Trip Report – Nullarbor and Eyre Peninsula (long)

To: birding-aus <>
Subject: Trip Report – Nullarbor and Eyre Peninsula (long)
From: Dave Torr <>
Date: Fri, 22 Jun 2012 16:34:34 +1000
*Trip Report – Nullarbor and Eyre Peninsula*

*Dates* – 10-20 June 2012

*Participants* – Iian Denham, Peter Gibbons, Christine Shelley, Dave Torr

We planned this trip early in 2012 to look for the Nullarbor Quail-thrush –
at that stage a potential split, although it has since been split by the
IOC. One of our group also needed to see Rock and Scarlet-chested Parrots.
The original idea was to fly to Adelaide and drive to Perth and fly home,
but the major hire car companies wanted a ridiculous one-way surcharge
($5-6k) for this and also had a limited range of cars available. Plan B was
to go from Adelaide to the Nullarbor, across the border to the extreme SE
of WA in the hope of Ground Parrot and then back to Adelaide. Planning was
well advanced when a close read of the fine print revealed that it was not
possible to take a car from SA into WA (and vice versa) unless it was a one
way trip. So plan C became a trip from Adelaide to the Nullarbor and
return. Even then it was not without problems on the car hire front –
despite ordering a large SUV (Kluger from Hertz) we discovered on day 2
that it was only a 2WD!

*Sun 10th June*

Early flight from Melbourne to Adelaide. Spent the morning looking for
Slender-billed Thornbill (*rosinae*) at various coastal sites without
success, although we did see 4 White-backed Swallows on the road to
Thompson’s Beach. We then went to Telowie Gorge – where we saw 3 Elegant
Parrots on a tree on the way in and easily found Chestnut-rumped Heathwren
close to the car park. Overnight at Pt Augusta.

*Mon 11th June*

Started the day at the Arid Lands Botanic Gdn where we found both
Yellow-plumed and Grey-fronted Honeyeaters (some of which had very orange
plumes), Redthroat and Chirruping Wedgebill. We spent some time in the
Wyalla CP looking for Western Grasswren (*myall*) with no luck. Finally we
visited the lake at Lake Gilles, which was very productive with large
numbers of Southern Whiteface, Restless Flycatcher, Hooded Robin, Rufous
Treecreeper and Varied Sittella. Overnight at Kimba.

*Tue 12th June*

In the morning we returned to Lake Gilles, concentrating mainly on the area
around the car park. Highlights included Western Yellow Robin, Inland
Thornbill, Purple-gaped Honeyeater and Chestnut Quail-thrush. We then drove
through Pinkawillinie – we could only go on the 2WD road through and it was
mid-day, so we saw little of interest - and on to Ceduna for the night.

*Wed 13th June*

We left Ceduna at first light to head for the Scarlet-chested Parrot site
detailed in T&T.  (Note the phone number given in T&T for access is wrong –
and once we tracked the right number down we found it is NOT necessary to
ask for permission). However, our lack of 4WD capability became an issue
about half way up the track past the dog fence. We returned to the
woodlands south of the fence and had some fairly productive birding, with
lots of White-fronted and Yellow-plumed Honeyeaters.  Driving out of the
area at about 15km north of the main road (where a rusty fence heads off to
the west) we saw (late morning) two SCP fly fast and low across the road
heading in a SW direction – despite an extensive search we could not locate

On then almost accidentally to Davenport Landing, where we flushed a total
of 4 Rock Parrots as we took the path over the dunes. The beach had good
numbers of Red-necked Stint along with a few Ruddy Turnstones and a
solitary Grey Plover. Both Oystercatchers were present along with Pacific
and Silver Gulls. Second night at Ceduna.

*Thu 14th June*

After heavy overnight rain we returned to the spot where we had seen the
SCPs yesterday. Around 9:40 we saw two SCPs flying low and fast in a SW
direction, crossing the road several hundred metres south of the car. Again
we could not find the birds when we searched. There were also small flocks
of Budgerigar and Purple-crowned Lorikeets in the area.

We then drove to the Nullarbor Roadhouse through intermittent showers,
diverting via Fowler’s Bay, which had few birds other than our first two
Red-necked Avocets.

