shorebirds on Kangaroo Island, SA

To: "Birding-Aus" <>
Subject: shorebirds on Kangaroo Island, SA
From: "Chris Baxter" <>
Date: Tue, 2 Mar 2010 22:03:09 +1030
Hi All

Trust all is well. After reading Birding-Aus reports I was prompted to go
out onto the tidal flats near Kingscote today to see if any Double-banded
Plovers had arrived on our shores. I walked from Cape Rouge to Point
Marsden, c 10 km NNE of Kingscote, and found 1 D-banded Plover in
non-breeding dress. It was on sand flats with four Hooded Plovers-an adult
pair with two immature. In fact, the highlight of the walk was the number of
Hooded Plovers I saw. In a two km stretch of low tide sand flats, I counted
20 Hooded Plovers-11 immature and nine adults. It is apparently an
attractive location for this species both during breeding and post-breeding
as additional birds move to this area from elsewhere.

It was a bit windy, it has been blowing strongly from SE for past three
days, and so I thought I would look further out onto Shoal Bay Spit for more
birds and perhaps a Nautilus Shell or two. I did not find any shells but was
pleased to see 4 Whimbrels, 3 Eastern Curlews, I Little Egret, 3 Reef Egret
(grey morph), 200+ red-necked Stint, 100 Sharp-tailed Sandpiper, 1
Bar-tailed Godwit, 6 Curlew Sandpiper, 4 Ruddy Turnstone, 33 Grey Plover,
100 Pied Oystercatcher, 60 Sooty Oystercatcher, along with many other more
common birds such as Black Swan (500), White Ibis, White-faced Heron and
Red-capped Plover.

Pied Cormorants were breeding on Busby Islet (a small samphire islet CP).
They were well under way with nest building going on in earnest and perhaps
100 birds already incubating eggs in nests atop Nitre Bushes and introduced
Box Thorns. Black-faced Cormorant breeding was just commencing. Pied nesting
here equates to c350 pairs and Black-faced is double that-the latter species
mostly nesting downstairs from the loftier Pied cousins who nest up in the
penthouse sites. This small islet of about 3 ha has small dunes at E and W
end with Nitre Bushes and Box Thorns stabilizing the sand. All the rest is
low elevation samphire saltmarsh with a few tidal channels almost bisecting
the lower inner parts of the islet. It is a prohibited area with permission
from the SA NP&W needed to enter. Pelicans breed here (only place on KI), c
200 pairs of Aust White Ibis nest here during spring, along with a small
number of Royal Spoonbill (breeding pairs c20 in 2009 ? first time recorded
breeding on KI), Little Pied Cormorant c 20+ pairs during spring, Caspian
Tern (summer), Pacific Gull, Silver Gull, Pied and Sooty Oystercatcher and
lots of Little Grassbirds. Rock Parrots visit here from Feb-July and
sometimes up to 50 may be feeding here on samphire spp (Suaeda australis,
Sarcocornia quinqueflora etc). On the adjacent mainland of KI rock parrots
are attracted to seeding Potato Weed (Heliotropium europaeum). This is
during autumn-winter in marginal farmland areas of the adjacent North Cape
Peninsula. The Rock Parrot appears to be a post-breeding visitor to KI from
adjacent mainland and other off-shore islands (eg: Neptune). I reckon c 80%
of Rock Parrots birds I observe are immature.

 In closing, I went to Birchmore Lagoon the other day (brackish paperbark
lagoon c 20 km WSW of Kingscote) and was thrilled to see 10 Wood Sandpipers
and 2 Red-kneed Dotterel. They are both quite rare on KI. Also here were
1000 Aust. Shelduck, c 60 Sharp-tailed Sandpiper, a few stints (no Long-toed
Stint or Pectoral S/Piper despite lovely habitat) and 50 Black-winged Stilt
of which over ½ were immature. Lucky last one that I cant resist mentioning.
Gang-gang Cockatoos have been showing well at Flinders Chase NP visitor
centre in flowering/green fruited Sugar Gum (E. cladocalyx) forest over the
past month. There were 9 there last week and 8 again yesterday. Introduced
to KI during c mid 1900s. Still survive in small numbers (and breeding) in
remote forested river valleys of Flinders Chase NP (Rocky River, Breakneck
R, NW River, NE River). Lovely things and always a novelty to see on KI.
Regular at FCNP HQ every year during Summer ? otherwise very rarely seen.
Well that?s my bit form the deep south of SA and will catch up again soon.
Until then -Take Care all and Happy Birding.


Chris Baxter

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