I have just returned from two days of birdwatching around Alice Springs with
Barry Bucholtz. I saw 62 species on the trip including 8 lifers for me
(including 7 in one day and three which I never thought I?d get) and it was
all the more enjoyable for the spectacular scenery. The area was very green
after recent rain and the birding was excellent thanks to the great weather
and Barry?s extensive local knowledge.
I began the trip by seeing nine Red-tailed Black Cockatoo on the way in from
the airport (I think this must have been a good omen). The first lifer was a
very close view of a Grey-headed Honeyeater during a short afternoon run to
Simpson?s Gap. Other highlights in that area were Hooded Robin,
Mistletoebird, Black Falcon and a Little Black Cormorant in the waterhole.
On the non-birding front there was a highlight of seeing quite a few
Black-footed Rock Wallaby and a lowlight of seeing a (live) cat.
On the way out on the next morning I added another lifer, Western Bowerbird,
at the entrance to the Botanic Gardens. We then headed out of town for
several Spinifex sites, finding lots of birds including Mulga Parrot,
Wedge-tailed Eagle, Whistling Kite, Black Kite, Kestrel and Black-faced
Woodswallow along the way.
At one of the Spinifex sites we walked a relatively short distance before
finding four Rufous ?Crowned Emu-wren (lifer number 3). Including a gorgeous
male that obligingly sat on top of a spinifex bush calling in the morning
sun. Over the next hour or two we added Variegated Fairy-wren, more Hooded
Robin, Singing Honeyeater, Crimson Chat and Zebra Finch. We had all but
given up on finding Spinifexbird and were heading back to the car when Barry
heard one call from what seemed to be outside the area of Spinifex. It
(lifer number 4) then flew past us and landed in the base of a bush giving
us a close and amazingly prolonged view of it.
With my head still spinning from this memorable encounter, we moved on to
further sites and Barry conjured up lifer number 5, Dusky Grasswren. Finding
them involved scrambling up a tricky scree slope onto a ridge so we could
look down on the Spinifex, rocks and mallee. We eventually found five Dusky
Grasswren in a single party moving about from rock to rock beneath us giving
good views whenever they stopped. The same area yielded Grey-fronted
Honeyeater and White-backed Swallow.
We then headed out towards Kunoth to see if this amazing day could possibly
yield anything else.. and it did! After adding Brown Falcon, Wood Duck,
Pallid Cuckoo, Grey-crowned Babbler and Crested Bellbird we tracked down
Slaty-backed Thornbill (lifer number 6). For a while it was the only species
of Thornbill we were finding, although we eventually added Inland,
Chestnut-rumped and Yellow-rumped. After much walking in quite hot weather
(particularly for winter) we also added Budgerigar, Red-capped Robin and
Splendid fairy-wren. After about two hours of searching we caught our first
glimpse of anything that looked like a Grey Honeyeater. Fortunately the bird
stayed fairly close and we were able to get a tickable view of a Grey
Honeyeater (lifer number 7). When it flew, as if to remind me what
incredible fortune I had been having that day, it actually flew towards us
and landed in a nearby tree for a much better, though brief, view.
After all that it was back for a cup of tea and a wait to see if any
Bourke?s Parrots would turn up at dusk. Even with all the water around after
the recent rains, four Bourke?s Parrots (lifer number 8) did show up to make
my day complete. Fortunately two of them turned up before dusk when the
light was still good enough to pick them up with the binoculars as they flew
around us and then appeared to head off without landing.
Before anyone accuses me of getting smug I would like to add that we did go
birding at several sites on the day I was heading home and I didn?t see
anything new. Again the scenery was amazing but I think I was bit
shell-shocked from the previous day to put everything into it. Among the
birds added that day were Red-backed Kingfisher, Brown Honeyeater, Pacific
Heron, Peaceful Dove, Weebill, Dusky Moorhen and very close views of several
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