Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Birdsville Track

A four day weekend is an opportunity to travel and I intended to make the most of it! Finishing work on Thursday I hit the road and headed north. As I travel alone I did my best to be prepared. Travelling in the outback you need to take extra precautions, considering there is no mobile phone reception. So, I carry a second spare wheel, 25 litres of fuel, plenty of water, fan belt and UHF radio.

I expected the Birdsville track to actually be well visited over Easter so I was pleasantly surprised that over the entire weekend I saw hardly anyone! In fact on Saturday I only saw 1 car and that belonged to a landowner!!

At Sunrise on Friday I was greeted by a herd of horses casually walking down the track in Lyndhurst.

Australian Raven

I spent 3 days exploring the Birdsville Track which is really green after all the floods.

What they do when there are no fence posts to climb!

I did not really have any specific target species but did hope to photograph some species that although I had seen before, had not managed to get photos of (or decent ones anyway).

Black (Fork-tailed) Kite

I checked every receiver tower between Leigh Creek and the Inner Track hoping to find the elusive Grey Falcon but none decided to show themselves. Nankeen Kestrels and Brown Falcon were both nesting and at one stage I witnessed an Australian Raven attempt to raid the Kestrel nest but the Kestrel was very protective attacking the Raven and sending it packing.

A brave Kestrel defends its nest.

Once I past Coopers Creek Flock Bronzewings became more numerous. At one stage I had a flock flying right along side me while I was driving. They were flying at exactly 80 km per hour!

Flock Bronzewing

I was pleasantly surprised when I found a camel standing in the middle of the track. I stopped the car as it chose not to get out of my way. It then proceeded to drop to the ground and roll on its back with it’s legs in the air scratching its back and giving itself a dust bath!  Only after I got out of the car and walked towards it with my camera did it decide to casually walk off into the dunes.

Orange Chats, Pipits and Gibberbirds were good numbers, darting across the track like bullets. On numerous occasion I’d hit the skids in an attempt to get a photo of the Gibberbird but they would always be that one step ahead. Eventually, in the late arvo I saw another Gibberbird dart off the track so I stopped for one last attempt. As I jumped out of the car, another vehicle (the first I’d seen all day) went past me sending dust flying. I thought “well that’s blown any  chance of finding it” so I just leant against the back of my car waiting for the cloud of dust to settle. Imagine my amazement when the bird came back out on to the track in front of me and proceeded to start pecking about seemingly oblivious to my presence!

I spent  a couple of nights at Mungerannie Roadhouse.

A comfortable place to stay, Pam and Phil were very welcoming and helpful. I’d recommend staying there to break up your journey and it is a great location for birding!

The wetland is beautiful and attracts a large variety of species!

Some species I saw here included: White-backed Swallow, White-breasted Woodswallow, Black-faced Woodswallow, Glossy Ibis, Bluebonnet, Great Egret, Brolga, Black (Fork-tailed) Kite, Black-fronted Dotterel, Diamond Dove, Flock Bronzewing, Budgies, Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike, Zebra Finch, Little Grassbird, White-winged Fairy-wren, House Sparrow (ok, well I was surprised to see them here), Australian Raven, Little Crow, Grey Teal, Black Swan, Great-crested Grebe and Bustard.

I searched the surrounding dunes in order to get a photo of Eyrean Grasswren but had no luck. I hiked for hours and had a thoroughly enjoyable time but was unsuccessful.

I surprised a dingo who was doing it’s best to keep the rabbit numbers down.

I was even more surprised when a Bustard flew overhead!

After giving up on the Eyrean Grasswren photo I headed north.

I had some lovely birds including plenty of Flock Bronzewing, Black Kite, Brown Falcon, Wedge-tailed Eagle, Nankeen Kestrel, Black-shouldered Kite, Australian Raven,  Cockatiel, budgies, Zebra Finch, Spotted Harrier, Banded Lapwing, Cinnamon Quail-thrush, Orange Chat, Richard’s Pipit, Gibberbird, White-winged Fairy-wren, Rufous Songlark.

Standing on top of a sand dune near the Warburton Track turn off I watched a pair of Spotted Harriers fight over a bearded dragon.

On Sunday afternoon I headed back to Lyndhurst. I headed up the Strz and caught up with my friend Vik for a few hours of birding.

After enjoying a stunning sunset on the drive back into Lyndhurst we shared a meal at the pub.

A wonderful Easter weekend filled with birding, travel & adventure.