The first Eyre Peninsula Trip organised by “Follow That Bird” proved to be a great success from a perspective of both the birds and wildflowers seen and the places visited. The trip came about through extensive and detailed reconnaisence by both Janene Luff and myself. The highlights of the Trip was seeing the Regions endemic and specialist birds and these included Elegant Parrot at Mt Remarkable National Park, Chirruping Wedge-bill, Rufous Field-wren and Redthroat at the Arid Lands Research Station; Splendid Fairy-wrens and Slender-billed Thornbills in Gillies Conservation Park; Rufous Treecreeper & Gilbert’s Whistler in Gawler Ranges NP, Redthroat, Gilbert’s Whistler, Black-eared Cuckoo and Crested Bellbird in Yumburra CP; 40+ Rock Parrots in Coffin Bay NP and others in Lincoln NP; Western Yellow Robin, Southern Scrub Robin, Blue-breasted Fairy-wren & Western Whipbird (alas only seen by two people but we all had extensive sessions of hearing their delightful calls up close) in Lincoln NP; while in Whyalla CP great views were had of the Thick-billed Grass-wren; and Painted Button-quail & Brown Treecreepers were seen in the eastern side of Mt Remarkable NP towards the very end of the trip. Black-faced Cormorants and Pacific Gulls were regularly seen along the Coast from Ceduna to Whyalla, while Ospreys were seen in Coffin Bay NP. All up we saw 163 species.
Seasonal conditions appeared to be good while we were in South Australia, everything was exceptionally green, Canola crops were coming out in yellow, wheat and barley were coming into head and the weather was basically fine throughout with only one drizzle day and one extremely windy day, the rest fine and sunny. The wildflowers in the National Parks, Conservation Parks and coastal reserves were in great bloom. Much to everyone’s delight terrestrial orchids were found in a number of places including Blue Fairies Caladenia caerula, Pink Caladenia C. latifolia, Limestone Spider Orchid Calonema bicalliantum Misty Spider Orchid Calonema capillatum, Gnat Orchid Cyrtostylis solousta, Donkeytails Diuris maculata, and Midget Greenhood Pterostylis mutica, some of which have “Threatened” classifications. In many places the mallee was in flower attracting many honeyeaters, while in the sand dunes of Yumburra CP, the Bottle Brush Hakea Hakea francesiana was flowering well, while Cockies Bill in the coastal mallee was bringing in the birds as well. Elsewhere there was a good variety of Eremophilas and Grevilleas flowering, so that much time was spent checking the plant books a swell as the bird field guides.
A feature of the trip was the way the accommodation owners went out of their way to make us feel welcome. Special menus and great meals were provided for us and their encouragement and interest added to the enjoyment of the trip.
Spectacular Point Avoid
Finally at four different lunch spots, selected to be overlooking the water, we were entertained by Dolphins feeding close to the shore (Venus Bay, Yangie in Coffin Bay NP, Fishermans Pt Linclon NP & Point Lowly, near Whyalla), while at our early morning breakfast site at Taylors Landing, Lincoln NP, both Dolphins and Sea Lions were swimming and feeding together. In addition, we also visited Cape LeBat and Donnington Pt Lincoln NP to view the Sea Lion colonies.
Therefore I must thank Robin Murray, Jane Miller, Patricia Novikoff, Bernice Wilcock, Mark Crossing, Rita Johnston-Lord, Stephen Morgan and Janene, our leader, for making this trip a great success.
Day 1 Adelaide 9/8/06
Checked out the park opposite our motel in Lefevre Terrace, North Adelaide.
