Saturday, 24 March 2018

2017 - Outback Queensland Trip - Birds Part 2 - Diamantina NP, Winton, Bladensburg NP, Lark Quarry, Lara Wetlands, Welford NP, Stonehenge

We have arrived in Diamantina National Park. It is now the latter half of July, the dry season.
Diamantina NP is 1,278kms west of Brisbane in the Channel Country, remote South West Queensland. The 507,000 ha NP was a former sheep station until 1993.
We camped at Gum Holes for 2 nights to explore the western circuit routes.

Brown Songlark

These 2 Musk Ducks were a surprise sighting at Lake Constance.
Lake Constance is fed by the Diamantina River & fills up in peak floods.

I found this Eastern Barn Owl near our camp ground at Gum Holes.

We also spent 2 nights at Hunters Gorge camp ground.
I walked along the Diamantina River track to the gorge & found this pair of Painted Finch on top of the gorge rocky edge.

I also found this Red-backed Kingfisher.

Driving north-east out of the NP I finally found my 1st group of Inland Dotterels.

There is a bore on the NE outskirt of the NP as we headed towards Winton.
A little wetland had been created from the leaking bore.

A couple of Pink-eared Ducks were there.

The free camp spot of  Old Cork Station sits on the Diamantina River.
Red-winged Parrots came in for an afternoon drink.

A young Whistling Kite was sitting in wait for it's parents to help out with its next snack.

The Western Bloodwoods were starting to bloom as we drove further north.
The flowers were popular with Honeyeaters.
Singing Honeyeater.

Spiny-cheeked Homeyeater.

We stopped for a few days in Winton. I found this Red-kneed Dotterel not far from town out past the cattle selling yards.

Also there was this Rufous Songlark that was singing his heart out in a shady spot.

I visited the Waster Water Treatment ponds. There was a pair of White-plumed Honeyeaters visiting this nest. There were a few ponds there with lush reeds lining each of the ponds. There was plenty of water birds on all ponds.

I went back late in the afternoon as I knew there had been Aust Spotted Crakes seen there. I thought my best chance of seeing these birds was to go late afternoon when they come out to feed.

Also there were a pair of Black Swans.

Late afternoon photo of a Horsfield's Bronze-cuckoo.

We then spent 2 nights in Bladensburg National Park. This 84,900 ha NP was a former sheep station & is just 25 kms south of Winton.
There is a camp ground that is accessible to plenty of places to discover. However a 4 WD vehicle is required to drive 1 of the circuit tracks.

Black-faced Woodswallows were loving the insects around the Western Bloodwoods.

The campground is next to Surprise Creek. Much of the creek was dry, but there were many Western Bloodwoods in flower.
I found a few Black Honeyeaters coming into the blossoms.

Also there were lots of Grey-headed Honeyeaters.

Skull Hole is accessible by normal vehicles. The birding from the car park is wonderful.
I walked southwards in search of a particular spinifex patch.

Whilst traipsing around I discovered a pair of Chestnut-breasted Quail-thrush.  Doing their best to hide from me.

I found a group of Hall's Babblers, but they were a little skittish, so could only get distant photos.

After a couple of hours I found the spinifex patch, but couldn't locate the little birds that were making it their home. (Rufous-crowned Emu-wrens)

A large family of Appostlebirds were constantly around the camp ground.

An Australian Hobby was also hanging around the camp ground.

The next day we took a drive from the original homestead to Scrammy Lookout. You need a 4WD to access this area for the high clearance.

I found a family of Varied Sittella's. There are 5 sub species of these birds throughout Australia.
This group are the Black-capped sub specie found west of inland Qld. They're such a pretty damn cute bird.

A White-winged Triller was quietly looking for snacks.

Back at the camp ground, I searched along Surprise Creek again in the afternoon. I finally located  a couple of Pied Honeyeaters. This is a young bird. Unfortunately I didn't see any male birds there.

We then moved on to Lark Quarry.
I had 2 target species to search in spinifex clumps.
There are hundreds of hectares of spinifex clumps along Lark Quarry Rd.

It took me ages to find a single Rufous-crowned Emu-wren.

The next morning I went back to that same area as I knew I should find Rusty Grasswrens.
Both birds were " lifers" for me.

I also found Variegated Fairywrens amongst the spinifex clumps. Recently (early 2018) this bird has has been split & is now named Purple-backed Fairywren.

Female bird.

On the Winton-Jundah Rd back to Winton I could see plenty of birds flying across the road.
We stopped & found Honeyeaters, Woodswallows & Crimson Chats feeding on the Western Bloodwoods.

In Longreach I visited the Waste Water Treatment Ponds. A family of White-winged Fairywrens were near the fenced off area.

White-breasted Woodswallows.

