Mystery bird LAkefield NP

To: "Birding Services Brisbane" <>
Subject: Mystery bird LAkefield NP
From: "Graham Etherington" <>
Date: Thu, 28 Sep 2006 17:05:15 +1000
Wheatears are starling size/build and usually perch in exposed areas,
or on low rocks and branches. I wouldn't expect one to fly into dense
cover. Would you describe the behaviour of your bird as 'skulking'?
Wheatears certainly aren't that. Interestingly though, there have been
a number of extralimital records of Northern Wheatears in North
America in recent weeks (mainly down the eastern seaboard though).
Another thing that is usually obvious of a Northern/Isabelline
Wheatear in flight is the white down the sides of the tail, forming a
thick contrasting black inverted 'T' pattern to the tail (the tail of
the 'T' is slightly thicker on Isabelline). Even if you didn't make
out this shape, the tail should easily have looked jet-black,
contrasting sharply against the white of the rest of the tail,
upper-tail coverts and lower rump.
Hope this helps.

On 9/28/06, Birding Services Brisbane <> wrote:
I have just returned from a trip to Iron Range NP (Cape York, Queensland)
and other points north.  Saw some great birds but one seen briefly has me
puzzled.  It was at Nifold Plains in northern Lakefield NP.  It flushed as
we drove along a track and landed about 10 metres ahead, in some grass just
off the track.  It was about pipit size.  We walked slowly up to the point
where it had landed and it flushed again flying about 10 metres off the
track into thigh high tussocky grass.  It had a prominent white rump and was
light brownish colour with darker wings.  Did not really see its head.  It
landed in the grass and then just disappeared, apparently running away. We
walked over to where it had landed and could find no sign of the bird.  It
did not fly away.    Nifold Plains are very flat  a lot of termite mounds
and varying grass cover.  It did not look like or behave like any Australian
bird I know.

Del Richards mentioned Isabelline Wheatear when I spoke to him from Cairns.
Since returning home to reference material, I have looked at Isabelline
Wheatear and it certainly fits the bill in terms of colour, white rump and
size.  Does any one know something of its behaviour?

I look forward to a response or two.


Roy Sonnenburg
Birding Services Brisbane
Ph 07 32566952    Fax  07 32567692


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Dr. Graham Etherington
Queensland, Australia

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