Western Queensland 11-14 May 2000

To: "Birding-Aus" <>
Subject: Western Queensland 11-14 May 2000
From: "Irene" <>
Date: Tue, 13 Jun 2000 17:09:22 +1000
General Itinerary
11 May  Quilpie, Diamantina Development Road, camp near Thylungra property 
12 May  camp, Windorah, camp 50km NE of Windorah on the Jundah road
13 May  camp, Jundah area including Jundah and part of the way up the 
Warbreccan/Winton road, back to previous night's camp
14 May  camp, Windorah, Diamantina Development Road, left turn to Betoota, 
Browns Creek, Birdsville Hotel for the night

11 May up early to go out to Lake Houdraman - plans stopped a little over 2km 
from Quilpie when we find the side road to the
Lake substantially underwater.  Plan B is birding on the Bulloo River:
*       100 Fairy Martins (the first of several sightings where the numbers of 
Martins were big/huge)
*       watched a Pied Butcherbird calling its two-noted piping call, puffing 
up its chest and really "throwing" the notes
out of its bill
*       Rufous Songlark giving a lovely serenade for a long time, until chased 
by a White-plumed Honeyeater, which also
chased a Striated Pardalote.  The White-plumed Honeyeaters are aggressively as 
"bad" as Yellow-throated and Noisy Miners
*       Brolga giving grunting and bubbling sounds
*       Immature Little Friarbird
Various highlights as we travel the Diamantina Development Road, getting out 
and doing bird surveys every so often:
*       Black-faced Woodswallow - 20 hovering over grass, presumably eating the 
many grasshoppers and other insects.  Never
seen a Woodswallow hover like this before
*       Grey-crowned Babbler giving a wailing nasal waaaa-waa-waaaa call
*       White-winged Triller - several sightings over the trip, all birds in 
non-breeding plumage.  When you haven't seen one
for a while, it takes you aback a bit to work out what this bird is.
And near Windorah at 26 13 16 S 143 18 56 E in callitris forest with an 
understorey of patchy grasses:  Red-chested
Button-Quail.  Lifer 496 thankyou.  By now various people had been seeing the 
backs of Little Button-quail as they flew away,
and at first this Red-chested flew as well.  But in this case Marie Rofe was 
with me and saw where this bird dropped into the
grass only 5-8 metres away.  And then, wonderfully, it just walked in a circle 
around us, allowing us great viewing for 30
Other goodies in this general area:  Chirruping Wedgebill, Crested Bellbird, 
White-winged Fairy-wren, Blue Bonnet and
Chestnut-crowned Babbler.

12 May  One of the interesting things about outback travelling is looking at 
the country towns.  Many are very small but most
have petrol and a general store that stocks up on all sorts of useful items.  
And Windorah gave me my first Red-browed
Pardalote (Lifer No. 497) - yahoo.  I have searched on previous trips for this 
bird with people telling me they could hear it
- but I never saw it.  Until now.  And what a view.  This gorgeous bird was 
foraging in a gum tree including hanging sideways
and hence showing its lovely crown and eyebrow.  After years of looking for 
this bird, I then had a number of great viewings
of it over the next few weeks, including one co-operating sufficiently for me 
to obtain a pretty reasonable photo.
But wait, there's more:  Spinifex Pigeon (Lifer No. 498) at a spot 50km north 
east of Windorah (24 59 50 S, 142 47 55 E).
The plumage on these birds is fantastic, with the crest amazingly tall (double 
that pictured in Slater).  When they walked
through the grasses which hid their bodies from view, we could still see the 
crests above the grasses and moving along - very
This general area also gave us Singing Bushlark, Banded Lapwing, Red-winged 
Parrot, Ground Cuckoo-Shrike, Variegated and
Splendid Fairy-wren (it's amazing how the blue is ALL over the male Splendid), 
and more Hall's Babbler.

13 May  Well you know I'm looking for lifer No. 499 by now and the keen pace of 
birdwatching was accelerating.  At a point
near Jundah (24 41 05 S, 142 51 05 E), we were exploring rocky hills with 
Spinifex, and that means Spinifexbird.  Others
found it, Richard Jordan did some mighty cooeing to call me in, and this bird 
led us a merry chase over 10 minutes, as it
would come out long enough for someone to say "there it is", then it would 
disappear and sneak elsewhere, about 10-20 metres
at a time.  The pace was now downright frenzied as I was scared I was going to 
miss out.  Finally it sat out in the open on a
dead stick (maybe we wore it down) and it provided excellent viewing.
Similar to other birds, once you had seen your first, they seemed to be 
everywhere and, again, this proved to be the first of
many good views of this species throughout the trip.  Perhaps curious about us.
The Jundah area had more Hall's Babbler (who said they were rare?), Hooded 
Robin, Inland and Chestnut-rumped Thornbill,
Bourke's Parrot, Little Button-quail, Grey Fantail and 7 Major Mitchell's 
Cockatoo (with 2 of them chomping on pademelons and
even carrying them in flight).

14 May - a brand new day and Lifer No. 500 is coming up.  What will it be ??  
For myself and others who unsuccessfully
scoured every gibber of Innamincka airport a year ago, and hundreds of 
kilometres of roadside in search of this bird, I was
starting to think it didn't exist.  But they do move north for the winter, so 
even though it makes your eyes go funny trying
to see this bird as you whip along at 60-100km per hour, I kept looking.
Someone else found it before me (they were in the front seat), but hey, it was 
still Lifer No. 500 - Inland Dotterel.  Two
birds were on a small patch of gibber and co-operated well as we piled out of 
the bus to ooooh and aaaah at these pretty
birds.  One bird even sat while we looked through the scope and snuck forward.  
And despite going through some very sparse and unpromising country today 
including much gibber and sandy plain, we also saw
Australian Bustard, Australian Pratincole, Spotted Harrier, Black Falcon, 
Black-tailed Native-hen (truly in the middle of
nowhere, but it found the one pond of water for many kilometres) and Orange 
The day ends at Birsdville, a great oasis including the motel-style rooms at 
the Birdsville Hotel, and a lovely and generous
meal, including the best sausages I've had for years (the butchers in Sydney 
just don't know how to make them any more).  The
washing machines and driers were thrashed.  Like the other country towns, you 
get the "ferals" of House Sparrow and Common
Starling.  White-breasted Woodswallows were also noticeably mainly in towns, 
and with Birdsville having a river with plenty
of water, Gull-billed Tern popped up.  And in testament to Telstra's poor 
services to the country, all telephones (both
public and private) had been out of action in Birdsville for a whopping three 
Well, finally, I've reached the magic 500.  It's going to take some doing to 
get to 600.  Anyway, my trip got me to number
514.  What where the others?  More instalments coming up.

Irene Denton
Concord West, 12 km from Sydney city, NSW, Australia
33 50' 17" S  151 05' 25" E

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