Which hide and time of day?

To: 'Canberra birds' <>
Subject: Which hide and time of day?
From: John Harris <>
Date: Sat, 5 Jan 2019 01:20:52 +0000

To a simple-minded observer like me, the fact that bitterns are ‘nocturnal’, that is, active at night, is a useful piece of information. It does not preclude them being active in the day but it is useful information to me to know that a bird I disturb at night is likely to be a bittern. There is one around here at the moment – Ginninderra Creek below Percival Hill. I have never seen it in the daylight although I am there every day. I often walk the 100 metres to the creek of an early evening. I have never to my knowledge disturbed a swamphen of a coot or any other of the different water birds which I see there every day. But if I disturb a water bird at night, and I have been able to see and identify it, it has always been a bittern , at least here in this creek. At full moon a fortnight ago, I was able to identify the bird. Now if I hear it but don’t see it clearly enough, I presume it to probably be a bittern. I do not presume it to be a moorhen or a heron, although they are common here. No, I don’t report it if I don’t ID it, but ‘nocturnal’ is a useful piece of information about the bittern and helps a positive ID if I am expecting a bittern and glimpse its shape. If I hear or disturb a bird at night, it is sensible to presume in the first instance that this is a bird which is active at night. So ‘nocturnal’ is a useful descriptor. This doesn’t mean it might not be active in daylight hours but I have yet to see it in daylight.



John Harris

Rev Dr John Harris,

36 Kangaroo Close,

Nicholls, ACT 2913


P: 61-(0)2-62418472




From: Philip Veerman <>
Date: Saturday, 5 January 2019 at 11:33 am
To: chatline <>
Subject: RE: [canberrabirds] Which hide and time of day?


I wonder about the idea of time of day of their activity. Not saying I know at all. However is it possible that the “generally considered nocturnal” is given as sort of excuse? Given that they are so hard to find in the daytime (mainly because of their habitat), that therefore they suggested as are active at night. But then they clearly are seen active in the day. How would anyone see them at night anyway, to know that they are being active? I have only seen them in the daytime but not tried at night. And that is not a lot and probably same for most others. Another observation is in the times I have travelled past marshland in the Philippines, there appear to be many bitterns of a range of similar (or the same?) species. Though not easy to identify. As in in open wet lands, they are the common birds that are easily seen whilst travelling around by car or bus (or walking) during the day although I think slightly more at dawn and dusk, you see many of them flying around. So are certainly active during the day. Maybe they also fly at night or more of them but I did not get that impression and it is hard to see them then.   




From: Steve Read [
Sent: Saturday, 5 January, 2019 10:33 AM
To: 'Wallaces'; 'Canberra birds'
Subject: RE: [canberrabirds] Which hide and time of day?


Thanks all. The two hours from sunrise this morning showed Jerra Wetlands in all its beauty, even though the bittern did not appear – probably catching up on the literature on how it was supposed toi behave!


From: Wallaces <>
Sent: Saturday, 5 January 2019 9:57 AM
To: Canberra birds <>
Subject: RE: [canberrabirds] Which hide and time of day?


Re “Mainly crepuscular and nocturnal”, this may not be the case. I am aware of many observations of them actively feeding during the day (including those made personally). When the South African representative was studied more closely it turned out to be mainly diurnal.  From the discussion in my article on the Australian Little Bittern in CBN Vol 38 No 2:

There are varying views on when ALB is active. Some examples are:

· McKilligan (2005)- “usually forages alone at night or at dusk and dawn”.

· Marchant and Higgins (1990) - “Active day and night, especially early morning and evening”, “generally considered nocturnal but, when breeding, seen flying over reed beds”.

· Birdlife Australia’s web site on the Bittern Project page does not indicate when the bird is active.

· Serventy (1985) – “Diurnal or nocturnal (evidence conflicting)”





From: Geoffrey Dabb
Sent: Saturday, 5 January 2019 8:55 AM
Subject: FW: [canberrabirds] Which hide and time of day?


It’s not really my story to tell, Steve, but I’ve seen the male once from the Bittern hide where I believe most of the VERY INTERMITTENT AND FLEETING sightings have been.  Shorty saw a juv from Cygnus.  As to time, take as a starting point HANZAB:  ‘Mainly crepuscular and nocturnal …’


Among those not having the best of years so far:  Australian cricket followers, gardeners, beetle-eating bird species, US govt workers, polar bears.


From: Steve Read <>
Sent: Thursday, 3 January 2019 3:59 PM
To: 'Cog line' <>
Subject: [canberrabirds] Which hide and time of day?


Having just returned to Canberra after eight days in the Victorian forests without email or internet, I haven’t read all the chatline emails or eBIrd entries about our Little Bittern(s). Can someone please enlighten me as to which hide at the Jerra Wetlands, and which hour of the day, provide the highest viewing probability?


Happy New Year to everyone, by the way





Image removed by sender.




Message protected by MailGuard: e-mail anti-virus, anti-spam and content filtering.

Report this message as spam  

<Prev in Thread] Current Thread [Next in Thread>

The University of NSW School of Computer and Engineering takes no responsibility for the contents of this archive. It is purely a compilation of material sent by many people to the Canberra Ornithologists Group mailing list. It has not been checked for accuracy nor its content verified in any way. If you wish to get material removed from the archive or have other queries about the list contact David McDonald, list manager, phone (02) 6231 8904 or email . If you can not contact David McDonald e-mail Andrew Taylor at this address: andrewt@cse.unsw.EDU.AU