Sydney to Mount Isa

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Subject: Sydney to Mount Isa
From: "Dion Hobcroft" <>
Date: Wed, 1 Oct 2008 13:38:56 +1000
>From 17-24 Sep did a rapid journey through western Queensland. On 17 Sep
Superb Parrots were in moderate numbers around Neurea S of Wellington.
Spotted Harriers and Black Falcons were both in good numbers on the
plains S of Charleville. Spotlighting between Quilpie and Windorah
turned up Black-tailed Native-hens, a Stripe-faced Dunnart, Little Pied
Bat and sadly a road-killed female Kultarr with pouch young. Between
Windorah and the Birdsville turn off were a Spinifex Pigeon, Bourke's
Parrot, big flocks of Budgerigars, Inland Dotterel, Australian Bustard
and also sadly a freshly road-killed Inland Taipan.
Backtracking from Windorah to Longreach via Jundah we encountered plenty
of Brolgas, Bustards and Australian Pratincoles. As darkness set in we
spotlit north to Cloncurry and found it very quiet until we encountered
a large dunnart on the road N of McKinlay: a Julia Creek Dunnart.
Hundreds of Euros, Red Kangaroos a few Agile Wallabies attracted to the
roadside margins for the fresh green pick in the drought conditions made
for a slow drive. We awoke to the screeches of Varied Lorikeets in
Cloncurry and made our way to Isa for the main avian attraction the
Kalkadoon Grasswren.
We finally connected with this gem in the afternoon at Pamela Street and
enjoyed them hopping around us to within a few metres. My last
Grasswren-hooray! Purple-necked Rock Wallabies were numerous here. We
spotlit at Mary Kathleen Dam where the highlights amongst screaming
hordes of mosquitoes were a stunning Olive Python and repeat views of
the Yellow-bellied Sheathtail Bat and when returning to Isa had a
Long-haired Rat bailed up on a grassy roadside embankment.
On 21 Sep visited the Lady Loretta site 80 km W Isa for Carpentarian
Grasswren but no sign in the windy hot conditions. Quiet birding here
but the highlight for me was to finally catch up with the smart looking
Cloncurry Ringneck. A few Spotted Bowerbirds and Grey-fronted
Honeyeaters and a juvenile Crested Bellbird livened the scene. Time to
head south and we made it to the Boulia-Winton road for dark for more
spotting. It was a good night for reptiles with De Vis Banded Snake
being the highlight for me but also Orange-naped Snake and Stimson's
Heading back through Winton on 22 Sep more Black Falcons, Brolgas,
Bustards before returning to Windorah and heading out onto the Morney
Plain. Here late in the afternoon we found a superb Inland Taipan
cruising along checking the cracking soil. I stopped for a pair of
raptors at Morney Creek to find a pair of Grey Falcons perched. They
looked great in the scope but were quite timid flying off once they
realised we were watching them. As dusk fell a massive thunderstorm with
lightning striking the ground, clouds of dust created occasional white
out conditions with gale force winds before a cold change plummeted the
temperature. No more spotlighting this night but a blindsnake
(endoterus) was a good discovery before a small green and yellow parrot
collided with the car at 10 pm. Yes the rare Night Budgerigar! I stopped
to find a dazed female Budgie and placed her in a safe place to survive
the Antarctic dust storm. Sorry no Night Parrot!
Birding back between Windorah and Quilpie on 23 Sep was excellent with
great views of Chestnut-breasted Quail-thrush, White-browed Treecreeper,
Spinifex Pigeon, Ground Cuckoo-shrike, Pied Honeyeater and Bourke's
Parrot. Hundreds of chats, trillers and woodswallows set the tone. We
sort of barrelled back and at night (still cold) encountered a
developing House Mouse plague north of Nyngan. 10 km N of Nyngan I
stopped for an interesting small mammal and was amazed to find a
beautiful Kultarr. The habitat a narrow strip of semi arid shrubland
bordering a wheat field was pretty marginal I thought. After watching it
for a couple of minutes it did the bolt. A quick stop at Warren turned
up a couple of Baillon's Crakes and a few hundred Pink-eared Ducks. It
was a fascinating trip with many great bird, reptile and mammal

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