Gluepot Reserve birding trips
April 23, 2011 — June 11, 2012
Report of birding trips to Gluepot Reserve, organised by Southern Birding Services.
Located in the semi-arid South Australian mallee-eucalypt belt, Gluepot is considered to be one of the crown jewels in Australia's reserve system. This 50,000 ha large area of virgin mallee eucalypt scrub contains no less than 6 nationally endangered bird species and a unique flora and fauna adapted to the harsh conditions. Gluepot's relative accessibility means it is one of the few areas in Australia where birdwatchers can observe otherwise hard-to-find species.
We leave Waikerie very early in the morning for the drive of less than an hour to Gluepot. We arrive at Gluepot just before sunrise. The next three or four hours is when Gluepot's critical species are most active. While the sun rises over centuries-old mallee eucalypts and sand dunes covered in spinifex we look for Malleefowl, Red-lored Whistler, Gilbert's Whistler, Hooded Robin, Southern Scrubrobin, Black-eared Miner, Striated Grasswren, Shy Heathwren, White-browed Treecreeper and Major Mitchell Cockatoo. We may even be extremely lucky and come across aScarlet-chested Parrot!
As the bird activity slows down, so do we, and focus on the easier species such as Chestnut Quail-thrush, Crested Bellbird, Splendid Fairy-wren, and Striped Honeyeater. Depending on the season we may also look for Pied and Black Honeyeater and Crimson and Orange Chat.
We spend a relaxing hour having lunch in one of the bird hides, overlooking a watering through, with chances of Regent Parrot and many of Gluepot's 10 species of Honeyeater. This is the quietest time of the day and we call in at the impressive Visitor's Centre for you to check out the displays and browse the information on offer.
As the afternoon progresses bird activity returns to an extent, and we can spend time looking for any species you still require. We leave the reserve late in the afternoon to be back at your accommodation in Waikerie around dusk. Alternatively, we can leave the reserve earlier and can spend some time birding the wetlands around Waikerie in search of Regent Parrot nesting sites or Freckled Duck, or visit a local active Malleefowl mound.
The Black-eared Miner is one of the main reasons birders come to visit Gluepot Reserve.
After Anzac day 2012 I spent an enjoyable couple of days at Gluepot photographing birds. A flock of Black-eared Miners was discovered with recently fledged young, allowing great photographic opportunities. Black-eared Miner, an old-growth Mallee eucalypt scrubland specialist, is threatened with extinction due to hybridisation with the more adaptable Yellow-throated Miner. Here are some photos I took over the past few days at Gluepot, showing Black-eared Miners with recently fledged young, as well as the odd hybrid, and some notes on their identification. The species is most similar in appearance to the Yellow-throated Miner but can be distinguished readily in the field by its much darker rump, lack of pale terminal band on the tail and a greater contrast between the colour of the feathering on the lower jaw and throat.
There is a common myth that birding in the mallee during the winter period is pretty pointless. Today's experience disproved that. On the 11th June we set off early in the morning from Waikerie for a full day's birding at Gluepot. By the time the sun rose, the car thermometer read -3C. At our first stop, a semi-open area with lots of groundcover vegetation, which is usually a hive of bird activitiy, it was indeed very quiet. Frost covered the vegetation as we walked around slowly; a small flock of Regent Parrots came racing past. After a while the elusive Southern Scrubrobin started calling. It didn't take long to find a pair, the male singing from partway up a mallee tree, the female quietly foraging underneath low Acacia bushes. Other birds started becoming active now, notably the ever-present Yellow-plumed Honeyeater and the nomadic White-fronted Honeyeater. Crested Bellbird were calling from various vantage points and we eventually tracked one down in a Black Oak tree. Other Black Oak trees were home to the White-browed Treecreeper, of which we found a pair without much difficulty. Moving on, it appeared that the birds were present at their usual spots but their activity remained slow all day. At the Gypsum Lunette walk, site of much excitement last year when Scarlet-chested Parrots were found breeding there, we came across at least 4 parties of Striated Grasswren. The weather developed into a beautiful, calm and sunny day but we had to work hard to find all target species. A Shy Heathwren surprised us singing at close range from deep inside a bush, and after some effort we obtained good views of the bird. A lunch stop at one of the bird hides, overlooking an elevated drinking trough, resulted in 6 species of Honeyeater (Spiny-cheeked, Brown-headed, Striped, Yellow-plumed, White-eared and White-fronted). At the old airstrip, the aptly named Splendid Fairy-wren put in a show, while a Collared Sparrowhawk flew over. A remarkably obliging Chestnut Quail-thrush rewarded us with views at less than 5 m distance while Red-lored Whistler proved much more difficult. Searching for Black-eared Miners, we heard a Red-lored Whistler calling from a couple of 100 metres away in the spinifex, and each time we got close to it, it had flown away and called again from a different spot, again a couple of 100 metres away. Our persistence paid off though and eventually we got great views of the stunning male bird singing away at us. Not long thereafter we finally found our one and only flock of miners for the day, and working carefully through each individual to separate the hybrids x Yellow-throated Miners, we were pleased to find the majority of birds in this 30-odd-strong flock to be pure-bred Black-eareds. Athe end of the day though we returned home satisfied with great views of all target species and other nice birds found included White-browed and Chestnut-crowned Babblers, Varied Sittellas, Mulga Parrots, Hooded and Red-capped Robins and many more.Read more.