Onwards from Alice Springs. We flew to Ayers Rock from Alice to spend 4
days, conference for Lynn , relaxing for me. I originally had no real plans
as to what birding I could do or what birds I might see so it was nice to be
both relaxed and surprised at what I did see..
We often try and guess the first bird to be seen as we land in a new
location, neither of us got this one right as it was a single Banded Lapwing
at a small pool of water beside the runway .
Obviously the fabulous conditions after all the rain has transformed the
desert into a much more productive site than would otherwise be the case.
There were a few surprises on the lack of species as well. I saw no Black or
Whistling Kites, despite trips to the STP as well ! Also no Little Corella's
here or perhaps more surprising , none around Alice either.
Raptor numbers and variety in general were low out here, recording Nankeen
Kestrel (5) , Australian Hobby (1) and Brown Falcon (1).
I did one mornings bird walk out about 4 kms from the accommodation at
Yulara , one to the STP and a base walk of Ayers Rock from 9.30 to 1.30, so
missing the early morning.
We also did a sunrise helicopter ride around the "rock" and Kata Tjuta (
Olgas ) which was absolutely spectacular. Also saw a flock of Budgerigars
from the chopper !. The other "highlight" was seeing the STP's from the
air, that is , the main one and the aboriginal community one ( which had
much more in the way of open ponds). If I had had my big lens on I might
have been able to ID the birds !
Around the resort itself , Yellow-throated Miners and White-plumed
Honeyeaters were the most common birds, followed by Torresian Crow, only a
handful of Magpie-larks and Willie Wagtails. Not as many as I expected with
all the greenery and water around. Others included , Australian Magpie,
Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike , Singing Honeyeater, Crested Pigeon and Galahs (2
Walking out from the resort the number of species increased with
White-winged Trillers, Crested Bellbird (4) , Budgerigars (many),
White-winged Fairy-wren (4), Inland Thornbill (5) , Crimson Chats (heaps),
Black-faced Woodswallows and Masked Woodswallows ( several including new
fledglings and a female sitting on a nest ).
Rufous Songlarks were about, but not as conspicuous as around Alice , and
also surprisingly not calling! A single White-fronted Honeyeater flew past
and several Pied Honeyeaters were seen along with 2 only Rainbow Bee-eaters.
A small group of 6 Zebra Finches were seen and a flock of Cockatiel flew by.
Red-backed Kingfisher (3) present as well.
The trip to the treatment plant , which has a nice overflow area with grassy
drains etc and the tallest Eucalypts around, revealed a few water birds,
though none great in number. There were numerous Diamond Doves and Zebra
Finches around here as well.
Little Black Cormorant (1), Straw-necked Ibis (1), Grey Teal (8), Great
Egret (2), Yellow-billed Spoonbill (1), White-faced Heron (2), Eurasian Coot
(2), Australasian Grebe (2), and 1 Nankeen Night Heron flushed from
underfoot , I don't know who got the biggest fright !
Other birds around were a family of Variegated Fairy-wrens and Spiny-cheeked
Honeyeaters and Australian Hobby (1).
A sunset tour out to Kata Tjuta had everybody in the group ( non-birders)
enthralled with a Little Button-quail and 4 young literally feeding around
our feet at the sunset viewing site. Obviously used to people and perhaps
feeding on insects attracted to the lights along the path. I looked
longingly down the Docker River Road , wondering if I could spot a
Scarlet-chested Parrot from 80kms away but not to be ....
The walk around Ayers Rock yielded 30 species, most of which I had seen
elsewhere , except for the addition of Rufous Whistler (1), Grey
Shrike-thrush (1), Grey-fronted Honeyeater (1) and Little Woodswallow (1).
There were numerous Crimson Chats and also heaps of Diamond Doves , Zebra
Finches and Budgerigars around various water holes around the rock.
All up , 50 species for 4 days and again some good photos.
Lynn and Dick Jenkin
PO Box 92 Dungog NSW 2420
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