Slightly belated Strzelecki Track trip notes

To: Birding Aus <>
Subject: Slightly belated Strzelecki Track trip notes
From: Carl Billingham <>
Date: Sun, 10 Jun 2007 18:06:40 -0700 (PDT)
Here are a few notes that I have compiled of a recent trip from Brisbane to 
Adelaide and return undertaken by myself and a mate.
A version of these notes has been posted on the BQForum previously, however, 
since I have just joined the Birding-Aus forum and have a bit of free time on 
my hands I thought I might expand on them and post it here for the benefit of 
all.  These notes mainly concentrate on species that I haven’t seen before 
rather than being an exhaustive list of each and every sighting on the trip.
Our trip was mainly after Grasswrens covering 6,800km in two weeks (14-27 
April, 2007) heading via Cunnamulla (Bowra Station), Innamincka, Strzelecki 
Track, Cameron's Corner, Tibooburra, Pyampa Station, back to the Strzelecki 
Track, Mt Lyndhurst, Flinders Ranges (Stokes Lookout and Wilpena Pound), Lake 
Eyre (charter flight), Adelaide (where my mate flew home), Kangaroo Island 
(where I saw rain – a novelty for a Brisbanite after such a long period of 
drought), Gluepot Reserve, Hattah Kulkyne and finally a long solo drive back to 
Brisbane (it rained the whole way …until the Queensland border).
We managed to find all of our target Grasswren species; however, the Grey 
Grasswren lived up to its reputation and proved the most elusive.
We didn't get the Grey Gw at the usual Pyampa Station site but managed very 
brief glimpses at a site we found on the main drag to Innamincka just before 
Coopers Crossing.  The co-ords were S27 30.213 E141 56.553.  There are other 
postings on this particular location in the Birding-Aus archives.  We also 
found many Little Button-quail at this site.
Even after flushing a fair few LBQ's there was still considerable debate over 
what type of BQ we were actually seeing - which is no surprise with BQ in 
general (Were the field guide illustrators really looking at the same birds we 
were?). We settled on the LBQ based on our location, and the main diagnostic we 
saw time and time again (as they flew away) - the white flanks - which were 
most prominent.  However, there was a single up close view of a female BQ with 
a fair amount of Rufous around the neck and chest that we still haven’t been 
able to positively identify – possibly a Red-chested BQ?
As for the GGw - I only got an extremely brief sighting of three flitting 
between the lignum clumps. The female White-winged Fairywren did their best to 
confuse us time and time again in the undergrowth as well.
Frankly, if I thought you could get away with it at Pyampa Station I would 
suggest the only reliable way of flushing the GGw would be by burning the god 
forsaken place out along with all the flies, mosquitoes, sand flies, march 
flies and anything else that bit me during the period we were there (yes it did 
get to us!)
We found the Eyrean Gw easily (for Gw) on top of a dune on the north side of 
the road west of Bollards Lagoon/Cameron's Corner (S28 55.933 E140 24.750).  We 
also got Cinnamon Quail Thrush nearby at S28 49.152 E140 17.368 although we 
found a lot more of them further down the road at Monte Collina Bore.
We briefly saw Thick-billed Grasswrens at a rocky outcrop on the southern side 
of the Strzelecki track near Mt Hopeless (S29 36.542 E139 10.833), which I 
suspect is near the northern end of their range. We had better views of 
Thick-billed Gw at Mt Lyndhurst.
Using the details provided in Thomas and Thomas with supplementary notes from 
Birding-Aus we stopped off at the `Mine Site' at Mt. Lyndhurst late in the 
Our expectations of seeing our target species at that time of day weren't 
exactly high and we figured we would probably need to return to the site in the 
morning, however, we managed to get the Rufous Fieldwren very quickly near the 
old mine, followed by a small group of Chestnut-breasted Whiteface a short 
distance further on.  

