Saturday, November 17, 2007

A 'new' bird species for Australia?

Last year on 10th November I had a wonderful day’s bird-watching around Atherton in Queensland. Late in the afternoon we saw a pair of Painted Snipe at Hasties Swamp. In total I saw 107 species that day the final birds being an elegant pair of Jabiru in the swamp next to Cairns airport.

Today, almost exactly a year later, Allen Gillanders this morning has claimed to have spotted a Green sandpiper in the same Hasties Swamp. The GS likes freshwater swamps.
This discovery, if confirmed, is exciting news for bird watchers – a new bird species for Australia. (Correction : Andrewt states in the comments that a first sighting was confirmed in 1998). There will be a mass exodus of twitchers from all over Australia to Cairns if the sighting is confirmed.

The GS is a migratory wader which breeds in Sub-Arctic Europe and Asia and normally does not get further south in its annual migration that the Malay Peninsula. It has been spotted once in Papua.

By the way Salon has an entertaining review of Scott Weidensaul’s history of bird watching in America ‘Of a Feather’. This is similar in some respects to the Australian history. Bird observers in the US - as in Australia - originally confirmed their sightings by shooting the birds they saw. It seemed 'reasonable' because there were so many of them. There aren't now.


andrewt said...

BARC accepted a 1998 Green Sandpiper sighting from Darwin by Niven McCrie and there have been other probable NT sightings. Unless its relocated and more details or a photo obtained BARC won't accept this sighting.

hc said...

I'll take your word for it Andrewt. I checked my facts in HANZAB Volume 3 which came out in 1996. I imagine there are many confusions with Common sandpipers and Wood sandpipers. HANZAB said there were lots of claimed sightings but none that were confirmed.

I've amended the post so thanks. Where is an up-to-date species list for Australia?

andrewt said...

IN a month or two you should be able to buy Christidis and Boles new checklist. If you can't wait I believe Peter Menkhorst used a draft to update the latest edition of Pizzey&Knight. There are some online lists based on the original C&B list plus additions but I'm not sure how exact they are.