Mt Sonder/ Spinifexbird

To: Amanda Markham <>
Subject: Mt Sonder/ Spinifexbird
From: Robert Gosford <>
Date: Wed, 25 Apr 2007 20:53:48 +0930
Amanda & all,

I have the feeling that Spinifex Birds are more common than they may seem - I know of at least one site near Tennant Creek 500 kn north of Alice Springs where I can regularly (7 out of 8 visits) see/hear what appear to be the residents of a couple of territories - this site is one of a number of large areas of unburnt mature spinifex about 14km along the Warrego Road west of Tennant (the turn-off is just outside of town on the northern side). I suspect that as there is a substantial amount of similar habitat along that road that there could well be other territories in those locations as well. I'll check again in June when I next travel up the Stuart Hwy to Darwin.

Further south - about a month ago I saw a pair carrying nest material into a clump of Spinifex near to home here at Yuendumu 300 km n-w of Alice Springs - I've only just got back and haven't been able to check on the progress of the nest - I may not be too late.

You are right about their song (I'd be interested in any evidence of regional variation in song) - it is distinctive and diagnostic. I also find that the 'fat tail' is a diagnostic filed mark - once you've seen it you won't forget it!

BTW - the Warlpiri call the Spinifex Bird 'Jinjuwanu' - I've yet to confirm any stories related to it and whether it is a synonym for 'Jinjiwarnu' - the name for the Crimson Chat. I'd be interested in any Aboriginal language names or similar data for the Spinifex birds.

Cheers and best,

Bob Gosford

Amanda Markham wrote:
Hi all,

Walked up Mt Sonder today (I hate my job!!) as part of the NT government's bid to list the West MacDonnell Ranges as a World Heritage Heritage area. Wonderful for birds and wildflowers at the moment - the Hakea gramatophylla are in flower along which is a rare plant plant with spectacular pink blossoms.

Anyway, am happy to report the following birds on the climb:

Dusky Woodswallows (lots)
Dusky Grasswrens (lots!) if you make kissing noises they will come up close to check you out
Striated Grasswrens
Singing Honeyeaters
Whistling Kite

And right at the very top:

A spinifexbird

I was very excited to find him, sitting in a clump of spinifex neat to a eucalypt, singing away. What an amazing song they've got! I didn't have the camera, as Gary (my partner) was about 50mins behind me with the consultant who's writing up the World Heritage nomination. Bugger!!

Also, a reliable sighting of Grey Honeyeaters near the Ochre Pits (about 1km out on Section 9 of the Larapinta Trail) last week. This sighting was made by Colin & Sheila who run Glen Helen Resort. They've told me to tell anyone who's up this way and wants some birding info to call in at Glen Helen and have a chat.




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