Wandering Whistle-Ducks in North-east NSW

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Subject: Wandering Whistle-Ducks in North-east NSW
From: "Alan Morris" <>
Date: Thu, 14 Mar 2002 20:57:10 +1100
Hi Birders,
Chris Corben asked about the current status of Wandering Whistle-ducks in north-east NSW, as he recalls that 10 years ago there were few to be found in south-east Queensland and presumably therefore in NSW as well.
Prior to 1980 there were about 20 records for NSW since 1900, being mainly from Wakool, Gilgandra, Gulargumbone, Macquarie Marshes, Armidale, Woolgoolga, Grafton and Casino (Morris, McGill & Holmes 1981). It was considered by Frith to have been much more common in NSW prior to 1900 (Waterfowl in Australia 1967). However since by 1976 Wandering Whistle-Ducks have become regular at Grafton and Casino. With the construction of some lakes near Mooni, north of Coffs Harbour, the birds became regular there from about 1980 with up to 40 being resident. Since then birds are seen regularly in numbers up to 50 birds at Tweed Heads, Port Macquarie STW, Woolgoolga, Dangars Lagoon (Uralla), Trenayr, Emerald Beach (Coffs Harbour), Cowans Ponds (Grafton), Jabiru, Geneebeinga & Golfcourse Swamp Wetlands all at Casino (breeding reported in 1992 and since then), Macksville STW, Frederickton, Belmore Swamp (Kempsey) & Durroughby. I note that there were even 13 birds at Bagotville on 14/4/1991 as mentioned in the 1999 NSW Annual Bird Report.
Small numbers are now being reported in wetlands along the Manning River, while since 1984 up to 150 birds have been resident in the lower Hunter Valley wetlands, mostly at the Wetland Centre (Shortland), Market Swamp (Sandgate), Dungog, Tarro Swamps, Ash & Kooragang Islands, and Seaham Swamp. Breeding takes place annually at a number of these sites.
In the 2000 Hunter Region Annual Bird Report, the Wandering Whistling-Duck is recorded as being a local breeding resident and bird of passage (HBOC 2001). While numbers continue to increase in NSW, even 10 years ago this duck was probably more common in north-eastern NSW than Chris Corben had realised.
Alan Morris
Records Officer, Birding NSW
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