SWQ is in great shape right now, and for those planning a visit soon, you
are in for a wonderful time. (For those in other parts of the country, the
next few months see plenty of birders in SWQ.)
My husband, James Hall, and I have just spent a mere week in the
Charleville - Windorah and beyond area. We have been there several times,
and the more we visit the area, the more devoted we are to our next trip.
This year we went up in a light aircraft, flying at times at a mere 100
feet over the Cooper floodplain, and really had a chance to appreciate the
good conditions. It was really memorable to be flying just above a pair of
flying brolga, and at eye level with a Brown Falcon. Unfortunately a week
is insufficient, but there wasn't a choice this year. What fascinates me is
that every year is different. Whilst the species might all make their way
onto the list every year, the fluctuations in abundance are significant.
This year there is green almost everywhere. On the Morney Plain the
wildflowers are already in the early stages of blooming, but, for the most
part, the best is yet to come.
Last year, in two weeks we saw only two individual Crimson Chats. This year
there were clouds of them, as well as some Orange Chats (last year none).
Last year we saw plenty of Diamond Doves. This year we saw two. And so on.
Neither this year nor last year did we see a Black-breasted Buzzard,
although we had in earlier visits. This year we saw one only Black Falcon,
which was struggling with considerable tail feather loss. Black Honeyeaters
were calling just about everywhere we stopped. Budgies and Zebra Finches
are abundant this year, as are Banded Lapwings and Bourke's Parrots.
Major Mitchell's Cockatoo is not a bird we see often, and we saw one lone
bird. We saw Spinifex pigeons in the western part of the Cooper channels.
Although they have no doubt been there some time, it was the first time we
have seen them so far east. A local station owner tells us they are not a
rare bird on his property.
Hall's Babbler, which seems to be a holy grail for some birders, is
abundant in many parts of its distribution area. I would regard it as a
very easily located bird.
We have watched the spread of the Laughing Kookaburra over recent years.
Our previous notes locate it at no further west than 168KM west of
Charleville. This year we saw it in the Bulloo riverbank at Quilpie -
almost 250km west of C'ville.
I guess one of our brightest sightings was the family of Splendid Wrens in
Mariala National Park. James has a particular weakness for wrens, and went
all soft and soppy at the sight of a male Splendid wren in all his finery.
(He called to me with such urgency that I ran some distance to him,
expecting the rarest of rare encounters.) The splendid Wren is indeed
For the first time, we were not camping. Although we didn't have a decent
bed between leaving home and returning, I can now say that staying at the
Windorah pub is an experience worth having, and the meals would challenge
even the heartiest appetite.
If anyone is planning a trip to SWQ , particularly the area abovementioned,
and would like directions, I can help you find a couple of the more
difficult species. This is on the understanding that you are not
Inland Dotterel: for some years we have been seeing a family at the same
site, and this year there are eight.
Chirruping Wedgebills: Last year we encountered a group of about 100, after
previously only seeing them as pairs. This year the group is still in the
same place, chirruping noisily.
Please contact me directly if you want further information, and please
don't contact me at all if you are likely to disturb the birds in your zeal
to tick them. The arid zone is delicate, and needs to be treated