Great Birding Moments # 18 Golden Headed Cisticola
Last Thursday we visited the Tolderol Game Reserve near Langhorne Creek, South Australia. It had been quite a time since my last visit and I was anticipating plenty of ducks, waders and other water birds to be present.
A Disappointing Day
It was a disappointing day. All the ponds were dry due mainly to the severe drought we are experiencing at present. It has been the driest winter, spring and October on record in this part of the state. The channels between the ponds contained some water but overall the birding was very disappointing. There were a few Black Swans, Whiskered Terns, Swamp Harriers, Masked Lapwings and White Fronted Chats. I saw a solitary Caspian Tern, several Little Black and Little Pied Cormorants and no Silver Gulls. Several White Ibis flew overhead as did a small flock of Straw Necked Ibis. A group of three Purple Swamphens skulked near one of the channels.
As we were leaving I was feeling rather despondent. So few birds and nothing really special. I was wrong. A male Golden Headed Cisticola in breeding plumage emerged from the low scrubby bushes next to the rough track our vehicle was travelling on. He proceeded to sit out in the open and sing at volume, perched in a variety of poses for a good two to three minutes while I took a series of photos.
Range of the Golden Headed Cisticola
The Golden Headed Cisticola is not a species I have seen very often so this was an extra delight. The species is found throughout India, Nepal, SE Asia, Indonesia, Philippines and China. In Australia it is found in the northern, eastern and south eastern parts of the land, usually no more than 300km from the coast and only where suitable habitat exists.
The Golden Headed Cisticola inhabits areas of tall grass, rushes, shrubby areas near wetlands, drains, sewage plants, irrigated paddocks and river flats. The Tolderol Game Reserve is part of the Lake Alexandrina and Lake Albert regions near the mouth of the Murray River. This area is probably its stronghold in this part of the state.
So the birding overall may not have been great, but the day ended on a happy note.