It was getting a bit disheartening in the central deserts where the drought had caused many birds one would normally see to disappear (to where, I don’t know). So it was good to head north and start seeing new birds again and in the space of a week I have managed to add 17 new birds to the list.
The highlight was probably the Gouldian Finch. While sitting at a bird hide at Caranbirini Conservation Park, a tiny bird flew onto a dead tree across the billabong, sat there for about 10 seconds, then flew off. The lighting was terrible, it was half obscured and it was about 30 metres away so I didn’t get any good photos, but it was such a great experience to see this rare and striking bird in the wild that I have included a couple here anyway.
Other birds we saw at Caranbirini included the Green Pygmy Goose, Crimson Finch, Bar Breasted Honeyeater (all new) as well as plenty of Yellow-tinted Honeyeaters and swarms of Rainbow Bee-eaters. The bee-eaters seem to clump together when they roost, which was interesting to see
On the way to Caranbirini we spent the night at a lovely camp on a ridgetop where I positively identified Torresian Crows. Australia has several species of black crow that all pretty much look the same unless you manage to catch one and study its throat feathers. Their calls however are subtly different so by virtue of the fact that I was now way north of the tropic of capricorn (ruling out the Little Raven or Forest Raven) and it made a staccato kuk-kuk-kuk sound instead of a rapid waark-waark-warrk (little crow) or slow waak-waaak-waaaah (Australian Raven, which doesn’t come this far west either), by elimination and after listening to several recordings of each from the Internet, I could be pretty sure I had seen a Torresian Crow.
Also at the ridgetop camp and much easier to identify, I saw a long tailed finch. A couple of days later at Lorella Springs, I got the nice photo below:
While spending 5 days around Lorella Springs, we got to see plenty of birds in the variety of habitats from wetlands and creek lines through to flat savanna and spinifex escarpments. We saw way too many species to list here, however some new contenders in the creek lines were the Leaden Flycatcher (finally) and Northern Fantail.
In the savanna areas there were plenty of White-throated, Blue-eared and Brown Honeyeaters and occasionally Yellow-tinted too. I hoped to see more, but eventually it got too tiresome chasing after small honeyeaters only to find they were either brown or white-throated.
Also in the savanna we spotted Varied Sittella – a striking looking bird that tends to creep around trees upside down like in the right hand photo below.
In the escarpment areas we saw plenty of Silver-crowned Friarbirds while Black-faced and White-bellied Cuckoo-shrikes were common all over.
During our final two days along the Roper river heading back to the Stuart Highway We came across three new birds: a Spotted Harrier, Mistletoe Bird and Banded Honeyeater. The bird on the lower right is actually the juvenile Banded Honeyeater, the adult is the black and white bird in the photo above it. For a while I thought I’d seen two new species of Honeyeater, but on further research it turns they are the same bird.