Tuesday, 14 July 2020

OUTBACK BIRDING

male Budgie - riverine habitat Lochern National Park

And so it begins….

A six week road trip with birding all the way around much of western Queensland.

This trip is a recce and a re-visit to many of the better sites in Queensland [and hopefully a few in the Northern Territory] that Australian Birding Safaris hope to take folks next year in 2021 and beyond.
The first few days were planned as driving days; to put quite a few kilometres between South East Queensland and us, as we headed to the ‘Outback’. Where the Outback ‘actually’ begins is anybody’s guess but for me it is when we start seeing a considerable number of bird species that we cannot hope to see around the Sunshine Coast.

The first night we swagged at the Theodore Showgrounds.
Pale headed Rosella and reflection - Lara Wetlands
Mallee Ringneck - Lara Wetlands

The second night saw us camp by a wetland; Lara Wetland to be precise, a little locale to the south of Barcaldine. This little locale was largely known for as we drove in, the wetland was well ringed by campers. The wetlands, in fact, had no hope of escape.  Despite the small town of campers, birds still enjoyed the shallow lagoon; Black and Wood Ducks plus Grey Teal were on the water and Stilts, Yellow-billed Spoonbill, Black fronted Dotterels paraded the edges. A solitary Black tailed Native-hen was seen. Brown Treecreepers were common as were Apostlebirds and Choughs. Parrots were represented by Galahs, Pale-headed Rosellas and, because we were in the outback, Red-winged Parrots and Mallee Ringnecks. The drive between the campground and the highway produced other outback species such as Hooded Robin and Zebra Finch.
Brown Treecreeper

Day 3 took us from Lara Wetlands, through Barcaldine and past the poisoned Tree of Knowledge at Barcaldine, through Ilfracombe and a well-established Spotted Bowerbird bower, on to Longreach for a quick spot of shopping, and then south to the property named Noonbah.

We had phoned Noonbah the day before so our arrival would not be met with shock. And as we had rang before, we were met, instead, with afternoon tea. And we enjoyed a chat with the naturalist owner Angus Emmott and his wife and [adult] children. Traditionally the land now named Noondah was part of Maiawali lands however the Emmott family have run cattle on this station for over a century.

The Emmotts offer camping and rustic accommodation on their property at reasonable rates. In addition Angus is, depending on the pressure of their farm business, available for hire as a naturalist guide. The property is huge and worthy of several day’s exploration as is the adjacent National Park, Lochern.

Despite the obvious advantages of hiring Angus, we stumbled around ourselves recording some 60 species of birds. Certainly a very good introduction to outback birding.

Birding highlights?

Great views of a Little Eagle on day 1.
Great views of Wedge tailed Eagles and Black Breasted Buzzards.
Black breasted Buzzard

Flocks of Woodswallows, White browed and the poorly named Masked, in Lochern National Park.
White browed Woodswallows allopreening in Lochern NP
Masked Woodswallow

Flocks of Budgies – a sight of which I will never tire.
Huger flocks of Zebra Finches….
Zebra Finches

Great views of Spinifex Pigeons displaying.
Spinifex Pigeon
male Spinifex Pigeon bowing to his lady

Our first Emus, and our second lot and then the third….
Red capped Robins – perhaps the most beautiful outback bird… plus its sober cousin the Hooded Robin.
female Red capped Robin
male Red capped Robin

male Hooded Robin

A fast flying trio of Bourke’s Parrots.
Splendid views of Splendid Wrens plus good looks at Purple backed also.
Splendid Wren
male moulting Purple backed Wren [formerly Variegated]
female Purple backed Wren

Brolgas and their adult youngster striding over the plains.
Red backed Kingfisher - an outback Kingfisher where there are no fish to be seen...
Red backed Kingfisher


AUSTRALIAN BIRDING SAFARIS
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