Day 2 North Adelaide to Port Augusta 10/8/06
Early morning walk in the same park with everyone getting a chance to become familiar with AdelaideÕs common birds such as Adelaide Rosella, Striated Pardalote, Eastern Rosella & Common Blackbird. First stop Port Gawler where Singing & Spiny-cheeked Honeyeaters, White-fronted Chat, Black-winged Stilt, Common Greenshank, Brown Songlark, White-winged Fairy-wren and Musk Duck were all sighted. At the morning tea stop in Two Wells, Goldfinches were found in the pine trees. At Solomon Pk Port Pirie on Spencer Gulf, the best birds were Sooty Oystercatchers, with Yellow-throated Miner and White-plumed Honeyeater in the flowering grevillias and Eucalypts. A visited to Nelshaly Reserve found calling Rufous Whistler, Pallid Cuckoos & Western Gerygones, spring was in the air!, as well as Peaceful Dove and White-browed Babbler. Finally a stop on the western side of Mt Remarkable NP found Emu, Inland Thornbill, 2 Elegant Parrot, many Tree Martins and a few Common Bronzewing.
Day 3 Port Augusta Area 11/8/06
The early morning walk around the motel was not very rewarding with Yellow-throated Miners feeding young being the best bird. However at the Arid Lands Research Station we had great views of White-winged Fairy-wrens, Rufous Fieldwrens, a number of Wedgebills sang from the tops of bushes, Southern Whiteface and Zebra Finch located, Crested Pigeon on nest and a Redthroat gave great views. Orange Chats were located along Yorkeys Road along with more Rufous Fieldwren and Brown Songlark. At our lunch stop at the Port Augusta Wharf, a Black Kite flew over, while 40+ Banded Stilts were seen amongst the Black-winged Stilts near the bird hide on the Bay and Shoveler, Pinkear, Red-capped Plover and Little Egret were some of the birds seen in or near the sewerage works.
Day 4 Port Augusta to Wudinna 12/8/06
Steve’s First Sewerage Works
Our first stop for the day was at Iron Knob where again White-winged Fairy-wrens were the best bird but at our morning tea stop in Gillies Conservation Park, we had a feast of Thornbills including Inland, Chestnut-rumped & a small flock of Slender-billed Thornbills. Also here were our first White-fronted Honeyeaters and Grey Currawongs for the trip. A flock of Choughs were seen at Kimba as we passed through, while in Pinkawillie Conservation Park, the Brown Falcons were giving their loud chattering courtship calls. Dusky Woodswallows were found 11 km N of Kyacutta. Yellow-plumed Honeyeaters feeding young were a feature of the bushland just south of Kyacutta.
Day 5 Wudinna to Ceduna 13/8/06
The early walk around our motel at Wudinna turned up a trio of calling Pallid Cuckoos, Grey Butcherbirds and Striated Pardalotes. In the Pinkawillinie section of Gawler Ranges NP we had great views of a group of Rufous Treecreeprs, the only ones seen on the trip, Brown Falcons were cackerling, Tree Martins and Dusky Woodswallows were overhead and Yellow-plumed Honeyeaters were in the mallee. Near Mt All Alone, we met up with Inland & Yellow-rumped Thornbills, our first Red-capped Robins, great views of an adult male Gilbert’s Whistler, both Horsfield’s Bronze & Black-eared Cuckoos and Mulga Parrots, other top birds included Jacky Winter, Black-shouldered Kite and Wedge-tailed Eagle. Common Bronzewings and Mulga Parrots were common along the road at the end of the day as we came towards Ceduna.
Day 6 Ceduna – Yumburra Conservation Park 14/8/06
We spent all of this day in Yumburra Conservation Park, well to the north of Ceduna and on the edge of the Central Desert. We travelled to there in a troup carrier and organised by a local guide. This was our only chance to see the Scarlet-chested Parrot, which are known to come into the waterholes in the mallee to drink in this area. However as seasonal conditions have been good, there was little need for the Parrots to come into drink so we knew that the chances of seeing them were pretty low. Our trip included a visit to EagleÕs Eye waterhole, a likely watering point but we had no success. However there we did have good views of Redthroat, while some people had good views of Crested Bellbird and GilbertÕs Whistler. Both Brown Goshawk and Collared Sparrowhawk were seen in the Reserve as well as Spotted Pardalote, White-eared, Brown-headed, Yellow-plumed & White-fronted Honeyeaters and plenty of Port Lincoln Parrots The mallee was in flower and the Bottlebrush Hakeas with their large pink inflorences were flowering well on the ridges of each dune.
