Tuesday, April 12, 2016

One day.... Five Birders/Photographers.... 542km later.....

About a month ago I got a message from a couple of fellow bird photographers from over in WA. They were coming over to SA soon and were keen to catch up and get out for a day's birding. Always keen to get out if I can we set about organising a day to get out! Luckily for me their visit coincided with my couple of weeks of long service leave I was taking at the time, so it worked out well.
An early start was mandatory and with a couple of quick stops to pick up my mates Lisa and Craig who were coming along as well... we pulled up in Heather and Shelley's driveway at about 6am! The weather didn't look like it would be our friend and it was drizzling as we loaded all the camera gear. It kept drizzling all the way to our first stop... Laratinga Wetlands! I would've never picked it... but as we pulled into the wetlands carpark the clouds parted and the sun shown through!
Laratinga proved to be fairly quiet and apart from a quick session for Lisa and I with a group of feeding Australasian Shovelers... and a backlit Little Pied Cormorant and some Superb Fairy-wrens for the whole group... the photographic opportunities were limited. 
Australasian Shoveler - Laratinga Wetlands
Our next stop was a place new to me... The Browns Road Mallee block up at Monarto. We where heading there with the intention of finding Diamond Firetails... but as always looking for whatever we could find! We left the car in what had become fairly average light unfortunately... This would be the standard for the first half of the day with all four seasons being represented in that time! Frustrating a little when you have a camera in your hand!
We spent around two hours in this spot and had some fun with quite a few species, highlights would of been finding the Diamond Firetails in fairly good numbers, a co-operative Australian Owlet-nightjar, a Restless Flycatcher, a Southern Boobook and plenty of other cool birds like Purple-crowned Lorikeets, White-winged Choughs etc...

White-winged Chough - Browns Rd, Monarto

Immature Diamond Firetail - Browns Rd, Monarto

Southern Boobook - Browns Rd, Monarto
Diamond Firetail - Browns Rd, Monarto

Australian Owlet-nightjar - Browns Rd, Monarto
Lisa, Shelley, Craig and Heather slowly sneak up on the little AONJ watching from it's hollow!
We headed to Mannum for lunch at the pub and a discussion on where to head next. A nice meal and a refreshing drink and we were back on the road heading for Brookfield Conservation Park... a great mallee birding spot full of some pretty cool birds. It meant for a big day, but would hopefully be worth it with the clouds starting to disperse and a nice afternoon of photography looked promising!
Once in the gate we had only gone about 150m in when we came across a female Hooded Robin sitting up high on an exposed branch.. We stopped as Shelley wanted a chance to photograph it. As I got out the car I spotted a bunch of Sittella's in another tree! Typically busy they were proving hard to photograph... but eventually we all managed some pretty reasonable shots :-)

Varied Sittella - Brookfield Conservation Park
Lisa, Shelley and Heather returning to the car after the Sittella session! By this stage as you can see the weather was lovely :-)
A little further on we stopped at one of my favourite spots for Chestnut-crowned Babblers... we searched out to the west for about 20mins and saw nothing, so leaving the others to keep searching I doubled back to search another territory out to the east of the track. As always happens I found the birds when I was out by myself! I rang the others to come over and eventually everyone got views of these super wary birds. Image wise I only got some poor shots... but better than nothing I guess!

Chestnut-crowned Babblers  - Brookfield Conservation Park
Next stop was an area where the proper Mallee joins the open country. I have birded in this spot for many years and it always provides something of interest. We all headed off in the same direction but started finding birds immediately and we all seemed to move off in different directions chasing one thing or another! I followed a pair of Mulga Parrots off to the west but failed to get close. Heading back in the direction of the others I came across Lisa trying to sort one Honeyeater out from another. Not far after we came across some lovely little Splendid Fairy-wrens which posed nicely for some shots!

