I spent most of yesterday studying the 2014 rainfall in the Deniliquin and
Wanganella districts and our plains-wanderer sightings for the year. I
thought birding-aus might be interested in getting an update on how
plains-wanderers fared in 2014 in the our district in another atypical year,
Erratic climatic conditions have made 2014 another challenging year for
plains-wanderers. While rainfall varied from property to property in the
Wanganella district, March, April, June and September measured much better
than average although the September rainfall was particularly patchy. Some
months saw a serious shortfall in their averages, particularly January,
August, October and December. Despite this, we¹ve witnessed the best
breeding success of plains-wanderers for many years.
The year was notable in the number of months when plains-wanderers had been
either paired up or females were heard calling to males, indicating breeding
is imminent. Birds were recorded paired up ready to breed in February, June
and courting (calling) in March, May and August through to December. There
is no doubt that plains-wanderers¹ interest in breeding was due to the
year¹s fickle rainfall, prompting them to attempt to take advantage of
favourable conditions whenever they occurred, after several years of poor
breeding results and the two previous years of low rainfall.
Despite all this breeding activity, breeding success only occurred, as far
as we know, in October and November, with males with chicks seen on 7 and 29
November and 14 December, with clutches of 4, 5 and 3 seen respectively. The
clutch of 5 was a very good effort in such dry conditions. In total for the
year, we saw about five separate pairs (low compared to the 1980s and 1990s)
of which only two are known to have bred successfully. (One female is
thought to have laid two of the three successful clutches). Despite a dry
October and December, they have managed to raise at least some of these
young to full size, evidenced by sightings of independent immature birds
from late November until the present. Recently we¹ve seen an immature female
that is just starting to develop a chequered collar, probably around two
months old (fully coloured at three months) and most likely from the clutch
recorded on 7 November.
Only on one night (15 November) when two adult females were recorded, did
we ever see more than one adult female in a night.
During the year Robert and/or I went out 47 times, four of those times were
reconnaissance trips; we missed seeing a plains-wanderer six times (a 33
year record). Robert, while working, encountered an adult female in the
daytime on one occasion. Through 2014, we took out 196 birders,
disappointing a total of 11 birders, and pleasing 185.
The Latest News on our website details every plains-wanderer excursion and
sighting. The next plains-wanderer weekend is the special NSW Parks weekend
on 14/15 March.
Australian Ornithological Services Pty Ltd
PO Box 385
South Yarra 3141
Tel: + 61 3 98204223
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