Hi Martin, Marie, Greg and everyone,
Just a bit more on the Willie Wagtail migration. A few years ago, I was
around the Longreach, Winton, Boulia area, Bedourie area for a few weeks
in late June. Willie Wagtails were everywhere, all out in very open
areas. I camped for a few days on a long waterhole just south of
Bedourie. There had been rain and the depressions between the sandhills
had water in them. Around one stretch of water several hundred metres
long where I was camping, I counted (standing on the one spot) over 70
Wagtails. They were living about the lignum, scattered shrubbery and
open water and were avoiding the timber/coolibahs that lined the
waterhole. I was back there in late September and there wasn't a Wagtail
to be seen.
Coming home from one trip, travelling between Winton and Hughenden in
late June, Wagtails were sitting on the bitumen every 150 metres or so -
probably because it was warm. The country is pretty well treeless - just
a few odd small Acacia-like bushes here and there. From Hughenden I
travelled north to The Lynd which is mostly mixed woodland. This is a
stretch 260 km long. Willie Wagatils were pretty well absent. Without
looking at my notes, I counted about a dozen Wagtails over the whole
On the Darling Downs when I lived there, they would spend the whole
winter less than a metre above ground in the sorghum stubble while ever
it was still standing and not ploughed in.
I agree with Greg in that it has to be a latitudinal migration. Overall
it is not a small movement - it is huge and involves many many thousands
of birds! There is no doubt that the open farming lands and inland
grassy plains of Queensland is a major wintering area of the Willie
Wagtail. They do not seem to reach the Wet Tropics or Cape York Peninsula.
On that note, it would be interesting to know what the situation is this
year with extreme drought through much of that area.
Mt Molloy, Nth Qld
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