6 May Sydney to Bourke
7 May Bourke, couldn't go to Currawinya National Park due to water (Paroo River
1.5 metres over road at Eulo). Go via
Enngonnia, Barragun and Cunnamulla to Eulo Bore to camp for night
8 May Eulo Bore and nearby, couldn't go to planned site on private property
near Cunnamulla due to boggy roads. Go via
Cunnamulla and Charleville to camp 130km east of Quilpie
9 May Move on via Quilpie, Yambutta Creek and camp near Eromanga
10 May Eromanga, Cooper Development Road, Coonaberry Creek road, back via
Eromanga to Quilpie (motel night!)
6 May - I'm off for a month of birding in Western Queensland with Richard
Jordan and Emu Tours. Long drive to put as many
kilometres as possible between ourselves and Sydney. 140km south east of
Bourke: 4 Major Mitchell's Cockatoos are a nice
start to the trip. Seen in various places over the next four weeks, but mainly
only pairs, no big flocks.
7 May - morning walk in Bourke produces 10 Red-tailed Black-Cockatoos flying
down the river. Already into Little Crow
country, with them giving their distinctly different call (different to Sydney
Australian Ravens that is).
My previous outback trips were to very dry country: I was keen to see these
areas after the floods and "the wet" of earlier
this year. As we drove along, water was lying in shallow pans and in various
places it was deeper, producing such sights as
31 km north of Bourke at 29 49 09 S, 146 00 18 E - Red-kneed Dotterel, being an
adult and 3 immatures, the first of
innumerable White-necked Herons for the trip, Royal and Yellow-billed
Spoonbills. Nearby Spotted Harrier flying low over the
47.7km north of Bourke at 29 39 53 S, 145 52 30 E. One of the purposes of the
trip was atlassing for the RAOU Atlas, hence
we formed in groups and every so often just alighted from the bus about a
kilometre apart to explore any "promising looking"
bush. Here we found our first Hall's Babbler, and this was the first of MANY
sightings of this species.
Day ends at Eulo Bore, where the camping area was dry. I enjoy a walk at dusk,
watching Chestnut-crowned Babblers as they
went into their nests via the side entrance. Until sunset there was much
babbling, then a few peeps and then they were fully
quiet within 5 minutes. Babblers quiet!
8 May - I slipped on what looked like innocently dry earth, only to discover it
still very mucky underneath - trousers
covered with mud and me a little closer to "the wet" than I would have liked.
Off we go 2.5km away (28 06 28 S 145 13 19 E) with a successful search for
Chestnut-breasted Quail-thrush. I'd seen them
before only on the ground; this time the male went 2-3 metres up a tree and
stood calling (call comprised 2 peeps then a
And a lifer for me (no. 494), the Grey-headed Honeyeater. Eulo Bore itself
also gave us Blue-faced Honeyeater, Red-winged
Parrot, Blue Bonnet (yellow vented form) and Singing Honeyeater.
Eulo Bore to Cunnamulla gives our first Brolga (2 adults and an immature), and
the stretch from Cunnamulla to Charleville
results in 10 separate sightings of Emus, the biggest group being 14.
9 May - 5am I looked out for the meteor showers from Halley's Comet tail and
saw them. Wow!
Our camping spot 130km east of Quilpie at 26 39 15 S, 145 34 16 E gave us 50
rasping Apostlebirds at dusk last night which
are gone this morning. Brown-headed Honeyeater pecks long/thin shaped "lerps"
off gum tree stalks, and Crested Bellbird
graces us with wonderful song.
On to Quilpie and we get our first Australian Bustard nearby - 1 was in long
grass and it magically disappeared in front of
60km east of Eromanga (26 36 28 S, 145 50 26 E) in some partly unpromising
countryside (many dead trees along one stretch)
are our first Bourke's Parrot - 6 of them giving some very obliging views. And
I get lifer no. 495: Little Button-Quail.
Into Eromanga and we set up a bush campsite (26 40 58 S, 143 14 10 E) amongst a
huge number of pricklies and spikies. One
thing about the grasses and plants responding to the earlier rain: they are
all in a frenzy to reproduce and have found
every conceivable hook and other means to attach their seeds and buds to you
and your skin. Even with gaiters, they seemed
to find their way into your shoelaces, socks and trousers, T shirts and jumpers
in the sneakiest ways.
My lack of enthusiasm for this particular campsite is quickly overcome: 60
Cockatiel are wheeling around and whistling,
giving a lovely welcome. Immature Pied Butcherbirds (like so many birds over
the next four weeks) are feasting on the
abundance of grasshoppers - easy pickings.
And the morning of 10 May was just fabulous birding: I recorded 30 species
including Ground Cuckoo-Shrike perched in a tree
only 4 metres from me, Grey Falcon, Collared Sparrowhawk, the lovely piping
call of the Pied Butcherbird, Peaceful Dove (I am
still amazed at how tiny they are) and White-winged Triller in non-breeding
10 May we continue our target of atlassing, particularly areas not done before,
and so head out south east on the Cooper
Development Road and the Coonaberry Creek road. Habitat distinctly changed to
stony plains and hills.
This gives us Peregrine Falcon (26 48 42 S, 142 56 26 E) flying around the top
of the highest hill in the area and, as would
be expected in stony ridge areas, more Chestnut-breasted Quail-thrush (25 48 16
S, 142 51 05 E) and this male was SOOOOOO
close and clearly out in the open, it was breathtaking. Here also Crimson Chat.
Our lunchspot at 25 48 08 S, 142 49 52 E had Australian Owlet-nightjar - this
was the first of a few sightings and it was
almost as if they'd never seen people before and came out to look at us
(remembering some of these areas hadn't had atlas
sheets before). More Crimson Chat, Budgerigar and a fearless Willie Wagtail on
the back of a Brown Falcon.
This general area was wonderful, with other goodies such as Hooded Robin,
Rufous Songlark, Black-faced, White-breasted and
Masked Woodswallow, Brown Goshawk, Southern Whiteface and Pallid Cuckoo. I
recommend it to other birdos.
And have now seen some lovely eremophila, pea flowers and hop bush.
10 May ends in a motel at Quilpie - boy is that shower welcome after 3 days of
bush camping in glorious autumn weather. And
I finish the daylight hours watching 600 Budgerigars settling into 3 gum trees,
chattering and moving from tree to tree as
they jockeyed for a better position.
More reports to come.
Concord West, 12 km from Sydney city, NSW, Australia
33 50' 17" S 151 05' 25" E