Nullarbor birding trip.

To: birding-aus <>
Subject: Nullarbor birding trip.
From: Bernard O'Keefe <>
Date: Wed, 6 Jul 2016 05:39:24 +0000

Myself, Scott Baker and Rob Farnes are almost home after spending 11 days 
birding across the Nullarbor. We had been planning this trip for a number of 
months and we had 4 main targets for the trip: the Copperback Quail Thrush, the 
Nullarbor Quail Thrush, the Naretha Blue Bonnet and the Western Quail Thrush. 
It was also a great opportunity to spend time in an area I had not previously 
been to.
We left Portland early on a Saturday morning to make our way to Lake Gilles, 
about 155 kms past Port Augusta. Although we had siets in mind, after getting a 
tip from a local, we concentrated our search around 35 kms south of Kimba at a 
place called Secret Rocks. After a search for about 2 hours, Rob managed to 
find two birds and they presented very well for photographs. First tick! The 
site was also good for Rufous Treecreeper and Western Yellow Robin.
We made our way to the Nullarbor Roadhouse where we began searching for the 
Nullarbor Quail Thrush. Over the next 24 hours, in different locations behind 
the roadhouse, we estimated that we found 21 of these species. The problem was 
not finding these birds, but photographing them which proved to be very 
challenging as they were very elusive and skitty. Finally, we managed to get 
some average photos but we were happy with this after hearing how difficult 
these birds are to photograph. Second tick! We also found the first of 4 Mallee 
Black-headed snakes for the trip which was the commonest reptile on the trip. 
We also found Barking Gecko, Southern Spiney-tailed Gecko and Bynoe’s Gecko.
The next part of the journey was to find our way across the border to WA to 
Cocklebiddy. From Cocklebiddy, we travelled a very stoney and rough track 
towards Rawilla. It took us 4 hours to travel 100kms but we finally found some 
Desert Oaks and then the big reward – 6 Naretha Blue Bonnets near the water 
tank! Third tick! Along the road, we also found and photographed Inland 
Dotterel, Slender-billed Thornbill, Redthroat and 21 bustards!
The last target required a long trip to Kalgoorlie and then onto Niagara Dam, 
which was the southern most distribution for the Western Quail Thrush. Just 
outside Balladonia, we came across some more Copperback Quail Thrushes, which 
provided better photographic opportunities. We finally made our way into 
Niagara dam and after two hours of checking suitable habitat, Scott managed to 
find 4 birds, which were very obliging to photograph. We were thrilled as we 
expected to travel to Mt.Magnet to see this bird so finding it here saved us 
about 800 kms of travel! Final tick and mission accomplished!
We could now use our time to travel around other places in WA to photograph 
some endemics. We travelled to Esperance and photographed great birds such as 
Red-eared Firetail, Western Wattlebird, Western Spinebilll and Carnaby’s Black 
Thinking we had the birding Gods on our side, we made our way to Cape Arid, the 
home of the Western Ground Parrot! We spent and afternoon and morning looking 
for this species with no luck but it was good to gain an appreciation for the 
area. We did manage to find and photograph Western Fieldwren.
As we turned for home, the weather changed and became very windy and wet, so we 
were very fortunate to enjoy nice weather although the nights were freezing 
while camping out. A quick look near Whyalla gave great views of Western 
It was a very enjoyable trip, with many stories told and laughs had.  We now 
look forward to planning our next adventure!
Bernie OKeefe

Bernard O'Keefe

Applied Learning Coordinator
Caroline Chisholm Catholic College
204 Churchill Avenue, Braybrook. 3019

T:  03 9296 5311 | F: 03 9296 5381
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