There were plenty of Black-tailed native-hens there too.

Lara Wetlands is a private property South-west of Barcaldine. It's approx 15 kms off the highway by a good dirt road.
Lara Station has a Wetland created by a bore. Campers can spend as much time camping there as they want. We were right against the shore of the shallow lagoon.
There was much to explore around the lagoon & campground, plus walking & driving along the access road into the property.

Can you see the bird here?  The Tawny Frogmouth has blended in extremely well with it's roosting tree.

There were a couple of dozen Red-kneed Dotterels feeding around the muddy shoreline.

A large flock of approx 50 Black-tailed Native-hens.

Tree Martins were abundant.

Laughing Kookaburra.

Australia  Ringneck Parrot.

Pale-headed Rosellas.

Male Rufous Whistler.

I found more Western Bloodwoods in flower. the birds were loving them. I found these along the access road & spent a few hours driving & walking to locate the birds.

Yellow Thornbill.

Double-barred Finch.

Chestnut-rumped Thornbill.

Yellow-rumped Thornbill

Red-winged Parrot.

Western Gerygone have the most beautiful of songs for western birds.

Female Red-capped Robin.

Common Bronzewing

Variegated Fairywren - now named Purple-backed Fairywren.

Spotted Bowerbird trying it's best to hide from me.

Crested Bellbird.

We spent time through Blackall, Isisford & the headed towards Yaraka. We found this Dad & 8 chicks crossing the road. In fact, we came across loads of Emu in the Channel Country & Western Qld.

We stayed in Yaraka for 2 nights.
I spent a couple of hours walking around this small town.
The dam levels were quite low, but still enough water to provide for   the wildlife & birds.

A couple of Bourke's Parrots flew in for a drink.

I then saw a family of them a little later.

I was a little surprised to find a Grey Fantail this far west.

Crested Bellbird.

 Zebra Finchs were in the bushes right next to the water.

Lots of Crimson Chats were about. Most of the male birds were in eclipse plumage.....breeding is usually June to Oct, so the birds were possibly gaining their new breeding colours.

Though I did find a fully coloured male too.

We then stayed 2 nights in Welford NP. We were camped right next to the Cooper Creek that had plenty of water in the major waterholes.

There were plenty of White-browed (left ) & Masked Woodswallows (right ) about in the late afternoon hawking for flying insects.

White-browed Woodswallow.

There were just 2 Little Woodswallows.

When driving 1 of the circuit tracks the next day we came upon a pair of Australian Bustards....known by some older people as Plains Turkey.

This region had more Red & Blue Kangaroos than the common Grey's . I certainly wouldn't want to get too close to this fellow.

I found more Hall's Babblers.

I almost thought this bird was a Black Falcon. But it's a dark coloured Brown Falcon.

There was another family of Bourke's Parrots in Welford NP.

Along the muddy shores of the Cooper Creek were a pair of Black-fronted Dotterels.

We found plenty of Fairy Martin nests in the toilet blocks of all the NP we've visited in the past 2 wks - Diamantina NP, Bladensburg NP & here at Welford NP. This is a miner build compared to the several nests seen at Diamantina NP.

There was a lot of flowering Western Bloodwoods along another drive.
There were quite possibly hundreds of Woodswallows about.
Masked Woodswallow.

White-browed Woodswallow.

We camped at the Stonehenge sports ground for a Gymkhana & Rodeo.
Other birds were about besides the abundant Woodswallows again.

That's a White-winged Triller under the Woodswallow that was trying to intimidate

More Crimson Chats.

The White-winged Triller again.

Also in the area were these stunning Rainbow Bee-eaters.

Once the Gymkhana & Rodeo was finished we moved to a free camp south of Stonehenge. We were meeting friends there & I was told by them of the presence of Chestnut-breasted Quail-thrush.
A pair were wandering around our caravans with little care to our movements.
Male Chestnut-breasted Quail-thrush.

Female bird.

I had seen these birds at Bowra Cunnamulla a few years ago & they were quite skittish & kept their distance. I was less than 3 m from this pair. Even the pair I'd seen near Charleville a few months earlier were difficult to see well, so it was a really special treat to have them so close to us.

I found another Brown Falcon resting in the heat of the day on this dirt pile.

We arrived back in Birdsville. I still hadn't see a Gibberbird from my target list.
So I drove up to 20 kms north of Birdsville in the hope of finding them. Sadly I didn't locate any.

But there was a surprise sighting & I could say a consolation prize as my last Qld "lifer" for this part of the trip.
I was driving back towards town when something largish flushed from a drain right beside the road.
On pulling over I was excited to find a couple of Cinnamon Quail-thrush.
I was able to keep track on the male bird.

Our next adventure is to travel south along the Birdsville Track & explore South Australia for 3 months.

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