Thursday, September 10, 2009
Western Australia - Pilbara
My only other trip Western Australia was a twitch. Probably the longest twitch I have done, or ever will do. It involved two flights, a lot of frequent flyer miles and a hire car and was over 3500Km (2100 miles) each way. I left Adelaide early one Saturday in June (luckily it was a long weekend) and arrived in Karratha mid afternoon with not enough time to get to the bird before dark. I used the last daylight birding around the local area, and saw some birds that are never or very rarely seen in South Australia. Not far from the airport I found a very jumpy flock of Star Finches (1st tick) which, after I studied the photo, also yielded 3 Zebra Finches. Down on the beach was a co-operative Eastern Reef Egret, and nearby a Brown Honeyeater. Next morning I drove to Whim Creek, a tiny iron ore mining town, and the unlikely location for the bird. It had been seen for a couple of weeks frequenting the only green area for hundreds of Km. A small lawn in the mining company housing area. (the "housing" was actually a collection of small pre-fabricated single person tin shacks). I arrived at shift changeover time. Those going on shift just finishing breakfast, those going off shift hitting the steak and beer!! all at 7:00am. Bizarre!! By now the miners were used to the odd birder hanging around and they were very friendly. After a couple of hours, the bird slowly crept out of the shrubby border, and began feeding on the lawn (tick 2). In the end, after watching it off and on for about 3 hours I headed back to Karratha, stopping on the way for Spinifex Pigeon(tick 3), and at some mangroves by the ore terminal in Dampier where I saw Mangrove Fantail, Dusky Gerygone,Yellow White-eye, Grey-headed Honeyeater and the gorgeous White-breasted Whistler (Ticks 4 - 8), I only managed a photo of the latter!! As I was leaving, an immature White-bellied Sea Eagle flew over. Next day was another early flight back to Adelaide. Feeling satisfied, and happy that the twitch had gone to plan. Was it worth it? You bet it was!! Ha!! You thought I'd forgotten..........This was the target - Red-legged Crake. Notice the change in colours when the sun is out!!