Monday, 20 July 2020

WINTON BIRDING - LARKING AROUND LARK QUARRY OR PISHING INTO THE WIND

Rufous crowned Emu Wren

Rufous crowned Emu wren
Okay I admit that that was a pretty poor title however I did need something birding related to introduce birding around Lark Quarry. 
Lark Quarry

Lark Quarry - the fossil river bed protected where it was found

Now to set the record straight though Lark Quarry is not named after a bird. It is named after one Malcolm Lark, a volunteer, who in his seventies, spent time helping remove much of the overlying rock, by hand, from the Dinosaur stampede site during a Queensland Museum expedition.

Larking? Perhaps inappropriate as Steve and I were reasonably focussed on seeing the specialty species of this area. Pishing? Well I'll come back to that....

Now, observation number one is that there are not huge numbers of birds nor a huge number of species around Lark Quarry however what is there is generally pretty special.

There are three main species lurking in the spinifex that we were targeting; Rufous crowned Emuwren, Spinifexbird and a grasswren; the Rusty or the Opalton [taxonomy pending] split from Striated Grasswren.

Now we were successful with two out of the three. 
Rufous crowned Emu wren

We were successful with the Emu wrens. These birds were actually quite common and vocal within the spinifex. They are difficult to see well and near impossible for me, with a slow focussing and zooming Nikon P900, to photograph well. They are small and fast moving and totally unafraid of flying into a prickly spinifex clump at near full speed.

We were successful, too, with Spinifexbird. We got pretty great views of this bird as it clambored around Spinifex clumps.  
Spinifexbird

Spimifexbird

The Grasswren remained to us at least invisible, and silent.  

And, like a poor tradesman I would like to blame something else rather than ourselves for the failure. It was cool to cold and windy; conditions which invite the bird to spend longer under cover. So Pishing into the wind? - is both an accurate description as birders 'pish' [make sounds so as to attract small passerine birds] and it was windy and we were unsuccessful.....
Can you see the grasswren in this picture? Neither could we....

Spinifex growing in rings

We did give it a pretty good shot though tramping through spinifex for many hours where the bird has been definitely recorded rather recently. 

We are both looking forward to returning to set the record straight!!

So, other than the two spinifex specials we saw Hall's Babbler, Grey Falcon, Australian Raven, Mallee Ringneck, Willy Wagtail, Crested Pigeon [which looks and acts like a wild bird], Common Bronzewing, Spinifex Pigeon, Spotted Bowerbird, White necked Heron, Tree Martin, White plumed, Singing and Grey headed Honeyeaters, Inland Thornbill, Purple backed and Splendid Wrens and Jacky Winter. 
Splendid Fairywren
Splendid Wren

Hall's Babbler
Mallee Ringneck
Australian Hobby - seen enroute to Winton

We plan to visit Winton and its surrounding area next year on our North West Queensland so if you would like to add this species, and many others to your life list please email Ken on friarbird43@bigpond.com to secure a place. We have three places left for this trip.


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