A summary of Australian painted snipe Rostratula australis sightings in the Wanganella area
from November 2010 to February 2011

Wanganella has become Australian Painted Snipe Central with fifteen to seventeen individual birds recorded over late spring and summer. They were recorded as singles, pairs or family groups on thirteen occasions.

The first sighting was on 23 November when a pair was recorded at the Wanganella swamps (8 Mile Creek wetlands) south of Wanganella. On 27 Novembe two males and a female and a nest with four eggs were recorded at this same spot.  Three of these eggs are thought to have hatched and young successfully fledged.

On 28 January six birds were located at another wetland about three kilometers south of the nesting locality. Some of these were immature birds with one adult female present. These are thought to be the nesting birds from 8 Mile Creek given the numbers line up — three adults and three immatures.

A single adult male was seen at night feeding in a table drain north of Wanganella on 12 January and not seen again at that locality. Photo of 12 January snipe.

 A group of five to seven painted snipe was located by Robert Nevinson on 22 February and despite an extensive search by Robert, his father John, Stuart Rankin and me on 26 February these birds were not located on that day. Subsequently, John saw two of this group, a male and a female, on 27 February at the original locality.

While Robert, John, Stuart and I didn’t find the group we were searching for on 26 February, we did see another three birds (two males, one female) at another location north of Wanganella on that day. The behaviour of one of the males suggested they had bred, i.e., a male circled us a number of times in a similar fashion to the male at 8 Mile Creek swamp when young were present.  Hopefully this will be confirmed in coming weeks.

Good numbers of Australian painted snipe should breed on the riverine plain this season. Wetlands comprising tens of thousands of hectares are currently spread across the plains. Every depression of lignum, nitre goosefoot and canegrass is filled with water, providing good breeding habitat for painted snipe.  It will be a bumper year for this stunning species.

Video of the 12 January bird can be seen at http://www.youtube.com/user/AOS3141

Philip Maher


Australian painted snipe were observed on these dates.
27 February 201, 26 February 2011, 22 February 2011, 29 January 2011,
28 January 2011, 24 January 2011, 12 January 2011,
19 December 2010, 13 December 210, 11 December 2010,
5 December 2010, 27 November 2010, 23 November 2010