Gawler Ranges, South Australia.

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Subject: Gawler Ranges, South Australia.
From: "Allan Lees" <>
Date: Sat, 20 Nov 2004 10:07:19 +1030
G'day all.
I have just returned from my annual pilgrimage to Murnea Waters, on Moonarie Stn, then on to Lake Gairdner NP, Gawler Ranges NP and Lake Gilles NP. In thirty years, this is the driest that I have seen this country. It has been largely de-stocked of its usual sheep, and the bunnies are at the lowest population that I have ever seen, so that, almost perversely, much of the vegetation in this country continues to regenerate, though the relatively recent arrival of feral camels at the Southern end of Lake Gairdner is worrying. Many dams have been dry since 1999, and others have dried up since.
The birds were generally as usual, if in reduced numbers, but this is the first time that I did not record White-fronted Honeyeaters at either Murnea or Lake Gairdner (in more than thirty trips). No Chats were seen anywhere. The Gawlers are never great for birds of prey, but just two Wedge-tail Eagles, an Australian Goshawk and a Nankeen Kestral in three days of looking is indicative of a lack of prey. Even Australian Ravens were sparsely distributed.
The highlights (for me) were
Pink Cockatoos - but only the usual three at Murnea
Common Bronze-wing - almost everywhere, and indicative of some water in the area
Port Lincoln Parrots - again, almost everywhere, and indicative of some water in the area
Bee Eaters, everywhere
Banded Lapwings at Murnea - the closest we got to a waterbird
Cockatiel - a few at Murnea (but no budgies)
Sitellas - seemed to be everywhere
Splendid Wrens
Blue-breasted Wrens - only at Lake Gilles
White-back Swallows - two only, near Yardea HS
Rufous Tree-creepers - everywhere South of Yardea HS
Mammals were only sheep, camels (lots of tracks at Lake Gairdner NP), a single Red Kangaroo, and a few Western Greys. No wombats were seen. Lake Gilles NP has its usual oversupply of goats.
The best birding was at Gawler Ranges NP and Lake Gilles NP. All areas are quite accessible with conventional vehicles, sensibly driven.
Allan Lees
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