Day 7 Ceduna to Streaky Bay 15/8/06
On the Way to Point Labett
Our pre-breakfast walk found Sooty Oystercatchers and Pacific Gulls along the shoreline and at the town wharf, Australian Gannets were sighted out over the bay, Pallid Cuckoos were calling and pair of Black Swans flew over. Our first stop at Pinky Point, Ceduna, found Black-faced Cormorants, some Hoary-headed Grebes out in the Bay and Pied Oystercatchers on the shoreline. Off to Willellbie CP further south along the coast where Weebill, Kestrel and Grey Shrike-thrush were seen. Near Laura Bay more Mulga Parrot and Brown Songlarks at the edge of the wheatfields, while in Laura Bay Conservation Park, Mulga Parrots and Horsfield’s Bronze Cuckoo were found. Our lunch spot at Haslam Beach produced Red-capped Plover and a Peregrine Falcon. On route from Streaky Bay to Cape LeBat, we passed near Calpaturna Lake where we saw a Common Greenshank and Grey Teal, and at another little salt lake near Bairds Monument we found 100+ Red-necked Stint, many Red-capped Plovers, a pair of Banded Lapwing, Skylark & Silvereye. Looking down at the Sea Lion colony at Cape LaBat we saw a grey morph Eastern Reef Egret as well as Sooty Oystercatcher and four species of Cormorant. Back to Streaky Bay.
Day 8 Streaky Bay to Coffin Bay 16/8/06
The early walk around Streaky Bay, took in the sewerage treatment ponds where we found a pair of Pink-eared Duck, Greenshank and Common Sandpiper and a large flock of Choughs, with Coot and Hoary-headed Grebe also present. Along the western shores of Venus Bay we saw Red-capped Plover and Pied Oystercatchers, while at Venus Bay Wharf there was a mixed flock of Oystercatchers, comprising 44 Sooty and 12 Pied, the most Sooty Oystercatchers any of us have seen together. A walk around Venus Bay headland added Kestrel for the day. Our final stop for the day was in Kellidie CP near Coffin Bay where Swamp harrier, Common Bronzewing and Golden Whistler were seen.
Day 9 Coffin Bay 17/8/06
The morning walk turned up the usual Blackbird & Magpie-lark, but also seen for the first time was Shining Bronze-cuckoo, Silvereye and New Holland Honeyeaters. Most of the day was spent in Coffin Bay NP and Kellidie CP, and in the former place near Cape Avoid we had wonderful views of a flock of 40+ Rock Parrots feeding in the low heath. Plenty of terrestrial orchids here and lovely views of family parties of Emus each with tiny chicks, while 4 half grown chicks were watched walking along the beach at Golden Island Lookout. Ospreys and Sea-Eagles were seen with a Shy Albatross and Australian Gannets offshore. At the lunch site in Yanabie Bay, Wedge-tailed Eagle, HorsfieldÕs Bronze and Fantailed Cuckoos were seen. Yellow-rumped Thornbill and White-browed Scrub-wren were seen later in Kellidie CP.
Day 10 Coffin Bay to Port Linclon 18/8/06
The early morning walk highlight was a Diamond Firetail, followed by several more at the Linclon NP entrance. Over an hour was spent at Big Swamp, Swandale where there were many waterfowl including displaying Musk Ducks, nesting Swans, 60+ Shoveler, Hardhead, a small group of Blue-billed Duck, Hoary-headed Grebe, Brown Falcon, a lone Australian Shelduck amongst the more common ducks. Onto Lincoln NP with great views of Brush Bronzewings, more cuckoos, a Skylark at Wanna Cliffs, Blue-breasted Fairy-wren and Western Yellow Robin at Fishermans Point, Southern Scrub-Robin at Cape Donnington and Taylors Landing, and a calling Western Whipbird at the latter location, which eventually stayed long enough for two people to see him but no one else!
