An article of interest in this morning’s electronic Australian:
Off-course wagtail confounds NT experts
- by: Xavier La Canna
- From: AAP
- May 06, 2013
A BIRD native to the tropical forests of Asia has surprised experts, turning up thousands of kilometres from home in an Alice Springs backyard.
The forest wagtail, a species native to east Asia and not thought to travel further south than Indonesia, was spotted last Thursday by a keen-eyed amateur bird watcher in Alice Springs, 3000kms from its southerly range.
Local zoologist and bird expert Chris Watson was called in but couldn't identify the bird, so he posted pictures of it on Facebook.
Within hours others had identified it as a forest wagtail.
"It really is the holy grail for someone who has been a bird watcher for most of their life," Mr Watson said.
It is the first time the bird has been recorded on the Australian mainland, although there was a sighting in 2009 on Christmas Island.
Mr Watson believes it is also a first for a so-called "vagrant" bird to show up in Australia without first being seen closer to the northern coast.
The wagtail doesn't seem keen to leave the backyard where it was first spotted, which is a lush, green area with a bird feeder in it.
Despite its long journey, the slender bird - with an olive brown back, black and yellow wings and white breast - seems to be in good health.
Four or five keen bird watchers, or twitchers as they are known, are traveling from interstate to try to get a peek, Mr Watson said.
University of Melbourne bird expert Raoul Mulder said it was highly unusual for a vagrant bird to turn up in central Australia.
It is even more unusual given there have been no strong winds or cyclones that could have pushed it off course.
Associate Professor Mulder said it was possible someone introduced the animal, and given it was so far from home, he doubted it would try to find its way back to its normal range.