Sorry for the delay in getting back to you - hope you get this prior to
departing...please note that I live at Yuendumu - 300km n-w of Alice.
I note you are after tips etc on the following:
- R-C emu-wren - don't know and have never seen one - though I keep
- Spinifex bird - There is a large area of old spinifex just outside of
Tennant Creek where I see Spinifex Birds regularly...but that is 500km
north of Alice. I also have seen SBs in spinifex (not as old or dense as
at TC) here at Yuendumu - cannot suggest anywhere nearer to Alice as I
am unfamiliar - keep your eyes and ears open in any (large & not
recently burnt) area of old spinifex around the place - I suspect that
they are more common than people may think...
- Dusky G-W - no idea - never seen one...but looking
- Crimson Chat - I've seen individuals (more Oranges & some yellows) out
here in the hilly country at Yuendumu and occasional large flocks (200)
of Crimsons - juveniles, females & males - but these large flocks always
seem to be passing through. I see lots of pairs & small family groups in
open country - particularly when the grevilleas are flowering - but that
will be later in the season - and I suspect very dependent upon rain,
- Pied/black HE - again, early in the season for here - I see Pieds and
Black later in the season closer to Christmas and usually after the
rains when there is more in flower;
- Little BQ - I only see LBQ's later in the season - often my dogs will
'put-up' up to a dozen from the spinifex on a walk though the Euc/Acacia
woodland - but none for months
- Painted Finch - again, around here, seasonal
- Bourkes Parrots - not seen any here (though have at Newhaven)
- Grey HE - once - a the T & T spot near Kunoth Well on a very windy da
in September 2006,
- Grey Falcon - Gary sees these more often than me - I have seen them at
Newhaven (2005) but not anywhere in the region since...to my eternal regret.
Hope this is of some use - it is, as you may have picked up, a VERY dry
year here - lots of plants & animals (no kangaroos with joeys at foot
this year) are in survival mode - though the country around here looks
(sort of) ok - mostly because we have had a few good seasons prior to
last year. There is no surface water and if, as I suspect, the weather
heats up soon with no rain a lot of things will do it very tough this
year...on the other hand, if we get some good early rain and a mild
September & October with follow-up rain later we could have a great year...
I suspect that a lot of 'our' birds followed the storms of late last
year over to western Queensland - which by all accounts is the place to
be if you are a bird right now...
Cheers and enjoy your time here,
Martin Cake wrote:
I am a keen birder heading to Alice Springs next weekend for a brief
visit. Amanda Markham has already, very kindly, answered most of my
questions but suggested I contact you for any recent info on the area
- I hope you don't mind. Any info, however brief, would be very much
See below my original query and Amanda's reply.
Thanks a lot
Dr Martin Cake
BSc BVMS(Hons) PhD
Veterinary and Biomedical Sciences
South St, Murdoch, Perth, WA 6150
*Ph* 08 9360 2175 *| F 08 9310 4144 *|* *e*
Begin forwarded message:
*From: *Amanda Markham <
*Date: *21 August 2008 10:33:52 AM
*To: *Martin Cake < <>>
*Subject: **RE: trip to Alice*
Hi Martin ,
No problems, although I don't know how much help I'm going to really
be. We have only had had 28mm rain (yes, you read correctly) for the
entire year here, and birding isn't really all that good at the moment.
You might want to contact Robert Gosford (also on the BA list) about
easy to find *spinifex birds* on the Tanami Hwy. There is a spinifex
bird that hangs out on top of Mt Sonder - but because I'm fitness
nut, I think it's an easy climb when others think ... oh my god!! It
is 2WD access to the Redbank Gorge/Mt Sonder climb access. Redbank
Gorge is a good place to look for *Black Chinned Honeyeaters*, too.
The *RC Emu Wren*: the Santa Teresa Road, 27.8km south of Alice
Springs - but also the Ormiston Gorge park entrance area (near the
communications tower on the road into Ormiston).
