Windorah, the sequel

To: Birding-Aus Mail <>
Subject: Windorah, the sequel
From: (Richard Johnson)
Date: Fri, 22 Sep 2000 09:46:57 +1000
Hi all

I was at Windorah, SWQld for a week laast week and thought that some of you might be interested in a update on the area. It's warming up now but the school holidays might tempt a few visitors to SW Qld yet.
The Cooper floodplain and the surrounding spinifex sandplain and dune communities are much drier than when I last visited, in May, but nowhere near as bad as is being reported for eastern Qld. There's plenty of water in Cooper Ck, attracting hundreds of Pelicans, Little Black and Great Cormorants. There seems to be a steady turnover of birds, with arrivals and departures going on through the week I was there. I surmise that birds are leaving the drying and fish-depleted waters further inland and are in transit on their way coastward. Lots of immature Night-Herons in the melaleucas. Unusual sightings on the creek were a Little Egret, well inland for this species, as were two Laughing Kookaburras. The creek waters are still cool and make for a refreshing dip on a warm afternoon.
The Nature Drive across the town common has been signposted at each end (one entrance on the left after you cross Cooper Ck from the east, the other on the left next to the 'Welcome to Windorah' sign) and the track upgraded so that 2 WD can traverse it with care. Full marks to the Windorah community for this initiative. This 12km drive is well worthwhile, traversing a variety of floodplain habitats and sandplain mulga / bloodwood / ghostgum communities. The sandplain communities are particularly rich in inland bush birds, including several groups of Hall's Babbler, though on this trip the Eremophila flowering had long finished and the Black Honeyeaters were gone. A nice sighting in gidgee woodland on the transition from sandplain to floodplain (stony clay) was a pair of Spinifex Pigeons. This must be pretty close to their southern limit in Qld.
The dunes on the common west of town (turn right at the grid about 5 km out) were burnt in summer last year, removing the dominant spinifex.The excellent rains since have promoted a flush of young spinifex, tussock grasses and especially, a wide array of forbs. The sandplain and dunes are covered in wildflowers at the moment, among them the spectacular Regal Bird-flower Crotolaria cunninghamii. I figure that with a name like that, I can get away with a bit of botanizing in a birding forum! For a 1/2 lifesize picture of this plant see the background to the Grey Honeyeater illustration in Pizzey & Knight, p.401 - the reason for the common name is fairly obvious. Anyway, this area also has heaps of birds at present: a nice flock of Crimson Chats, White-winged Trillers and Fairy-Wrens, Ground Cuckoo-shrikes, Halls and Chestnut-crowned Babblers among others. Budgerigars are still common in all habitats though numbers are now down on what they were earlier in the year.A real highlight of this trip was watching a flock of about 20 birds perching on Ptilotus plants and riding them to the ground to make getting to seeds easier, in much the same way as many finches do with grasses. This from the car window at a range of 4-5 metres. The bright green and yellow birds on the red sand were spectacular.
Windorah's worth thinking about before it gets too hot!


Richard Johnson
Roma District
Tel: (07) 4622 4266  Fax: (07) 46 22 4151

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