Saturday, July 31, 2010
Lake Gilles Conservation Park
Maryann and I are in Whyalla this weekend, visiting Maryann's daughter. They spent today doing "girlie" things, so I took off and did some birding. First stop was the Whyalla - Iron Knob Road looking for Thick-billed Grasswren again. I started a few kilometres closer than last time, and almost immediately saw one scuttle across the path in front of me. A little "pishing" and up he popped for a moment. I managed a couple of shots, but the light was poor so no keepers. A few hundred metres further on and another one called, this time on the better side of the track light wise. This continued over the next hour or so, and in the end I probably saw about a dozen birds in all. This one was the most cooperative, happily posing and singing for a couple of minutes. As I approached Iron Knob, I noticed a few pipits by the road, so did a quick U-turn, and almost ran over a Brown Songlark. He flew up and started his lovely song flight almost overhead. He is not yet in breeding plumage, and in summer he will be a lovely deep brown all over. My main destination for the day was Lake Gilles Conservation Park, near Kimba in the northern Eyre Peninsular. The lake has always been dry since I have been in Australia, and I had heard that it now has some water in it. It did, though it was nowhere close to being full. The conservation park is old growth mallee habitat with some Bluebush and some spinifex in the understorey. It is well know to birders as it the furthest east that a number of western specialities breed. I was hoping to snap a couple of these, Rufous Treecreeper (I have not seen one in South Australia) and Blue-breasted Fairywren (only seen fleetingly once before). I heard the treecreeper, but didn't get a sniff of the fairywren. I did see Jacky Winter and Golden Whistler though.