Sunday, January 08, 2006

Arthur River Kingfishers

John Tongue writes: In June '05, my family and I had a fornight's holiday based at Stanley, walking, driving, birding and photographing around the far North West. One of the main ambitions of the trip was to see the Azure Kingfishers on the Arthur River Cruise. The day that we went on the cruise (the last day before they shut down for the Winter) was grey, drizzly and windy, and there was only my family (4) and one other couple. As soon as we boarded, we told them we had come specially to see the kingfishers, so we hoped they could find us one. The immediate reply was, Oh not this time of year! There are none around now!. You'll have to come back in Spring or Summer. We thoroughly enjoyed our cruise, and kept our eyes peeled, just in case, but to no avail. They're not sure where the birds go in Winter, they just know they're not around.

So... we planned to go back for a few days in November, but that didn't work out either. Hence, we've just returned from a rushed sortie to the far North West. We drove from Hobart to Arthur River on Thursday, 5th, went on the cruise and did some other birding on the 6th, and returned to Hobart on the 7th.. Who say's birders are mad? The same 2 guides were operating the cruise as in June, and they did remember us. They said there hadn't been many birds around lately--should have been here in the Spring!-though they had seen at least one, most of the previous few days. We kept a keen lookout all the way up to the lunch landing, but nothing (in the kingfisher line). While the other tourists went for the rainforest walk, we sat by the river to scan for azure blue, but still nothing. We joined the rest for lunch, then reboarded the boat wondering if our trip would again prove unsuccessful.

However, just as they were turning the boat to leave the landing and head back down river, one of the guides spotted a kingfisher fishing from low hanging branches into the river, just where the other guide said he had seen a nest tunnel. I snapped away furiously, just to prove we'd seen the bird, the results are appended here. They do seem just a little larger than the mainland sub-species--which we've seen many times--and the white "eye-spot" seems a little larger, and the blue extends down the sides of the breast a little further than Pizzey and Knight suggest.
We were very glad to have seen that one bird, as that was it for the trip - and the Southern Emu Wrens a day later--did make our trip worthwhile.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

What a satisfying trip! Any photos of the Southern Emu-wren to come? Mona