We were on a trip to the Strzelecki desert looking for Eyrean Grasswrens
and on the evening of 24th May 2004, with our camp set up on the banks
of Callabonna Creek at S 29'45.7", E 140'14.9" near the remote Old
Callabonna ruins, north-eastern South Australia, the first drops of rain
began to fall.
Low dark clouds were rolling in from the northwest, the temperature was
dropping rapidly and about 1/2 hour before nightfall with rain falling
steadily I decided to crawl into my swag to keep warm and dry. Just
then the calls of a Red-winged Parrot screeched out near our camp and
looking up i could see a medium sized green parrot flying past. The
Red-winged Parrot is rarely seen in South Australia.
The trouble with getting old is that you can forget where you are when
an unusual bird flies past. Scrambling from the swag onto a steep
slippery creek bank created a spectacle which Pat reckoned looked
more like an injured crocodile escaping from a faulty cage trap.
Sliding down the bank on my side i was not thinking how fortunate, the
creek is dry. Adding insult to injury, the parrot was gone and
I wondered if I might see this bird again. Although its flight seemed
distinctive, the light was poor and the views were not good
enough to confirm the sighting.
We decided to wait at this location for a few days to allow the country
to dry out and as luck would have it, we observed the Red-winged Parrot
again on several occasions between 25th to 28th May. Regularly each
morning, at about 8.00 am this obliging parrot would fly past our camp
shrieking loudly and then perch briefly near the top of a dead tree
about 150 metres east of us. This Parrot was a timid male and its
plumage appeared worn. During the mornings it was alone but before
sunset we would hear it, then flying past our camp in a westerly
direction in a loose association with Galah's presumably returning to a
There are several normally dry Coolibah lined watercourses that provide
corridors of woodland habitat into South Australia from western New
South Wales. Tributaries such as the Stewart's Camp Creek, Tilcha
Creek, Boolkaree Creek and Yandama Creek commence not far from the
normal range of Red-winged Parrot. It is probable that other NSW birds
follow these corridors as in the early 1980's we sighted Apostlebirds at
Tilcha bore along the same watercourse about 50 km west of Callabonna
ruins although we were unable to locate them on this occasion.
Red-winged Parrots are not often sighted in South Australia although in
the past few years they have been recorded at Dalhouisie Hot Springs and
Cooper Creek near Innamincka.
Price, South Australia
Mob. 0409 474575
Home (08) 88376212
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