We first birded in the area about 2km west of the roadhouse, turning up
Brown Songlark, Rufous Fieldwren and an Emu. On then to the T&T site east
of the roadhouse – the track up the fence line was in good condition and on
the way north we saw a Pallid Cuckoo and a distant pair of Wedge-tailed
Eagles. Walking through the scrub we flushed a few birds, a couple of which
could have been Quailthrush but no positive id. Returning to the car we saw
some chestnut coloured birds in the east across the fence – great
excitement but when we eventually got good views they turned out to be
Inland Dotterel. Finally as we drove back to the roadhouse at dusk we saw a
Buttonquail – presumably (from the distribution) a Little. We did however
have a few mysterious medium sized birds on the track which we could not
identify as they flushed too quickly.

*Fri 15th June*

A fine and sunny morning – but around freezing point! We aimed for the T&T
site again and realised – with a new driver who was more accurate at
calculating than I had been – that we had been 1km south of the spot
yesterday! After about 90 mins of scanning (lots of Pipits and Whitethroat
and Rufous Fieldwrens calling) we found a pair of Nullarbor Quail-thrush
about 70m east of the fence, and had good views of them. On the way out we
again saw the Pallid Cuckoo (an immature) with two Horsfield’s
Bronze-cuckoos and a pair of Wedge-tailed Eagles again. Again a couple of
mystery birds on the track.

We then went down to the whale watching platform, where a dozen or so
whales were in residence. At the site we had our 3rd cuckoo for the day – a

After lunch we drove to the Murrawijinie Caves, finding a small flock of
Slender-billed Thornbills on the way – and another mystery bird!

We then returned to the fence line in the late afternoon, which was very
quiet – no Quail-thrush or Dotterels at the sites we had seen them in, or
indeed any Pipits or other birds. But driving out we found a Quail-thrush
on the road and realised that this was the “mystery bird” we had been
seeing on the tracks earlier – so they were actually quite common.

*Sat 16th June*

Heavy rain overnight. We left the Nullarbor Roadhouse and drove straight to
Ceduna as one of our party needed to consult a doctor.

Leaving Ceduna we visited Laura Bay, Smoky Bay and Streaky Bay, adding
Sacred Kingfisher, White-fronted Chat (very surprised we had not seen this
before) and Brush Bronzewing to our tally.

Night at Streaky Bay

*Sun 17th June*

On the way to Point Labbatt we saw 3 Banded Stilts. At the Point we saw two
Shy Albatrosses. Calpattana Waterholes CP was fairly quiet, although we saw
our first Mulga Parrots on the road outside. Driving south the saline lakes
50k south of Elliston held no birds (although we did see White-fronted
Chats in the area), whilst the Big Swamp 21km outside of Port Lincoln had
good numbers of water birds, although nothing new. We then went to Louth
Bay, where we had our first Black-faced Cormorants and good views of a
Brush Bronzewing.

Night at Port Lincoln

*Mon 18th June*

Another showery day, which we spent at Lincoln NP. At the entrance station
we saw Diamond Firetails and an unidentified *Neophema*. There were plenty
of Brush Bronzewings on the road as we drove through the park. At Wanna we
saw an Osprey and chick on a rock stack. At Pillie Lake there were a few
Tawny-crowned Honeyeaters, although seeing them was made difficult as they
were mobbed by New Hollands. We saw a Southern Scrub Robin on the road to
Taylor’s Landing – when we stopped it was joined briefly by a second bird,
and a small flock of Purple-gaped Honeyeaters flew in and gave us good
views in the sunlight. There were more Scrub Robins (and a Western Yellow
Robin) at Taylor’s Landing, where we saw our first Sea Eagle.

We had a walk in the bush on the Investigator Track and heard two Mallee
Whipbirds around noon – after much effort we eventually got a brief glimpse
of one. On the drive back to Port Lincoln we found a Sacred Kingfisher on
the wire.

Second night at Port Lincoln

*Tue 19th June*

Beautiful sunny day for a morning visit to Coffin Bay NP. Around the
Almonta Beach turnoff (near Pt Avoid) we saw around 50 *Neophema* parrots,
mostly feeding in the saltbush but including 2 on the road. All those we
looked at were Rock Parrots. At Golden Island Lookout we had our first Kelp
Gulls of the trip and 2 Osprey – whilst there were around 6 Emus in the
scrub. In Yangie Bay was a dark morph Pacific Reef Heron and a
White-bellied Sea-eagle flew over.

Late afternoon visit to Whyalla CP failed to find the Grasswren again. On
the drive back to Port Augusta at dusk we saw what was probably a Spotted
Harrier, but we could not get good views of it.

