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Date: Mon, 2 Aug 2004 13:47:55 +1000
From: Carol Probets <>
Subject: Tanami & East Kimberley trip report: Part 2
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Part 2: East Kimberley and the trip home.
The last remaining participants in the Night Parrot search packed up
camp, said goodbye and headed off so, with about 9 days before I had
to be home in the Blue Mountains, I decided to travel northwards to
Wyndham. Some time later that afternoon, just as I was driving past a
sign saying "Welcome to Wyndham" there was a huge 'clunk' and a jolt,
and I saw my front wheel rolling along the highway ahead of me, as I
slid to a halt on the axle!
That's how I came to be stranded in Wyndham for 3 days while my
vehicle was fitted with a new disk and wheel bearings. And I couldn't
have chosen a better place to be stranded!
Wyndham, WA, 18-21/7/04
For two days I was limited to places I could get to on foot. However
this proved barely a handicap as I found there were many great
birding spots in and around the town. For example, just behind the
aboriginal statues in a park in the middle of the town is a small
pond with a table and seat beside it. Here I watched the constant
comings and goings of GOULDIAN FINCHES - both black and red headed
forms with many immatures - as well as STAR FINCHES, MASKED,
LONG-TAILED and a single PICTORELLA. RUFOUS-THROATED HONEYEATERS were
At the Town Oval were more STAR FINCHES, RED-BACKED KINGFISHER,
SINGING BUSHLARKS and GREAT BOWERBIRD. Birds at the Sewage Ponds
included RADJAH SHELDUCK, BROWN QUAIL and RED-BACKED FAIRY-WREN.
BROLGAS were wandering around at the back of the caravan park, where
I also found GREAT EGRET, ROYAL SPOONBILL, NORTHERN ROSELLA,
WHITE-THROATED HONEYEATER, GREY-CROWNED BABBLER, VARIED SITTELLA
(white-winged form), WHITE-BELLIED CUCKOO-SHRIKE and many more. I
might add that the caravan park in Wyndham is among the best I've
ever stayed at with their friendly, laid-back attitude, cheap prices
and good facilities including a camp kitchen - not to mention the
birding. Highly recommended.
It's 5km to the Old Town and port and while walking along the way I
saw many SPINIFEX PIGEONS, RED-BACKED KINGFISHER, WHITE-BREASTED
WOODSWALLOWS, RED-WINGED PARROTS, a BRAHMINY KITE, more GOULDIAN
FINCHES and a MANGROVE GERYGONE in the mangroves near the Pioneer
At the port I found a flock of about 20 YELLOW WHITE-EYES feeding on
something on the bitumen road surface near the boat ramp and a walk
out onto the wharf produced MANGROVE GREY FANTAIL, more MANGROVE
GERYGONES and YELLOW-WHITE-EYES and a single COMMON SANDPIPER. I
searched for the Collared Kingfisher here but could only find 4
SACREDS feeding on crabs in the mud. I also saw a large Saltwater
Croc beside the mangroves near the boat ramp, probably waiting for
I also saw several small groups of RED-TAILED BLACK-COCKATOOS in and
around the town.
Fortunately I had printed out information on Wyndham birding sites
from Frank O'Connor's website before I had left home, "just in case"
- although at the time I thought it unlikely I would end up going
there. It proved to be extremely useful.
By the time my car was ready, time was getting on and I knew I had to
start the long journey home. However I made time to squeeze in a
visit to Marlgu Billabong late afternoon on the 20th. What a
fantastic place - huge numbers of birds including hundreds, possibly
thousands, of PLUMED and WANDERING WHISTLING-DUCKS. What a
spectacular sight, and sound, when they all took flight, literally
darkened the sky. There were also PIED HERONS, GREEN PYGMY-GEESE,
BLACK-NECKED STORK, 3 EGRET spp, NANKEEN NIGHT-HERON, GLOSSY IBIS,
BROLGA, RADJAH SHELDUCK, HARDHEADS, COMB-CRESTED JACANA, CASPIAN
TERN..... the list goes on. In the fading light of dusk, a SPOTTED
NIGHTJAR flew over. How I wished I could spend more time here.
