birding-aus Night Parrot search

To: <>
Subject: birding-aus Night Parrot search
From: "Jo Wieneke" <>
Date: Mon, 6 Sep 1999 04:08:03 +1000
Hello all,

I am just back from 8 days looking for Night Parrots in the area to the
south-west of Cloncurry in North Queensland. I travelled with Jo Wieneke,
and - needless to say - we didn't find any Night Parrots. But it was a
glorious failure!

This is the area of several sightings of the bird up to 1994 (reported in
'Emu' by Stephen Garnett). When I had searched previously there had been a
succession of dry years. Parrot numbers generally were very low and the
situation was rather discouraging. This time, however, we were following
three good rainy seasons and everything was so different! Budgies, Zebra
Finches, Black-faced Woodswallows, Spinifex Pigeons and Crimson Chats
everywhere in their hundreds. Amongst other widespread species were
Australian Ringneck, Cockatiel, Spotted Nightjar, Black-tailed Treecreeper,
Red-browed Pardalote, Grey-crowned Babbler and Mistletoebird (one
Mistletoebird giving a magnificent example of a prologed sequence of
sub-song mimicry - oh for a tape recorder!)

Harder to find, but present, were Rufous-crowned Emu-wren, Dusky Grasswren,
Ground Cuckoo-shrike, Black Falcon, Little Button-quail, Australian Bustard
and Painted Finch

We camped most of the time by the Cloncurry River, which still had pools of
water, and our bird score quickly mounted. We recorded 58 species around
that camp - with highlights being Spotted Harrier (coming in to drink),
Black-breasted Buzzard, Australian Hobby, Brolga, Bush Stone-curlew, Spotted
Bowerbird, Red-winged Parrot and Varied Lorikeet.

The overwhelming highlight for us was the last campsite amongst stony hills
and spinifex - with nothing flowering except some mistletoe. As soon as we
awoke we realised we had stumbled onto a special spot - and I have taken the
liberty of showing below the species we recorded within a couple of hundred
metres of the camp in about 1 hour from 7am on 4 September -

Diamond Dove                Peaceful Dove
Common Bronzewing    Spinifex Pigeon
Galah                                Sulphur-crested Cockatoo
Cockatiel                          Australian Ringneck
Budgerigar                       Australian Owlet-nightjar
Rainbow Bee-eater        Black-tailed Treecreeper
White-winged Fairy-wren    Red-browed Pardalote
Striated Pardalote            Yellow-rumped Thornbill
Weebill                            Little Friarbird
Yellow-throated Miner    Grey-headed Honeyeater
Grey-fronted Honeyeater    Black-chinned Honeyeater
White-throated Honeyeater    Rufous-throated Honeyeater
Brown Honeyeater            Crimson Chat
Jack Winter                        Crested Bellbird
Rufous Whistler                Grey Shrike-thrush
Willie Wagtail                    Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike
White-winged Triller        White-browed Woodswallow
Masked Woodswallow    Little Woodswallow
Black-faced Woodswallow    Pied Butcherbird
Magpie-lark                        Australian Raven
Spotted Bowerbird            Zebra Finch
Painted Finch                    Mistletoebird
Tree Martin                        Spinifexbird

Black Honeyeater was 'probably' heard, and Emu, Grey-crowned Babbler and
Hooded Robin had been found at the same spot the day before.

The Spinifexbird seemed quite common, with 4 individuals being seen at one

If you are heading that way please be meticulous in respecting private
land - and contact owners if straying off the obviously public roads. I can
provide landowner contacts etc if emailed directly - but I am on tour until
the end of the month so there may be a delay in replying.

Needless to say we are submitting a goodly pile of 'Atlas' sheets!


Richard Jordan, 
ph (02) 4236 0542   fax (02) 4236 0176

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