Further to bird obs for north Eastern WA and Grebe sleeves

To: Birding-Aus <>
Subject: Further to bird obs for north Eastern WA and Grebe sleeves
From: John Gamblin <>
Date: Thu, 4 Oct 2001 17:32:04 -0700 (PDT)
G'day Everyone,

I don't know if you like me get so much enjoyment from
the emails? such as the one from Chris Baxter in South
Australia, but I sure did. I sent it on to Hilary in
the USA and here is her response ..... makes for an
interesting comparison on grebe eh? I'm thinking of
creating something special for emails like this that
must boost tourism no end. Oh by the way WA is also
the postal abbreviation address for Washington, USA.

Goes back to dreaming of watching trenches being dug
in Western Port bay :^D hmmmmm thinks: what good
friend do I have in the SA tourism authority? hmmmmm

"We will watch them on the beaches,"
"We will watch them on the shore,"
"But we will never ......."

JAG the whag
Hilary Richrod <> wrote:

This is the first long birding message I really
enjoyed, this guy can write and I'm delighted to hear
about how many birds there are! Plus I do love my
grebe, here they sound like very angry squeaky toys
gone wrong when they yell at you, and you do have to
watch them striking your face, but some are gentle and
their "palmiated feet" look like leaves - that's what
I ask people to make sure they have a grebe - "Does it
have a flat-top hairdo and angry red eyes? Do the feet
look like leaves??"

Our grebe-feet here (Westerns) are greenish and really
do look like leaves have been stuck on there! ~~ and
yes their wings are thin, they resemble a very
long-necked person when swimming underwater ~~ H
John Gamblin wrote:

G'day my H,
I just got this one from Chris in South Australia, and
I think of us being there seeing what Chris see's.

"Baxter, Chris (DEH)"
<> wrote:
Subject: Further bird obs for northern
Date: Thu, 4 Oct 2001 13:52:59 +0930

HI again,
Forgot to mention a few things. Easy to see that I am
on light duties, have time on my side and am tied to a
computer eh! Black-tailed Native-hens have been in
their absolute thousands in the far north this year.

Up and down the Birdsville, Oodnadatta and Strzelecki
Tracks and associated creeks, bores etc. Many have
moved south recently and in our neck of the woods they
are being reported from up and down the top of the
Spencer Gulf by shack owners who have not seen them
for many years. This species, due to its nomadism and
habit of turning up in large numbers overnight, prompt
people who otherwise wouldn't bother to ring NPW SA,
to contact us at Port Augusta to tell us about their
new arrivals. They mostly refer to them as "mallee
fowl", believe them to be quite rare and are not that
convinced when I explain the difference between the

Other species in large numbers coming down from the
north in waves over past few weeks are Budgies and to
a lesser extent Cockatiels. I would think that they
will be turning up in southern areas now or pretty
soon. Quite fascinating to see flocks of them coming
through Port Augusta at the top of Spencer Gulf and
then fly on in streams along its western and eastern
shorelines as they head southwards.

The other interesting observation I must mention is
the first sighting of swifts for this season.

60+ Fork-tailed Swifts flew northwards up Spencer Gulf
the other day (1 Oct). They were low over Red Banks on
the E side of town and battling into a stiff NW wind.
Conditions were a bit stormy, a touch humid with
thunder clouds blanketing out much of the western sky.
Rain had fallen overnight. We generally get our fair
share of this species here during spring and summer.

On the subject of birds being picked up and NPW SA at
Port Augusta being notified of their plight, I will
mention briefly the Hoary-headed Grebe.

Over the past eight years I have had this species
picked up in people's backyards from places as far
flung as Marla, Coober Pedy, Crystal Brook and here at
home at Port Augusta. It is always on nights when the
moon is full or close to it. Grebes and other
waterbirds (such as crakes etc) seem to get up and go
when they have got some visual aid from the moon and
make quite long distance movements. They, I presume
see tin rooves shining in the moonlight and mistake it
for a dam full of water. Much to their surprise and
detriment they crash into a house! They seem to be
resilient little tikes as most are sent to me in
cardboard boxes on local stateliner coaches and are
generally none the worse for wear. I let them go on
the local saline ponds on the edge of the gulf here at
Port Augusta where this species is quite common.

The Hoary-head I collected from near home the other
night (full moon) had been saved from a dog in a
backyard. It was fascinating to look at it up close.
It was at once apparent to me how they are capable of
flights. Upon stretching its wing out I was surprised
at how long and narrow it was-something like a waders
wing! I expected it to be somewhat shorter and rounder
ie: a stubbier wing. So whenever people ring me with a
"water bird of some sort"? on or close to the time of
the full moon, I first ask them if it has it got lobed
webs on each individual toe and they invariably answer

Go the grebes!
Chris Baxter

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