Recent postings on birding-aus have accurately reported on
the very dry conditions in the Centre and the resultant effect on birding. This
is certainly true, but the upside has been good birding in some locations.
The big flock of Painted Finches at Glen Helen Gorge first
reported by Neville Pamment numbers
some 200 birds, and is truly a spectacular sight. Julie and I went birding
along the West MacDonnell ranges on
Saturday. Other highlights were 4 Ground Cuckoo-shrikes 4 KM E of the Ellery
Big Hole turnoff, and at the lookout W of Ellery 4 Golden-backed Honeyeaters,
large numbers of Grey-headed Honeyeaters and, of course, Zebra Finches, as well
as Grey-fronted HE and Hooded Robin. Dusky Grasswren had been reported the
previous week at the Ormiston Gorge turnoff, but we were not successful with
At Glen Helen itself the obvious highlight was the flock of
Painted Finches. These are in the area between the lodge and the gorge, and are
almost constantly drinking at two small waterholes in the creek bed during the
middle of the day. Additionally, in the gorge
were Little Pied Cormorant, Grey Teal, Hardhead, Black Duck, White-faced Heron
and Coot. Three Wedge-tailed Eagles and a Whistling Kite were soaring overhead.
On the return journey a Major Mitchell and several Red-tailed Black Cockatoo
The area around Kunoth is equally dry, and there has been a
marked decline in the number of birds seen it that area lately. I have not seen
or heard of Grey Honeyeater there in the last couple of months, although the
usual Thornbill species – Slaty-backed, Yellow-rumped, Chestnut-rumped
and Inland are still usually seen there.
A Grey Honeyeater was still in the Olive Pink Botanic
Gardens early Saturday morning. There were seven species of Honeyeater in the
one Ironwood tree at the one time.
There were Grey, Grey-headed, Grey-fronted, Brown, Singing,
Spiny-cheeked and White-plumed as well as the ubiquitous Yellow-throated Miner
sharing the tree with Port Lincoln Parrot, Red-capped Robin, Western Gerygone
and Inland Thornbill. Several species of acacia are in bloom, providing the
That spot is certainly worth a trip for any birder visiting
the Centre now, with up to 34 species being recorded regularly in the Garden at
the moment, and the added bonus of mid-twenty degree temperatures during the
day, as well as the great café with Elaine’s home made cakes, lunches and
great coffee. I am not a shareholder in same, but it does make the birding all
the more salubrious.
Alice Springs NT