We’re on the map for birds who want to just duck in

Port Douglas & Mossman Gazette - - NEWS - Mur­ray Hunt

OVER the past 15 years or so, Trop­i­cal North Queens­land has en­joyed an in­trigu­ing in­flux of new in­ter­na­tional vis­i­tors.

In­creas­ing num­bers of Pa­pua New Guineans are sea­son­ally visit­ing our shores to en­joy cooler climes.

Not only is the level of vis­i­ta­tion in­creas­ing but in­flux is mov­ing ever fur­ther south­ward.

Anti-im­mi­gra­tion sen­ti­ment though is not war­ranted as on this oc­ca­sion the mi­grant is a pretty lit­tle duck.

Orig­i­nally from Pa­pua New Guinea, Spot­ted Whistling­ducks are del­i­cately spot­ted and en­gen­dered with a dis­tinc­tive whis­tle call.

They have slowly been colonis­ing North Queens­land. First they were only seen around Weipa.

Then they were also ob­served in the wilds of the Lake­field area.

A few years later their most southerly limit was Cook­town. More re­cently they have found the de­lights of Cairns.

Cat­tana Wet­lands is a favourite, as is Cen­te­nary Lakes. So far the south­ern limit of their trav­els is Lucinda.

Vis­i­ta­tion seems to be highly sea­sonal with a pref­er­ence for the sum­mer Wet Sea­son. Their fu­ture range is de­bat­able, as is whether they will even­tu­ally be­come per­ma­nent res­i­dents.

Spot­ted Whistling-ducks were first ob­served en­joy­ing the plea­sures of the Dain­tree five years ago.

Now they seem to have been en­chanted by its ro­man­tic spell.

In late April a fam­ily with five ma­ture duck­lings was seen on the Dain­tree River.

In the fol­low­ing days, lo­cal breed­ing was con­firmed with an­other fam­ily, in­clud­ing eight tiny duck­lings, found on the wet­lands of Dain­tree Vil­lage property ‘Wild Wings and Swampy Things Na­ture Refuge’.

This event is sig­nif­i­cant as it is the most southerly breed­ing record for this species in Aus­tralia.

It must be par­tic­u­larly pleas­ing for the own­ers, Bar­bara Maslen and Allen Sheather, after spend­ing an im­mense amount of ef­fort reveg­e­tat­ing their property.

Picture: ALLEN SHEATHER

Spot­ted Whistling Duck fam­ily in the Dain­tree

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