Channel Country birds

To: Birding-Aus <>
Subject: Channel Country birds
From: Jon King <>
Date: Mon, 21 Dec 2009 15:34:59 -0800 (PST)
We’ve just completed an extremely successful trip through the Channel Country, 
with highlights including Rowley’s Striated Grasswren, Grey Grasswren, many 
thousands of Flock Bronzewings, Rufous-crowned Emu-Wren, Grey Falcons, and most 
notably Letter-winged Kite. The latter was the primary target of the trip, 
while Rowley’s Grasswren was the only taxon of grasswren that we had not seen 
in this calendar year.
A good supporting cast included several Black Falcons, Hall’s Babbler, 
Chestnut-breasted and Cinnamon quail-thrushes, Spinifexbird, and arguably most 
interesting of all was a massive southward movement of tens of thousands of 
Budgies over several days across large parts of the Channel Country.
Grey Grasswrens were abundant and very easy to see around Goyder’s Lagoon, off 
the Birdsville Track, on 10th and 11th December. We also found nesting Black 
Falcons here.
While sitting on a bench at the pub in Bedourie at 2pm on 12th December a flock 
of pigeons flew overhead, and it took a couple of seconds to sink in that they 
were Flock Bronzewings! They proceeded to land on what we subsequently learned 
was the town common, 200m E of the pub. That afternoon, about 3700 accumulated 
here, before moving east to roost. The following morning we counted 10,450 
here, and 300 more at the abandoned golf course. Partly to sit out some passing 
rain but largely to enjoy the Flockie spectacle some more, we stayed at 
Bedourie until 14th. That morning we counted at least 11,700 on the town 
common, but by 1145 all those birds had joined others 1km south of town to 
feed. Here we found huge flocks carpeting the road and surrounding fields, and 
estimated at least 13,000.
It was a superb spectacle with flocks flying back and forth around town all day 
while we were there, and even during the heavy rain - apparently spin off from 
the very distant cyclone - being able to watch them from shelter around the 
back of the pub. The hotel owner commented how after many years absence 
Flockies had shown up in the past year or so, but that this was currently by 
far the most he had seen around. This fit with our experience of having seen 
them in great numbers throughout the Channel Country and Barkly Tablelands this 
On the evening of 14th December we found one, then several, Letter-winged Kites 
at a site south of Diamantina National Park. We camped there, and early the 
following morning at least 27 came in to roost just before sunrise at 0540. The 
morning of the 16th, we had 37 together in the air pre-sunrise. On both 
mornings and evenings, several birds hung around the treetops for a couple of 
hours after sunrise, and for a couple of hours prior to sunset.
On the afternoon of 17th December we camped next to the Winton-Jundah road 
161.5km N of the junction with the Windorah-Jundah road (about 91km S of the 
turning to Lark Quarry), at S 23d 43m 52.7s, E 142d 25m 15.9s. Great mature and 
lush spinifex habitat here. That evening we easily found a pair of _rowleyi_ 
Striated Grasswrens with a mob of Variegated Fairy Wrens, several extremely 
confiding Rufous-crowned Emu-Wrens that responded very well to pishing, and 
Spinifexbird was abundant and very easy to see here.  Early the next morning we 
had more emu-wrens, and a couple of small mobs of Hall’s Babblers. All of these 
birds were 100-250m north or north-east of camp, but most could be heard from 
or near camp. We also had RCEWs and Spinifexbird on the 18th at and near Lark 
Quarry Conservation Park (heard both from the car park!). We didn’t 
specifically look, but the grasswren must be in this area too.
Later in the trip near Winton, we watched a family party of Grey Falcons for an 
evening, camped nearby, and watched them again the following morning.
Hopefully it goes without saying that midsummer in the Channel Country is not 
for the faint-hearted. We saw no other vehicles at all on any of the roads or 
tracks during ten days in the area. Flexibility in schedule is also needed, as 
routes can be (and were) suddenly impassable at any time. That said, the 
birding is potentially very rewarding, with great opportunities to find lots of 
good birds yourself. This was our third time criss-crossing parts of this 
region this year, and we noted that several species we had seen in winter or 
spring were much more visible and vocal in summer.
Cheers, Jon and Anne.

To unsubscribe from this mailing list,
send the message:
(in the body of the message, with no Subject line)
<Prev in Thread] Current Thread [Next in Thread>
  • Channel Country birds, Jon King <=

The University of NSW School of Computer and Engineering takes no responsibility for the contents of this archive. It is purely a compilation of material sent by many people to the birding-aus mailing list. It has not been checked for accuracy nor its content verified in any way. If you wish to get material removed from the archive or have other queries about the archive e-mail Andrew Taylor at this address: andrewt@cse.unsw.EDU.AU