Firstly I must thank all the people that helped out with invaluable
info prior to going on this trip. Another testimony to the generosity
of the birding community. I won’t list everyone by name but you know
who you are!
I think this is the longest report i have ever written so if you're
easily bored just go to my website and have a look at the photos! :)
then click on the “Corner Country Trip 2008” (Chestnut-breasted
As predominantly a family holiday (with an 18month old) I wasn’t able
to get a lot of proper birding in and I was more keen to use any
available time to see new species rather than going for a big trip
list. Hence I have only really written about a small number of birds
Sydney, Bowra, Cooper Crossing, Innamincka, Mt Lyndhurst, Cameron’s
Corner, Tibooburra, Broken Hill.
New birds for me (in order of appearance) :
Owlet nightjar (finally!)
Between Nyngan and Bourke saw a pair of Superb Parrots fly over the
Mulga Parrots also seen by the roadside.
Others have written better reports than me about Bowra – thanks
Damien and Simon – so I need not write anything more. Especially as
we were only there for 2 nights and didn’t get a lot of birding in.
Highlights were Grey Falcon and White-browed Treecreeper (thanks
again Simon for that one!). Also a flock of 40-50 Major Mitchells
feeding on the road was a great sight. Budgies and lots of Diamond
Doves were nice to see too.
A lunch stop on the track out to the lake was fruitful for my second
new bird – Pied Honeyeater. Not much else at our spot (28 05 03.9 S
144 11 14.6 E) except Spiny-cheeked HE, Chesnut-crowned Babbler. Red-
capped Robin and Singin HE were seen here as everywhere!
Cooper Crossing (approx 400km west of Cunnamulla) :
I managed to convince my family and friends to camp here with the
hope of finding Grey Grasswren. Lots of Lignum and likely looking
habitat but despite a couple of hours in the early morning my
searching was in vain. Did manage some nice photos of Yellow-billed
Spoonbill at least)
Diesel was 218.9 c/L when we arrived so I thought I would fill up the
next day – no rush to spend lots of money filling up the Prados twin
tanks I thought. Next morning price went up to 221.9 c/L!! Doh!!
Took my daughter for a walk in the Macpac Possum (baby backpack)
along a random dry creekline in the gibber a couple of km out of
town. Only birds seen were White-winged Fairywren (saw these guys
everywhere we went I reckon), and Cinnamon Quail-thrush! Stunning
bird and I think my favourite QT. Beautifully camouflaged sandy colour.
Camped 3 nights on the bank of the Cooper at the “Town Common” with a
big flock of Little Corellas as neighbours. Highlight the next
morning was a Little Eagle. Interestingly, there were heaps of
Whistling and Black Kites which didn’t bother the other birds a s
such, yet as soon as the Little Eagle appeared it was mobbed
aggressively by Magpies, Ravens, Honeyeaters etc.
Black-faced Woodswallows became constant companions out this way and
for the rest of the trip in fact. Probably the most commonly seen
bird along with White-winged FW and White-plumed HE.
Cullyamurra Waterhole for lunch one day. I was walking along through
the campground and started thinking that I should be looking in the
hollows for Owlet Nightjars. As soon as I had this thought I looked
to my left and saw a hollow. Staring back at me was a gorgeous
nightjar sunning itself. I was able to slowly work my way closer and
got some really close shots which was a massive highlight of the
trip. I know these are supposed to be common but it has been one of
my bogey birds for years.
A day trip out to Coongie Lakes was another great day. The roads were
great especially considering the rain they had a few weeks
previously. In fact I would think a 2wd would have no worries getting
out there except for the sandier bit on the lake track when you got
right out there. Even then, no need to reduce tyre pressures or
anything. We went for a drive along the lake edge and stopped for
lunch. Before we had even got out of the car we heard and then saw
our first Chirruping Wedgebill! What a loud and distinctive call!
Especially when you get within a few metres of it which I did. Black-
tailed Native Hen, Caspian Tern and Hoary-headed Grebe were other
interesting sightings here. Varigated as well as White-winged FW made
things interesting too.
From Innamincka we went south on the Strzelecki. Started to see
Orange Chats on this section as well as Crimsons.
Unfortunately our entire trip down the track all the way to Lyndhurst
and then back again up to Merty Merty failed to provide a Letter-
winged Kite. No we didn’t stop at every tree as seems to be the only
sure way! (Mutiny would have been a dead certainty if I tried!)
The “track” was anything but. A major truck route to Moomba and the
gas fields, the New Strzelecki track was a dirt highway. Even the Old
Strzelecki was a pretty good dirt road and we encountered large
trucks on this section as well.
One highlight along the track was a Black-breasted Buzzard – our only
one for the trip.
When we first drove in it seemed a dry inhospitable place with no
tree and just sandy sparcely vegetated mounds. The prescence of the
bore transformed it though. The small waterhole which then flowed out
into a little wetland was a true oasis. To highlight this was the
presence of a pair of Spotted Crakes feeding out in the open wetland!