We then moved on to the low rocky outcrop to the west (erroneously called a 
rocky 'escarpment' in other site notes on Birding–Aus postings) and started 
walking toward the rusty car.  It wasn't long before we noticed a small party 
of Thick-billed Grasswren.  These appeared more secretive than the Eyrean Gw 
and considerably duller in hue but still a great sight.
In order to assist people in finding their way around the Lyndhurst site 
without getting lost and especially for those that don't have a copy of the out 
of print T&T I have provided some of the GPS co-ords for different features 
noted in this reference text and in other records on Birding-Aus.
Turnoff to Mine site S30 12.286 E138 36.718
Rusty Car S30 12.215 E138 36.585
No Public Access Sign (Parking spot) S30 11.963 E138 36.298
Mine (our Rufous Fieldwren site) S30 11.898 E138 36.076
Our Chestnut-breasted Whiteface site S30 11.830 E138 35.896
Rocky outcrop (escarpment) S30 12.055 E138 36.362
Our Thick-billed Grasswren site S30 12.050 E138 36.406
Very happy with our days efforts, we then proceeded on our way to Leigh Creek 
which had a great campsite and excellent facilities to wash away the 
accumulated dust of a few days camping out on the Strzelecki track.
Short-tailed Gw at Stokes Lookout (S31 27.853 E138 43.748) took a while to 
track down but were far more accommodating in comparison to some of the others 
- impressing us with a full song and dance routine on top of a nearby rock.  
The tail is noticeably shorter, barely reaching head height when in full song 
with head held high.
As my time was limited I engaged the services of Peter Waanders at Gluepot to 
show me around.  We managed to track down a large flock of 30-40 Black-eared 
Miners and hybrids; Gilbert's Whistler, Chestnut Quail-thrush and a small group 
of Striated Gw (my fifth Gw of the trip) were also sighted although we weren't 
as fortunate with the Red-lored Whistler as its habitat had suffered during the 
bush fires in December.
If Peter ever gives up his job as a guide he can always turn to rally driving!  
Seriously though, thanks Peter, I had a great time and learnt a lot from you.
Other 'lifers' seen on the trip included Halls Babbler (Bowra), Banded 
Whiteface, Black Falcon (Tibooburra), Inland Dotterel (Tibooburra), 
Purple-gaped Honeyeater (Kangaroo Island sub sp.), Grey-fronted Honeyeater 
(Flinders Ranges). 
We also saw many other interesting inland/mallee species that I had seen on 
previous trips including (but not limited to) Peregrine and Brown Falcon, 
Hobby, Brown Goshawk, Collared Sparrowhawk, Black- breasted Buzzard, Australian 
Pratincole, Banded Lapwing, Pied and Banded Stilts, Crimson and Orange Chats, 
Splendid Fairy-wrens, White-browed Treecreeper, Yellow-plumed, Singing and Pied 
Honeyeaters, Chirupping Wedgebill, Southern White-face, White-backed Swallow, 
Crested Bell-bird, Chestnut-crowned and White-browed Babblers, Spotted 
Bowerbirds, Ringnecks, Budgerigars, Bourkes, Elegant, Superb, Red-rumped and 
Mulga Parrots, Bluebonnets (2 sub sp.), Yellow and Adelaide Rosellas, Barking 
and Boobook Owls, Spotted Nightjar and of course, the ever present Willie 
My mate and I came to the conclusion one evening at the Strzelecki Crossing 
(after a few red wines) that Sean Dooley's theory in ‘The Big Twitch’ that the 
Grey Falcon is a mythical species needs to be extended to include all species 
beginning with a 'G' including Grey Falcon, Ground Cuckoo-shrike, Gibberbird, 
Grey Honeyeater, Mallee GWhip-bird, Gallee Emu-wren (and my local nemesis bird 
the Rufous Grub-bird). 
It was interesting to hear from Peter Waanders that he and others had been 
dipping out on the Gibberbird over the last few trips up the Strzelecki 
although others have since reported to me that they sighted Gibberbird on the 
Birdsville Track during this same period.
I would like to thank all of the previous posters on the Birding-Aus forum that 
provided me with a lot of useful information on where to start looking with a 
modicum of certainty and hope my post helps others planning a trip out that way 
as well.  If you require any specific information please do not hesitate to 
drop us a line. 
Carl Billingham 
(PS:  I’m sure you will all be pleased to hear that global warming doesn't 
appear to be affecting the inland fly population and for those people that have 
had a humour transplant the quip about burning out Pyampa Station was intended 
as a joke no abusive emails please)


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