Splendid Fairy-wren  - Brookfield Conservation Park
More Mulgas were next... We came across quite a few pairs feeding in the midst of the trees. I crawled up to them over some pretty rough ground and eventually pinned a nice male in good light on top of a small bush... pretty happy with that as Mulgas are one of my favourite birds! Very beautiful!
Mulga Parrot  - Brookfield Conservation Park
Whilst I was crawling after the Mulgas... Lisa was looking over my shoulder trying to work out what the mid sized grey bird was hopping around in the clearing up ahead. Once I had flushed the parrots.. Lisa showed me the bird and we set about getting close! It was a little difficult and we danced with it around little bushes for a while... eventually we got a few ok images before it got sick of us! It was a lovely male Gilbert's Whistler :-)

Gilberts Whistler - Brookfield Conservation Park
We found a few more species as we headed towards where we guessed the others were. But by now the light was fading fast and it was time to head back to the car. I put the call out to the others and we all got there about the same time! Everyone had found a few species in this spot and it had been a good way to finish the birding for the day! We drove around the Bluebush track just for the hell of it and watched an amazingly beautiful sky as the sun set on another day! Next was the long haul all the way back down to Hawthorndene where Shelley and Heather were staying... and then all the way back home to Freeling! It was a big day but totally worth it for the good fun birding and great company of four other like minded people! Hopefully everyone come away with some nice shots and I for one had a great time! I'm sure the others did too :-)

Heather, Lisa, Shelley and me! image by Craig :-)
Craig missed the group shot so here's a shot of him trying to photograph White-fronted Chats :-)
Thanks everyone for a good fun day full of birds and great company! Till next time :-)

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Birdsville Track... Version 2015 (Part 2)

Time for the second part of this trip...been a little slack! But thought I better get something up before I head off on the 2016 version!!
So continuing on from part 1.. we were making tracks down the track to get back in time to catch the last couple of hours of light at Mira Mitta bore. As usual we were on the lookout for birds on the way back and were pushing along but stopping if something of interest flew off the track or close by. I guess we had travelled about 30km's from the lunch spot when we saw a bird which could of well been a Gibberbird... (but was probably a Pipit...) scoot off the track. We pulled up as quick as we could in the middle of the track as usual and then started reversing back to the spot... at this point Mike actually looked in the rear view mirror... crap a car was behind! It got worse.... it was the cops! Oh no we thought we were buggered now... no seatbelts (as we were about to jump out after the bird) and driving like birders do! :-D The police car pulled up beside us and to our surprise were quite amicable and just checked we were ok and kept going! Phew.... not sure how we got away with that!?
Never did see what that bird was...... lol
So we kept on heading for the bore... a few more birds were seen like the Orange Chat below. We grabbed the opportunity as it was a little tolerant of us stopping for a photo... such a pretty species!
Orange Chat (male)
 It was 5pm when we arrived at the bore again. Everything looked perfect for our plan... the light was heading towards gorgeous... there was nobody else around and the usual suspects were sitting in or around the waters edge: Pink-eared Ducks, Grey Teals, Red-capped Plovers and a lone Sharp-tailed Sandpiper.
We headed to the waters edge to find a good spot to see anything which would fly in for a drink. We sat down and waited..... and waited.... half hour passed and nothing had come in at all. The flies were super annoying as usual and it was actually quite hard to just sit there. At about the 35min mark I decided to go back to the car and grab a couple of beers... it was beer-o-clock after all! We sat there for another 15 mins or so and still nothing. I was starting to wonder if anything would come in? Mike was thinking the same and was making noises about going for a walk through the bore overflow to see if he could find/flush anything... after a discussion we decided to put in another ten before he went. I just had a hunch something was about to happen.... then it did! About two minutes later we spotted two birds in the distance... We picked them as Flockies just from the speed they were coming in at! But even so I wasn't ready for just how quick they move! They bore down on us in no time threw on the brakes.. banked over the water and settled nervously on the edge right where we had hoped! Needless to say both mine and Mike's camera's were going flat out!