Night at Port Augusta

*Wed 20th June*

With an early evening flight back to Melbourne, we had all day to search
for the two birds that had so far eluded us – the *myall* race of Western
Grasswren and the *rosinae* race of Slender-billed Thornbill. Unfortunately
there was a very strong cold wind and despite a lot of searching at Myall
Creek and an unnamed creek 35km before Iron Knob we could not find the
Grasswren – our only real “dip” of the trip.

On then to Port Wakefield where we did find a white winged House Sparrow by
the bakery – but no Thornbill. Middle Beach – no luck. On then to Port
Gawler where at the very end of the causeway – just as the rising tide was
coming over the road – we finally found the Thornbill!


Thanks as always to “Complete Guide to Finding the Birds of Australia”
(referred to as T&T in the text), to those who have posted previous trip
reports, to Tony Russel for some helpful advice and especially of course to
Peter Waanders for a great website and useful information on a number of

*Bird List (using IOC taxonomy) – 151 species seen*

Emu (Dromaius novaehollandiae)

Brown Quail (Coturnix ypsilophora)

Black Swan (Cygnus atratus)

Australian Shelduck (Tadorna tadornoides)

Maned Duck (Chenonetta jubata)

Pacific Black Duck (Anas superciliosa)

Grey Teal (Anas gracilis)

Chestnut Teal (Anas castanea)

Shy Albatross (Thalassarche cauta)

Hoary-headed Grebe (Poliocephalus poliocephalus)

Australian White Ibis (Threskiornis moluccus)

Royal Spoonbill (Platalea regia)

Nankeen Night Heron (Nycticorax caledonicus)

Great Egret (Ardea alba modesta)

White-faced Heron (Egretta novaehollandiae)

Little Egret (Egretta garzetta nigripes)

Pacific Reef Heron (Egretta sacra)

Australian Pelican (Pelecanus conspicillatus)

Australasian Gannet (Morus serrator)

Little Pied Cormorant (Microcarbo melanoleucos)

Black-faced Cormorant (Phalacrocorax fuscescens)

Little Black Cormorant (Phalacrocorax sulcirostris)

Australian Pied Cormorant (Phalacrocorax varius)

Eastern Osprey (Pandion cristatus)

Black-shouldered Kite (Elanus axillaris)

Whistling Kite (Haliastur sphenurus)

White-bellied Sea Eagle (Haliaeetus leucogaster)

Swamp Harrier (Circus approximans)

Collared Sparrowhawk (Accipiter cirrocephalus)

Wedge-tailed Eagle (Aquila audax)

Nankeen Kestrel (Falco cenchroides)

Brown Falcon (Falco berigora)

Little Buttonquail (Turnix velox)

Pied Oystercatcher (Haematopus longirostris)

Sooty Oystercatcher (Haematopus fuliginosus)

White-headed Stilt (Himantopus leucocephalus)

Banded Stilt (Cladorhynchus leucocephalus)

Red-necked Avocet (Recurvirostra novaehollandiae)

Banded Lapwing (Vanellus tricolor)

Masked Lapwing (Vanellus miles)

Red-kneed Dotterel (Erythrogonys cinctus)

Inland Dotterel (Peltohyas australis)

Grey Plover (Pluvialis squatarola)

Red-capped Plover (Charadrius ruficapillus)

Ruddy Turnstone (Arenaria interpres)

Red-necked Stint (Calidris ruficollis)

Silver Gull (Chroicocephalus novaehollandiae)

Pacific Gull (Larus pacificus)

Kelp Gull (Larus dominicanus)

Greater Crested Tern (Thalasseus bergii)

Little Tern (Sternula albifrons)

Rock Dove (Columba livia)

Spotted Dove (Spilopelia chinensis)

Common Bronzewing (Phaps chalcoptera)

Brush Bronzewing (Phaps elegans)

Crested Pigeon (Ocyphaps lophotes)

Galah (Eolophus roseicapilla)

Little Corella (Cacatua sanguinea)

Sulphur-crested Cockatoo (Cacatua galerita)

Rainbow Lorikeet (Trichoglossus moluccanus)

Musk Lorikeet (Glossopsitta concinna)

Purple-crowned Lorikeet (Glossopsitta porphyrocephala)

Australian Ringneck (Barnardius zonarius)

Crimson Rosella (Platycercus elegans)

Bluebonnet (Northiella haematogaster)

Red-rumped Parrot (Psephotus haematonotus)

Mulga Parrot (Psephotus varius)

Elegant Parrot (Neophema elegans)

Rock Parrot (Neophema petrophila)

Scarlet-chested Parrot (Neophema splendida)

Budgerigar (Melopsittacus undulatus)

