Strzelecki Raptors

To: "birding-aus" <>
Subject: Strzelecki Raptors
From: "Crispin Marsh" <>
Date: Mon, 29 Aug 2005 21:20:07 +1000

Dear Birders,

As we ascended a sand dune of the Strzelecki dessert early in the morning of the 19th August the cry went up "raptor". A pair of white kites dropped below the crest of the dune. By the time our bus had climbed to the top of the dune the pair of letter-winged kites were alighting onto the tree in which they had made their nest. One bird was on the nest and the other sitting in the uppermost branches a few meters away. The early morning sun illuminating the birds and our vantage point above them on the dune provided birding at its best. A changing of the guard on the nest allowing good viewing of the underwing pattern of the bird moving onto the nest.

Somewhat later a brown falcon was seen on a bush followed soon by a hovering Australian kestrel. Approached the Strzelecki creek, heading towards Merti Merti station a black kite cruised by twisting its forked tail.

Stopping the bus at the creek a pair of black breasted buzzards were seen circling a large nest in a magnificent red gum. We immediately jumped to the conclusion that it was their nest until a black falcon rose from the nest tree and harassed the buzzards driving them away. After birding along the creek for a while (and incidentally flushing a southern boobook) we walked up a large dune to find a pair of little eagles working on their nest. They swooped past us as they came and went, at times not more that 50m away, displaying their intricate patterning.

This wonderful display of raptors lead to a certain amount of jocular bantering about this being the day for a grey falcon! A violent wind front went through as we were starting lunch beside the creek some distance downstream of Merti Merti however rather dampened the idea of any more birds at all that day.

As we came to the Strzelecki crossing where the Strzelecki track crosses the creek our guide, Phil Maher, called "grey falcon". In an instant we had all tumbled out of the bus to see the sleek grey bird with the dark wingtips slide enigmatically off down the creek.

A pair of wedge-tailed eagles close to Monte Collina bore and a Hobby in a creek bed gum on the great gibber plain late in the day completed a most memorable 10 raptor day.

This was but the raptor component of one day of a 19 day Strzelecki Track Outback Birding Tour. I will provide a list of the more general birding highlights in a second posting. I note that I have no interest in Australian Ornithological Services who ran the trip other than being a very satisfied client.

Peter Marsh

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