The first pair to come in! Male on left.. female on right
 Then it was on! For the next half hour Flock Bronzewings started pouring in from all directions... not in the massive flocks they are known for.. but in anything from pairs to groups of up to ten! It was hard to know where to point the camera as they were coming in fast.. whirling around the water once or twice to then settle nervously before drinking. Some would take off to do it all again... others would just sit for 5-10 minutes on the edge before heading down to drink and then take off and head for the horizon again. In all somewhere between 80-100 birds came in I estimated!
It was just one of those moments you live for as both a birder and photographer! Everything had come together! The birds... the light... the location... it was all just surreal and amazing! A few times I put the camera down just to soak it all in! A moment I will never forget....!

Coming in with speed...

On the brakes... looking for the landing!

A close fly-by

This shot was the highlight of the session for me photographically speaking! It all came together for this one!

They are beautifully coloured... Love the pastel look to the plumage!

Below the Mira Mitta bore overflow this little dam is where the action happened... this is a phone shot taken just after all the action! The moon can be seen rising in the background and there is still a few Flockies sitting near the second bay on the far bank!
Eventually as it does.. it got dark!  We headed to the car all smiles and cracked a celebratory beer... Damn it tasted good too!
40 odd km's back to Mungerannie and it was time to hit the pub for a meal! We had lucked it to be in there the same night a large outback cycling tour bus which was staying there and dining at the pub also! It made for a busy place and lots of people! We held the bar up for a while and eventually ate before heading off back to our swags for some well earned sleep!
The next morning I got up before sunrise and watched the Moon set! A steady stream of Black Kites were flying low from their roosts along the creek line up towards the pub so I grabbed the camera and tried to capture it as best I could!

A single Black Kite passes the Moon early in the morning!
Our plan for this day was to bird the morning in the Mungerannie area and then start heading south mid morning and make camp wherever we got too on the way down.
So straight after breakfast we headed out to check the Grey Falcon tower again... nothing again! Guessing they must be off breeding somewhere we decided to just go for a search in the general area for whatever we could find. We ventured a little further down the track and lucked upon a pair of Australian Bustards feeding in a patch of green on the side of the track! This time I wasn't going to miss the shot! They sat for about a minute, then first started to walk away before then taking flight back past us... this allowed the best photo chance with this species for the trip!

Aussie Bustard slowly moving away

This is the shot I was after!
Moving a little further along we came across a couple of male Cinnamon Quail-thrush! We jumped out and played a little burst of call and got an instant reaction! The older of the two (one was in immature plumage) came straight in and gave us cracking views and photo opportunities!
We stayed with them for about 10 mins before they grew bored of us and moved away...
Pretty happy to get this close to this often wary species!

Probably the favourite image I took on the whole trip! Male Cinnamon Quail-thrush.

Nothing much else of interest showed in that morning run so we started heading south. Stopping to check all the towers on the way didn't produce any more Grey Falcons... just need to be lucky with those!
We stopped at few different spots on the way down... we even found a hidden waterhole behind a dune with lots of Brolga, Avocets and Pink-eared Ducks! Also a few raptors were around with the highlights being a pair of Wedge-tailed Eagles on their nest in a tree next to the water and a close fly-by from a Collared Sparrowhawk.

The secret waterhole we found with a Wedge-tailed Eagle nest in the middle of this tree! One of the pair was sitting in there when I took this phone shot!
 Further down we stopped at a dune where Mike thought he heard Eyrean Grasswrens on the way up... A bit of work and we found a pair hoping around in the Canegrass! Being typically hard to photograph! This was in the dunes just north of the Cooper Creek crossing and quite south for the species. Over the back of that dune we found another Wedgie nest this time with a week old chick in it.

