Winton-Birdsville-Charleville Birding Trip

To: "Birding Aus Mailing List" <>
Subject: Winton-Birdsville-Charleville Birding Trip
From: "Bob Black" <>
Date: Tue, 13 Oct 2009 11:34:32 +1000
Hi All,
Lorelle and I spent the last three weeks of September on our first SW Qld 
birding trip, with quite a list of new species to see. We drove from Byfield, 
near Rockhampton, to Winton and Bladensburg NP, south to Diamantina NP, back to 
Boulia and south to Birdsville, east to Windorah and Welford NP, then home via 
Charleville and Roma. Some highlights of a great trip were;
Bladensburg NP- We spent a day searching for unsuccessfully for Striated 
Grasswren. The Hakea lorea trees were in spectacular flowering, and among many 
honeyeaters and Crimson Chats we found quite a few Black and Pied Honeyeaters, 
some close to the main camping area. While sitting by the creek in our camp 
before the sun hit the waterhole we noticed a Little Buttonquail drinking 
quietly in the pool. Great looks to go with the many flushed birds on the trip.
Opalton -We did a day trip, particularly seeking the Striated Grasswren, and 
searched a lot of likely habitat on the way from Bladensburg, and around 
Opalton. Had great close looks at Rufous-crowned Emu Wren just east of Opalton, 
and more Black and Pied Honeyeaters around water in the excavated swimming hole 
east of ?town. In the late afternoon a search of some good Mulga woodland just 
south of the airstrip (which is east of the road south to Jundah, and just 
south of Opalton) turned up a family of Hall's Babblers. we drove about 1.5 km 
south on this road to a small patch of Spinifex across the road from the first 
small mesa on the east of the road. After walking through this, and across the 
creek, I heard two faint, thin whistles back across the creek, and tried to get 
between them and the thicker cover to the south. One bird called from that 
thick cover, and the other went quiet, but after a few minutes quiet wait a 
Striated Grasswren hopped out from behind a spinifex clump to check me out. 
Lorelle had just found an Owlet Nightjar, sitting low in the open, and being 
harassed by a pair of Hall's Babblers, when I called out "Grasswren!", so had 
to make a choice. We followed the Grasswren through the Spinifex and had good, 
but brief looks as it sneaked looks at us, or hopped between clumps.
We drove slowly back to Bladensburg looking for nightbirds on the road, and saw 
many Spotted Nightjars and an immature Inland Dotterel, getting close looks at 
them standing on the road.
North of Diamantina NP- At a dry creek in the Mitchell Grass plain country we 
saw one of many groups of Variegated Fairy Wren seen on the trip. The females 
of this group were blue, like the dulcis race of the Top End. I didn't manage a 
Diamantina NP- Near the northern edge of the park we saw our first pair of 
Gibberbirds sitting by the road, and had a great close look, we only saw about 
5 pairs in the trip.
On the circuit drive we came across two Oriental Plover standing on a bleak 
claypan 1 km NE of lake Constance, and pondered why they had flown all the way 
from North Asia and chosen that particular bit of barren, windswept plain. 
Nearby was an Earless Dragon-Tympanocryptis intima.
Boulia-Bedourie- About 120 km s. of Boulia we found a group of about 450 Flock 
Bronzewings sitting in a paddock near the road. Among them was one which was 
completely white, except the black face markings.
Bedourie-Birdsville- A huge group of Flock Bronzewings about 70 km S. of 
Bedourie, roosting near a dam about 500m E. of the road. About 4,500. Between 
Cluny station and the Cuttaburra crossing of Eyre Creek, another group of 
5,000-6,000 Flock Bronzewings all around the road, in fairly recently dried 
herbaceous floodplain. Also along this stretch were hundreds of Australian 
Pratincoles and about 25 Oriental Plovers.
Cuttaburra Crossing- A nice campsite for a few days, with many Crimson and 
Orange Chats, a Black Falcon, and Pink-eared, Musk and Freckled Ducks on the 
waterhole. A determined effort failed to find any signs of Grey Grasswrens. 
Driving around the track through the floodplain at night we flushed an almost 
certain male Plains Wanderer.
Birdsville- Arrived just before the big sandstorm, and waited out two days, 
hoping to get out to the Simpson Desert to look for Eyrean Grasswrens. A cool 
southerly change had us out on the dune beyond "Big Red" at sunrise, being 
sandblasted by the southerly gale. We found a few families of Banded Whiteface 
in the swales, including a pair with fluffy young, but by early afternoon had 
to reluctantly concede that no sane grasswrens would leave cover in such cold 
and windy conditions. We tried not to extend these observations to ourselves. 
As we reached the dune east of "Big Red" (Little Red?) on our way back to 
Birdsville, we saw that the tempest had miraculously calmed, and couldn't 
resist a look at this dune. I went south from the crossing, Lorelle north, and 
after another hour in much nicer conditions, and more White- winged Fairy Wren 
false alarms, I returned to the car for lunch to find Lorelle had found a pair 
of Eyrean Grasswrens in five minutes!. As I ate lunch at the crossing the pair 
hopped into sight, moving south down the dune, and we followed them for quite a 
while, getting lovely looks at them going about their lives.
Welford NP- One of the richest bird sites of the trip, with about 80 species 
seen in a day and two nights. Mulga and Bourke's Parrots, Redthroat, Crested 
Bellbird, and Hooded Robin on the Mulga Drive, and wonderful looks at 
Chestnut-breasted Quailthrush, Splendid  Fairy Wren, Crested Bellbird in late 
afternoon on the Desert Drive. Also seen at Sawyer's Creek on the Mulga Circuit 
was  a 2 metre plus Perentie preparing to eat a very freshly killed 1.8 metre 
King Brown Snake in a dry creek bed.

Happy Birding-Bob Black

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