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Bird-Watching Delight as Endangered Birds Sighted on the Floodplain

Oct 28, 2023

In the heart of the Hawkesbury, birdwatching enthusiasts have had the rare privilege of witnessing two of the most elusive and endangered avian treasures in Australia. For the past few days, two Australian painted-snipes, considered the “holy grail” of endangered birds, have graced the floodplain, drawing the attention of nature enthusiasts from far and wide.

The Cumberland Bird Observers Club Facebook page has become a hub of excitement, adorned with captivating photos showcasing the exquisite wing markings of these magnificent creatures. Believed to be young birds, their presence has sent ripples of joy among birdwatchers, who are acutely aware of the dwindling population; with estimates suggesting that fewer than 300 remain in the wild. So elusive are these painted-snipes that, until recently, no one knew anything about their vocalisations or migratory behaviour, as Ecologist Matt Herring revealed to the ABC earlier this week.

An endangered Australian Painted-snipe on the Hawkesbury floodplain. Photo by Warren Hinder.

The sightings of the birds in the Hawkesbury comes as researchers, a few days ago, managed to fit a tiny tracking devise on another painted snipe “Gloria” to help learn more about these birds. This ground-breaking effort hopes to unveil the enigmatic life and migratory habits of these birds. “Gloria is just going to give us such an insight into the secret life of a painted-snipe,”  Herring said.

Bird watching enthusiasts have been thrilled by the sightings.

The Painted-snipe, is endemic to Australia, and is primarily known to inhabit wetland regions, where it indulges in its diet of invertebrates. 

Bird enthusiasts have come from afar to view the elusive Australian Painted-snipes. Photo by Warren Hinder.

Bird enthusiast, Warren Hinder, shared his experience on Facebook, saying, “What a week of visual delights, from witnessing two of the rarest birds in Australia to basking in the everyday tranquility provided by the Blue Mountains. A pair of Australian Painted-snipes is a true marvel.”

Hinder described it as a “momentous occasion” and said the sighting has attracted hundreds of bird watchers from Sydney and regional areas. 

The Painted-snipe is known for its beautifully patterned olive, buff and black wing markings. Photo by Warren Hinder.

Another enthusiast remarked, “When the sun made its appearance this afternoon, we, like many other birders, reveled in the opportunity to observe the Painted Snipe until sundown. The last half-hour was the perfect time for capturing stunning photos!”

Bird watchers said that the dry conditions inland have driven numerous inland bird species towards the coastal areas. As one observer noted, “No bird appears by chance; each one has a purpose for being here.”


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