Flinders Ranges and Birdsville Track Trip Report

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Subject: Flinders Ranges and Birdsville Track Trip Report
From: "Alana Dare" <>
Date: Tue, 23 Nov 2010 18:55:47 +1030
Hi All,

Last week we drove up the Birdsville track as far as Mungarannie. The track was 
closed from there to Birdsville. There were heavy rains when we left Adelaide 
and when we arrived at Lyndhurst both the Strzelecki and Birdsville Tracks were 
closed so we headed back into the Flinders Ranges for two terrific days of 
birding while we waited for the roads to open.
Thanks to a local tip we had fantastic views of a fully fledged Wedge-tailed 
Eagle juvenile still on the nest, but testing its wings and ready to fly off at 
any moment. Another highlight was Stokes Hill on a still, sunny morning with 
glorious scenery made even more wonderful by views of Short-tailed Grasswren 
sitting up and singing on the spinifex bushes. The spinifex is very lush this 
year with all the rain. It even seems less prickly!

When we returned to Lyndhurst the Strzelecki was open for 4WD so we camped 
overnight at Mt Lyndhurst Station and had great views of Thick-billed 
Grasswren, Chestnut-breasted Whiteface, Cinnamon Quail-thrush and Orange Chat 
at the old car and gate sites and at various places along the road. There were 
plenty of Zebra Finches everywhere and Chirruping Wedgebill was common. During 
our whole trip Orange Chats were quite numerous but there were very few Crimson 
The Birdsville Track was open the next day for 4WD so we headed north and saw 
several Gibberbirds , numerous Orange Chats and all the way along were 
Australian Pratincoles. The commonest raptors were Whistling Kites but we did 
see several Wedge-tailed Eagles, one Hobby and one Spotted Harrier about 300kms 
up the track and plenty of Nankeen Kestrels. One pair of Kestrels had three 
well-fledged chicks bobbing about in the nest.

The desert is a garden at the moment and the roads have become rivers in 
places. After camping at Clayton Wetlands which was flocking with Budgies, 
Cockatiels, Black-faced Woodswallows , White-winged Trillers and mosquitoes, we 
headed north towards Cooper Creek Crossing.
16kms north of Dulkaninna Creek is the most wonderful wetlands with swampy, 
reed fringed lagoons to the east and a broad swathe of water running along for 
about 3kms on the west side of the road. The lagoons had Plumed Whistling Duck, 
Pink-eared Duck, Blue billed Duck, Straw-necked Ibis, Purple Swamp-hen, 
Australian Native Hen, Little Grassbird and White-necked Heron. A flock of 
about forty Flock Bronzewings flew in and pecked around the grassy fringes of 
the water. A couple of days later we checked this site again and smaller flocks 
were still using the area. The views from the road are great because you can 
stand on the sand hills. Another good thing about the sand hills was the cane 
grass habitat where we saw Eyrean Grasswren and Cinnamon Quail-thrush.
It was a terrific experience to cross the mighty Cooper Creek on the ferry and 
watch Gull-billed Terns swooping over. The detour road to the crossing was 
another thing entirely!
Plenty of Bluebonnets in the trees alongside the creek and we saw Eyrean 
Grasswren again in the sandhills behind the bore at Mungarannie. The bore 
overflow was full of water birds and the dawn chorus was ear shattering. Sadly 
we had to turn back from there as they weren't opening the roads north. It's 
great to see the inland looking like this with the rains continuing. The only 
downside is the locusts splatting like fried eggs on the windscreen and 
devouring the crops.

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