Eyrean Grasswren hiding
The WTE nest over the back of the dune which held the Eyrean Grasswrens!

and it's contents :-)
I captured this image of a Pink-eared Duck whilst laying amongst the Cow crap on the side of a little roadside bore on Dulkaninna Station

The same Pink-eared Duck again
We came across another cool little dry creekbed in the dunes south of Dulkaninna station which was crawling with all sorts of bird species! Managed my best Pied Honeyeater shot of the trip here of a female which landed near to me when I was trying to photograph Budgies. Unfortunately these days you can only camp in set areas when travelling along the Birdsville... otherwise this would of been a top spot to camp and wake up with all these birds around! We stayed for as long as we could but wanted to keep some light for when we reached Camp at Clayton.

Pied Honeyeater (female)

About 5km's before we got to the Clayton campsite we crested a small rise to come across a Falcon hunting something about 100m off the road. We worked out it was a Black Falcon and Mike threw out the parachute again! We would of been sitting on 80km/h so it took a bit to stop... sensing the hunt was about to end I grabbed my camera and started bursting off shots as the car pulled up! The hunt was over by the time we stopped and the Falcon was unsuccessful.. I hesitantly checked what I had got on the back of the camera... not expecting much as they were all taken from a moving car I was stoked to find one shot in focus!! Not only was it in focus it was the best shot of the series for capturing the moment with the Falcon and the Orange Chat it was hunting both fully vertical! Needless to say I was over the moon! Always wanted a shot of a hunting Black Falcon like this :-)

Nearly got you! Or not.... the Chat escaped! Even though it looks like it's in a pretty dire situation here!
The night was again perfect with calm weather and Brolga's calling periodically throughout. The next morning was the run home...
We pushed it most of the way to get home in good time but did pick up a flock of about 30-40 Inland Dotterels near the dog fence and then came across a flock of about a dozen Gull-billed Terns sitting on the track in this area too! Not one we were expecting... but the sort of thing the Birdsville track throws up occasionally...

Gull-billed Terns beside the track

and on the track!

Just to show it's not only birds I photograph! :-D Found this Gecko under a steel plate south of Marree on the old disused railway line... not sure what species it is!
Then it was back onto the bitumen and powering home... we stopped at our favourite Rufous Fieldwren spot just north of Hawker and rustled up one without too much trouble! A flock of Cockatiels here was good to see fly past too!

Our Rufous Fieldwren spot just north of Hawker rarely fails! :-)
So there we have it another outback trip done with plenty of highlights as usual!
Can't wait to do it all again next.... err... this year ;-)

Friday, September 25, 2015

Birdsville Track... Version 2015 (Part 1)

The Sturt National Park... or the Birdsville Track? This year Mike and I faced a dilemma about which way to go for our annual outback birding adventure! Since doing the Birdsville last year we had been looking towards some new ground and going to some parts of the Sturt NP that we hadn't been too before! This was the plan up until the Mungeranie area on the Birdsville copped a couple of big rain events in the first half of the year...
So we had a decision.. chase the rains... or hit some new ground! We were about five days out when we finally made the call to chase the rains and head back up the Birdsville! Only this time we wouldn't push it like last year and make Mungeranie our most northern camp rather than pushing all the way to Birdsville and beyond! Our reasoning... less driving more birding time! I mean that is the reason we are up there! Well one of the reasons anyway! :-)
It was nearly 8am by the time we left Mike's farm on the 27/8... a bit later than usual... but I had just driven the 900km back from Wagga the day before so needed a little extra rest compared to the other trips we had done! First stop was a great little bakery in the Clare Valley then it was time to put km's under the wheels!
One of our favourite stretches of road along here is from Orroroo to Hawker! There's always a few interesting birds along here... and it's where the southern end of the Flinders Ranges start to come into view! We were treated to a carpet of wildflowers this time.. which with the Flinders in the background made for a good photo opportunity! 
Mike trying to find a flower to photograph!!!!
 About 10km out of Hawker we decided it might be cool to go through the Flinders rather than skirting up the western edge. So when we left Hawker we took the road towards Blinman! Our plan was to go through the Brachina gorge and try for a Grey-fronted Honeyeater which is one I haven't seen yet!
Along the way to the gorge turn-off we stopped a couple of sites just for a look around... the Flinders really are very pretty!

