Monday, 20 July 2009

2008: Herdsman Lake Waterbirds, Perth

The afternoon was drawing on and I was to collect a car to transport me round the south-west corner of the state. I had to get to Bayswater Car Rental (“No Birds” – hopefully not an omen) in Subiaco, which was a good opportunity to catch a train. I know, I know: I should have outgrown all that. My excuse could be that Perth’s trains work a lot better than its buses but I wasn't to discover that until a week later.

It was too early to park the motor for free back in Northbridge, so I took myself off to one of Bransbury’s top recommendations, Herdsman Lake. He wasn't wrong, nor was his information out of date. Ducks alone added blue-billed, musk, hardhead (aka white-eyed) and Australian shelduck to my world bird list. My 2003 holiday had already given me grey teal and Australian shoveler, so they just joined the trip list. So too did great crested and Australasian grebes, great egret, Australian pelican, white-faced heron, purple swamphen and Australian ibis. Rufous night-heron and yellow-billed spoonbill, however, were also lifers. This was just the waterbirds.
White-headed stiltBlack-winged Stilt

Before leaving them, one enigma remained. My Morcombe guide contains black-winged stilt (himantopus himantopus) but my computer software, Wildlife Recorder, only allows me to enter white-headed stilt (himantopus leucocephalus) to an Australian trip. In other words, the programme counts it as a separate species to the Old World version found in Europe and, very occasionally, Britain. It seems the jury is still out on this one and three other sub-species around the world. You see? Even when you think you’ve nailed a bird, the fluid taxonomic situation can unhinge it.

To confuse matters further, the white-headed stilt is far more likely to have black on its head than the black-winged. Is everything clear now?

1 comment:

  1. Christidis & Boles summarise the stilt situation for anyone who wants to wade (sic) through it.


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