Alice Springs Trip

August 21, 2010 — August 24, 2010

Headed to the Alice with Pete Milburn, Andrew Stafford, Stuart Warren and Chris Sanderson. Having failed to get an access permit to the area Princess Parrots were seen, we decided to head along the Mereenie Loop road in a vain attempt to find them. Although the habitat seemed good (desert oak, sandy ridge country), we weren't lucky.

Despite that, the wild flower conditions were amazing. The landscape was beautiful and in full flower. Honeyeaters were everywhere. A couple of days of rain further thwarted attempts to bird this corner of the outback so we spent some time around Kings Canyon as well, where there were the usual array of birds to be had.

On the whole, a great trip was had by all but it could have been slightly better if we'd seen THE bird.
 Alice Springs Trip  Kathleen Spring
Kathleen Springs is just off Ernest Giles Road. We'd only been there for a few minutes when Chris picked up a Grey Falcon but by then, we'd spread out and no-one else saw it. They breed very nearby on the Giles Track. There were loads of Spinifex Pigeon at the site. We initially picked up birds on the cliffs around but then another visitor pointed them out in the grass by the track. A male was displaying head cocked to the ground and tail erect - the females seemed to be sticking their beaks up his bum, which was rather odd. They were very approachable though. Great fun to watch!
Read more.
 Kings Canyon
Kings Canyon itself is stunning. The gorge is accessed from a car park reached off the main road east of the resort. There are Sturt Desert Peas planted all around the Mobil service station at the resort. At the Kings Canyon car park itself, there was a really approachable male Hooded Robin . The river was flowing well, which made it interesting trying to cross on wobbly rocks with camera gear. The hill-sides were flowering and we found Grey-headed Honeyeaters easiest to see just north of the car park. It was a nice surprise to see a single Painted Finch at the head of the canyon, where the viewing platform is. Read more.
 Mulga Habitat on way back to Alice
A few times we stopped to check Mulga habitat but tbhis was the best location. The mulga was quite mature and we were hoping to see if we could find Grey Honeyeater. This isn't a great year for these birds. They are always low density but because the whole landscape is in flower, they've spread out even more. We had a bird call briefly but couldn't relocate it. We did get great views of Slaty-backed Thornbill though. Again, it was a pleasure walking in nice cool conditions over a carpet of wild flowers - a contrast to the last time any of us went to the area, when the Mulga would be dry and fly-infested. Read more.
 Simpson's Gap
We arrived late at Simpson's Gap, just as the sun started to set. One group went off to photograph the Black-footed Rock Wallabies at the base of the cliffs. Another went searching for Dusky Grasswrens . The Duskys are often seen right near the car park but we had to trek quite high through the spinifex to the east before we started hearing their calls. The birds were moving fast to stay ahead of the sun and were almost impossible to keep up with. A pair of birds appeared momentarily in the open but it soon became too dark to look further.  Read more.
 Olive Pink Botanic Gardens
This is a traditional site for Grey Honeyeater but as everywhere else, it is very hard to see. It rained non-stop all morning but despite this, the birding was quite good. There were Red-browed Pardalotes and Striated Pardalotes calling and coming down to feed on the acacia and a pair of Western Bowerbirds flying around. Common Wallaroos were feeding on the western side and a mistletoebird, sitting in the wet, stayed put offering amazingly close views. There's a visitor's centre here and cafe, though I didn't have time to stop. Had the weather been better, it would have been a great place to spend some more time. Read more.

Wildlife

Mammals 1 species
Black-footed Rock-wallaby (Petrogale lateralis) 1
Land Birds 54 species
Diamond Dove (Geopelia cuneata) 3
Yellow-throated Miner (Manorina flavigula) 3
Zebra Finch (Taeniopygia guttata) 3
Brown Falcon (Falco berigora) 3
Black-faced Cuckooshrike (Coracina novaehollandiae) 3
Masked Woodswallow (Artamus personatus) 3
Black Honeyeater (Sugomel nigrum) 3
Splendid Fairywren (Malurus splendens) 3
Rufous Whistler (Pachycephala rufiventris) 3
Budgerigar (Melopsittacus undulatus) 3
Grey-fronted Honeyeater (Lichenostomus plumulus) 3
Grey-crowned Babbler (Pomatostomus temporalis) 2
Pied Honeyeater (Certhionyx variegatus) 2
Hooded Robin (Melanodryas cucullata) 2
Red-backed Kingfisher (Todiramphus pyrrhopygius) 2
Little Buttonquail (Turnix velox) 2
Black-faced Woodswallow (Artamus cinereus) 2
Crested Bellbird (Oreoica gutturalis) 2
White-shouldered Triller (Lalage sueurii) 2
Singing Honeyeater (Lichenostomus virescens) 2
Western Bowerbird (Chlamydera guttata) 2
White-fronted Honeyeater (Purnella albifrons) 2
Australian Ringneck (Barnardius zonarius) 2
Common Bronzewing (Phaps chalcoptera) 2
Red-browed Pardalote (Pardalotus rubricatus) 2
Little Eagle (Hieraaetus morphnoides) 2
Pallid Cuckoo (Cacomantis pallidus) 1
Mulga Parrot (Psephotus varius) 1
Little Woodswallow (Artamus minor) 1
Grey Fantail (Rhipidura albiscapa) 1
Crimson Chat (Epthianura tricolor) 1
Spinifex Pigeon (Geophaps plumifera) 1
Yellow-rumped Thornbill (Acanthiza chrysorrhoa) 1
Black-breasted Buzzard (Hamirostra melanosternon) 1
White-plumed Honeyeater (Lichenostomus penicillatus) 1
Slaty-backed Thornbill (Acanthiza robustirostris) 1
Varied Sittella (Daphoenositta chrysoptera) 1
Grey Falcon (Falco hypoleucos) 1 Fly-over...they nest nearby
Redthroat (Pyrrholaemus brunneus) 1
Western Gerygone (Gerygone fusca) 1
Cockatiel (Nymphicus hollandicus) 1
Dusky Grasswren (Amytornis purnelli) 1
Inland Thornbill (Acanthiza apicalis) 1
White-backed Swallow (Cheramoeca leucosterna) 1
Brown Songlark (Cincloramphus cruralis) 1
Southern Whiteface (Aphelocephala leucopsis) 1
Painted Finch (Emblema pictum) 1
Chestnut-rumped Thornbill (Acanthiza uropygialis) 1
Red-capped Robin (Petroica goodenovii) 1
Variegated Fairywren (Malurus lamberti) 1
Brown Honeyeater (Lichmera indistincta) 1
Weebill (Smicrornis brevirostris) 1
Brown Goshawk (Accipiter fasciatus) 1
Rufous Songlark (Cincloramphus mathewsi) 1

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Written by

Simon Mustoe


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