We failed to find any Grey-fronted Honeyeaters when we ventured through the Brachina... but we did find quite a few Yellow-footed Rock Wallabies feeding in the bottom of the gorge!

Leaving the gorge.. we headed pretty much straight to Lyndhurst from there. This is where the bitumen ends and in my opinion the real outback starts! 
Entering Lyndhurst.....
We had decided to camp at Farina for the night which is about 20km north of Lyndhurst... in-between these two spots is the first telecommunication tower! A favoured hang out for the rare and elusive Grey Falcon! We stopped and checked but didn't have any luck on this one!

Mike checking the for a Grey Ghost! :-)
We pulled into Farina at about 5pm and were greeted by the same nesting pair of Kestrels we had seen there last year! Whilst having a quick look around a Daddy Emu and a bunch of very cute chicks came wandering out of the creek! I managed a shot of the adult in the late light.. but the chicks being shorter were in the shade.. still got an ok shot of them though! Super cute at this age!
Nankeen Kestrels doing a display flight over the Farina campgorund

Daddy Emu and below are his chicks!

Next we got camp set up so we could sit down and relax around a nice warm fire! It would've been about two or three beers later when we thought we should get some grub happening! We eat pretty poorly on these trips :-D Haha no chance of that with head chef Mike organising food for the trip! We eat like Kings... these Scotch fillets below were about half a kilo each and were scrumptious! Needless to say after all that driving it wasn't long before the swag was looking inviting and it was time to put my head on my pillow and enjoy the beautiful outback sky at night!

The morning brought about another beautiful cloudless sky and birds calling everywhere! The Kestrels were displaying still and there were flocks of Budgies passing through...  We went for a quick walk before breakfast... but wanted to keep moving now as today the real trip started! So we headed back towards camp... Mike was a fair way in front as I was busy still looking for things to photograph! Eventually I headed back towards the car.. just as I was about 50m from the tree line a Bronzewing flew through low and fast! I had no chance of a shot.. but was fairly confident it was a Flock Bronzewing! This is pretty south for them and I can't be sure so I didn't call it! For now it was placed in with the possible one we saw on the Strzelecki track in 2010! I was a little annoyed I didn't get a shot off... but such is life! Hopefully there would be more on this trip!

Farina Creek looking back towards the campground from a little north on our morning walk
Leaving Farina fairly early we started off towards Marree. It took a while as we kept having to stop for cool birds! But we eventually got there mid morning!
Below are some of the birds we saw throughout that area!  
Black-breasted Buzzard

Little Eagle leaving it's nest tree!

I rarely see this species perched... so was happy to come across this one! It was quite confiding too!
Black-breasted Buzzard

The same bird when it eventually flushed!

Black-faced Woodswallows were everywhere!

At one spot this Wedge-tailed Eagle actually flew over to check us out! Giving good photo opportunities!
We fuelled up at Marree and headed onto the Birdsville track itself! Heading north we wanted to reach Mungeranie by nightfall so for the first part we kept motoring fairly well.. only stopping at a dry creek to chase a few birds we saw in the trees! Here we scored our first of lots of Pied Honeyeaters for the trip!
A quick stop at the creek at Dulkaninna Station increased the trip list by adding a few waterbirds.. including the first Brolga for the trip!
Just north of here last year we got a Gibberbird... so we kept our eye's peeled this time but it wasn't to be!
Not long later we got to the Cooper Creek.. lunch was had under a shady tree whilst watching a water trough which was about 50m away get visited by lots of Budgie's, Honeyeaters and Galahs! Also saw some Diamond Doves and Zebra finch here  drinking on a leaking pipe as well!
Leaving the Cooper we headed into the first sand dune country for the trip... Poached Egg Daisies (technical term! lol) covered most of the dunes as is often the case in the outback and there where plenty of birds feeding all over the place! We stopped in one spot and easily picked up Crimson Chat, Chirruping Wedgebill, Pied Honeyeater, Cinnamon Quail-thrush and more Budgies!.