*Painted Finch and Spinifex Pigeon*: Do the Pound Walk at Ormiston,
but don't start by walking down the Gorge - walk back out along the
bitumen road and then follow the track markers (walk the circuit
anti-clockwise, in other words). Once you've been to the lookout,
descend into the Pound. At the first crossing of Ormiston Creek,
follow a well marked deviation to several waterholes. You WILL see
Painted Finches. They are there all the time. Spinifex Pigeons are
very common on this walk also.
*Dusky Grasswrens* are very much more common than people seem to
believe (like spinifex birds, actually). You might try a climb up Mt
Gillen (from Flynn's Grave or Google instructions from the Alice
Springs Fields Nats' website), otherwise, section 10 of the Larapinta
trail, heading west out of the Ormiston carpark early in the morning
is another favourite haunt of these gorgeous little guys.
I haven't heard of anyone seeing any crimson chats for a while; *pied
honey eaters* I saw up at Harts Range in May at Spotted Tiger
Campground. I have also seen them along the Hugh River on Owen
Springs Reserve, but this is 4WD access.
I would suggest a trip to Trephina Gorge (in the East MacDonnells,
approx 70km from Alice Springs) and a visit to the Olive Pink Botanic
Gardens located right in town in addition to your West Macs
trips. Also, you MUST go to the Alice Springs Desert park (if you've
already been, just ignore my rambling). The walk-thru avaries are the
best (seriously) and you will gain an understanding of Central
Australia's ecosystems and habitats (and see lots of birds).
I have seen a *Grey H/E* recently -but unfortunately, this was in a
private garden and I am loathe to say anything more than it
was 450km from Alice Springs and I'm sure the poor people don't want
to be overrun by crazy birdos. There have been other sightings in the
past few weeks at Serpentine Gorge (on the way to Ormiston). Also try
around the Ochre Pits. Prior to this, my only other sighting was at
Ormiston Gorge in my husband's front garden (he was head ranger out
there at the time). This was September 2006 and the bird hung around
all week. Hints for Grey H/E sightings: check flowering acacia and
eremophila species. If you see a Brown H/E you will often find a Grey
H/E hanging out him,too.
My husband has seen a *Grey Falcon* twice - once was behind Ellery
Big Hole, but you'd have to really lucky- and this sighting was more
than 10 years ago!
Kunoth Bore and the mulga scrub around there seem to be good
for *Bourke's Parrots* at the moment. I've never seen them there, but
I have seen them further up the Tanami and out near Nyirripi.
You have to call up Power and Water corporation to get a key to get
into the sewer ponds now. I think the Alice Springs Field Nats have
instructions for this on their webpage.
Hope this is helpful,
> From: <>
> To: <>
> Subject: trip to Alice
> Date: Thu, 21 Aug 2008 09:41:28 +0800
> Hi Amanda
> I hope you don't mind the intrusion but I have spotted your posts on
> Birding-aus with offers of the latest info on birding around Alice. I
> am visiting from the 30th Aug-3rd Sept and would love some info on the
> following, or to be put in touch with birders who dont mind this sort
> of inquiry. I won't clog up the main birding-aus list unless you
> suggest that is a better way to get recent info.
> Current best sites for general spinifex species, eg R-C emu-wren,
> spinifex bird (ie where hasnt been burnt recently!).
> I dont mention Dusky G-W because I am hoping that shouldn't be too
> hard (famous last words)
> Current likelihood of nomadics like crimson chat, pied/black HE,
> little BQ, painted finch and any best spots for these
> Good spots for Bourkes parrots. I am thinking Kunoth in early morning.
> Desperate to see these.
> Any recent rarities worth chasing - of course I want to see Grey HE
> and falcon, but dream on.
> Any birding locations for 2WD access I might not know about - I
> already have the MacDonnells (Ormiston, Big Hole, Standley Chasm),
> Kunoth Bore, and the sewage farm on my radar. On the sewage plant, is
> it walk up access now or do I need to organise something beforehand?
> I would be SO grateful for even the briefest response, thankyou!!!!
> Dr Martin Cake
> BSc BVMS(Hons) PhD
> Murdoch University
> Veterinary and Biomedical Sciences
> South St, Murdoch, Perth, WA 6150
> Ph 08 9360 2175 | F 08 9310 4144 | e
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