Update on Birding in Central Australia

To: "" <>
Subject: Update on Birding in Central Australia
From: Mark Carter <>
Date: Fri, 14 Aug 2015 05:58:02 +0000
Hi All,
I've just come to the end of a month of back-to-back bird tours here in Central 
Australia and thought people might like to hear about some of the goings on out 
here in the desert. Around Alice Springs patchy rains in June have left the 
landscape in varied condition with some sites dry as a bone while others are in 
full bloom. Birds are distributing themselves in the landscape accordingly. 
Some 'traditional' sites such as the Kunnoth area are very quiet indeed but 
there are other locations not too far away which are in in rude health. Some 
species which are usually easy have become tricky everywhere (ie. Painted Finch 
and Little Buttonquail) but on the flip side others like Banded Whiteface, 
Orange Chat and Cinnamon Quail-thrush are popping up in funny places. Numbers 
of Budgies and Cockateil remain strong, as do the raptors which are settling in 
to breed. We again have a Black-breasted Buzzard nest being established near 
the town and Black Falcon are acting like they own the next territory over (but 
I haven't found their intended nest site yet). Its not just raptors- I found 
nests yesterday of both Slaty-backed Thornbill and Red-browed Pardalote so it 
seems spring is on its way. The sewage ponds in Alice are terrific as ever- 
Spotted Crakes are around, about a dozen Orange Chat seem to be resident there 
again and a trickle of migrant waders are starting to arrive.
Despite my finding a few Grey Honeyeater recently my advice for those who want 
to see this bird is still to try for it in the warmer months- its not an easy 
bird in winter: its very rare, it vocalises little and ranges widely. From 
October onward (assuming suitable conditions) they become more tied to their 
breeding habitat and vocalise more making them easier to locate so your chances 
of success improve significantly. If you are here before that then by all means 
try your luck, just don't bet on it!
The Simpson Desert around the Andado/MtDare area is another story again. Its 
generally dry so birds like Gibberbird are thin on the ground but the resident 
species out there don't seem to care and are preparing to breed- Eyrean 
Grasswren, Cinnamon Quailthrush, Chiming Wedgebills and Banded Whiteface were 
all singing territorial tunes at their normal locations (and a few abnormal 
ones too!). The situation in the Great Victoria Desert is yet another story- 
reasonable rain in June has left the place looking good and the local hot birds 
like Sandhill Grasswrens will be gearing up to breed soon.
Anyone in the region next week should check out the program for the annual Red 
Centre Bird Festival. There are lots of birding events going on as well as some 
terrific speakers lined up. The full program can be downloaded here: Red Centre 
Bird Festival flyer Sadly I'll be missing the fun this year as I'm off to 
present at the UK Birdfair in England on birding in Central Australia.
To finish I'd say anyone heading out birding this way in spring is going to 
have a very good time. One last thing that is front of mind for me right now is 
that if you are travelling here be sure to let accommodation providers and 
others know that you are here for birds. When it comes to bird conservation 
money talks, and with overall tourism in the outback in a slow decline the 
steady rise of birder tourism will be noticed. It makes caring for birding 
country much easier when the community can see for themselves that it results 
in real benefits through jobs and income, so be proud of our passion. You might 
be surprised how many everyday people are interested in birding.


Mark Carter

Birding and
T ++61 (0) 447358045
ABN 31234450010

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