Stuart Hwy and Uluru post-trip

Subject: Stuart Hwy and Uluru post-trip
From: Ian Reid <>
Date: Mon, 21 Apr 2014 10:36:10 +0930
Dear All,

many many thanks to those who sent me info about my road trip from Adelaide up to Uluru. It was primarily a family holiday, but because my wife and kids flew while I drove to meet them, I had two days up and two days back to myself for birding -- well, two days each way for driving with a little bit of birding at times, so not ideal. Still it was an excellent trip. Uluru and Kata-Tjuta were awesome, much more interesting, impressive and iconic than I had imagined.

I set out after lunch on Wed and drove until about 150km north of Port Augusta, with a 40min stop at the Arid Lands Botanical Gardens. It began to rain just north of Port Augusta and rained all night.

It had stopped raining by the morning and I set out for my first main target at the Hutchinson Memorial just south of Coober Pedy. Within 30min I found a pair of Chestnut-breasted Whiteface, in spite of the time (1pm) and strong breeze. Also a pair of very close Wedge-tailed Eagles and numerous White-winged Fairywrens. Because there had been so much rain I wasn't able to drive out along the William Creek Rd, or beyond the CP Sewage Treatment Plant where I'd been hoping for other targets.

With limited time before my rendezvous with family, I decided to head straight for the well-known Banded Whiteface site just north of Erldunda (about a 40km diversion), and found a pair quickly, quite close to the road. Also Chiming Wedgebill (not a lifer but I've only ever seen one or two).

At Uluru and Kata-Tjuta I was doing family/tourist stuff but still picked up a lifer -- Grey-headed Honeyeater -- on a walk around the base. BTW, including the experience of the drive from Adelaide and back, the trip was worth it for the scenery. Dull to some perhaps, but the vast plains around Coober Pedy and the incredible sights of Uluru, Kat-Tjuta (and Mt Connor) make me so glad to have done it.

On the drive back I found 3 Black-breasted Buzzards (awesome views of this attractive raptor) and more Wedgies, including 6 near a fresh Kangaroo carcass by the highway at point blank range. Incidentally, much to my surprise I didn't see a single live Kangaroo on my trip, and many fewer roadkill than I would have expected. About 50km north of Coober Pedy I stopped at an area where there were a few hundred Grey Teal on a waterhole, and was delighted to find several Pied Honeyeater (also a lifer). The track beyond the sewage works was drier than 4 days earlier, and so driveable, but I didn't find anything other than Australia Pipit on the gibber plains.

I camped at Hutchinson Memorial again and in the morning spent an hour and a half walking around looking for quail-thrush. I heard one well on the ridge just to the north on the east side of the hwy but couldn't find it, then followed another one singing to the west of the highway where I found a family of Western Grasswren (modesta, a race tick). Sadly I had bumped my camera off its usual Av setting onto M without realising it and my only pics are badly overexposed at 1/60s :-(. Finally locked onto the Cinnamon Quail-thrush (3), and as I was watching the Quail-thrush a small brilliant burst of yellow-orange alerted me to a male Orange Chat.

Bombed my way back to Adelaide arriving around 6pm. All up, about 3500km driving, 7 lifers and some amazing scenery.

Thanks again to everyone for their generous help. Anyone who wants more specific details of any of the above, pls let me know. At some point I hope to do a full trip list, proper report and process my photos (see for the best two or three).

best wishes, Ian

Prof. Ian Reid
School of Computer Science
University of Adelaide
Adelaide, 5005
ph: +61 (08) 83132135

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