Day 11 Port Linclon & Lincoln NP 19/8/06
Coffin Bay National Park
An early morning start was made to try and see the Western Whipbird at Taylors Landing but while we were treated to the most beautiful calling of two separate males, we could not entice them out into the open to be seen. We saw the bushes move but not the bird! However, instead we had good views of Scrub-Robins, more Rock Parrots, Spotted & Striated Pardalotes, Brush Bronzewing, Dusky Woodswallows, both Cuckoos, Tree Martin, Swamp Harrier and Western Yellow Robins. In the afternoon at Wanna Flats more good views of Blue-breasted Fairy-wrens were obtained.
Day 12 Port Linclon to Whyalla 20/8/06
Today was very windy so that bird watching was very difficult for most of the day yet the scenery was superb. Highlights included Skylarks & Brown Songlarks near Liscom Cove, nesting Black-faced Cormorants and Silver Gulls on an island just offshore and Red-capped Plovers on the beach; White-eared Honeyeater & Fan-tailed Cuckoo in a patch of mallee 70 km S of Whyalla, and Jacky Winter, Rufous & Golden Whistlers, Brown-headed & Yellow-plumed Honeyeaters in another patch 50 km S of Whyalla.
Day 13 Whyalla District 21/8/06
The speciality of Whyalla turned out to be the artificially created wetlands on the edge of town where we found our first Clamorous Reedwarbler & Little Grassbird for the trip. A probable Spotless Crake flew from one patch of reeds to the other & there were nesting Australasian Little Grebes as well as ducks, Coot etc At Whyalla Conservation Park we found Splendid Fairy-wren, Mistletoebird & Crested Bellbird, in the saltbush plains, while at Wild Dog Hill, most people saw the Thick-billed Grass-wrens in two different places together with Variegated Fairy-wren, 3 Pallid Cuckoos chasing each other and more Brown Falcons & Horsfield’s Bronze-cuckoos. We shifted across to Lowly Point & False Bay where the highlights were the White-fronted Chats & Black-faced Woodswallows in the saltbush country and Red-necked Stints on the sand flats.
Day 14 Whyalla to Auburn (Clare Valley) 22/8/06
We enjoyed a short early walk through the Whyalla wetlands before heading back to Port Augusta and then onto the Clare Valley. A short stop 16 km SE Port Augusta in the foothills of the Flinders Ranges found more Pipits, White-winged Fairy-wrens , White-fronted Chats and Brown Songlarks, before our first planned stop being the Blue Gum Flat in Mt Remarkable NP. The change in vegetation brought us new birds like Yellow-faced Honeyeater, Striated Thornbill, Brown Treecreeper & Painted Button-quail, along with Red-rumped Parrot & Red-capped Robin. Terrestrial orchids were flowering well particularly the Donkey Orchids and Pink Caledenias. Our lunch stop in Dorrington Park, Melrose returned us to Adelaide Rosellas and a Brown Goshawk, while a stop in Wirrabara Forest yielded some Yellow Thornbill & Eastern Spinebill (new for the trip), Red-capped Robin and Yellow-faced Honeyeaters.
Day 15 Auburn to Adelaide 23/8/06
Our final birding activity was the leisurely walk around the delightful old world town of Auburn in the southern section of the Clare Valley. Here were lovely, well cared for, old houses and gardens with both native and European plants in full flower, with plenty of Blackbirds, Goldfinches, House Sparrows and Silvereyes. The Red Gums were in flower and were full of Musk & Rainbow Lorikeets while Adelaide Rosellas and the odd Rufous Whistler and Grey Fantails kept the binoculars working. A pleasant end to a great trip.