediately. It was having a snooze on a bit of a gravelly island near the mouth of river.  A new bird for my Tasmanian list without even having to leave the car. The photo is not great but this is as close as I could get without taking a swim.

Little Egret

3. Azure Kingfisher (Ceyx azureus)
After seeing a Eremaea Birdlines report of a Forest Kingfisher on the Inglis River on 25th June I just had to have a look for it the next day. I had no luck in finding the bird but I did stumble upon another elusive kingfisher that I’ve been trying to find. It was the endangered Tasmanian  subspecies of the Azure Kingfisher, Ceyx azureus diemenensis. It is estimated that there are less than 250 mature individuals so finding one close to home was a real privilege.

Tasmanian Azure Kingfisher

4. Blue-winged Parrot (Neophema chrysostoma)
The Blue-winged Parrot is said to be abundant in Tasmania but I have to say I rarely see them around here. However, on 5th June, I spotted 37 Blue-winged Parrots perched on some electricity wires above a grassy field near Don. This was all the more surprising when you consider that in around March/April most are said to have migrated to the mainland.
I was even more surprised when, on 20th June, there were 63 Blue-winged Parrots on the wires at exactly the same spot.  Then again on 22nd there were 9  at the same spot.  It never rains but it pours.

Some of the Blue-winged Parrots at Don