Planning a trip to Longreach next year, & would
appreciate some information
on some good birding sites/ areas to find anything unusual!
After two good years, currently culminating in what looks like being
the best season in years, inland Qld from the NSW border north to at least
Winton and Hughenden is a sea of green. It is just wonderful, and aren't
the birds loving it! Travel just now does have one or two restrictions,
though. I had to drive through 60cm of water to cross the Bulloo at Quilpie
last weekend and there's a lot more over the Cooper near Windorah and Jundah,
and probably Stonehenge too. There's a new flood warning on the Paroo as
well. In other words, access is going to be restricted for a little while
yet. Also, the mozzies and sandflies are loving the wet, and can be pretty
unpleasant if you're not used to them and not prepared with repellant,
nets etc. I thought seeing my first nesting Masked Woodswallow more than
made up for a few bites, though!
Anyway, if you are travelling later on in the year when it's cooled
off and dried up a bit, these restrictions shouldn't bother you. Lynn,
you haven't specified anything in particular and I don't know what you
have or have not seen, so I'm just sticking to generalities. The grasslands
around Longreach should be alive with budgies and Cockateils, and you will
quickly note that the Bustards and Emus are having a 'banner year' as the
Yanks say. You should do well for raptors too - watch out for Black Falcon
and Black-breasted Buzzard among the zillions of Black Kites. Crimson Chats
can turn up anywhere, though I think they prefer the shorter, sparser grasslands.
Flock Bronzewings are a possibility too, though more regular further north
in the Winton-Hughenden-Cloncurry triangle. I'm plugging the grasslands
here because they tend to get overlooked, with most people finding them
long, boring interludes between towns. Ah, if they could only stop and
see the gems at their feet!!!
If you are in the Longreach area, go to Winton and from there to Bladensburg
National Park, just out of town. This park gets overlooked by many travellers
but deserves a much higher profile. It has river frontages, Mitchell grass
plains and some wonderful rocky plateaux with permanent and semi-permanent
rock holes. These latter are excellent for birds like Painted Finch, Grey-headed
Honeyeater, Spinifex Pigeon. All the woodswallows are in the Longreach-Winton
area, but Bladensburg is good for Littles, which can be a bit hard to get
onto elsewhere. Rufous-crowned Emu-wrens are there and I can see no reason
why Spinifexbird and Striated Grasswren shouldn't be, too. If you are after
these, a trip to the park might save you more driving out to Lark
Quarry and Opalton, the better-known locations. Mind you, these areas,
and the extensive mulga-spinifex vegetation en route have their
own special values (e.g. Crested Bellbird, Hall's Babbler) and are well
worth the drive if you have the time.
While in Winton, you might like to pop into the small sewage ponds
there. Great little spot for Baillon's Crake, mobs of Clamorous Reed-warbler
and Little Grassbird and the odd vagrant or en passage wader e.g.
Latham's Snipe, Sharp-tailed Sandpiper and Marsh Sandpiper. You never know
what might turn up on this little wetland - I have a little pet theory
that wandering Yellow Chat will one day colonise the reedbeds. It's good
manners to check with the local council first.
When in Longreach, Winton and other centres in the west, please let
the people from whom you are buying fuel, food, accommodation know that
you are there supporting their businesses because of their local birds.
Help conservation by helping people attach value to their local wildlife!
Tel: (07) 4622 4266 Fax: (07) 46 22 4151