Environment SA News

Exciting and unusual bird sightings on the Chowilla Floodplain

There have been a number of exciting finds on the Chowilla Floodplain with four bird species not often seen being recorded during recent surveys.

Exciting and unusual bird sightings on the Chowilla Floodplain
Ground Cuckoo-Shrike on the Chowilla Floodplain (Photo by Helga Kieskamp)

Seven Ground Cuckoo-Shrikes were sighted during summer bush bird monitoring. Ground Cuckoo-Shrikes are a rare, unpredictable and nomadic outback bird that occasionally pop up in funny places!

Despite many bird watching tours in the outback over the last 10 years bird expert Helga Kieskamp, who undertakes bush bird surveys at Chowilla each season, has only seen them twice before and only in New South Wales.

“I’ve never been able to get close enough for decent pictures before,” Helga said

“This time, with some patience, I was able to sneak up to one to get some great photos.”

Helga also heard the highly secretive Lewin’s Rail calling in an area of flooded lignum near Lock 6. This bird is notoriously shy but can be identified by its unique call - a weird, deep call which sounds a bit like an upset stomach!

In mid-January a juvenile White-bellied Sea-eagle was sighted at Pilby Lagoon by Chowilla's wetland ecologist Sam Hardy and most recently Sam observed another rarely seen bird, the Baillon’s Crake with its beautiful pale green bill and legs, and distinctive white and black barring on its undertail.

All of these species were found in or near areas that recently received Water for the Environment. Delivering water for the environment in dry years is particularly important as it provides refuge areas for bird species to feed and breed.

Exciting and unusual bird sightings on the Chowilla Floodplain
Baillon’s Crake (Photo by Peter Jacobs)