Outback Birds Part 2

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Subject: Outback Birds Part 2
Date: Tue, 29 Oct 96 12:37:07 +60000
OUTBACK BIRDS - PART 2 -  30 September to 1 October

Part 1 relayed travels along the open plains around Hay and Balranald:

Were there ever trees on these treeless plains?
Were there creeks or rivers filled with rains?
No earth movement here to make some hills
It's flat and treeless and dry.

No, not dry
the rain does fall
and soaks into this soil.

And the grasses and wildflowers come
purple and white and green and yellow
and it changes as we drive along.
What other life is out there?
The birds, the birds.

During the afternoon of 30 September we arrived at Hattah-Kulkyne National 
Park.  The water level of Lake Hattah was very high including covering some of 
the surrounding dirt roads and making islands of some of the picnic areas.  
Time for a late afternoon walk which featured Yellow Rosella and two 
Apostlebirds coming within only five feet and as usual making an amazing range 
of chuckling, churring sounds.  And Lifer No. 6 Regent Parrot.  This is a 
large parrot and a female gave us wonderful views as she waddled on the ground 
chomping on various flower pods including brassica.  The burnt red/burnt 
orange colour on the wing feathers is quite something, and it's amazing how it 
can be both pastel and rich at once.  She was most confiding, keen on her late 
afternoon feeding.  During this afternoon and the morning of the next days, we 
saw a few Regent Parrots, including male/female pairs, and I saw a female 
feeding a sub-adult including being able to see the sticky liquid transfer 
between their bills.

We met someone who had just arrived from Sturt National Park where he had been 
stranded for three days due to heavy rains and impassable roads.  We weren't 
due to arrive at Sturt for a few days so hopefully it was going to dry out a 
bit for us.  At least during the night of 30 September we had a near full 
moon, winds to blow away the clouds and by 4.30am it was clear and starry.

So from 6-8am on Tuesday 1 October we had a walk near the campground which 
proffered Blue-faced Honeyeater, Little Corella, Horsfield's Bronze-Cuckoo 
giving a chirping call in addition to its falling bomb call, Noisy Friarbird 
and White-browed Babbler.  A family of White-winged Choughs including two 
immatures pretty much ignored us as they foraged on the ground.

And Singing Honeyeater - Lifer No. 7.  This species was with us for virtually 
the remainder of the trip.  Some people say that they are misnamed as they 
don't sing.  I disagree - how could a bird give such a variety of calls and 
have such a strong sound otherwise?

Breakfast, packed and ready to go, we stopped at the mallee on the way out of 
the Park.  This was my first experience with mallee, comprising rich red dirt, 
some flowering trees no taller than 12 feet high, and the spiky trioda which 
made your skin itch for minutes afterwards.  In this environment there were 
yellow-rumped Spotted Pardalotes, Chestnut-rumped Thornbills (Lifer No. 8 ) 
foraged in the mallee trees and close to the ground, Inland Thornbills (Lifer 
No. 9) with heavy stripes on the breast were also actively foraging and 
Yellow-plumed Honeyeaters (Lifer No. 10 ) were also in the treetops.  Lifer 
No. 11 for me knocked us out:  a male Splendid Fairy-wren in that fabulous 
blue moved around on bare branches and on the ground.

A Grey Currawong flew overhead with a call surprisingly like a parrot.

There were also three plants of Thelymitra orchids with flowers developed but 
not open (hence I couldn't determine the species).

After 10am we left the Park and proceeded through Wentworth and up the Silver 
City Highway and through long vistas of saltbush and bluebush only two feet 
high, to Popiltah Lake rest stop for lunch.  Lake?  what lake?  Dry as they 
come.  Apostlebirds with their raspy calls came very close to us and we were 
able to see them feeding and preening an immature.  They clearly cocked their 
tails as they walked on the ground.  A Grey Butcherbird also serenaded us 

Pushing on to Broken Hill and basically in the middle of nowhere, what do I 
spy from the bus but Lifer No. 12 - White-winged Fairy-wren.  Stop the bus!  
Let's get out and look at it!  From a distance this bird looked to have white 
wings against a black body, but once you are within about 30 feet you see 
white wings against a fabulous blue.  A very co-operative male allowed us 
great views as he jumped around a bit of a woodpile (dead branches of a tree) 
and across the road we found two females.  This site was 152 km north of 
Merbein and about 4 km south of the Mid Anabranch Landcare Group sign.

Two lifers in this spot!  Banded Lapwings (No. 13) in the nearby paddock.  I 
had to travel a mere thousand or so kilometres to see this species, as I never 
got to see the Banded Lapwings when they turned up at Richmond only 30 km from 
my home back in Sydney.

On the stretch from Popiltah to Broken Hill, Emus dominated our sightings, 
seeing 2+6+6+4+ 4 with three chicks + 12 adults +2+2+4+2+4+2+2.  

A quick fuel stop in Broken Hill (unleaded petrol 81.9 cents per litre) before 
the last leg of the journey to Kinchega National Park.

Here we stayed at the shearer's quarters near the Woolshed, with the bedrooms 
fresh and clean, nice toilet, shower and washbasin facilities for washing 
clothes (and a line to hang out your clothes), a huge kitchen, fridge and 
dining room.  I recommend these facilities to you.

Arrived 4.30 pm and stayed for two nights, so next instalment in this series 
will cover Kinchega National Park.

Happy birding
(I know it makes me happy)

Irene Denton
Sydney   NSW    Australia

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