The Grotto (21/7/04)
I reluctantly said goodbye to Wyndham and headed first to The Grotto,
about 30km to the south. This was a beautiful spot, and provided a
chance to get into a completely different habitat. The first birds I
saw on leaving the carpark were WHITE-QUILLED ROCK-PIGEONS which were
numerous and very easy to get close views of on the rocky ledges
below the track. A pair of LITTLE WOODSWALLOWS were also easy to find.
Down in the shady gorge there were birds everywhere. I found NORTHERN
FANTAIL, SILVER-CROWNED FRIARBIRDS and many BROWN, WHITE-GAPED and
BAR-BREASTED HONEYEATERS feeding in the flowering grevilleas. A GREY
SHRIKE-THRUSH was singing the most beautiful rich, varied song I have
ever heard for this species, enhanced by the echoing off the cliff
walls. The bird then spread out its feathers and sunbathed on a
branch right in front of me - it was one of those magic moments.
Unfortunately the Sandstone Shrike-thrush eluded me. (Have to keep
something for next time!)
Ten kilometres south of the Grotto were 2 Black-breasted Buzzards
lazily soaring around.
Because of time constraints my visit to Kununurra was limited to an
hour or so in the middle of the day, but during that time I walked
around the vegetated area on the western side of the Kimberleyland
Caravan Park and found 40+ species. The tall grasses harboured many
finches, best of which were 2 YELLOW-RUMPED MANNIKINS along with many
CHESTNUT-BREASTED and, I suspect, a few hybrids. I particularly loved
the CRIMSON FINCHES, spectacular birds! There were also STAR FINCHES,
YELLOW-TINTED, RUFOUS-THROATED & WHITE-GAPED HONEYEATERS, TAWNY
GRASSBIRDS, GOLDEN-HEADED CISTICOLAS, GULL-BILLED TERNS and on the
lagoon, nice views of JACANAS. I wished I had time for an overnight
stay at this spot.
Timber Creek, NT (22/7/04)
I camped beside the lush forest along the creek at the back of the
caravan park and awoke to see BLUE-WINGED KOOKABURRA, WHITE-BROWED
ROBIN, NORTHERN FANTAIL and heard the song of a GREEN-BACKED GERYGONE
which I unfortunately didn't see. A eucalypt was in flower and
attracting a myriad of honeyeaters including BANDED, BAR-BREASTED,
YELLOW-TINTED, WHITE-GAPED, RUFOUS-THROATED, GOLDEN-BACKED, BROWN and
BLUE-FACED as well as SILVER-CROWNED FRIARBIRD and RAINBOW LORIKEETS.
I then headed down to the 'River Access' on the Victoria River which
had a much drier, more open habitat than the creek. Here I saw
BLACK-TAILED TREECREEPER, VARIED SITTELLA, CRIMSON FINCH and many of
the above honeyeaters including the BANDED, in addition to SINGING
HONEYEATER and LITTLE FRIARBIRD.
From Timber Creek I took the Top Springs road, a very scenic drive
but care should be taken as there are unexpected rough patches.
Jasper Gorge is spectacular.
Victoria River Downs (22/7/04)
I stopped to eat lunch on the banks of the upper Victoria River, at
the causeway. Again several honeyeater species but I thought the most
interesting sighting was a group of immature CRIMSON FINCHES coming
down to a small puddle of water where they were eating the bright
green algae. This was in longish strands which they were gobbling up
like spaghetti. I've checked in a few books and have found, in the
NPI volume "Finches, Bowerbirds & Other Passerines of Australia"
(p.50), a photo of Crimson Finches feeding on green algae. I wonder
if this is a common food item for this species?
Camooweal, Qld (24/7/04)
Large numbers of VARIED LORIKEETS flying over. While trying to find
where they were headed, I discovered a great campsite at a waterhole
on the Georgina River, access via the 'Stock Route' signposted on the
west side of the main bridge (or between the two bridges). Here there
were many BROLGAS, along with many other waterbirds and a flock of
about 200 BUDGIES wheeling around the water's edge, coming in to
There were more VARIED LORIKEETS in the Cloncurry area, especially at
Elder Creek, 33km SE of the town.
By this stage I was not able to stop for extended birding as I had to
be home, which required fairly solid travelling through Queensland
and into NSW. I look forward to future trips, especially into the
Kimberley as this visit merely gave me a taste of the beauty of that
part of the country.
Blue Mountains NSW
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