Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Birding the Outback Desert

Letter-winged Kite (one of the three most difficult to see raptors in Australia)
We're back in relative civilization north of Adelaide after over a week in the outback central desert. The birding was excellent even with the severe and continuing drought. Our trip list is near 250 species with a few days to go. One focus of the desert is a family of difficult to see species - the grasswrens. We have one more species to go tomorrow so I'll do a special post just on them later. The scenery, by western North America standards wasn't much, but the Flinders Range for a couple days was nice. We have two days left on the trip before heading home and have really enjoyed our outback experience. 

Banded Whiteface

Banded Whiteface

Black-eared Cuckoo

Chestnut Quail-thrush

Cinnamon Quail-thrush

Cinnamon Quail-thrush

Dad Emu and youngsters



Bluebush country

Flinders Range

Flinders Range

Grass Tree

Flinders Range

Letter-winged Kite

Letter-winged Kite

Letter-winged Kite

Native Hollyhawk

Purple-gaped Honeyeater

Red-browed Pardalote

Red-capped Robin

River Redgum sunset

Rufous Field-wren

Rufous Field-wren

Shingleback lizard

Slender-billed Thornbill

Spotted Crake

Spotted Harrier

Spotted Pardalote

Whiskered Tern

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Gibber Chat

We are in the Sturt Stony Desert and with it the Gibber Plain. Gibber is a arid habitat of remnant stones from ancient sandstone sheets that once covered the area. It is a dry plain, and exceptionally so now with the last significant rainfall coming a year ago. But animals can still make a living here, as impossible as it seems. Red Kangaroo and Euros were common at times. Emus wandered the plain. An birds... Exceptionally exciting birds are to be found including the Gibber Chat (Gibberbird in some references), Orange Chat, White-winged Fairy-wren, and Inland Dotterel. How these birds find enough to eat is amazing, but obviously they do. 

Gibber Plains
Red Kangaroos
Gibber Chat

Gibber Chat 

Inland Dotterel

Inland Dotterel

Orange Chat

White-winged Fairy-wren

We passed the "Dog Fence" a couple of times in the last two days. This is reputed to be the longest fence in the world, installed to protect grazing animals from the native Dingo. 

And we've seen some pretty cool lizards lately too, and even a few flowers!. 

Bearded Dragon

Mountain Dragon

And because no birding trip is worthy without a visit to the local sewer ponds, a beautiful Pink-eared Duck from the tiny town of Tibooburra where we are staying. 

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Bowra Sanctuary

We've moved even farther from civilization, the towns are now farther apart and much smaller. Yesterday we visited the Bowra Sanctuary, a former sheep station and special habitat in the outback protected from grazing domestic animals. There are some extra special birds here too, and we saw them all. Of note here are Hall's Babbler, Bourke's Parrot, White-browed Treecreeper, and the amazing and very shy Chestnut-breasted Quail-thrush. The permanent waterholes in the sanctuary keep many of the more common species nearby for viewing. It was an incredible birding day. And as a special treat our guide Phil spotted a couple of Painted Honeyeaters in a tree beside the road. Another really tough one to see and we saw it well.  

Chestnut-breasted Quail-thrush

Hall's Babbler
White-browed Treecreeper
Bourke's Parrow

Mulga scrub habitat

Painted Honeyeater
 A few other critters from our day.

Black-fronted Dotteral

Black-winged Stilt
Eastern Grey Kangaroo
Euro (common wallaroo)

Red-winged Parrot