Willow Warbler (new bird for Oz) and other vagrants off NW WA

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Subject: Willow Warbler (new bird for Oz) and other vagrants off NW WA
From: Rohan Clarke <>
Date: Thu, 28 Nov 2013 21:17:04 +1100
Hi All,
A group of us have just returned from a seabird and shorebird research trip to Ashmore Reef. Atypical for November, we experienced unsettled weather with towering cloud masses and distant rain visible on most days. The monsoonal trough gave rise to a Category 1 cyclone a couple of days after we’d departed. No doubt partly due to the unsettled weather we recorded some impressive rarities whilst at Ashmore and elsewhere in the Browse Basin off north-west Western Australia.

Best were:
Chinese Sparrowhawk – an immature present for two days was the first for Ashmore. Pics here: (first four images)

Northern Boobook (aka Brown Hawk-Owl) – a single flushed from a large shrub at Ashmore Reef and then only seen in flight as it departed the island. Pics here: (first five images)

Willow Warbler – A completely unexpected first for Australia. A single over several days at Ashmore. Pics here:

Arctic Warbler – One definite borealis identified by call (recorded). A second probable individual on plumage. Both at Ashmore.

Kamchatka Leaf Warbler – at least two different examinandus at Ashmore. Both were heard giving their diagnostic contact call and we managed to sound record these. The first for Australia was recorded at the same site 12 months earlier so these are the second and third records for Australia.

Oriental Reed-warbler – one present at Ashmore for 3 days.

Middendorff’s Warbler – a single present at Ashmore for two days was notable for the ‘walk away views’ that were on offer. Pics here: (first four images)

Blue and White Flycatcher – an immature (brown bird) present at Ashmore for 4 days was another first record for the reef. A second bird, a cracking adult male at Browse Island, was only the 3rd record for Western Australia. Pics here: (first 6 images)

Asian Brown Flycatcher – one present at Ashmore for four days. Another, a juvenile, was present at Browse Island on our only landing there. This latter observation was the second record for Western Australia.

Dark-sided Flycatcher – a juvenile present for just one day at Ashmore. About the fourth record for Australia.

Kimberley Birdwatching will be running a birding tour to Ashmore for 8 days in late October 2013. As well as providing some exciting birding opportunities these trips also contribute data to the ongoing bird monitoring program at the reef.
For details visit

Rohan Clarke

Rohan Clarke

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