Now here’s one you don’t get to see too often. Unless of course you live in Weipa. Then you would see these guys fairly regularly on the local sewage ponds (on a side note – sewage ponds are a great place to see birds if you can handle the smell). But for those of us from anywhere else in Australia the sight of a Spotted Whistling Duck (Dendrocygna guttata) is something to write home about.
The Spotted Whistling Duck originates from the Phillipines, Central Indonesia and New Guinea. This bird was only officially recorded in Australia in 1995 when a flock was observed at the very same Weipa sewage ponds.
In 2000, fledglings were seen, suggesting the species was breeding locally. This means the bird could be accepted as a ‘breeding species’ on the official Australian bird list.
Since the mid 90’s the Spotted Whistling Duck has been seen regularly in Weipa and across the Cape at Iron Range National Park and also on Boigu Island in the Torres Strait.
Close relatives, the Wandering Whistling Duck (Dendrocygna arcuata) and Plumed Whistling Duck (Dendrocygna eytoni), are Australian residents. We have some of the plumed variety on the dam out the back of our place and they are pretty common throughout the north and eastern parts of the country.
This is why I love Cape York. Being so close to South-east Asia and with the islands of the Torres Strait acting like large stepping stones…who knows what will turn up next.