Wagtail in Adelaide
"Joel Weintraub" <>
Wed, 1 Oct 2003 16:05:27 -0700
I was in Australia last week (arrived back in the U.S. today), and had a
in Adelaide on 27 Sept. 2003. I found a phone # in the telephone directory
for the Clubs-Birds...Adelaide/Ornithology and reported the bird to the
secretary? of the organization, who contacted the President who I believe
was going to Kangaroo Island on the 28th (but not clear how...by ferry or
plane). His wife I was told is doing surveys on the airport and had a
permit to access that area.....and I hope that they and others tried to
follow up on the 28th to try to relocate the bird.
I run a Rare Bird Alert in southern California, USA and have been birding
over 50 years. As an RBA compiler, I sometimes encounter out of state
birders who are not knowledgeable about the local fauna and misidentify
species. It is a rare occasion when a qualified birder from out of the
region actually finds a rarity. Given that situation.... I fully expect my
sighting to be relegated to "Identification Not Established". Given the low
probability that the individual I saw could be relocated, I also expect this
record to be rejected.
However, we had in 1995 and 1996 a Black-backed Wagtail in my southern
California county. It stayed for several weeks in 1995 and I became the
"unofficial" watcher of that bird when over a thousand birders from all over
the U.S. came to my area to observe it. It briefly came back in 1996. An
internet Google search on my name and Wagtail (Wagtail Weintraub) should
show some hits for that time. Thus I am *very* familiar with at least one
of the 2 species in the complex. I also became familiar with your
Australian black-and-white birds (Magpie, Magpie-Lark) and neither was the
bird I saw.
Here is my sighting. We were returning from Kangaroo Island with our tour
group in a 12 seater plane...on charter to Emu Airlines. I believe the
plane was actually from Aussie Airlines...but a number of people were coming
to Adelaide that day from KI.
We arrived at Adelaide after sunset...probably between 6 and 6:15 pm or so.
I had my binoculars around my neck.... 10X Nikon Superior E.
After landing, the plane taxied to the parking area before the General
Aviation Terminal. Right near the parking area (within 40-50 feet) I
noticed a small bird walking within a small temporary puddle of water. I
got good binocular views of the individual, and immediately recognized it as
a Wagtail...black bib...black and white bird....and my feeling now is that
the crown and back were black. I immediately called out to the other
passengers that there was a Wagtail on the parking area....and 2 saw the
bird (one birder without binocs...one non-birder).....but they didn't see
enough to provide details about the individual.
No photograph was taken and no description written down at the time.
Obviously security is high in that area and we were immediately escorted
into the terminal. I did get another chance to see the bird when
dis-embarking but it soon disappeared. I must have had about 15 seconds of
viewing time. I'm positive it was a Wagtail.....and probably a Black-backed
It wasn't until we got to our hotel that I checked my Simpson and Day and
Prizzy books and found that there were very few records of Wagtails in
In California this complex is usually a "one day wonder." In my case...a
bird on the tarmack feeding from a temporary pool which probably didn't have
much food....makes it unlikely that anyone would relocate the bird in the
same area...however I made the effort to report it and did make contact with
some Adelaide birders that evening. I don't know what they found the next
Dana Point, California
OrCoRBA Compiler, OrangeCountyBirding moderator
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