I have just returned from an excellent trip to the Neale Junction Nature
Reserve in Western Australia with Alexander Watson and Bill Watson.
Alexander made the suggestion that this would be a good area to look for
princess and scarlet-chested parrots. There are regular records of both
species from the reserve spanning the past half-Century. Princess parrots
were seen at Neale Junction in October last year and in September this year.
We travelled from Kalgoorlie to the junction via Laverton and the Anne
Beadell Highway - a journey of 770km, much of it on bitumen. There is a good
campsite just west of the Neale Junction road intersection and the usual
requirements for remote outback travelling are required.
At 11am on October 11, the morning after our arrival at Neale Junction,
Alexander flushed three princess parrots roadside, 1.3km east of the
campsite. The birds flew 200m to a marbled gum. It took about 30 minutes to
gather the other two members of the party and one of the parrots was still
in the tree. It afforded close and prolonged views for the next hour, flying
short distances to other trees. Two princess parrots were seen within 800m
of this spot in each of the late afternoons of October 11 and October 12,
and two birds were heard there in the afternoon of October 13. A single bird
was seen at this locality in the morning of October 14, when we left Neale
At around sunset on October 11, princess parrots were heard calling from the
campsite but not seen.
At 7am on October 13, a flock of nine princess parrots were seen well as
they crossed the road 5km east of the campsite.
In three-and-a-half days at Neale Junction, we saw princess parrots on five
occasions and heard but not saw them on two other occasions, with a total of
between 12 and 17 birds seen. The habitat is not unlike that in the Gibson
and Great Sandy deserts further north, where the species has been recorded
in recent years - extensive areas of spinifex between parallel sand dunes -
the main difference being that marbled gum (Eucalyptus gongylocarpa) and not
desert oak (Allocasuarina decaisneana) is the dominant tall tree at Neale
At 7.30am on October 12, Greg flushed a male scarlet-chested parrot 6km west
of the campsite. It alighted in a marbled gum nearby and, like the first
princess parrot, obligingly stayed put until the other observers had
gathered. The scarlet-chested parrot also allowed close and prolonged views.
Despite diligent searing around Neale Junction and elsewhere, this was the
only one we saw.
Other good species around Neale Junction included slaty-backed thornbill,
pink cockatoo, white-backed swallow, black honeyeater and black-eared
We spent time birding also at Yeo Lakes Nature Reserve, where we had
Bourke's parrot, redthroat, chiming wedgebill and pied and white-fronted
honeyeaters. These two honeyeater species were in surprisingly good numbers
here and elsewhere during our trip.
At Goongarrie station near Menzies, we had a mallee fowl crossing the road.
It is a fair bet that Neale Junction will soon be well and truly on the
birders' map, as the area is more accessible than other localities for
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