Aidan Sudbury and I have recently returned from a 10 day trip.
Anybody wanting a full trip list can email me, and I will send it to them as
a Word document attachment.
July 11 Melbourne-Mildura-Broken Hill, Tibooburra.
July 12 Bulloo Overflow on Piampa HSD, 8km NE Qld Border at Wompah
Gate; Overnight Waka claypan. Sturt NP. NSW.
July 13 Sturt NP. NSW, Cameron's Corner, overnight just west of
July 14 Bollards Lagoon, Merty-Merty, South on Strzelecki track,
overnight at Peter Moora creek.
July 15 26 km NE Lyndhurst, over night at CBW site.
July 16 Lyndhurst to Flinders ranges via Brachina gorge, overnight
near Stokes Hill lookout.
July 17 Wilpena Pound to Morgan (via Orroroo and Burra). Overnight
July 18 Morgan- Waikerie to Gluepot. Overnight at Gluepot.
July 19 Gluepot, onto Yarrara SF (N of Sunset NP, Vic).
July 20 Yarrara- Hattah NP- return to Melbourne.
Just five kms North of Wentworth, Aidan spotted a raptor on the ground in
long grass just off the road. Pulling over, we got great views of a spotted
harrier. It took off and flew at fifteen to twenty feet above ground and
then along parallel to the road. We followed it in the car getting some
really good views.
At Green lake (80 kms south of Tibooburra), after looking at masses of water
birds, including Freckle Duck, turning round to see a large plump looking
bird flying towards us, it was an Australian Bustard. It flew very slowly
and seemed to take several minutes from when first spotted to finally flying
out of view.
While driving down the Strzelecki Track south of the crossing, looking for
suitable trees for kites to roost in, I was starting to doubt Thomas &
Thomas (Doubting Thomas's'?) that there were any suitable trees when we
spotted two kites roosting in a large tree on the right (driving south). We
U turned and got out of the car, complete with camera. There were three
kites in the tree. There was no black mark behind the eye. Photograph, then
a bit closer, finally the kites took off. Not three but four of them. A
couple of flaps and it was clear we had four Letter-winged Kites. They
quickly found a thermal and slowly rose above us giving us great views.
At the "abandoned car" site 27 kms NE of Lyndhurst, An hour after sunrise,
Aidan got onto a small flock of whitefaces. Obligingly one hopped up onto a
small bluebush and gave us a view of the chestnut band. We called Stuart
over (another birder, who had joined us in the common quest for a most
uncommon bird). Then moving round to get the sun behind us, we got brilliant
views for five to ten minutes at a range of about 10 meters. (This time I
did not have my camera). Saw two more groups of CBWFs as we searched for
Thickbilled Grasswrens (unsuccessfully).
At Stokes Hill Lookout, (Flinders Ranges) whilst checking out our directions
for the short tailed grass wren site, We got with five meters of an Elegant
Parrot feeding on the ground. Perfect views.
On the drive from Flinders Ranges to Gluepot, I spotted our fourth Spotted
Harrier of the day flying alongside a black falcon. The falcon flew across
the road and landed on a fence post. It was unmistakable in flight and
sitting on a post, you could see the differences in tail length to wing
length compared to the more common brown falcon.
Unfortunately a passing truck put the falcon up before I could photograph it
on the fence post, having to settle for a photo of it as it flew away from
Gluepot, we followed Ken and Marilyn Rix (two birdo's we had met at the CBWF
site and at Stokes hill lookout) onto the ferry at Waikerie, and then onto
Gluepot. The four of us signed in and then went on the Callitris walk.
Walking through the Mallee, Ken stopped me from virtually treading on two
mallee fowl. I had got within fifteen feet of them without me seeing them. I
then followed the pair out of the bush across the track and back into the
mallee again, get several photographs. I even managed to load another roll
of film and got back onto them.
A little bit further down the track, chasing grasswren (striated this time)
squeaks. Marilyn found herself just a few feet away from a bird under a
bush. She called me over and I got my first photographs of a grasswren (they
have never stood still long enough for me to photograph before). Chestnut
quailthrush were becoming one of the most common birds to be seen, I had 8
at one spot.
Stopping at Hattah on the final day of the drive home to Melbourne, finally
catching up with the Mallee-emu Wren. In under an hour, finding myself
surrounded with little squeaks and buzzes, one, then two and finally three
of them hopped up obligingly on to a low branch out of the porcupine grass
for a great view.
Seeing four different grasswrens in ten days and with the exception of the
Striated, never getting anything more than fleeting glimpses of birds flying
away or through thick vegetation. It is a bit like doing a jigsaw, and never
getting all the pieces together at the same time. That's grasswrens for you.
A great trip with 22 new ticks for me.
John Crane Australia
* 61.3.9289.4777 'phone
* 61.3.9289.4788 fax