Dusky Grasswren (race Ballarae) territory extension

To: "Bob Forsyth" <>, "Messages Birding-aus" <>
Subject: Dusky Grasswren (race Ballarae) territory extension
From: Helen Horton <>
Date: Sat, 06 Apr 2002 08:30:08 +1000

Good to hear about the grasswrens. I suspect that there are more of them around than anyone knows about. After all there's a lot of country out there where birdoes haven't been.

Certainly most of the places where we used to see them regularly were on ridges or plateaux but again I suspect that is because we knew that that was the quickest or most likely place to find them.

However, I remember following them up gullies from their base, and the nest that Bill and Sam studied (from which they wrote up the original screed) was out on a flat, away from the bottom end of a gully.

Anyway, I can share your excitement at extending their known range.

Best wishes

Helen H.
At 01:25 AM 3/04/02 +1000, Bob Forsyth wrote:
g'day all,
On Easter Friday (29/3/02) at 5.00pm I recorded a pair of Horton's form Dusky Grasswren
(race Ballarae) at 19 57 30 / 139 59 18
This is 9.5 air km NW of Kajabbi and 98 air km NE of Mount Isa. A substantial extension of
their known territory.

The habitat was identical to the normal rocky, low spinifex covered inhospitable habitat where they are found south of the Mount Isa to Cloncurry Highway. The location of this sighting is to be expected as the type of habitat is continuous from this species known

I was driving up to the deserted town site of Dobbyn when I saw a single unidentified bird
jump up from momentarily from the spinifex.
(My first thought was it could have been a Carpentarian Gw which have been recorded
further north on Gunpowder Creek.)

I stopped my 4wd and walked into the spinifex to see if I could get a positive
Almost immediately I flushed a bird which flew a few metres towards the adjacent Mt McKeon
and drop back into the spinifex.
This was repeated 4 times before I got a clear view of a pair of DGw hiding in the shadow
of a spinifex clump.
The rufous flank of the female was seen clearly through my 10X42 binoc's. After about 10
seconds in full view they were gone.

The DGw normally feeds on the sides of rocky, spinifex covered hills. It is rare but not
unknown to record them at the base of these hills.

This record I consider to be my most important. Much more so than seeing vagrants well
outside their normal range.

As a bonus at the nearby old Kalkadoon townsite I recorded 27 species including Square-tailed kite, Pictorella Mannikin, Painted F, Long-tailed F, Black-chinned H/e,
Spinifex Pigeon.

All in all a good weekend.

Regards, Bob Forsyth, Mount Isa, NW Qld.

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Helen Horton

07-3289 1068

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