Rare sighting excites experts

Rare: The Australasian bittern sighted by Regina Durbridge and David Cheshire at Tolderol Game Reserve in June. Photo: Regina Durbridge.

Rare: The Australasian bittern sighted by Regina Durbridge and David Cheshire at Tolderol Game Reserve in June. Photo: Regina Durbridge.

Tolderol Game Reserve Wetlands is a hotspot for South Australian birdwatchers, and the sighting of a rare, young bird had experts excited.

Goolwa to Wellington Local Action Planning Association’s Regina Durbridge and Natural Resources SA’s David Cheshire were undertaking routine water quality monitoring in June when they sighted the endangered young Australasian bittern (Botaurus poiciloptilus).

Mr Cheshire said the reed-dweller seemed unconcerned by their presence.

“We suspected that it may have been a juvenile bird at the time given its light coloured plumage and small stature and this has since been confirmed by numerous experts,” he said.

“It was fairly subdued and not as flighty as the adults usually are, so we were able to get some really great photos.

“Australasian bitterns are hard to come by and bird watchers prize a sighting or a photograph opportunity, so we were really lucky.”

Mr Cheshire said they suspect the bittern hatched and fledged nearby as they had observed adults in the area.

“If this is the case, then it is very exciting for Tolderol and Australasian bitterns as the national population has been in decline due to the loss and degradation of wetland habitats.

“Predation of young by feral cats and foxes may also have contributed to their decline, so this is really good news.”

To become involved in bird monitoring at Tolderol Game Reserve contact David Cheshire on 08 8532 9100.