Twitchers aflutter for falcon

THE first sightings of a black falcon in Bundaberg skies have had avid bird watchers in a flap for two weeks.

Enthusiasts Bill Moorhead and his son, Jack, were riding their bikes last Sunday when they spotted the bird perched on a power pole on Waterview Street, North Bundaberg.

“It had a smaller head, lower posture and we thought it could have been a black falcon,” Mr Moorhead said.

Jack stayed near the power pole while his dad rushed back to their home, about 300 metres away, to collect bird-watching tools such as binoculars and a camera.

After photographing the bird, the father-and-son team posted the picture on a web page dedicated to sightings in the city area.

“We were quite excited about it,” Mr Moorhead said.

“The first thing we wanted to do was check with other birders that it was correct.”

Other passionate bird lovers were soon clucking their confirmation it was a Falco subniger, commonly called a black falcon.

“These are a bird you normally see out in the desert,” Mr Moorhead said.

“They don't normally come near the coast.” Usually inhabiting channel country, areas near Uluru and other outback centres, Mr Moorhead believes it is the first time the desert bird has been seen in this region.

Some of the characteristics that make the black falcon different from other types found here are its wing shape and colouring.

Jack saw the black falcon again the next day near his home, and another watcher recorded a sighting of what is believed to be the same bird at the Port of Bundaberg.

Mr Moorhead said he thought the black falcon may have flown to the coast hunting for food because of the devastating drought inland.

Bundaberg Bird Observers Club president Trevor Quested said he was excited by the find.

“We had to check very thoroughly that's what we were seeing and we identified it by its important features,” he said.

“It's just doing what falcons do: frightening the hell out of every other bird in the area.

“It's not as if it's on migration.

“It's a nomadic visitor.”

Mr Moorhead said black falcons did a good job of getting rid of vermin. “We should be happy to have them around,” he said.

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