Some observations from the 4 desert, 3 state, 3 grasswren circuit [pt 2]

To: Birding Aus <>
Subject: Some observations from the 4 desert, 3 state, 3 grasswren circuit [pt 2]
From: knightl <>
Date: Tue, 30 Aug 2005 19:46:11 +1000
We then proceeded out to Big Red, a high dune at the start of the 4WD
track across the Simpson Desert.  Previous correspondents had noted
eyrean grasswrens along the base of the dune, but all the canegrass
down there was dead, and all I saw were white-winged fairies and the
ever present corellas working the slopes. It was a different story on the crest of the dune, where there was plenty of healthy canegrass, and sure enough, Julie turned up a pair of eyreans on the crest. While the eyreans didn’t spend much time in the open, they did pretty much well stay put in the one area, and I managed to get some good pix [very
handsome birds they are too].  As others have noted, they leave
distinctive footprints in the sand – one foot slightly in front of the other, and they can bound a couple of body lengths at a time.

After the eyreans skedaddled down the side of the dune, we decided to
bivvy on the crest of the dune, about a click from the spot where the
track crosses the dune [ie away from the tourists].  We got some
excellent low light shots [making good use of the ripples in the sand] and had a very comfortable night under the stars. Our main company
during the daylight hours were a handful of black kites that like to
cruise low over the dunes [possible looking for lizards and snakes].

About 90 km south of Birdsville, we came across some good looking
lignum [on the fringes of Goyder Lagoon.  Julie thought it would be a
good spot for grey grasswrens, so we had a bit of a poke around. After 20 minutes, Julie reported seeing one, but as we searched for it, I always happened to be on the wrong side of the water/bushes, and all I saw were white wings and a very lavender variegated fairy. We also saw [and I photographed] a very lemon yellow coloured chat beside the
lignum, that we would like to have been a female yellow chat, but was
probably a gibberbird having a break from the stones.

I had given up on seeing a grey at the location and was making my way
back to the car, when I had a glimpse of a grasswren scampering about
100 metres from the car.  I managed to get the knockerlockers onto it
for a couple of seconds and was left with no doubt that it was a grey
[they do have distinctive faces].

We went on and camped beside Melon Ck – a spot with a fair bit of
birdlife, but not as nice as the spot about 10-15 kays back that had a nice dune nearby.

[pt 3]

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