South Australia Trip Report March 7-11 (Part 1)

To: Birding Aus <>
Subject: South Australia Trip Report March 7-11 (Part 1)
From: Greg Oakley <>
Date: Tue, 13 Mar 2012 12:54:37 +1100
I have just returned from a brief (4.5 day) trip in South Australia,
covering the Flinders Ranges (both north and south), northern Eyre Peninsula
(Whyalla, Port Augusta), Lyndhurst (Mt Lyndhurst mine, Strzelecki Track) and
a few sites down the Spencer Gulf to Adelaide. I ended up travelling a fair
distance (about 2200km total).

Weather was fine and sunny throughout, tending to quite warm in the north
(around 33C).
The previous week had produced a major rain event which prevented a few
sites being visited due to track closures. Fortunately I hired a 4WD which
enabled access to Lyndhurst (including about 80km of the Strzelecki Track)
and a few sites in the Flinders Ranges.

I had also planned to try and get to a couple of sites up near Marree (to
look for Eyrean Grasswren and Inland Dotterel) but access was unfortunately
limited due to the rain damage to tracks.

The rain had really ³freshened up² the normally parched outback, with a
carpet of green across the plains and some creek crossings were alive with a
cachophony of Budgerigar, Rufous Songlark, Chirruping Wedgebill, Rainbow
Bee-eater and various other species. Mosquitoes were also very prominent!

This is a relatively short run-down of the sites and species seen.

1. Whyalla Conservation Park
After flying to Adelaide (and picking up a car) I headed up to the Port
Augusta area, my first site being Whyalla CP. The best birding area is
undoubtedly around Wild Dog Hill in the north-west corner.
After a short while I managed to find a small group of Western Grasswren in
Bluebush-type habitat about 50m west of the hill.
Also here were White-winged and Variegated Fairy-wren, Grey Butcherbird, a
couple of White-fronted Honeyeater and a lone Striped Honeyeater (which
seems on the edge of it's range here).
Nothing of note on the top of the hill.

2. Iron Knob Whyalla Road
Well known site near some abandoned rail carriages - Middleback (about 16km
north of Whyalla). As I drove up and parked adjacent to the carriages, a
pair of Western Grasswren scurried across the road!
This was an excellent spot, with Slender-billed Thornbill (race iredalei)
quite common, also several Redthroat, Crested Bellbird, Southern Whiteface,
Blue Bonnet etc.

3. Port Augusta Arid Lands Botanical Garden
Anyone visiting this area should include this excellent site on their list.
Arriving here early morning, I immediately heard Chirruping Wedgebill
calling. Over a 2 hour period the most notable birds included many Elegant
Parrot, several Rufous Fieldwren, Redthroat, all 3 resident Fairy-wren
(Splendid, Variegated, White-winged), Mulga Parrot, Blue Bonnet and Port
Lincoln Ringneck.

4. Flinders Ranges (Stokes Hill lookout, Appealinna Ruins, Wlipena, Brachina
The main target here was Short-tailed Grasswren ­ first site being the
"famous" Stokes Hill lookout site. Armed with some excellent directions from
Tim Dolby (thanks Tim!) I managed to find several Short-tailed Grasswren,
about 400m south east from the lookout. They were quite confiding, and I
managed some good photos over a period of about 15 minutes. This is a very
sparse habitat, with very small triodia clumps dotted across a rocky and
hilly landscape, with the occasional interspersed grass-tree.They were
basically the only bird here!
I also managed to find a couple of grasswren at another of Tim's sites on
the Appealinna Ruins Road.
I then drove into Brachina Gorge ­ the road in produced a small group of
Little Woodswallow, many Redthroat, Red-capped Robin, Chestnut-rumped
Thornbill, Chirruping Wedgebill, Elegant Parrot and Port Lincoln Ringneck
among others.
In the Gorge itself I managed to pick up a single Red-backed Kingfisher and
a couple of Grey-fronted Honeyeater.

5. Mt Lyndhurst Mine, Strzelecki Track
The famous old T&T site. On the drive down on the Strzelecki Track, there
were several creek crossings after the huge rain event the week prior. At
these crossings there was a hive of activity with Budgerigar, Rufous
Songlark, Horsfield's Bronze-cuckoo, Rainbow Bee-eater all common.
After only 30 mins at Mt Lyndhurst Mine, I managed to find a group of 3
Chestnut-breasted Whiteface, with prolonged excellent views.
They were about 500m west of the famous rusty car. 15 minutes later I found
the first of many Thick-billed Grasswren in vegetation along one of the
creek lines which wind around the mine.
Over the preceding few hours I managed to see at least 10 more, as well as
Crimson Chat, Pied Honeyeater, White-backed Swallow, Masked Woodswallow,
Brown Songlark and finally (after 3 hours), Cinnamon Quail-thrush.
I also drove an extra 50 or so kms down the Strzelecki Track in search of
Gibberbird, without luck.

6. Alligator Gorge (Mount Remarkable NP)
This is an interesting site in the southern Flinders Ranges, with an
interesting mix of birds. Here I managed to find the main target,
Chestnut-rumped Heathwren (race pedleri) on the lookout track, as well as
Grey Currawong (race melanoptera), Crimson Rosella (race adelaidea,
"Adelaide Rosella"), Brown Treecreeper, Inland Thornbill, White-browed
Scrubwren (race rosinae) and Purple-crowned Lorikeet.

7. Telowie Gorge Conservation Park
This site is traversed by a picturesque trail which winds its way through
the gorge. Here I managed to find several Grey-fronted Honeyeater and a
couple of Southern Scrub-robin. Other species included Purple-crowned
Lorikeet, Peaceful Dove and Variegated Fairy-wren.
The gorge also holds a population of the endangered Yellow-footed Rock
Wallaby ­ 2 were located right at the end of the gorge trail (about 2km).
Also here were several species of Dragon.

8. Port Gawler
Target found here was Slender-billed Thornbill (Spencer Gulf race rosinae),
with a small flock of around 5 birds in the samphire flats behind the
On the exposed mud flats on the coast there were many Red-capped Plover,
Red-necked Stint and a few Lesser Sand-plover.

All up a pretty successful trip, although next time I would love to get
further north!
Many thanks to Tim Dolby, Tim Bawden and Peter Waanders for their invaluable
advice and info!

Full Trip List is on Part 2.

Greg Oakley


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