Lorelle and I spent the last three weeks of September on our first SW Qld
birding trip, with quite a list of new species to see. We drove from Byfield,
near Rockhampton, to Winton and Bladensburg NP, south to Diamantina NP, back to
Boulia and south to Birdsville, east to Windorah and Welford NP, then home via
Charleville and Roma. Some highlights of a great trip were;
Bladensburg NP- We spent a day searching for unsuccessfully for Striated
Grasswren. The Hakea lorea trees were in spectacular flowering, and among many
honeyeaters and Crimson Chats we found quite a few Black and Pied Honeyeaters,
some close to the main camping area. While sitting by the creek in our camp
before the sun hit the waterhole we noticed a Little Buttonquail drinking
quietly in the pool. Great looks to go with the many flushed birds on the trip.
Opalton -We did a day trip, particularly seeking the Striated Grasswren, and
searched a lot of likely habitat on the way from Bladensburg, and around
Opalton. Had great close looks at Rufous-crowned Emu Wren just east of Opalton,
and more Black and Pied Honeyeaters around water in the excavated swimming hole
east of ?town. In the late afternoon a search of some good Mulga woodland just
south of the airstrip (which is east of the road south to Jundah, and just
south of Opalton) turned up a family of Hall's Babblers. we drove about 1.5 km
south on this road to a small patch of Spinifex across the road from the first
small mesa on the east of the road. After walking through this, and across the
creek, I heard two faint, thin whistles back across the creek, and tried to get
between them and the thicker cover to the south. One bird called from that
thick cover, and the other went quiet, but after a few minutes quiet wait a
Striated Grasswren hopped out from behind a spinifex clump to check me out.
Lorelle had just found an Owlet Nightjar, sitting low in the open, and being
harassed by a pair of Hall's Babblers, when I called out "Grasswren!", so had
to make a choice. We followed the Grasswren through the Spinifex and had good,
but brief looks as it sneaked looks at us, or hopped between clumps.
We drove slowly back to Bladensburg looking for nightbirds on the road, and saw
many Spotted Nightjars and an immature Inland Dotterel, getting close looks at
them standing on the road.
North of Diamantina NP- At a dry creek in the Mitchell Grass plain country we
saw one of many groups of Variegated Fairy Wren seen on the trip. The females
of this group were blue, like the dulcis race of the Top End. I didn't manage a
Diamantina NP- Near the northern edge of the park we saw our first pair of
Gibberbirds sitting by the road, and had a great close look, we only saw about
5 pairs in the trip.
On the circuit drive we came across two Oriental Plover standing on a bleak
claypan 1 km NE of lake Constance, and pondered why they had flown all the way
from North Asia and chosen that particular bit of barren, windswept plain.
Nearby was an Earless Dragon-Tympanocryptis intima.
Boulia-Bedourie- About 120 km s. of Boulia we found a group of about 450 Flock
Bronzewings sitting in a paddock near the road. Among them was one which was
completely white, except the black face markings.
Bedourie-Birdsville- A huge group of Flock Bronzewings about 70 km S. of
Bedourie, roosting near a dam about 500m E. of the road. About 4,500. Between
Cluny station and the Cuttaburra crossing of Eyre Creek, another group of
5,000-6,000 Flock Bronzewings all around the road, in fairly recently dried
herbaceous floodplain. Also along this stretch were hundreds of Australian
Pratincoles and about 25 Oriental Plovers.
Cuttaburra Crossing- A nice campsite for a few days, with many Crimson and
Orange Chats, a Black Falcon, and Pink-eared, Musk and Freckled Ducks on the
waterhole. A determined effort failed to find any signs of Grey Grasswrens.
Driving around the track through the floodplain at night we flushed an almost
certain male Plains Wanderer.
Birdsville- Arrived just before the big sandstorm, and waited out two days,
hoping to get out to the Simpson Desert to look for Eyrean Grasswrens. A cool
southerly change had us out on the dune beyond "Big Red" at sunrise, being
sandblasted by the southerly gale. We found a few families of Banded Whiteface
in the swales, including a pair with fluffy young, but by early afternoon had
to reluctantly concede that no sane grasswrens would leave cover in such cold
and windy conditions. We tried not to extend these observations to ourselves.
As we reached the dune east of "Big Red" (Little Red?) on our way back to
Birdsville, we saw that the tempest had miraculously calmed, and couldn't
resist a look at this dune. I went south from the crossing, Lorelle north, and
after another hour in much nicer conditions, and more White- winged Fairy Wren
false alarms, I returned to the car for lunch to find Lorelle had found a pair
of Eyrean Grasswrens in five minutes!. As I ate lunch at the crossing the pair
hopped into sight, moving south down the dune, and we followed them for quite a
while, getting lovely looks at them going about their lives.
Welford NP- One of the richest bird sites of the trip, with about 80 species
seen in a day and two nights. Mulga and Bourke's Parrots, Redthroat, Crested
Bellbird, and Hooded Robin on the Mulga Drive, and wonderful looks at
Chestnut-breasted Quailthrush, Splendid Fairy Wren, Crested Bellbird in late
afternoon on the Desert Drive. Also seen at Sawyer's Creek on the Mulga Circuit
was a 2 metre plus Perentie preparing to eat a very freshly killed 1.8 metre
King Brown Snake in a dry creek bed.
Happy Birding-Bob Black
To unsubscribe from this mailing list,
send the message:
(in the body of the message, with no Subject line)