White-throated Needletail report for 2006/7.

To: "Birding-aus ((E-mail))" <>
Subject: White-throated Needletail report for 2006/7.
From: Michael Tarburton <>
Date: Tue, 6 Nov 2007 05:13:15 +1100

White-throated Needletail (Hirundapus caudacutus) Report for 2006/07

 [Summary of 590 sightings sent to me or published where I could
find them]

Unlike the last few seasons the first report of this trans-equatorial migrant came from Qld rather than NSW. It was of less than ten birds seen on the Cairns Esplanade on 7 Oct, which is five days later than last years first reported sighting. Eleven of the first 12 sightings came from Qld this season so well done locals and visitors who took
time to look higher than the trees.

The first sighting made in NSW was of 4+ birds seen by Greg Clancy at Coutts Crossing on 27 Oct. The first report from Tas. came before
any reports from Vic.  It was made by Rob Green at Low Rocky Point,
in SW Tas on 25 Nov, where he saw 17 birds.

I find this interesting as I was expecting larger numbers of
needletails and many more reports from those parts of Vic that were
not burnt out last year.  I made repeated trips to Bunyip SF just
east of Melbourne and although I made the usual number of sightings
the numbers were well down on previous years, though I expected them
to be up.

The first Vic sighting was made on 22 Dec at Greenvale Reservoir (N
Melb) where Michael Ramsey saw 2 birds. The first record I have from ACT was made on 23 Dec when Alastair Smith saw 100+ birds at Hughes.

The first sighting I have for SA was on 29 Jan when G. Young recorded 100+ birds at Eight Mile Creek. Only one sighting was reported for
WA and that was of 50 birds on 21 March seen 30 km SW of Karatha by
Brenden Metcalf and Peter Smith.

Qld not only did well this year in early sightings but just for a
change also recorded the last 3 sightings for Australia: Tom Tarrant
saw 20 birds near Dayboro on 14 Apr, A. Boardman & T. Murphy saw 12
birds at Upper Brookfield  15 Apr. and Russ Lamb saw 2 birds 19 Apr.
at Mt Mellum in the Blackall Range.Hawkesbury

Now if you want to see WTNT’s almost every day they are in Australia then I suggest you buy a home near Paul Osborn’s new residence at Bulahdelah, NSW. Why? Well he assures me that the 75 records he sent in are only those that he could find time to e-mail to me. Thanks
Paul for sending so many and it is clear that in that location the
weather makes little difference to whether the birds are there or
not. In some parts of Australia some observers tend only to see
needletails along with the arrival of windy &/or wet fronts.

I was expecting that Tasmanian skies along with the remaining green
areas in Victoria would have been utilised more than average because
so much of the mainland forests had been burnt, but from the reports
that was not the case.  Clearly we have a lot to learn about these
birds.  Are their numbers so low that they do not need all the aero-
plankton Australia can offer?  The first sighting in Tas was  a lot
earlier than last year (see above).  The second sighting was of 25
birds near Cape Bruny Lighthouse on 5 March seen by Paul Jacobson and the last sighting was of 6 birds in Launceston on 28 March seen by
Chris Coleborn.  So again few sightings and few birds in those

The largest estimated flock size was of 600+ birds at Beaudesert Qld, where Neville Schrader made the record. Flocks of 500 were seen at Katang Nature Reserve, Laurieton, Qld, by Peter West & Sue Proust and at Windsor Turf Farm, Pitt Town Lagoon, NSW by Stuart Pickering.

The next largest flocks were of 300 or so seen at Warriewood
Wetlands, NSW by Ricki Coughlan, at Shelley Beach, Tuggerah Lakes by
Janet Chapman (per Alan Morris) and at Wilberforce Lagoon, Hawkesbury Catchment, NSW, seen by Keith Brandwood. These flock sizes are well
down on the years when we had thousands in flocks.  Are the birds
more dispersed or are there fewer of them?

Mixed species feeding was reported by a significant number of
observers.  Fork-tailed Swifts were feeding in the same airspace on
15 occasions, Welcome Swallows on 3 occasions, Dollarbirds on 1
occasion, Tree Martins on 2 occasions, White-rumped Swiftlets on 1
occasion, House Swift on 1 occasion, Dusky Woodswallows on 1
occasion, & White-browed Woodswallows on 1 occasion.

I wish to acknowledge and thank the following observers for sending
in reports or publishing them where I could find them.  Each
observers number of reported sightings is  given in parenthesis.

