Sean Dooley and I are just back from a
week on Christmas Island where we had a slightly disappointing time considering
the excitement of the previous week, (see Dion's posting of 10 March) and the
number of observers present (Glenn & Jenny Holmes, David James & Jeff
Middleton were also there). In spite of much effort, we failed to find the
Malayan Night Heron and Watercock seen just two days before our
Cinnamon Bittern. In late February a
live but emaciated Cinnamon Bittern was picked up by Environment Australia
staff. It died within days. As I was asked to identify the specimen and this is
a new bird for Australia, I'll be making a BARC submission.
Possibly of relevance to the above is
the sad story of another that got away. At first light on 13 Mar., Sean and I
flushed a small all-dark bittern from a road-side gutter. We followed it
across adjacent open land to the edge of forest at the base of a cliff.
Believing we had it confined in a clump of broad-leaved plants we waited till
full light to flush it out. Somehow, it dematerialised!!!!!
Other vagrant herons seen were Cattle
Egret, Striated Heron and Black Bittern.
White Wagtails. On 11 & 12 Mar. we
had 1 or 2 ocularis. I think this is only the second Australian record
of this subspecies. On 18 Mar. we had 2 ad. breeding male leucopsis,
both very tame and photogenic. The one found by David James about 12 days
previously was similar.
Pin-tailed Snipe. At 08.00 on 15 Mar.
one, heard to call, dropped steeply from flight into vegetation 20 m ahead of
us. The small size (compared with Emerald Dove), fanned tail, legs and
underside of wings were clearly visible. As we moved forward for another
view, 3 more snipe, also calling, approached from the same direction as
if to join the first bird. Startled by our presence they veered and
headed away to the north. The grounded bird also flew off.
We saw 32 species including all
endemics and Little Black Cormorant.