Friday, April 15, 2011

Strzelecki and Oodnadatta Tracks

Last year I went on a few drives to the Strzelecki.  This is a summary of one of the trips that I made in July when I did a short trip to the Strz and Oodnadatta Track as far as William Creek.

I fill up the 4WD in Lyndhurst as my little Birdmobile doesnt hold a lot of juice! A Jerrycan is of great assistance!

Keep you eye open for Talc Alf who is often at the Servo. Talc Alf is an eccentric artist who lives in Lyndhurst - he has a studio which you can visit and purchase art made out of Talc.

I then headed to Bill's place - Mt Lyndhurst Station. He has a lovely shearers quarters which are very affordable and comfortable. Thomas is the caretaker and he is very helpful. If you want to go birding on his property or stay in his accomodation ensure to ring Bill in advance to ask! He is very accomodating to birders as he cares about the environment and appreciates being consulted first. He charges the bare minimum for his accomodation and this money goes back into maintaining and protecting his property and the vital habitat for these birds!

Bill Baade - 0417 824 879

The shearers quarters are protected from the heat of the sun with shade cloth

He has some great birding locatons on his land - the main one is the Rusty Car site!!

The car is 27km along the track from Lyndhurst and about 200m in to the left of the road (north). Drive about 700m past the car to a clear area which has a small "no camping" and "no public access" sign. Walk the slopes and gullies around to the north and west for the Whitefaces and Grasswrens.

Famous for the Chestnut Breasted Whiteface and Thick Billed Grasswrens. This area is also great for Redthroat, Zebra Finch, Crimson and Orange Chats, Hooded Robin, Chirruping Wedgebill, Ground Cuckooshrike, Red Backed Kingfisher, Spotted Nightjar and Inland Dotteral along with stacks of other species include the mythical Grey Falcon.  On this visit I enjoyed great views of Inland Dotteral with a chick!

While here also check the 2 Gates site on the South! This site is 25.7km from Lyndhurst as you drive north you will see it on your right. 30 12 37S 13 35 57E. Go through the second gate to search the small hills and gullies for Chestnut Breasted Whiteface, Thickbilled Grasswrens.

After enjoying these areas for a few hours I drove slowly up the track stopping to explore each creek bed and was rewarded with Little Eagle, Wedge-tailed Eagle, Emu, Red Browed Pardelote, Cockatiels and budgies.


Little Eagle

Wedge Tailed Eagle


After 3 hrs I arrived at Motecollina Bore which had numerous Whistling Kites and Black Kites circling, also fairy Martin, Australian Pipit, Cinnamon Quail-Thrush, Spotted Crake and Black Faced Woodswallow.

The track condition was quite rough as it had only been reopened the day before due to heavy rains and flooding. The ruts in the track were extremely deep due to the trucks having just come though and the 4WD struggled in places and a few times I went sliding in the mud!!

I had lunch before heading onto the "Coolibahs" - approx 20km further on towards the crossing.
A short walk in to the trees (which you cant see from the track) provided nice views of hundreds of Little Corellas. Looks can be decieving here. It looks like you could drive to the trees but I wouldn't recommend it. You could easily get bogged. 

In amongst the trees and corellas were Brown Falcon, Brown Goshawk and Nankeen Kestrel. I was searching for the Letterwing Kites but could not find them. I searched for an hour and gave up. As I started heading back to the car 2 LWK flew over my head!! NICE!!! Sadly they kept going and even though I waited for a while they did not come back to roost.

Other birds of interest here included Spotted Harrier, Black Kites, Blue Bonnets and a few Banded Lapwing and Inland Dotteral. Keep an eye open for Banded Whitefaces here!

Inland Dotteral

I slept that night at the Bore which is a great area to camp. It has basic facilities and the bore water is lovely and hot!

Good birding in this mini wetland - keep an eye open for Crakes. Check the dunes and walk west to the trees at the creek (about 5km) and be sure to explore the dunes with Canegrass at the Art Baker Lookout near Moppa Collina Channel crossing for Eyrean Grasswrens!!

I also had Rufous Calamanthus here.

The next morning I headed back to Lyndhurst  then up to Marree and Oodnadatta Track.

There had been a lot of rain and the creeks were full. My aim was to see Lake Eyre filled with water! I got about 30km out from the Lake Eyre South look out when a warning light came on in my dashboard! Having no idea what is was for, I thought "bugger it, I've come this far" so I kept going...

At the look out I enjoyed the view before researching the warning light in the car manual. It said it was an emission control fault (it did not say what that meant or if it is dangerous).  Under the "what to do" section it said "take it to your nearest Suzuki dealership for servicing"! Yeah right, real helpful in the middle of the Oodnadatta track!!

So, I did what any dedicated Birder would do. I ignored it and kept birding. I went for a walk out onto Lake Eyre to find birds!

Walking on Eyre

I then scanned the gibber on the edge of the lake and WOW! I flock of over 65 Inland Dotteral were running all over the place. They tolerated me for a while before doing a mega fly off. A magnificent sight, Lake Eyre filled with water with the sky filled with Inland Dotterals! I was so caught up in what I was looking at I forgot to take a photo!!

Some of the flock of Inland Dotteral

I then decided to head for William Creek - on the way there the light in my dash went back out and has not come on again since! I suspect that driving through a deep creek had wet a sensor under the car...

William Creek - What a funny little place that is! I was surprised at the number of visitors there. After asking what was going on I was informed that the Great Australian Cattle Drive was starting a in a few days. Stockmen from Anna Creek Station and all over the country were arriving and many were dressed to impress the tourists in their Akubra and Dry'Z'bones, hilarious!!!!

After an enjoyable dinner in the William Creek Hotel I slept soundly.

The next day I spent exploring the mound springs and the lunar landscape.

I then slept in million star accomodation at Coward Springs which has great birding.

Pallid Cuckoo

Chirruping Wedgebill

Orange Chat

Zebra Finch, Pallid Cuckoo, Horsefields Bronze Cuckoo, Tree Martin, Spiny-Cheeked Honeyeater, Chirruping Wedgebill, Orange Chat, Red Necked Avocet, Cinnamon Quail-Thrush, White Winged Fairywren, Little Grassbird, Gibberbird, Inland Dotteral were just of  few of the highlights.

Million Star accomodation with free airconditioning!

Cinnamon Quail-Thrush

Zebra Finch

The Strzelecki and Oodnadatta Tracks have a very different feel about them but I enjoy them both greatly. The Strz is my favourite due to being more remote. The Ood felt more like a highway with the much higher volume of traffic but the condition of the track between Marree and William Creek is very good, MUCH better than the Strz which does not seem to get graded much!

If you want GREAT inland birding this is the year to do the Strz - all the rain and boom of food for the birds means they are breeding big time and you will  surely be rewarded for your efforts!!

Bearded Dragon