Alan ? (3), Frank Antram (1), Chris Armstrong (2), Barrie Ayres &
Yuko Chiwa (1), Jo Barrett per Carol Probets (3), Liz Benson per
Carol Probets (3), Jack Beseau per Carol Probets(1), S. Black (1), A
Boardman & T. Murphy (2), S. Boyle (1), Shane Brady (3), Chris
Brandis (1), Keith Brandwood (5), Denise Brown (2), Martin
Butterfield (1), Margaret Cameron (6), J Campbell (1), Carole
Carpenter per Allan Morris (1), Graeme Catt per Allan Morris (1),
Janet Chapman per Allan Morris (2), Trevor Chapman per Allan Morris
(1), Greg Clancy (2), Reg Clark (2), Steve Clark & Rob Farnes (1), T. Clarke (2), Chris Coleborn (1), Karen Collard (1), Col Collins
(14), Debbie Cooper (1), Peter Cooper (3), Carl Corden (1), Ricki
Coughlan (11), Bruce Cox (6), Steven Creber (1), John Cummings (2),
Jill Dark, (1), L Davey per Barbara Jones (1), Paul Dodd & Ruth
Woodrow (2), Colin Driscoll (7), Adam Edmonds (3), P Evans (1), P
Ewin per Barbara Jones (1), Len & Chris Ezzy (2), Damien Farine (1),
Liz Field per Carol Probets (3), Keith & Lindsay Fisher (3), Rex
Fisher (2), Jenny Flood (1), Val Ford (1), Duncan fraser (3), Ian
Fraser (2), Matthew Frawley (2), Rod gardner (8), Mat Gilfedder (42), Alan Gillanders (1), J Gotley per Barbara Jones (1), Bob Green (1), R Green (4), G Greenwood per Barbara Jones (1), Phil Hansbro (1), Frank Harrison et al (1), Simon Hayes (1), B & T Haywood (6), Chris Healey
(2), Matt Hughes (3), Greg Hunt (1), Michael Hunter (2), Lynda Hyde
(5), Dean Ingwersen (1), Paul Jacobson (1), Jannet “Glassco” (1), Michael Jarman (1), Dick Jenkin (2), Lorne Johnson (5), Barbara Jones (6), “Kamprad” (1), Joy Kane per Carol Probets (3), M Kearns (1), Kev (2), Bron King (1), Daryl King (1), Neil Kirby per Carol Probets (3), Russ Lamb (10), Ben Lawson (2), John Leonard (3), Mark Ley per Carol
Probets (8), Fiona Lumsden per Carol Probets (5), Martin (1), Lee
Mason (1), Matt (2), Alan McBride et al (1), Charles McCubbin (2),
Robert McDonald per Jim Smart (1), Barry McLean (1), Clive Meadows
per Carol Probets (2), Melbirdian (1), Peter Mellow (1), Clive
Meadows per Carol Probets (1), Brenden Metcalf & Peter Smith (2),
Jill Moylan (1), Alan Morris (3), Troy Mutton (2), Julie Neumann per
Carol Probets (4), Heather Newton per Carol Probets (1), Terill
Nordstrom (2), Michael Norris (2), Richard Nowotny (2), G O;Connor
(1), Origma (1), Paul Osborn (75), Anthony Overs (2), Peter (3),
Kristy Peters (1),  Hugo Phillips & Tom Fletcher (1), Stuart
Pickering (1), Kaye Pointer per Allan Morris (2), Martin & Penny
Potter (1), Dick Price per Allan Morris (1), Martyn Price per John
Turner (1), Carol Probets (13), Rob Quinan (2), Michael Ramsey (17),
Judith? Ramundi (1), John Rawsthorne (6), D Readhead (1), Colin Reid
(7), Karen Reid per Carol Probets (1), John Reidy (1), RO per Michael Norris (2), Frank Rheindt (1), Jenny Rich (1), Harry Roberts (12),
P Roberts per Barbara Jones (1), Margaret Robertson (1), Julian
Robinson (1), Chris Sanderson (10), Neville Schrader (3), Peter
Settle per Allan Morris (1), Mike Simpson (3), Jim Smart (5),
Alastair Smith (6), Dennis Smith per Carol Probets(2), Jennifer Spry
(2), Simon Starr (1), M Steeden (1), Margaret Sykes (1), Mike
Tarburton (27), Tom Tarrant (3), Andrew Taylor (2), Leigh Taylor per
Carol Probets (2), Paul Taylor (3), Andrew Taylor (1), Terrill (1),
Dale Tonkinson (1), Dave Torr (2), I Traverso (1), Graham Turner
(15), D Waldon per Barbara Jones (6), Wallaces (2), D Walton per
Barbara Jones (2), Peter West & Sue Proust (2), Craig Williams (1),
Tom Wilson (9), Bryan Wood (1), Russel Woodford (1), G Young (2),
Allan Yuen (2), Marnix Zwankhiuzen (11).

That summarises the sightings I am aware of to this time.  If you
have any unreported sightings for the past or current seasons please
send them in.

Please note my changed e-mail address for those reporting directly.

Many thanks to you all & happy swift watching

Mike Tarburton

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