One of the more exciting birds spotted on last weekend’s local bird count was a dollarbird seen at Napoleons. This is a rarity in the Ballarat region, with fewer than a dozen records here over many years.
Almost as scarce is the leaden flycatcher, found by a team at Brown Hill.
Other notable sightings from the count included Caspian terns and intermediate egret at Lake Burrumbeet and Mullawallah Wetlands, and square-tailed kites near Clunes. Lake Wendouree produced five magpie geese and a pied cormorant.
The dollarbird at Napoleons remained for several days. This species was sighted at Invermay almost a year ago, but other local sightings are many years apart.
It is normally a migratory bird of eastern Australia, with Ballarat beyond its usual western limit. For winter, it moves to islands north of Australia. It is a rather large thick-set bird, not quite the size of a pigeon.
The leaden flycatcher is also a migrant, spending our winter in northern Australia.
Like the dollarbird, the western limit of its range does not normally extend to Ballarat. However, there are occasional local reports of this species, including a few nesting.
In appearance, it is similar to the more common satin flycatcher but, appropriately, a greyer, more “leaden” colour, rather than the glossy blue-black of the satin flycatcher. The current leaden flycatcher may remain for a while at Brown Hill. Perhaps it will nest there, although no female has yet been reported.
Of the other highlights of last weekend’s local bird count, Caspian terns are uncommon, but several have been seen close to Lake Burrumbeet in recent months. Mullawallah Wetlands (Winter Swamp) is possibly a new location for it. There have been sightings at Lake Wendouree also.
The intermediate egret is uncommon, not seen every year in our region.
The magpie goose is another rarity, although up to six have been seen from time to time at Lake Wendouree in the last couple of months.
The square-tailed kite is an uncommon annual visitor to a few places in this region, while the pied cormorant is a rarity at Lake Wendouree, but occasional at Lake Burrumbeet.
The large green growling grass frog has become rather a rarity in the last couple of decades. It was formerly quite common, before a fungal disease known as chytrid fungus destroyed much of the population.
Several local people have been listening for them without success.
It is therefore pleasing to have a recent report from near Clunes.