Also here were Red-kneed Dotterel and Red-capped Plover. Our first
White-backed Swallows for the trip were a great bonus too –
especially when I was able to get a couple of photos that were in
focus!. To top it off were a pair of Wedgies using a nearby mound as
there vantage point.
Another surprise to me here were a pair of Aus Shelducks! Not sure
how interesting this sighting is?
Hot water from the bore to have a wash with was nice :)
Mt Lyndhurst station.
First thing to note. To anyone intending to try for the Chestnut-
breasted Whiteface and Thick-billed Grasswren at Mt Lyndhurst I would
encourage you to do the right thing and seek permission AND pay your
$20 to Bill Baade (the owner). It is a privilege that he gives
birders access to see these beautiful birds and it is in all of our
interests to not give him any reason to stop this. $20 (which
includes accommodation at the shearers quarters if you wish) is
nothing to pay on top of the cost that you have outlayed to get there
in the first place. And all that money would be wasted if we weren’t
Contact numbers are : 08 8675 7796, 08 8757 4061, 0417 824 879
(I know these have been posted before but it can’t help to make it as
easy as possible for people)
The shearers quarters were great fun. Hot showers fuelled by a donkey
boiler, flushing toilets, and a well equipped kitchen were a spot of
luxury (relatively speaking of course!)
First afternoon after we arrived I spent the last hour of daylight
near the Rusty car spot. Even with a squealing daughter on my back we
were able to see a pair of Thick-billed Grasswrens not far from the
car. Walking further up that creek line didn’t give us much else
except Crested Pigeons and another Grasswren.
Next morning Dad and I (sans daughter and wife) went out closer to
the mine site. On the last creekline running up the hill on the RHS
before the mine itself we had great views of a pair of Chestnut-
breasted Whiteface. I think these were my favourite birds of the trip
actually. Their camouflage when they were on the ground (gibber) was
amazing. Absolutely perfectly blending in with the rocks.
On the way back to the car we saw the same pair of Grasswrens again
near the rusty car.
The wind was picking up and it was bitterly cold with a ominous
looking clouds. But we thought we should try the 2 gates site as well.
All that we saw here were a party of Cinnamon Quail-thrush. No sign
of whiteface etc. We also missed out on Rufous Fieldwren at both
spots which we were assured of by a few people. Oh well, something
for next time :)
55km west of Cameron’s Corner (28 56 06.6 S 140 24 46 E):
We camped over the eastern side of a dune (due to strong westerly
winds in the afternoon) at a spot where Eyrean Grasswren had been
reported previously on BA (Thanks Carl). Arriving at sunset we didn’t
get any birding done until the next morning. Fresh tracks of two
little feet (one slightly behind the other) hopping over the top of
the dune were a healthy start. Pied Honeyeater, Chestnut-crowned
Babbler and Chirruping Wedgebill were all great birds to start the
morning with too! But the pair of Eyrean Grasswrens in the mulga (?)
down the side of the dune were the standout. At least that’s what I
thought until a Banded Whiteface appeared a minute after they had
disappeared in the same tree!
We then set off for the corner and Tibooburra. At Cameron’s corner
itself we saw our third whiteface in 2 days –the Southern Whiteface –
making a Whiteface trifceta!
Orange Chats were common and a pair of Bourke’s Parrots (only ones
for the trip) flew across the road on this leg of the journey too.
We camped briefly overnight at Dead Horse Gully where a small flock
of 5 Pardalotes flew high overhead in the morning. Quite possibly Red-
browed but I’ll never know. Fairly quiet here actually. But we
weren’t there for long. We were starting to move along faster in
order to get home a bit earlier.
Rangers in Tibooburra were not as helpful as others have found.
Friendly enough but not very knowledgeable about birds.
After packing up camp we went for a drive out to Mt Wood. On the way
we detoured (again) into the gibber to seek the Gibberbird. Whilst we
were yet again unsuccessful with the Gibberbird we were lucky enough
to find a lone Inland Dotterel who allowed me quite close approach.
Mind you I paid for it. Trying to commando crawl over a gibber plain
in shorts and t-shirt with a 500mm lens is not the most fun I have had!
*A note on Gibberbirds – Many times we thought we saw a Gibberbird
fly off the side of the road or walking alone on the gibber. All
turned out to be either Pipits or Yellow Chats. There is a lot of
room for confusion out there so beware. One bird particularly I would
have sworn was a Gibberbird from a distance as it was a single bird
in the company of a Pipit, with a much more upright posture than
other Orange Chats we had seen. It was only on close inspection of a
couple of distant photos that I confirmed that it was ‘just’ a female
Staying at the Lakeview Caravan Park (thanks again Carol) gave me my
last new bird for the trip – a pair of Redthroats in the scrub behind
the park towards the lake!
Whilst this isn’t of course an exhaustive report covering all the
birds we saw, hopefully it will be helpful to someone.
Don’t hesitate to ask if you would like any more info or gps co-
Once again thanks to all those that gave me lots of info before we
went and to the great B-aus people i finally met in person on the
trip. Not all of the info was used unfortunately due to time/family
constraints but still saw some fantastic birds.
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