Corner Country 'Outback' trip report

Subject: Corner Country 'Outback' trip report
From: Murray Hunt <>
Date: Wed, 30 Jun 2010 07:19:14 -0700 (PDT)
G’day all!
Recently I was able to take off for a 3 week birding trip to target a few 
outback birds and see some country that I previously had not seen.
Sydney to Bowra Station (3 nights) via Wellington (for a couple of days bird 
banding). Over the following two weeks I moved through Lake Bindegolly, 
Noccundra, Cooper’s Crossing, Innaminka, Birdsville, down the track, Lyndhurst, 
and finally Gluepot before a belt home.
Kilometres: lots!
Nights away from home: 24!
Number of showers: 5!
Tyre punctures: none!
Number of times bogged: once!
New Birds: Four!
Hours spent searching for Grey Grasswren: about 20!
Number of Grey Grasswren seen: None! Despite extensive searches at Noccundra 
(~4hrs), Cooper’s Crossing (~7hrs), and at Cowarie Station (~5hrs), plus short 
stints at two other sites! NO GGW despite enough fairy-wrens to fill a swimming 
pool! Hoped that the recent flooding rain would have provided the conditions 
where I would have to kick the grasswrens out of the way -: instead I left each 
site figuratively kicking cats!
GREY FALCON – Reasonable views of a soaring bird at Bowra.
LETTER-WINGED KITE – one bird at Lake Surprise Dune as described in the 
Birdsville Track section of Thomas + Thomas (LS Dune taken as the dune 3 km N 
of LS Creek). Bird close to a nest in a tree above a temporary pond at the end 
of the dune about 250 metres east of the road. Only one bird seen with two 
Black-shouldered Kites 200m away.
FLOCK BRONZEWING – Seen several times between Coopers Crossing and Innaminka. 
Surprisingly did not see any between the Dig Tree and Birdsville. Had a final 
sighting of a few birds 100 kms south of Birdsville. Biggest flock seen was a 
flock of about 1000 broken into 4 aggregrates of approximately 250 each. Large 
portion of this flock swooped down for a drink at a hidden tank and then 
quickly continued on their way. For the next 45 mins till sunset had the 
pleasure of watching a progression of smaller groups come in to said tank. Tank 
was 2km W of Chalky Creek or about 120kms E of Innaminka.
INLAND DOTTEREL – Only one bird seen whilst spotlighting about 87 kms N of 
Mungerannie Roadhouse on the Birdsville Track.
CINNAMON QUAIL-THRUSH – Common on the Birdsville Track.
GIBBERBIRD, ORANGE CHAT – Common on the Birdsville Track, also seen around the 
Dig Tree.
EYREAN GRASSWREN – Couple seen on a good dune on Cowarie Station.
RED-LORED WHISTLER – One male seen at Gluepot Station.
CRESTED GREBE - Good numbers seen at Lake Bindegolly partaking in courtship 
BLACK HONEYEATER - Only a few seen apporoximately 60 kms east of Birdsville.
1/ I was surprised to see a CHANNEL-BILLED CUCKOO just east of Birdsville. Did 
not expected to find it there and mid-June?
2/ A couple of people commented to me that there was quite a number of rats 
seen whilst night driving in the uppermost 100km of the Birdsville Track. Not 
sure but just maybe this be the precursor of a irruption of Letter-wing Kites?
3/ Recent rain had resulted in breeding events in many species with clear 
evidence observed in the following species -; Diamond Dove, Fairy Martin, Zebra 
Finch, Yellow-billed Spoonbill, Darter, White-necked Heron, Straw-necked Ibis, 
Greal Teal, Dusky Moorhen, Eurasian Coot, Black-tailed Native-hen, and Crested 
Grebe. (Disclaimer: there were probably many more but I did see young of these 
4/ On the trip I became aware of the ability of people to camp on Cowarie 
Station, 50km west of Mungerannie Station about halfway along the Birdsville 
Track. Access provided for a fee of $25 per night and can be organised directly 
with staff of Mungerannie Roadhouse.Thick-billed, Eyrean, and Grey Grasswrens 
are all listed on the property list, and there was extensive areas of very good 
looking lignum. It seems to me that this site may become handy if it is 
confirmed that Grey Grasswren occur (particularly given that other sites such 
as Koonchera, Onepah, maybe even Adelaide gate progressively become closed to 
birdwatchers). Also, please note that I was shown a photo of two Grey Falcon 
sitting on a radio-tower on the entry road to Cowarie (about 20km west of the 
roadhouse). Got the impression that occurrence was quite regular but they 
certainly were not there the 2 days I checked. Also note that the property 
directly to the west of Cowarie is now owned
 and managed by the Australian Wildlife Conservancy.
5/ Roads in the area were very good. Dirt roads were very well prepared. Fuel 
at Birdsville at the time of my visit was $1.55 per litre which I thought quite 
good. Please note that there is a punt operating to transport cars across the 
flooded Cooper Creek in the southern half of the Birdsville Track. It is 
expected that the punt will be operational for a number of months. The punt 
operates only in daylight hours, can only take single vehicles at a time and 
will not cater to caravans.
Cheers, and good luck to others heading out to visit the glorious ‘Outback’.
Murray Hunt

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