re willy wagtails
Mon, 12 May 1997 08:28:15 +1000
I've been away shivering in the Blue (aptly named) mountains for a couple of
days so I'm catching up with the back log of messages.
I realise the willy wagtail debate has probably moved on but.....I suspect
their migration has much to do with the search for food.
Back in December I was working in Ingham and coordinated the ABC count for BOCA
within a 40 km radius of the town, which is 108 km north of Townsville and
climatically on the dry/wet tropic interface. We got a 160 species - mostly in
small numbers (including a cassowary and chick) which reflects the diversity of
But willy wagtails were everywhere around the town and cane fields Every
paddock seemed to have a pair. It was oppressively hot before the onset of the
wet season, but it didn't seem to faze them at all. I suspect that their number
reflected the amount of food around - the crushing season was in full swing and
sugar cane is harvested green around Ingham, so there were plenty of insects
I didn't notice them drinking - so perhaps they get most of the liquid needs
from the insects.
Other species in great numbers were magpie geese which flew around in packs of
300-400; descending on paddocks were the cane had recently been cut to feast on
the sugar cobs. They also perched on the cane trains near the sugar mill in
their tens of dozens. The other species in large numbers were metallic
starlings and masked lapwings (92 on a single sand bank in the Herbert River)
didn't seem to avail themselves of the feast.
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