Simpson Desert camel walk

To: "birding-aus" <>
Subject: Simpson Desert camel walk
From: "John McLennan" <>
Date: Tue, 28 Aug 2001 17:44:57 +1000

Eyre Creek and the Simpson Desert camel walk August 3rd to 17th

Eleven birders met at Birdsville on August 3rd and travelled by six-wheel drive Land Cruiser out to the ruins of Annandale Station on Eyre Creek some 90km west of Birdsville in the south-west corner of Queensland.

Eyre Creek flows intermittently after heavy rains in the Georgina and Hamilton Rivers catchment, a large area of western Queensland that drains areas as far north as the Barkly Tableland, and also the western slopes of the Selwyn Ranges.

Although known locally as the Mulligan River, this waterway was named by Charles Sturt in 1845 after fellow explorer E J Eyre.

There have been good rains in the catchment this year and as a consequence, although Eyre Creek was not running, the large waterholes held lots of water and although few birds were breeding, there were plenty of birds.

An hours walk through the area on our first day gave us 45 species, which included Pelicans, Black Swans, Great and Little Black Cormorants, Darter, Hardheads, Marsh and Caspian Tern and Brolga.

For the next three days we walked down Eyre Creek, all our camping gear carried by sixteen camels, and for any weary walkers, the option to ride the comfortable camels was always there.

On day four we headed west out into the Simpson Desert, and about 12km west of Eyre Creek we camped for two nights at Mickrapyra Waterhole a billabong about 5km long.

This billabong was teeming with birds, and the fish numbers must have been high as hundreds of Pelicans and Little Black Cormorants fished together all through the day and night, in the company of a thousand Little Black Cormorants, and hundreds of Little Pied and Pied Cormorants, and with Rufous Night Herons, Pacific Herons, Great and Intermediate Egrets and hundreds of Black Kites also joining in the fishing.

Large numbers of Hardheads and Pink-eared Ducks were joined by smaller numbers of Black and Wood Ducks, and a pair of Musk Ducks and four Freckled Ducks.

Also seen at this great spot were a Barn Owl and a Clamourous Reed Warbler, singing in the 2m high verbage, as there were no reeds.

On we went westwards further into the Simpson Desert National Park.

Our dune crossings kept us on the lookout for Rufous-crowned Emu Wrens which were seen on most days in spinifex, while the Eyrean Grasswrens gave fleeting glimpses on most days except where the opportunity to stop and "pish" gave us great views on only one day.

Desert birds included Banded and Southern Whiteface,  Little Eagle, and Black-breasted Buzzard on four days, Chirruping Wedgebill, Grey Falcon, a few Hooded Robins, Rufous Whistler, White-backed Swallow and one sighting only of Spotted NightjarBourkes Parrot,  Australian Bustard, Slaty-backed and Chestnut-rumped Thornbill.

The dry dune country was a great contrast to the thick and green vegetation along Eyre Creek where the camels could drink and we could wash the dust from out hair.

Our fourteen day 250km walk gave us a total of 121 species and we atlassed 33 sites including four 10’ grids previously not atlassed.

Next birders camel walk will be in Western Australia in 2003.

For any further information contact John McLennan at

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