Grey Falcons in Alice...

Subject: Grey Falcons in Alice...
From: Christopher Watson <>
Date: Sun, 3 Oct 2010 22:45:09 +0930
Just an update on the falcons near town, as I am receiving a lot of emails
about them.

For fear of public crucifixion and ridicule, and of course for the birds,
I'm not publicising the site online, or via email. I have already told
plenty of people in Alice about the site, and I have taken many people to
see the birds, so it is not a big secret, I'd just prefer to not broadcast
the exact whereabouts on the internet.
If you are in Alice, or are coming, then you are welcome to contact me when
you arrive and I will fill you in, but the site is becoming a bit like
central station already, and I have some concerns about some people's
birding habits.

The site is in a dry watercourse. I have detailed notes going back a bit
more than three weeks now and a good photographic record of the nesting so
far. I have been holed up in some bushes where I have established a
makeshift hide about 200m away, observing most days. Each day more and more
cars are driving straight up to the site, and people are getting out and
stomping along the dry river bed flushing every nesting bird within 50m,
including the female Grey Falcon. She has laid now, and is trying to spend
more time on the nest but she keeps getting disturbed. It would be a shame
to see the site abandoned just because people were too careless to go a bit
more softly about it. Two people today flushed the female off the nest and
didn't even notice her - so you are disturbing the birds while still dipping
on what is otherwise a very approachable pair. Aside from the Grey Falcons,
there is a Spotted Harrier nest only about 30m away, Hobbys nesting 50m
further than that, two different pairs of Nankeen Kestrels, and Collared
Sparrowhawks 100m farther on and they are all getting disturbed. The
Sparrowhawks are having a hard enough time keeping the crows and miners at

As I'd really like to see these falcons all the way through to fledging some
young, here's what I suggest;

The creekline runs north to south - the main access road is parallel 650m
distant. Park on the main road, it isn't that far to walk and you don't stir
up the cattle this way. On the walk you will flush plenty of Little
Button-quail, Crimson Chats, and in the Dead Finish dotted around the plain
there are numerous nesting Banded Whiteface. Also on the plain there are
Ground Cuckoo-shrike regularly browsing low amongst the indigo flowers.

In the morning you can walk to the far side and have the sun on your back
and excellent views of all the birds without flushing them all as you walk
along the creek bed.

In the arvo, therefore, from the road side of the creek you can approach
with the sun on your back also.

If you stick around until sunset, you'll be treated to a flock of about 80
Red-tailed Black Cockatoos coming to roost in the dead trees, plenty of
Mulga Parrots and lots more.

Spread the word if you're one of the folks in Alice that already knows the
site and is sending people there. Let's try to do the right thing.

If you're coming up, you won't need to know the site until you arrive, so
just drop me an email once you arrive or call my mobile. If I'm out of range
it is rarely for too long and I'll call you back and get you out to see
these great birds.


Chris Watson
Alice Springs
mob. 0419 358 942

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