Quest for Princess Parrot and Letter-wing Kite

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Subject: Quest for Princess Parrot and Letter-wing Kite
From: "michael hunter" <>
Date: Mon, 26 Aug 2002 12:43:01 +1000
  Part One
   Returned from a hectic trip to Central Aus.last night, plans to attend
the Birds Australia  conference in Alice Springs having succumbed to a quick
visit to Wells 39 and 40 on the Canning Stock Route, where six Princess
Parrots were seen flying over by at least two reputable birders on two
separate occasions six weeks ago.
   At the moment, the fastest and easiest overland way to Lake Tobin, which
lies between Wells 39 and 40 and around which PPs have been most regularly
seen, is via the Gary Junction Highway, to Well 33, a long day's drive on a
brand new "made" road, mostly  gravel surfaced, refuelling available at
Papunya, Kintore, and the Kanawarrji Community at Well 33 .( transit and
refuelling permit obtainable on request from the Central Land Council at
Alice Springs)
   From Well 33,  it took six hours through the dunes to Lake Tobin. Most of
the wells and some of the track were underwater, slow detours prolonged the
passage, as did a couple of boggings in the sand before I let the tyre
pressures down to 15 - 20psi.
     Thirty five vintage tractors filled the campsite a few dunes north of
Well 39, the PP site, along with an entourage of trailers and four-wheel
drives, indulging in some kind of self-flagellation/penance by "doing the
Canning" from North to South in convoy, very slowly. None had seen a
Princess Parrot fly over (none was interested in birds), and neither did I.
     Thomas & Thomas saw 120 PPs feeding on Spinfex seed when they camped
about 2km North of Lake Tobin some years ago , and at dusk I camped among
low dunes in that vicinity . No birds  next morning, here or at the Well 39
campsite. There was NO spinifex seed, the waving plumes contained empty
husks, here and everywhere else. Pied Honeyeaters up close and being mobbed
by thirty hysterical Variegated Fairy-wrens when I squeaked were the
morning's entertainment.
     Although hoping to spend two or three days looking, a niggle in my mind
turned into a nag;  those tractors would be stuck on side-tracks running
through soft sand on top of the dunes for at least a week blocking the way
completely. At midday I left, catching up with the tractors after ten
minutes. They had left three hours before. They were very unhappy chappies,
even three tractors harnessed together were bogging down on one of the first
      Used more than twice as much diesel on the CSR as cruising the Gary
Rd. Overnighted and refuelled at the Kanawarrji Community at Well 33, left
at dawn and arrived back at Alice Springs at 7.30 that night.
       Will try again earlier next year.

Michael Hunter
Mulgoa Valley
50km west of Sydney Harbour Bridge

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