2008: Lightning Swamp, Perth

Australian Reed Warbler

For a swamp this didn’t support any waterbirds. It wasn’t exactly up to Middle Earth standards, dry scrub being a better description. Perhaps the solitary trickle of stream bisecting the reserve occasionally upgraded it to full-blown marshiness. So it held the usual array of arid specialists: silvereyes, fantails and magpies.

The one watery species I did encounter, for its first trip record, was Australian reed warbler, Acrocephalus australis. The Acrocephalus bit means it’s in the same genus as our birds, which is unusual. Australian species normally form their own genus, if not family, so genetically isolated are they. What’s stranger about this reed warbler is that it’s more closely related to our sedge warbler than our reed, despite looking exactly like the latter.

Then the lifers kicked in. I finally got enough on a western thornbill to be happy with it. I’d been seeing and hearing suspicions of them for days without being able to bag one. It’s a true LBJ with almost nothing distinctive about it and that, like our own garden warbler, is its best field mark. When you’ve eliminated everything else, it can only be… western thornbill in this case.

My 893rd lifer was a brown goshawk briefly floating over at the end of a perfect Friday evening. I still had the car for a few hours the next morning and entertained notions once again of maybe hitting 900 before South Australia took over.

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