Charleville to Winton, and Bladenberg National Park, Queensland 12-14/5/

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Subject: Charleville to Winton, and Bladenberg National Park, Queensland 12-14/5/2003
From: "Alan Morris" <>
Date: Sat, 7 Jun 2003 19:56:18 +1000
Hi Birders,
Enroute to north-west Queensland for our Grassren hunt, Robin Benson and I travelled from Bowra HSD Cunnamulla via Charleville and Longreach to Winton. We left the rain behind at Charleville, and just to the north of Charleville on the Warrego River we saw our first 3 Brolgas for the trip, and opposite in a dead tree was a Hobby. On the Nive River Bridge, 40 km south of Tambo, was a freshly killed adult female Brown Goshawk and not much further on was a fresh roadkill Australian Bustard. From this point north and westwards, conditions improved, with the Mitchell Grass plains obviously having benefited from Cyclone Benny and other good rains. From here Budgerigars were common until we went south of Alice Springs ten days later, while Bustards, Singing Bushlarks, Crimson Chats and Woodswallows were commonly sighted.
Our purpose in stopping in Winton for two nights  was to visit the Bladensberg National Park, located some 12 km to the south west of the town. The Park consists of 85,000 ha of Mitchell Grass downs, Channel Country, Spinifex covered hillsides and timbered watercourses and was a former grazing property that was dedicated as a park in 1994. What a gem! and there are great camping sites too. Our interest here was because Geoff Walker in May 2001 posted a report on Birding-aus of a recent visit to the Park where he found Rufous-crowned Emu-wrens and Spinifexbirds! So prior to our visit and armed with this posting which gave a stake-out location for these two species, we contacted Ranger Rich Kierman, QNPWS in Winton who provided us with maps, birds lists etc. Geoff was not wrong! While the first midday sortee to the spinifex site was unrewarding in respect to the target species, a return visit late afternoon gave us several good views of a pair of Spinifexbirds (a new bird for Rob) and then another, but no Emu-wrens. We returned to the site next day and after 2 hours, Rob heard the high pitched call of Emu-wrens and eventually in response to our squeaking and that of the Audubon Bird Squeaker, 5 Rufous-crowned Emu-wrens eventaully climeb to the top of some spinifex and gave us great views of their rufous crowns, dark rufous backs, striped tail,and the blue face and bib on two of the birds. You could see that the tail was not as long as the other Emu-wrens. Much celebration as this was a new bird for both of us. Another pair of Spinifexbirds were seen at the site but in a different location to the previous day.
Also of interest in Bladensberg was Skull Rock Waterhole, where among the many Budgerigars, Bee-eaters, Spotted Bowerbirds, Zebra Finches and Spinifex Pigeons coming to drink, were a pair of Painted Firetails and a number of Grey-headed Honeyeaters (again the two latter species being new birds for Rob). Other interesting birds in the Mitchell Grass areas were Crimson Chats, Brown & Rufous Songlarks, Wedge-tailed Eagle, Spotted Harrier, Diamond Dove, Hobby, Crested Bellbird, White-winged Triller & Variegated Fairy-wrens. At Bough Shed waterhole the highligjhts were Plum-headed Finch, Red-browed Pardalote, Red-backed Kingfisher and many White-browed, White-breasted and Masked Woodswallows. At Bladenberg NP we saw a total of 52 species, but the Emu-wrens took us 8 hours of persistent seaching to find. A number of the species mentioned appear to be at the edge of their eastern or north-eastern Australian range. It was great to renew acquaintance with the Spinifex Pigeons, Painted Firetails and Spinifexbirds
Geoff Walker also gave details of how to get to the Winton STW (close to the Cloncurry Rd as it leaves Winton) which is well worth a visit and here we saw several Spotted Crakes, Crimson Chat, White-winged Triller, Pinkear, Little Crassbird, Fairy Martins, Hoary-headed Grebe, Australasian Grebe with young and the other usual waterbirds. Winton and Bladenberg NP are not to be missed when making your next trip up through Queensland. We especially want to thank Geoff Walker and Rich Keirman for their assistance, that made this part of our trip a success.
Alan Morris & Robin Benson
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