Outback Birds Part 3

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Subject: Outback Birds Part 3
Date: Wed, 30 Oct 96 7:32:10 +60000
OUTBACK BIRDS - PART 3 - 1 October to 3 October

Arrived during the afternoon of Tuesday 1 October to Kinchega National Park 
(110 kilometres south east of Broken Hill), and stayed there for two nights.

Kinchega comprises Lake Cawndilla and Lake Menindee, fed by the Darling River, 
and these are the water providers to Broken Hill and district.  The water was 
not clear when we were there and apparently it's always like that, because the 
soil has some clay and the solids just suspend in the water.  In terms of 
vegetation, there were tall trees including gum trees, bluebush with small 
grasses, wildflowers and herbs in between (thus covering all the earth), and 
in other areas there was bare red sandy dirt between the bluebush.  Roads were 
gravel, dry just before and when we were there so no problem getting around in 
the bus.

Near the shearers' quarters were a couple of ponds, with Red-rumped Parrots 
and Blue Bonnets (yellow-vented) coming in to drink at dusk, Apostlebirds 
arguing with a Little Friarbird, a Rufous Songlark giving a lovely serenade, 
and lots of Fairy Martins including nesting in pipes under the road.  The 
ponds proffered Lifer No. 14 to me:  Black-tailed Native-hens which came in 
early morning and late evening, but were rather skittish so it was hard to get 
a good close view of them.  At the quarters themselves was a Grey 
Shrike-thrush which had learned that easy pickings were to be had at insects 
on car front grills.  In the various buildings around the quarters were 
Welcome Swallows nesting, apparently totally unconcerned by fluorescent lights 
going on during the night.

Also near the quarters was a light phase Little Eagle sitting in a tree, and a 
Red-backed Kingfisher gave us a great viewing.  He was truly showing off as he 
turned his back to us and spread his wings a little, giving us the perfect 
view of the colour on his back, and turning his head in full profile.  

The night of 2 October was clear so some of us went for a spotlighting walk, 
admiring the great starry Milky Way and enjoying the peace and quiet and fresh 
air.  We found an Australian Owlet-Nightjar; first it was on one branch and 
then very silently slipped to another a few feet away but was found again and 
co-operated while we all had a good look.

During the clear, warm day of Wednesday 2 October we drove along the road to 
Lake Cawndilla, finding Black-faced Woodswallow (Lifer No. 15) and saw them a 
few times in the Park doing the cute thing that woodswallows do, cuddling up 
together on branches (even in the heat).  And Lifer No. 16, Chirruping 
Wedgebill sitting on top of a bluebush and walking on the ground amongst 
flowers.  I was fortunate to get a few good views of this species during the 
trip - they are a lovely bird with a large dark eye and a great call.  Near 
the Chirruping Wedgebill were Crimson Chats (Lifer No. 17) also on top of 
bushes and down on the ground.  On these Chats the red colour was a little 
washed out, but later on in the trip I saw Crimson Chats in all their red 
glory, a terrific bird in this environment.

On visits to the Lakes themselves, we found Australian Shelduck, Eurasian 
Coot, Great Egret, Grey Teal (about 30), Hoary-headed Grebe, Masked Lapwing, 
Black Swan, Pink-eared Duck (10), Pied Cormorant, Caspian Tern, Gull-billed 
Terns and Silver Gulls.  Other birds near or at the lakes included Black Kite 
and Whistling Kite, Wedge-tailed Eagle, Grey Shrike-Thrushes in a duet, 
Rainbow Bee-eater, Red-capped Robin and White-fronted Chat.  Nankeen Kestrels 
were a particular highlight at Morton Boolka (Moulton Boulki) Swamp where we 
found a female sitting on a branch, at eye level, only 25 feet away, and the 
male was on a branch just above.

And Lifer No. 18 for me, Budgerigar.  I have one in a cage at home and loved 
seeing his native cousins in the wild.

And Lifer No. 19, Chestnut-crowned Babblers which were fast moving but we 
eventually saw the great colour on their crown and the white marks on the 

Left Kinchega on the morning of 3 October to go to Mootwingee.  Next 
instalment soon.

Happy birding to you all
(I know it makes me happy)

Irene Denton
Sydney   NSW    Australia

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