Central Australia

Subject: Central Australia
From: "Wynton Maddeford" <>
Date: Mon, 04 Aug 2003 08:32:45 +0800
Hi All,
From 22 to 31 July 2003 i had my first trip to Uluru, Kata Tjuta ( The Olgas), Kings Canyon and Alice Springs and thought my summary of the trip may be of interest to anyone planning a similar trip in the near future. 
As usual for this area, apart from the permanent water holes there was little surface water and accordingly you had to work reasonably hard to see birds and in total 66 were seen, the most being as expected at the Alice Springs Sewerage Ponds.
Around Uluru and Kata Tjuta there were Grey-headed Honeyeaters, Black-breasted Buzzard and other common birds seen were Zebra Finch, White-plumed Honeyeater, Yellow-throated Miner and Grey Shrike-Thrush.
At Kings Canyon we recorded Western Bowerbird and the above honeyeaters were also common, along with the Spiny-cheeked Honeyeater.
At Kathleen Springs (about 10kms south of Kings Canyon) recorded Red-capped Robin, Hooded Robin, Australian Ringneck and Mulga Parrot, the parrots were nesting.
At Alice Springs and The MacDonnell Ranges saw Red-backed Kingfisher, Dusky Grasswren (Trephina Gorge), Crested Bellbird (Desert Wildlife Park) and 15 Painted Finches (Ellery Creek Big Hole).
The best spot was at Ellery Creek as the creek still contained water on both sides of the road and birds here included a nesting pair of Brown Falcons, Whistling Kite, Red-tailed Black Cockatoo, Black-fronted Dotterel, Spinifex Pigeon, Pied Butchebird, Peregrine Falcon, Zebra Finch, Australasian Grebe,Weebill and a Straw-necked Ibis,a bird not included in the checklist of West MacDonnell National Park Birds.
The Alice Springs Sewerage Ponds revealed 26 species including Pink-eared Duck, Hardhead,Red-necked Avocet, Fairy and Tree Martins, White-Winged Fairy Wren, White-backed Swallow, Masked Plover, Eurasian Coot, Grey Teal, Nankeen Kestrel,Little Corella, Black Kite, Silver Gull, Australian Pipit and  Black Swan.
The highlight at the ponds was my first ever sighting of the Black Falcon, an impressive large falcon and one of a pair that are in residence.
Throughout the trip Raptors were commonly seen and eight in total were recorded. The best spot for Wedge-tailed Eagles was along Ross Highway to Trephina Gorge in the early morning as they fed on the road killed Euros, that are very common along here, and nine wedgies were recorded on the 70 kms way out, but none coming back as they would have been digesting their meal.
I would recommend you start your day to central Australia around sunrise as the birds and wildlife were up and about and included Dingo's, Camels, Horses and Cattle. Unfortunately we also saw numerous Feral Cats at anytime and we should all be pushing to get Governments to put a bounty on their scalps to help control their numbers.The same should apply to Camels and Horses.
Due to the cold weather, the only reptile seen was a young Yellow-faced Whip Snake and in addition to Euros, we saw four Black-flanked Rock Wallabies at Simpsons Gap ( eastern scree) and at Heavitree Gap Outback Lodge in Alice Springs you can hand feed up to 35 of these great little wallabies from about 90 minutes before sunset.
The Desert Wildlife Park at AS had a Raptor display that  included a wedgie that involved some unexpected interaction with a wild wedgie.
It was a very enjoyable trip despite dipping out on budgies and chats.
Should anyone require any more info, please contact me.
Best Regards
Wynton Maddeford                    

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