Saturday, September 4, 2010
Outback - Part 5
So we said goodbye to "the Alice" and headed South on the Stuart Highway. We stopped at a few likely looking spots but didn't find anything of interest until we tried a site near Erlunda. We had tried this site on the way up without success. We could hear a few birds in the scrub, and with some pishing and squeaks from the Audobon bird call we soon had an audience as first Southern Whiteface, and then Banded Whiteface, (our target for this site) posed briefly. We stopped the night in Coober Pedy, and just had time to look for Cinnamon Quail-thrush at the eastern end of town. Light was fading fast, so the ISO had to be cranked up to the detriment of quality. In near darkness, we noticed a small ditch with a Spotted Crake on it, so determined to return at first light to investigate. This we did, and found 7 Spotted Crakes along a 15M (50ft) stretch. We also saw a Black-fronted Dotterel there. Continuing South we stopped at an area of Gibber. We had been tipped off that there was a small population of Chestnut-breasted Whiteface here. This was one of the key birds we were looking for on our original itinerary. After walking for a while, we spotted one creeping around a scrubby area. Not an easy task, as they are very well camouflaged. Keeping South we entered the desert area of the Woomera Rocket Range, and even in the few days since we last passed through we could see a difference. More flowers, and the scrub seemed alive with large grasshoppers. Once again South, this time moving into an area of sparsely wooded sand dunes. Here there were some beautiful daisy type flowers, and the trees were alive with White-winged Trillers and Chestnut-rumped Thornbills. Just as we were leaving I noticed a Spotted Jezebel butterfly. Final birding was back in Port Augusta, at the Arid Lands Botanic Gardens. No Cuckoo this time, but I did see this cuckoo Bee, so called because it lays it's in other bees nesting chambers. There was a noisy pair of Nankeen Kestrels on the roof of the cafe, and in the courtyard a beautiful display of more Sturt's Desert Peas. Irresistible!! And so to the stats. Over the 8 days we travelled 4,700Km (2,800 Miles) saw 132 species (but this is liable to change as I keep remembering others!) of which 10 were new for me. The outback is in totally stunning condition at the moment, and if you get a chance to see it, do not delay!!