Oriental Pratincole and other recent sightings

To: "Michael Todd" <>
Subject: Oriental Pratincole and other recent sightings
From: "Quentin Paynter" <>
Date: Tue, 7 Nov 2000 17:19:49 +0930
Hi Michael & Birding Aussers,

Thanks for your comments.

The grid ref for the site is 12 degrees 56' 50.8" S and 130 degrees 
33' 12.8" E. 

I've been visiting the site several times a year over the last two years 
and this is the first time I've seen Star Finches there, so it is likely 
they were dispersive/vagrant or escaped birds. I was astonished to 
see the variety of rare/uncommon native birds on display at the 
Darwin show this year - plenty of Gouldians, Star finches, Princess 
parrots etc. I can certainly rule out misidentification - I'm familiar 
with the species -  having seen large numbers very recently near 
Timber Creek and at Kununurra. I was riding back to my camp site 
(by quad bike) at around 6:00pm, when I flushed a pair from the 
ground. They flew into a low bush and stared at me 'suspiciously' for 
several minutes before dropping to the ground again and feeding 
quietly at very close range (~5 m). They were very tame, much 
more so than the excitable flocks I've seen at Timber creek, though 
I'm not sure if that consitutes good evidence they were 
habituated/escapees - lots of birds seem to find humans less scary 
on a quad bike for some strange reason! I took in salient ID 
features, white spots on upperside of red tail, green, not brown 
colour (compared to female crimson finch), big white spots on 
breast etc. but I'm not sure if my memory is good enough to 
comment on age etc. I wasn't aware this was such a rare event, so I 
didn't take detailed notes. I'll have another look at some guidebooks 
this evening and keep an eye out for them when I return to the field 
site tomorrow.

As for the owl - it turned up when there was a large fire in the 
melaleuca forest adjacent to the camp, but hasn't returned since - 
ether because the fire burnt itself out or, more likely, because I've 
taken my camera + big lens on subsequent trips! The legs certainly 
appeared white (ie feathered) all the way down, but they lacked an 
obvious trousered look depicted in some field guides. I didn't 
mention the colour in my last posting, if that helps. The main colour 
of the wings was dull grey-brown. The bird looked very grey, black 
and white at a distance. Close up bright buffy-orange mottling was 
also visible on the wings. Overall the bird appeared more 'contrasty' 
than Barn owls I've seen in the past although it sounds like the bird 
may have to remain a definate don't know!



Dr Quentin Paynter
CSIRO Entomology, Tropical Ecosystems Research Centre
PMB 44 Winnellie NT 0822

PH (61)(0)8 8944 8420
FAX (61)(0)8 8944 8444

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