What white bird has two white spots on its black tail?

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Subject: What white bird has two white spots on its black tail?
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Date: Mon, 19 Jan 2004 12:11:06 +1100
Back on line after Xmas break. Videoed some birds, enjoyed Werribee & 
Langwarrin. Saw the usual number of birds I couldn't identify, most are of the 
"fast blurred bird" type but one is really disturbing.

What white bird has two white spots on its black tail?

Videoed on the bayward side of the boardwalk south of Hastings. A pair high up 
on the rushes. The birds appeared white to the naked eye, were too far away to 
see any streaking of plumage. On video:
  Length 150 to 220 mm
  Body white or cream
  Face darker, possibly black
  Wings very light brown
  Wing tips black OR sides of rump black
  When one was facing away from me it stretched its black tail sideways and I 
could see a very large white circular spot in the centre of the top of each 
side of the black tail.
  The very tips of the inner tail feathers are white.
  When folded up, the tail looks white from above.
The birds are not raptors or waders and are very much whiter than both the 
dusky wood swallow and the black faced cuckoo shrike.
They showed no signs of being disturbed by, or even noticing my presence.

Any ideas please.

On other topics.

I was surprised to see that the Werribee WTP bird list doesn't list the 
red-necked stint as breeding there. At the mouth of the Werribee River I 
videoed an "I'm injured follow me but stay away from my nest" act that I 
associate with breeding birds.

What's the bird, present in hundreds if not thousands, at the upper Werribee 
River WTP that is often startled out of the long grass emitting "carc" sounds 
as it flies away.

I plan to update the Australian Bird Video website soon.
Dr David Paterson
Birding-Aus is on the Web at
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