From: lorne <>
Date: Thu, 26 Jul 2001 11:10:57 +1000
Hello all... Lorne here...

Back from a tremendous trip from Sydney to Alice Springs.

Got only six new ticks, but still thrilling...

1. Dusky Grasswren - One at Stanley Chasm. Three at Simpson's Gap. This
was a bird I've dreamed of seeing for years and my first view was of
four seconds duration!!! I found them hgard to squeak in and get good
views of.

2. Banded Whiteface - Two in flat area with small saltbush shrubs 21km
north of Erlunda on Stuart Highway. I tried for them on the way up to
Alice Springs, but dipped and got them on the way back. Got within ten
feet of one individual. Had great views of an individual perched on top
of shrub.

3. Orange Chat - Same location as whiteface. party of five birds were
feeding on ground. Quite flighty, nervous. Didn't have great views.

4. Western Bowerbird - Saw two in the middle of The Valley of the Winds,
at the The Olgas. Quite secretive. Made the odd churring call.

5. Little Button-quail - Saw six birds on dry creek bed on Larapinta
Drive in West MacDonald Ranges, not far from Namatjira Drive turn off.
Birds didn't hang around for great views.

6. Slaty-backed Thornbill - two birds came in when I was trilling at the
Old Telegraph Station in Alice Springs. 

Unfortunately, days FULL of rain and cold limited birding possibilities.
Of the six/seven days I was in the centre, it rained every day!!! Places
I had wanted to get to such as Ormiston Gorge/Pound, Elery Creek Bighole
and the Ochre pits, in the West Mcds were restricted by bad roads,
reduced to slime trails and mini-rivers due to flooding. Having a
conventional vehicle, I didn't want to take risks. This meant great
spots for R.C. Emu-wren, Spinifexbird, Painted Finch and Spinifex Pigeon
were off the menu, much to my disappointment.

In terms of variety of species, the Old Telegraph Station at Alice
Springs, had the most number, though nothing amazing. I searched for
Grey Honeyeaters, but no luck. 

Uluru wasn't spectacular for birdlife, but the sheer size and power of
the thing blew me away. Seeing it soaking, with waterfalls was
amazing!!! I walked all around it in the drizzle.

The Olgas... Again, not too good for birds, BUT I may have seen two Grey
Falcons mating on a wall leading to The Valley of the Winds, but they
were beyond my binocs and I needed a scope to get close up details. The
fields between me and the wall was off limits to walkers. I've read that
this area is a reliable spot for the falcons. I was in the valley two
hours before dark, with my mate. We had the place to ourselves and it
had this heavy ethereal presence that blew me away. When you're
surrounded by six storey domes of arkose conglomerate red rock and the
gloom of dusk is floating down, it tends to hit you. We walked out to
Venus and the Southern Cross smiling on us. It made losing my camera
earlier a trivial matter.

Coober Pedy was limited for birds and a tour to The Breakaways, nearby,
only produced Singing Honeyeaters. I scanned the plains for Gibberbirds,
but alas. Nightime was filled with shooting stars, alcohol and pool with
hilarious, warm, local Aboriginals!

Some other breathtaking memories... descending to Port Augusta from the
Flinders at about 6pm - this deep purple glow everywhere... the
faltlands that fell off into dry lakes north of P.A.... Lake Hart's
silence and headlands... sunrise from Uluru with Pied Butcherbird's
calls rebounding off the rock... walking up the Larpinta trail in
Stanley Chasm and having Grey-headed Honeyeaters coming close, in the
mist and rain... being in protest with Aboriginal mob at Alice - Howard
was there turning the sod for the Alice to Darwin rail link... meeting
many backpackers along the way...

Over 6000km was covered in 14 days. The most numerous birds seen were
Willie Wagtail, Little Crow, Brown Falcon and Australian Kestrel. Black
Falcons, Pink Cockatoos and a Bustard relieved the monotony. 

Overall... fantastic. If anyone wants more specific details re. where to
find certain birds out there, I can try to help.

Much respect and big ups to 

Peace and light,

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