Trip Report Bourke, Mount Isa, Darwin, Kununurra & Alice Springs

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Subject: Trip Report Bourke, Mount Isa, Darwin, Kununurra & Alice Springs
From: "Robin Benson" <>
Date: Sun, 10 Aug 2008 17:31:59 +1000
>From 1 July 2008 to 7 August 2008 my wife and I did a trip from Gosford on the 
>Central Coast of NSW to Darwin via Bourke and Mount Isa, spent 2 weeks in 
>Darwin and then returned via Katherine, Kununurra, Alice Springs, Port Augusta 
>and Broken Hill. This was primarily a holiday and not a bird trip but I was 
>targeting a number of species missed on previous trips including Gouldian 
>Finch, Banded Whiteface and Arafura Fantail.

Highlights included approximately 12 FLOCK BRONZEWINGS flying across the road 
10 km west of Barcaldine in western Qld on 2.7.08, many BROLGAS along on the 
dirt road between Kynuna and Julia Creek in Qld and also several large flocks 
of Budgies.

Tried numerous sites in the Darwin area for ARAFURA FANTAIL and finally located 
a bird at Mary River. Excellent views of ZITTING CISTICOLA at Knuckey Lagoon 
and BROADBILLED FLYCATCHER at Florence Falls in Litchfield NP. Brief views of a 
CHESTNUT RAIL from the footpath that adjoins the housing estate and mangroves 
off Tiger Brennan Drive. The bird ran "dodging" for the cover of the mangroves 
from the exposed drain. Numerous Chestnut Rails heard calling at Bufffalo Creek 
but not seen.

Had a short visit to Gunlom Falls on 20.7.08 and searched only briefly for the 
White-throated Grasswren that I had seen on a previous trip in 2000. No luck on 
this occasion but did observe a PAINTED FINCH perched in a dead tree adjoining 
the lookout at the top of the falls. This appears to be well north of their 
normal range.

Located a female HOODED PARROT at the mine site lookout at Pine Creek and saw 
several in flight over the Edith Falls road the following day. Staked out the 
site on the Ferguson River as listed in Niven McCrie's book for Gouldian 
Finches late in the afternoon without success. In fact there was nothing coming 
in to drink and the only excitment was a close encounter with two tree snakes. 
The following morning at the same location I got a single immature GOULDIAN 
FINCH with several LONG-TAILED FINCHES coming in to drink.

Checked numerous sites around Timber Creek for finches on our way to Kununurra. 
Located a large flock of YELLOW-RUMPED MANNIKINS at Policemans Point but 
birding was generally poor in the Timber Creek area due to strong winds.

Whilst in Kununurra I checked out the T&T site on the Ivanhoe Road and located 
and a few CHESTNUT-BREASTED MANNIKINS but no Pictorella Mannikins. My wife and 
I did the flight down to the Bungle Bungles and the day trip which included the 
walk into Cathedral Gorge. Very spectacular place to visit. Close views of two 
WHITE-QUILLED ROCK PIGEONS on the walk into Cathedral Gorge.

We did a day trip to Wyndam on 22.7.08 and located YELLOW-TINTED HONEYEATERS in 
the township and also visited Marlgu Billabong in the Parry Lagoon Nature 
Reserve. The billabong was teeming with a large variety of birds and well worth 
the visit. AUSTRALIAN PRATINCOLE were feeding on the edges of the billabong. On 
the return trip to Kununurra I located a single black headed GOULDIAN FINCH 
feeding with Masked and Long-tailed Finches approximately 29 West of Kununurra.

On route to Katherine I located PURPLE-CROWNED FAIRY WREN at the south eastern 
corner of the bridge at the Victoria River Crossing.

We spent 4 nights in Alice Springs and did some day trips. Close views of DUSKY 
GRASSWREN at Simpsons Gap and saw numerous PAINTED FINCH at Ellery Creek 
Bighole. Visited the Desert Park in Alice Springs and got a male PIED 
HONEYEATER outside one of the bird diplays containing a calling Pied Honeyeater.

I spent time searching the T&T site 21 km north of Erldunda for Banded 
Whiteface without success. Only located Southern Whiteface. I tried another 
location approximately 1 km further south on the eastern side of the highway 
that appears to be a floodway area as the road seal has been extended to the 
edge of the formed road. Here I located approximately 10 to 12 BANDED WHITEFACE 
and obtained excellent views.

We then based ourselves in Curtin Springs for 3 nights and did day trips into 
Kings Canyon and Uluru. Curtain Springs is approximately 85 km east of Yulara. 
Nothing unusual in the way of birds but great places to visit.

Our trip was then completed by travelling back via Coober Pedy, Port Augusta 
and Broken Hill. In all I recorded a total of 229 species and managed to locate 
my key target species.

Rob Benson
Central Coast NSW

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