From: "Allan Richards" <>
Date: Mon, 6 Sep 2004 20:08:57 +1000
During July and August, Birding NSW organised 2 tours along the Canning
Stock Route in conjunction with Outback Track Tours. The tours ran in
opposite directions and vehicles were exchanged at Lake Gregory at the
northern end of the Canning. I was on the first tour travelling west from
Alice Springs through Pupunya and Kintore to Kunawarritji near Well 33 which
is about half-way along the Canning. We then travelled north to Lake Gregory
and then along the Tanami Track for 5 days at Newhaven Reserve.

Following good rains through late summer and autumn, the countryside
everywhere was in excellent condition with wildflowers and flowering acacias
and cassias. The water-table along the Canning has risen and a number of the
wells are now under water. Unfortunately a large fire started by lightning
last summer had burnt out prime Princess Parrot habitat from Well 34 to Lake

At the northern end the Breaden Hills rising above the plains are quite a
sight - rugged escarpments and deep rocky valleys. We sat at a rock-hole
called Godfrey's Tank and watched flocks of Zebra Finches, Painted Firetails
and Budgerigars come in to drink. I had a close encounter with a dingo near
our campsite. It was a female obviously nursing pups so I suspect that I was
too close to its den. It came towards me howling and growling so I beat a
hasty retreat! We saw lots of dingos and camels but few kangaroos and no

Lake Gregory is an impressive sight - full of water from the heavy rains
during the monsoon season to the north. Lots of birds - Brolgas, Green
Pygmy-Geese, Wandering and Plumed Whistling-ducks, Pink-eared Ducks,
Australian Pratincoles. We found a flock of Yellow Chats which was new bird
for many. We saw 3 Ground Cuckoo-Shrike right at the campsite. We recorded
over 80 species during our 2 days at Lake Gregory.

Our birding at Newhaven included sightings of Banded Whiteface and
Slaty-backed Thornbills. Dusky Grasswrens were carrying nesting above
Lookout Rock just below the escarpment. Good numbers of Crimson Chats. A
pair of Major Mitchells flew past the camp every afternoon on their way to
water. Orange Chats at Lake Bennet. In 2002 we watched Inland Dotterels and
Orange Chats on Blue Lagoon in Newhaven, this time it was full of water with
Black Swans, Avocets, Black-tailed Native-hens, Black-fronted and Red-kneed

Other highlights were almost daily sightings of Black and Pied Honeyeaters.
Good numbers of bustards throughout including Newhaven. Our birding finished
at the carpark at Olive Pink Botanical Gardens in Alice Springs where a
Western Bowerbird has a bower. Sure enough, he was right there at the bower.
We saw a total of 147 birds but unfortunately we missed our target bird -
the Princess Parrot..

Allan Richards,
Glebe Point N.S.W.

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