Trip Report: Carpentarian Grasswren Site

To: <>
Subject: Trip Report: Carpentarian Grasswren Site
From: Stephen Murray <>
Date: Sun, 27 Jul 2014 17:11:32 +1000
Hello all. 

I recently made my fourth visit to the famous Carpentarian Grasswren site on
MacNamaras's road, about 65 kms north of Mt Isa. The site is detailed in
Thomas & Thomas. The recommended area for searching lies between 6 to 9 kms
from the highway. I visited twice in 2010, and once in 2011 on a very hot
October morning. In 2010 the road was a quiet dirt road where the likelihood
of running into other vehicles was quite small. You could park off the road
and enjoy a quiet morning's birding, even if you didn't see the Grasswrens
(in 2011 I had Red-chested and Little Buttonquails, Spinifexbird and
Black-tailed Treecreeper). Unfortunately, the changes that have occurred
here since then have made the site anything but pleasant. The dirt road is
now a dusty highway with enormous mining trucks as well as mine workers in
utes constantly coming and going. The noise is incredible and all the trees
on the western side are covered in dust. The lack of visibility can make it
quite dangerous as well. There is now a large sign which says that a
flashing beacon and open UHF channel are required to travel up the road.
There is nothing, however, specifically forbidding entry. It used to be said
that this was public road, but my latest Hema map shows it as private.
Needlesss to say, I felt very uncomfortable driving down there and drew some
strange looks from the workers. I am concerned that access to this site will
soon become very difficult for birders and that private vehicles will be
expressly prohibited. 

The good news is that the birds are still there, and after three long and
fruitless searches for my number one bogey bird, I finally found a pair
hopping about in plain view on a rocky outcrop. I got some reasonable shots
but unfortunately only had a 300mm lens with me at the time . I found the birds along a
dirt track that goes off to the right at the 8km marker, about 1km further
down. By the way the cairn with the little notebook that birders used to
write in seems to have been swallowed up in the road widening. If you are
going down there my advice would be to go as early as possible and get off
the road.or maybe go on a Sunday. And go soon.

Cheers Steve Murray


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