In early September, I had a 2-week trip from Melbourne to Birdsville via
Broken Hill, Tibooburra, Innaminka, Mungerannie and Maree. I had not seen
Grey Grasswren, Gibberbird and Flock Bronzewing and thought I might also
pick up Letter-winged Kite and Black-eared Cuckoo somewhere along the way.
In the end, I had good sightings of the Grasswren and the Gibberbird only.
>From Tibooburra, I tried to ring Ross and Marg Betts to ask permission to
visit Pyampa Station but could not get an answer. I also called in at their
house on the way and found only an old cattle dog. I therefore went to
Pyampa on the basis on permission granted when I was there in August last
year. Only when I returned to Melbourne did I find that people had reported
on Birding Aus that the Betts did not want anybody to visit Pyampa. When I
enquired in Tibooburra, I was told that Ross had been ill and was probably
in Broken Hill getting treatment. As mentioned above, I had been at Pyampa
for three mornings in late August last year but I had not even heard any
Grasswrens. On this visit, I saw at least two individuals relatively
quickly on the first day and was happy not to have to go back and endure the
flies again. I waited again for Flock Bronzewings at South Myers Tank, near
Tibooburra, again with no sightings, but saw immature Inland Dotterels on
the road just after dark. It rained while I was at Tibooburra, the roads
south, east and west were closed, and for a brief time I though my second
try to get to Birdsville was going to be thwarted. Fortunately, the road
west to Innaminka was soon opened and I was able to continue.
On the way from Tibooburra to Innaminka, I stopped at Roger McGovern's dune
site at either 26.9 or 27.3 km west of Bollards Lagoon. I saw an Eyrean
Grasswren after about 20 minutes.
At Innaminka, I looked at the "elevated gibber plateau" above the town for
Gibberbirds as mentioned in a 1992 Wingspan article on the Strzelecki Track
but did not see any.
The Cordillo Downs Track between Innaminka and Birdsville was the most
tedious of my trip. It was not so difficult, just slow, rocky and winding.
It took me about 9.5 hours to cover the 420 km. There were lots of budgies
on this track and the first Australian Pratincoles appeared just after
crossing the Queensland border. Last year they were common from Broken Hill
north. I had good views of a male Cinnamon Quail-thrush and poor views of
what might have been a pair of Gibberbirds near the road just north of
Cordillo Downs Station. I also saw more Inland Dotterels.
Ruth who runs the Caravan Park at Birdsville and seems to know her birds
says that Gibberbirds are "everywhere". I do not agree with her, but I did
go a little north from the town and saw an adult feeding two juveniles
within about 20 minutes. I also went out to the Big Red Dune and had poor
views of another couple of Eyrean Grasswrens while coping with forty million
flies and 29 degrees at 8 o'clock in the morning.
Between Birdsville and Mungerannie, I saw another Gibberbird near Clifton
Hills Station, even though I was not looking very carefully. I did look at
all of the bores but saw no Flock Bronzewings. I started to go into
Pandiburra Bore but chickened out, being on my own and not wishing to get
too far off the Birdsville Track. Here there were even more Inland
I had seen Eyrean Grasswren at Mungerannie at a couple of places across the
water from the Roadhouse last year. When I went back this year, the wind
had changed from north to south-west and whereas at Big Red Dune, I had sore
arms from trying to wave the flies away, today, I had sore ears from the
cold wind. I saw no Eyrean Grasswrens at Mungerannie, did hear what may
have been Black-eared Cuckoo, but could not see it.
I have a more detailed MSWord report on my trip with a few GPS locations
should anybody wish to see it.
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