Re: birding-aus longreach birding sites

To: Lynn <>
Subject: Re: birding-aus longreach birding sites
From: (Richard Johnson)
Date: Tue, 04 Jan 2000 16:52:51 +1000
Hi Lynn

Lynn wrote:

Planning a trip to Longreach next year, & would appreciate some information
on some good birding sites/ areas to find anything unusual!

After two good years, currently culminating in what looks like being the best season in years, inland Qld from the NSW border north to at least Winton and Hughenden is a sea of green. It is just wonderful, and aren't the birds loving it! Travel just now does have one or two restrictions, though. I had to drive through 60cm of water to cross the Bulloo at Quilpie last weekend and there's a lot more over the Cooper near Windorah and Jundah, and probably Stonehenge too. There's a new flood warning on the Paroo as well. In other words, access is going to be restricted for a little while yet. Also, the mozzies and sandflies are loving the wet, and can be pretty unpleasant if you're not used to them and not prepared with repellant, nets etc. I thought seeing my first nesting Masked Woodswallow more than made up for a few bites, though!
Anyway, if you are travelling later on in the year when it's cooled off and dried up a bit, these restrictions shouldn't bother you. Lynn, you haven't specified anything in particular and I don't know what you have or have not seen, so I'm just sticking to generalities. The grasslands around Longreach should be alive with budgies and Cockateils, and you will quickly note that the Bustards and Emus are having a 'banner year' as the Yanks say. You should do well for raptors too - watch out for Black Falcon and Black-breasted Buzzard among the zillions of Black Kites. Crimson Chats can turn up anywhere, though I think they prefer the shorter, sparser grasslands. Flock Bronzewings are a possibility too, though more regular further north in the Winton-Hughenden-Cloncurry triangle. I'm plugging the grasslands here because they tend to get overlooked, with most people finding them long, boring interludes between towns. Ah, if they could only stop and see the gems at their feet!!!
If you are in the Longreach area, go to Winton and from there to Bladensburg National Park, just out of town. This park gets overlooked by many travellers but deserves a much higher profile. It has river frontages, Mitchell grass plains and some wonderful rocky plateaux with permanent and semi-permanent rock holes. These latter are excellent for birds like Painted Finch, Grey-headed Honeyeater, Spinifex Pigeon. All the woodswallows are in the Longreach-Winton area, but Bladensburg is good for Littles, which can be a bit hard to get onto elsewhere. Rufous-crowned Emu-wrens are there and I can see no reason why Spinifexbird and Striated Grasswren shouldn't be, too. If you are after these, a trip to the park might save you more driving out to Lark Quarry and Opalton, the better-known locations. Mind you, these areas, and the extensive mulga-spinifex vegetation en route have their own special values (e.g. Crested Bellbird, Hall's Babbler) and are well worth the drive if you have the time.
While in Winton, you might like to pop into the small sewage ponds there. Great little spot for Baillon's Crake, mobs of Clamorous Reed-warbler and Little Grassbird and the odd vagrant or en passage wader e.g. Latham's Snipe, Sharp-tailed Sandpiper and Marsh Sandpiper. You never know what might turn up on this little wetland - I have a little pet theory that wandering Yellow Chat will one day colonise the reedbeds. It's good manners to check with the local council first.
When in Longreach, Winton and other centres in the west, please let the people from whom you are buying fuel, food, accommodation know that you are there supporting their businesses because of their local birds. Help conservation by helping people attach value to their local wildlife!

Richard Johnson
Roma District
Tel: (07) 4622 4266  Fax: (07) 46 22 4151

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