Gawler Ranges Trip Report - Grasswrens

Subject: Gawler Ranges Trip Report - Grasswrens
From: Janet Mattiske and Frank Pierce <>
Date: Fri, 15 Oct 2010 11:18:09 +1100

Gawler Ranges Trip Report - Grasswrens

Janet and I have just returned from a trip to the Gawler Ranges, in South Australia, where we spent 4 days at Mt Ive Station and a few days in the Gawler Ranges NP and other areas to the South. We had not been to this part of the country previously and I was keen to see the recently split pedleri subspecies of the Short-tailed Grasswren.

The Gawler Ranges population of the Short-tailed Grasswren (STG) was split, at subspecies level, from the Flinders Ranges population in late 2008 to become Amytornis merrotsyi pedleri.

Amazingly there are no atlas records for the STG in the Gawler Ranges on Birdata. HANZAB refers to old specimens from Mt Ive and Mt Friday. Finally I found a report of a STG sighting, at Mt. Ive Station, by Phil Barron, on Birdpedia. I followed this up and Phil referred me to Graham Carpenter (DENR) who advised that 'The best place to see STGs in the Gawler Ranges is at or near the summit of Mount Ive'.

Mt. Ive is an operating sheep station just south of Lake Gairdner and has camping and accommodation facilities at reasonable rates, check the Mt Ive website for details. Visitors are permitted access to a number of 4wd tracks on the station, with track notes being provided. This is a great way to see the country and to observe the birds and other wildlife at a leisurely pace, including access to Lake Gairdner.

One track goes to the top of Mt Ive. Another goes to the top of another hill called Mt. Scott. I had great views and photographed the STG near the summits of both of these hills. The habitat was rocky ground with a good cover of Spinifex (Triodia).

The myall subspecies of the Thick-billed Grasswren also occurs on the lower areas of the station. These were seen and photographed on the flat near the dam, less than 5 minutes walk from the accommodation.

The Gawler Ranges area is in terrific condition at present with good cover of wildflowers and juvenile birds calling everywhere. Stocking rates are very low in this first good season after the drought.

56 bird species were seen in Mt. Ive Station area including Crimson Chat, Splendid Fairywren, Grey-fronted Honeyeater and Ground Cuckoo-shrike. A few additional species were seen in the National Park, including a Rufous Treecreeper and Elegant Parrot. A Hobby was observed at close quarters, making a couple of unsuccessful attacks on ground feeding Southern Whitefaces.

We also recorded 8 species of butterfly and 8 species of lizard but no snakes.

I can recommend this area for an interesting and enjoyable trip.

Frank Pierce


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