Pied Honeyeater

Budgerigar's in the dunes
It was about mid afternoon when we came across another of the many telecommunication towers along the track. The only difference this time... was it was occupied!!! A Grey Ghost was there! Cool! As usual.. just like the other two which we saw last year.. it was right up at the top!! So high! We watched it for a while and then it decided it had seen enough and took off! It circled really high a couple of times and then headed to the east and over the dunes! Once it took off we saw it had just been successful hunting as it still had half of the unfortunate bird in it's talons!

Grey Falcon with kill
 We briefly looked over that sand hill in the hope of finding it landed in a tree or somewhere... but it was not to be!
By now it was mid afternoon and the next stop was Mungeranie! We got there by about 3.30 and went and checked for a good spot to camp! After sussing that out.. the 'to get there' travel was done! Now it was birding full on time! We had two hours of light left.. we spent it searching for whatever we could find! Deciding to head to another tower! The one we got the Grey's on last year! We found it empty when we got there so spent the next hour just out looking for other birds! We spied a group of trees on a sand dune which looked worth a look! Leaving the car about 150m away we walked in... not much there other than more Pied Honeyeaters! (They were in really good numbers this trip!) So we headed back to the car... when we were about 30m from the car a huge bird rose off the ground out of nowhere! An Australian Bustard!! Where the hell was that when we pulled up 15mins earlier!!! Must have been lying flat I guess? Not complaining though! Having never seen one before I was blown away by how big they are! I guess especially because this bird took instant flight and those wings just looked huge that close!! I was spewing though as I managed no decent shots of it! Of course Mike got some which made me even more frustrated at myself! lol  First official lifer of the trip for me though... so I was pretty darn happy really!
We headed back to the tower for the last hour of light in the hope the Grey's would come in and roost like they did last year! This time no grey's showed but it was compensated by the stunning spot we were in! The late light was golden, warm and beautiful.. a full moon was rising.. we both had a beer in hand and there was still plenty to see as a pair of Kestrels did a few display flights near the tower! A pair of Australian Ravens which were nesting on the tower had to deal with a pair of pugnacious Corella's trying to cause whatever mischief they could as well which was quite funny to watch! Then to top it off Mike spotted a pair of birds flying sort of away from us about 200m away... I lifted the camera and clicked off a few shots.. brought them up on the LCD screen on the back of the camera to see Flock Bronzewings!!! Woohoo finally a confirmed sighting of this hard to find species! Lifer number two for me and number one for Mike! Not quite the views I was hoping for.... but better than nothing!
Satisfied it was time to head back whilst there was still a smidgen of light! We even managed a pair of Cinnamon Quail-thrush on the return leg which was pretty cool! :-)
The tower where we spent the hour waiting for the Falcons which never came!
 The weather so far for this trip had been nothing short of sensational! With cloudless blue sky days with temps around 25 degrees.. and mild star filled nights complete with a full moon! We couldn't have asked for anything more!
The next morning we started before sunrise and packed the car as we had a big day planned to head up to the Goyder Lagoon and try for Grey Grasswrens! Before we left I walked the twenty metres or so from the camp to the Mungeranie lagoon and grabbed a pic as the sun was just about to rise!

