Short-tailed Grasswrens and Western NSW

To: <>
Subject: Short-tailed Grasswrens and Western NSW
From: "Dion Hobcroft" <>
Date: Mon, 10 Apr 2000 21:39:23 +1000
G'Day Birders

Spent the 3-7.4.00 on a trip to the Flinders Ranges to get some field
experience with this newly elevated taxa. We can recommend Willow Springs
Station NE of Wilpena as a place to base yourself with camping and huts
available. We camped on 4-5.4.00. The owners welcome visitors and can be
contacted through the local tourist bureau. We left with them a mud map to
direct interested birders.

The grasswrens although sparse can be located near Stokes Hill lookout in
dense Triodia often where Grass Trees grow in isolated groves. Gale force
winds did not help the search and a few fleeting glimpses struggled in the
initial few hours.Eventually in a more protected gully a male preened itself
unconcernedly at 30 metres range for several minutes. Strikingly dumpy with
classic short, bolt upright tail it was a perfect sight. It showed quite a
prominent black malar stripe but this may have been effected by its fluffed
feather posture as it basked in the sun. The underparts were quite clean
white. The landscape is dry rocky rolling hills with only an occasional
Richard's Pipit to distract or many Wallaroos.

I was very happy returning back when some high pitched "tsips" caught our
attention. Investigation of a Triodia tussock revealed two nearly fledged
chicks sitting in a well woven domed nest. No sign of any parents. We left
and decided to return later in the afternoon. We returned from 4.30-5.30.
The female approached the nest with grasshopper bodies to feed the chicks
which squeaked excitedly at her return. I was able to get some photographs
and some sound recording. This female had the malar stripe well concealed.
The flanks and undertail coverts buff. The mantle, back and scapulars rich
chestnut. The tail constantly bolt upright, short and a bit untidy in this
female doubtless from the nesting responsibilities. No sign of the male.
The female did a broken wing display to lure us away when she first turned
up. We backed off and heard her feed the chicks. In response to some squeaks
from me she did the rodent run display approaching very closely with wings
drooped and tail levelled and head down. We didn't push her any further.

Other good birds on the trip included Fork-tailed Swifts 30 at Cobar 3.4.00,
Redthroats at a roadside truckstop 30 km W Broken Hill, Black Falcon at
Peterborough, Elegant Parrots at Willow Springs, Ground Cuckoo-shrikes near
Wilcannia, Red-backed Kingfisher at Cobar on 7.4.00, Chirruping Wedgebill,
Chestnut-crowned Babbler, Crimson and Orange Chats, Major Mitchell's
Cockatoo, Budgerigars and much more. Highlight mammal Yellow-footed Rock
Wallaby at Brachina Gorge
Good reptiles including 4 species of dragon and several Eastern Brown
Snakes. Western NSW looks fantastic.

Cheers Dion
PS Two Rufous Fantails at Taronga Zoo on 8.4.00 one a juvenile. Both in
bamboo in tiger exhibit. Male Koel at Trevors place Crows Nest on 1.4.00.
Dipped on Diamond Firetail at Mason Park on 9.4.00.

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