Willie Wagtail migration

To: Lloyd Nielsen <>, "" <>
Subject: Willie Wagtail migration
From: martin cachard <>
Date: Mon, 15 Jun 2015 01:03:43 +0000
Yes Lloyd, this year would be very interesting indeed out there in those areas.

It's great that Greg Clancy had noted that Willie Wagtails undertake a 
latitudinal migration into the Northern Rivers area of NSW, and I'm sorry Greg 
for not saying that earlier. In your area Greg, what sort of habitat do these 
wintering Willies occupy I wonder?

It's a shame that I'm not out in that Qld channel country this winter season 
too, as I often am every other year or so. But I would think that there still 
would be thousands & thousands & thousands of Willies out there now!! just a 

I can concur with Lloyd that Willie Wagtail numbers stay pretty constant here 
on the lowlands of the Wet Tropics, and I 100% agree that the wintering 
grounds, at least in Qld, would be in those vast inland plains west of the 
Great Dividing Range. It's interesting Lloyd that that area north of Hughenden 
that you have raised here is smack bang where the Great Dividing Range hits too 
- so that's the key I reckon. I have made that very same trip from & home to 
Cairns via that Hughenden-Lynd Junction Rd a number of times at similar times 
of year, and I agree with you totally. That road pretty much sits atop the 
actual Great Divide & I never had many Willies along it either, in the ironbark 
forests or the more open mixed woodlands.

I can add that the Willies do winter in southern NT as well - when travelling 
many times during June-July over the years in the Simpson Desert and in that 
part of NT say south & east of Alice Springs, I recall seeing lots & lots of 
Willies out there in that low lying country.

I also remember seeing loads of them in June whenever I've been along that 
stretch of the Barkly Hwy between Camooweal (Qld) and Barkly Homestead (NT). 
That is also a very sparsely vegetated blacksoil plain.

So it's a very interesting wintering ground these southern Willies have I 

Thank you Lloyd & Greg for actually noting this Willie Wagtail migration on 
here. Because it's fair to say that I hadn't actually noticed it as such at 
all. I know that I've seen this massive amount of Willies over the years many 
times when birding out in these areas in the winter months, but I hadn't really 
thought about it any further. It wasn't until Lloyd asked me about it a few 
years ago after he made this trip that he has mentioned here. And now that Greg 
has raised it a few days ago, here we are discussing it now!! One of you two 
fellows should write this up formally...

I wonder what others on here have to add on numbers of Willies wintering out 
there in the adjoining areas of north-west NSW, northern SA, and all of inland 
WA...??  And also what's actually happening right now in the Qld blacksoil & 
desert country - as Lloyd has already pondered...??

martin cachard,

trinity beach (nice & sunny today),

> Date: Mon, 15 Jun 2015 09:27:59 +1000
> From: 
> To: 
> CC: ; ; ; 
> Subject: Willie Wagtail migration
> 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
> distance.
> 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.
> Lloyd Nielsen,
> Mt Molloy, Nth Qld

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