The first 25-30kms were every quiet and I don't think we saw a bird! But then as often happens on these tracks out of nowhere a couple of Inland Dotterels scooted off the track! The parachute was thrown and we jumped out to try and find them again! We saw a pair of birds about 80m away chasing each other low down and then they dropped into the tiny sand hills in this spot... Mike thought he would chase them and I started off towards one of the Dotterels which was down the track! Mike was half way out to the birds in the sand when he yelled out Flockies! The chasing birds were Flock Bronzewings! I instantly forgot about the Dotterels and headed in a direction to cut off the Flockies as Mike was coming in from my right behind them! We took it fairly slow and were rewarded with good close views as the male followed/chased the female in some sort of courting move! I managed a couple of shots and then eventually they saw us and flew! Now that was a better sighting than the night before!  
Male Flock Bronzewing in the sand pursuing the female! Check the camouflage! Great colour matching! :-)
Mira Mitta bore was the next point of interest another ten or so kms up the track.. so we pulled in and had a look. There wasn't much at the bore itself... but most of these outback bores have an overflow! This bores overflow is quite large and about a kilometre further up the track there was a small dam right next to the track! We pulled up and saw the usual Red-capped Plovers and Pink-eared Ducks... and another new bird for the trip in the form of a Sharp-tailed Sandpiper! Then a single Flockie cam in and landed back behind some Ducks on the far edge! Interesting... then two more came in and banked right in front of us! They didn't hang around... but gave us a chance at some flight shots as they passed! I burst off a bunch of shots... had a look and most where soft! D'oh! Then Mike showed me his best shot on the back of his camera.. what I saw was a sensational shot! I wont repeat what I said but it was something along the lines of "grumble... grumble..." haha

The two Flockies as they passed the dam! This was when they were still distant... the only shots I got of this pair in focus!
I said to Mike with these sightings happening around us now... this would have to be a good spot to stake out on our way home! With that in mind we kept going.. Stopping at another bore where last year we got a Freckled Duck.. This year it was fairly quite with just some Black-fronted Dotterels, Zebra Finches and more Budgies! In the distance a dozen Camels where feeding at the base of a low dune.

Feral Camels.....
We kept on moving only stopping for a pair of Brown Falcons in a small batch of trees on the side of the track! Other than those it was off up to the inside track!

A confiding Brown Falcon which let me get to about four metres from it!
 The inside track had just been re-opened not too long before we were up there so this was our access to the Lignum of Goyder's lagoon. Grey Grasswren can be found throughout this large mostly dry lagoon and where the inside track crosses it is where we would try! We turned onto the inside track and made our way across the 13km of really rough gibber stone track to reach our destination!
Gibber country just up off the edge of Goyder's Lagoon beside the Inside track

It was the middle of the day and quite warm by the time we started walking... not perfect or conducive to finding any species of Grasswren... let alone one of the supposedly toughest! But we tried and failed last year in some different areas... this time we were hopeful! It is a desolate place when dry... and it just looks so lifeless... it would of been very easy to just give up and say too hard! After about 15mins though we came across a Variegated Fairy-wren which at first got us excited until we worked out the call was wrong for a Grey! Eventually it showed itself so we moved on... more and more Variegated FW's followed... until I followed one little female towards a single Lignum bush before she darted away! I was just about to head back towards where Mike was when I heard a different call from this bush! I called Mike over who came in from the other side and we tried to see what it was... It's pretty thick in these bushes and we had worked out it was definitely a Grey Grasswren from the calls before we saw it! Eventually it showed just enough for some average views and a few shots! Nothing more then ID shots but I was pretty stoked! Lifer number three for the trip! We searched some more and heard at least one more which we failed to see before calling it quits... It was now pretty hot and draining, plus it was time for a beer to celebrate another lifer! :-)
The very elusive Grey Grasswren keeping a close but obscured eye on me!
Time was disappearing so we though we better start heading back! We wanted to get back to the Mira Mitta bore overflow again with a few hours of light up our sleeve!

The inside track was pretty rough in this section!
We pulled into the first creek crossing once back on the main track for lunch and watched White-backed Swallows hunting as we ate.. then a Red-backed Kingfisher came in and had a look at us on the other side of the creek so I stalked it and got some shots as it was the first opportunity with this species for the trip!

Red-backed Kingfisher
After lunch it was all about getting back to the Mira Mitta bore! Read all about how we faired in part two of this blog post coming soon!