Horsfield's Bronze Cuckoo (Chrysococcyx basalis)

Pallid Cuckoo (Cacomantis pallidus)

Fan-tailed Cuckoo (Cacomantis flabelliformis)

Sacred Kingfisher (Todiramphus sanctus)

Rufous Treecreeper (Climacteris rufus)

Variegated Fairywren (Malurus lamberti)

Blue-breasted Fairywren (Malurus pulcherrimus)

Superb Fairywren (Malurus cyaneus)

Splendid Fairywren (Malurus splendens)

White-winged Fairywren (Malurus leucopterus)

Singing Honeyeater (Lichenostomus virescens)

White-eared Honeyeater (Lichenostomus leucotis)

Purple-gaped Honeyeater (Lichenostomus cratitius)

Yellow-plumed Honeyeater (Lichenostomus ornatus)

Grey-fronted Honeyeater (Lichenostomus plumulus)

White-plumed Honeyeater (Lichenostomus penicillatus)

White-fronted Honeyeater (Purnella albifrons)

Noisy Miner (Manorina melanocephala)

Yellow-throated Miner (Manorina flavigula)

Brown-headed Honeyeater (Melithreptus brevirostris)

Spiny-cheeked Honeyeater (Acanthagenys rufogularis)

Red Wattlebird (Anthochaera carunculata)

New Holland Honeyeater (Phylidonyris novaehollandiae)

Tawny-crowned Honeyeater (Gliciphila melanops)

White-fronted Chat (Epthianura albifrons)

Spotted Pardalote (Pardalotus punctatus)

Striated Pardalote (Pardalotus striatus)

Chestnut-rumped Heathwren (Calamanthus pyrrhopygius)

Shy Heathwren (Calamanthus cautus)

Rufous Fieldwren (Calamanthus campestris)

Redthroat (Pyrrholaemus brunneus)

White-browed Scrubwren (Sericornis frontalis)

Weebill (Smicrornis brevirostris)

Brown Thornbill (Acanthiza pusilla)

Inland Thornbill (Acanthiza apicalis)

Slender-billed Thornbill (Acanthiza iredalei)

Yellow-rumped Thornbill (Acanthiza chrysorrhoa)

Southern Whiteface (Aphelocephala leucopsis)

White-browed Babbler (Pomatostomus superciliosus)

Mallee Whipbird (Psophodes nigrogularis)

Chirruping Wedgebill (Psophodes cristatus)

Chestnut-backed Quail-thrush (Cinclosoma castanotum)

Nullarbor Quail-thrush (Cinclosoma alisteri)

Grey Butcherbird (Cracticus torquatus)

Australian Magpie (Gymnorhina tibicen)

Grey Currawong (Strepera versicolor)

Black-faced Woodswallow (Artamus cinereus)

Dusky Woodswallow (Artamus cyanopterus)

Black-faced Cuckooshrike (Coracina novaehollandiae)

Black-capped Sittella (Daphoenositta chrysoptera)

Australian Golden Whistler (Pachycephala pectoralis)

Rufous Whistler (Pachycephala rufiventris)

Grey Shrikethrush (Colluricincla harmonica)

Crested Bellbird (Oreoica gutturalis)

Willie Wagtail (Rhipidura leucophrys)

Grey Fantail (Rhipidura albiscapa)

Magpie-lark (Grallina cyanoleuca)

Restless Flycatcher (Myiagra inquieta)

Little Crow (Corvus bennetti)

Little Raven (Corvus mellori)

Australian Raven (Corvus coronoides)

White-winged Chough (Corcorax melanoramphos)

Western Yellow Robin (Eopsaltria griseogularis rosinae)

Hooded Robin (Melanodryas cucullata westralensis)

Jacky Winter (Microeca fascinans)

Red-capped Robin (Petroica goodenovii)

Southern Scrub Robin (Drymodes brunneopygia)

Eurasian Skylark (Alauda arvensis)

White-backed Swallow (Cheramoeca leucosterna)

Welcome Swallow (Hirundo neoxena)

Fairy Martin (Petrochelidon ariel)

Brown Songlark (Megalurus cruralis)

Silvereye (Zosterops lateralis pinarochrous)

Common Starling (Sturnus vulgaris)

Common Blackbird (Turdus merula)

Mistletoebird (Dicaeum hirundinaceum)

House Sparrow (Passer domesticus)

Diamond Firetail (Stagonopleura guttata)

Zebra Finch (Taeniopygia guttata castanotis)

Australian Pipit (Anthus australis bilbali)

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