OUTBACK BIRDS - PART 4 - 3 October to 5 October
Left Kinchega National Park at 8.30am on Thursday 3 October to drive through
Broken Hill to Mootwingee National Park. It was a clear warm day with no
The trip to Broken Hill was uneventful, except for three Banded Lapwings at
the side of the road. They flew around a little bit but otherwise stayed very
close to the bus and hence we got great views of them standing and flying.
Two hours shopping time in Broken Hill as our crew had to stock up for the
next eight days of the trip. Broken Hill had a lot of historic buildings now
occupied by various government or administrative groups, and appeared to have
most services. Souvenirs included Roo Poo (chocolate covered fruit and nut
bars) and chocolate covered "blowflies". House Sparrows there. Right in town
were huge piles of ore, very much reflecting the mining nature of the area.
Just north of Broken Hill we stopped at Stephens Creek for lunch. What a
little oasis of birds, including Australian Ringneck, a pair of Budgerigars at
a tree hole kicking out lots of loose material, Spiny-cheeked Honeyeater,
Singing Honeyeater, White-winged Triller and White-browed Babbler (very noisy,
much babbling: they are aptly named).
Then to Mootwingee National Park:
The vista brings changes
Barrier and Coturaundee Ranges
Taller shrubs now appear
and more green from the rain.
Still wide open plains
in a patchwork of orange and brown
wildflower yellow and white
and greens, all showing life.
And at Mootwingee itself, we had huge trees, thicker stands of trees and more
areas of shrubs.
Approaching the Park, we had a male/female pair of Crimson Chats in great
colour, Emu, Pallid Cuckoo and Variegated Fairy-wren.
Got to "Moot" camping ground at 4.00pm so after putting up the tent there was
plenty of time for a walk. By now we have gained an extra 20 minutes of light
in the evening, with sunset at 6.35pm. Mootwingee River was dry, but recent
rains made for some muddy parts and small pools on the riverbed.
The main feature around here were the Little Corellas, in the trees and
actively foraging on the ground in the afternoon, with dirty bills from
scrounging in the dirt. At least 30 on 3 October and on 4 October about 60
flew in. A family of Apostlebirds at camp entertained us with their raspy
calls, always making sure that at least one bird was at the mudnest.
Friday 4 October we had an early morning walk near the airstrip (hard to call
it an airport though it did have its own variety of airline terminal).
Sightings included Grey Butcherbird, Singing Honeyeater, Southern Whiteface,
Spiny-cheeked Honeyeater, Singing Bushlark and Zebra Finch. Also found four
male/female pairs of White-winged Trillers chasing each other through the
trees and actively foraging on the ground. I noticed this about trillers
throughout the trip, that they happily occupied high treetops, zones within
the trees and foraged on the ground as well.
Also Lifers Nos. 20 and 21. A single male Pied Honeyeater was giving his
three noted, fairly mournful call and we wondered why he was all alone. Three
male Mulga Parrots were chasing each other in a tree. A female sometimes
joined in the chase and eventually two males flew away, leaving a male/female
After breakfast we walked to Homestead Creek Gorge and spent a nice amount of
time there. The day warmed up to about 25 degrees, our hottest so far. Goals
were Grey Falcon and Hall's Babbler, neither of which we achieved. But we did
find other great birds including Little Raven, Major Mitchell's Cockatoo and
two Red-capped Robin males, one hot pink in colour and one orange-red.
Lifer No. 22, a female Black Honeyeater flitted around some bushes.
Lifer No. 23, a pair of Striped Honeyeaters at nest. This nest was a hanging
construction off the thinner branches of a eucalypt, overhanging the small
creek. One bird was flying around while another was on the nest with tail
poking out the side, and as it was windy, the nest swung back and forth. A
testament to the strength of the nest building capabilities of these birds.
These birds are quite big (23cm) and none of the field guides depicted them
well - the stripes on their head and nape are quite fine (like those on a
Hoary-headed Grebe), rather than the thick stripes as depicted in, say,
Slater. The bird is also sleek and long rather than dumpy looking as per
Lifer No. 24, White-fronted Honeyeater, being two building a nest in a fairly
bare tree. Some good views over a period of 10 minutes. More olive-yellow on
the wings than the bright yellow of Slater's field guide.
A long break for lunch and then we wandered around the areas closer to the
Park's entrance which included mallee trees with large areas of plain red soil
- no small plants like the Hattah-Kulkyne mallee. This afternoon we found
"bird hotel", with one large dead tree occupied by Little Corellas, Zebra
Finches, Budgerigars and Tree Martins.
Other birds here were Chestnut-crowned Babbler, again zapping around fast (do
they ever move slowly?), Masked Woodswallow (Lifer No. 25), Pied Butcherbird,
Striated Pardalote being the red tipped western form and two White-backed
Swallows in flight.
During the evening of 4 October around camp, we saw huge light flashes across
the sky, a harbinger of things of come. It blew up a real gale during the
night and we packed up camp in wild winds on the morning of Saturday 5
October. During the night it hailed at Oodnadatta for the first time
Next report - to Tibooburra and on to Sturt National Park.
Happy birding to you all
(I know it makes me happy)
Sydney NSW Australia