Port Augusta and northern SA bird news

To: "" <>
Subject: Port Augusta and northern SA bird news
From: "Baxter, Chris (DEH)" <>
Date: Thu, 4 Oct 2001 11:21:47 +0930
Howdy All

I have been off the scene for a couple of weeks due to breaking a couple of
ribs-not much fun that! On the mend now and back into the fray. Have been
keeping an eye on the Birding-Aus Chatline and keeping up to date with the
"birdy" happenings around the place. Most interesting and informative and I
reckon this chatline concept is great. Had some time on my hands and made up
a bit of a summary of what's been happening around Port Augusta (tip of
Spencer Gulf) and in the Desert Parks Region of SA of late re: interesting
bird observations.

Presently there is quite a spectacular influx of Pied and Black Honeyeaters
in the acacia/chenopod association on the outskirts of Port Augusta and
beyond. The Balcks are in really good numbers which is often not the
case-mostly being just a few compared to great hordes of Pieds. The
Eremophila garden in the town's Arid Lands Botanic Park is proving to be
popular attraction for these two species. There are also many Crimson and
Orange Chats around as well as Masked and White-browed Woodswallows.
White-breasted Woodswallows are a recent breeding visitotr to our town which
has been most welcome. Redthroats and Calamanthus are singing away to their
hearts content in many areas of chenopod association. Port Augusta's
outskirts are alive with the sound of both the Rufous and Brown Songlarks.
The former is actually within the town being quite happy to conduct
horizontal song flights from trees planted along streets etc. Pallid,
Black-eared and Horsfield's Bronze Cuckoo, Red-backed Kingfisher and Sacred
Kingfishers are back in force. The latter attracted to the
mangroves/mudflats at Red Banks (part of Arid Lands Garden on edge of upper
Spencer Gulf) along with many Rainbow Bee-eaters, Tree Martins, Fairy
Martins and the resident White-backed Swallows which nest in the clay cliffs
there. Some of the migratory waders have turned up in small numbers over the
past few weeks including Sharp-tailed, Curlew and Common Sandpiper,
Greenshank and Red-necked Stint.

A small flock of Pink Cockatoos have been flying about the town and golf
course. One pair appear as though they may breed in a hollow  in the school
grounds. Red Wattlebirds are now moderately common and breeding in the
eucalypt woodlands planted throughout the town. This is interesting as when
I arrived here ten years ago they were very rarely seen. Purple-crowned
Lorikeets are another example of this, being abundant now and nesting in the
cross arms of every available stobie pole.

Further afield, interesting observations that come to mind include Plumed
Whistling Ducks at Dalhousie Springs in Witjira NP, Grey Plover at Coongie
Lake in Innamincka RR along with several Buff-banded Rails (mouth of NW
Branch), Red-winged Parrots in Witjira NP, upper Birdsville Track area and
Innamincka RR, Flock Pigeons on the upper Birdsville Track including a most
spectacular flock of ca 1,000 at Birdsville, Bustards in small numbers at
quite a few widespread locations, Plains Wanderers continue to be turned  up
consistently in the Olary Ranges N and NE of Olary (breeding here as well)
along with the Thick-billed Grasswren (race modestus). This latter species
has been seen several times by myself in the Olary's which is interesting as
the race modestus has generally been considered to be extinct E of the
Flinders Ranges nowadays (eg: Pizzey, 199?)

Three species of Grasswren (Grey, Eyrean and Striated) along with
Rufous-crowned Emu-wren have recently been reported during a trip from
Dalhousie into the western side of the Simpson Desert. There are many other
things happening and this is just a snippet of what is happening in the bird
world of arid SA. All most exciting! Must go now. Take Care and happy


Chris Baxter

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