Sunshine Coast Birds

Birding and other wildlife experiences from the Sunshine Coast and elsewhere in Australia - and from overseas - with scribblings about travel, environmental issues, kayaking, hiking and camping.

Thursday, 11 September 2014

Around Oz Part 34 - Eyre Peninsula in South Australia: Streaky Bay, Port Lincoln, Whyalla

Southern Scrub-Robin

After exiting South Australia (see previous post) we travelled through Ceduna down the western coast of Eyre Peninsula to Streaky Bay. We had a pleasant three days here recovering from four days in a row of very long drives. Our camp was on the water and pleasantly positioned. About the town were plenty of Black-faced Cormorants.

Streaky Bay

Black-faced Cormorant
We drove the Westwall Way Loop south of town, visiting Yanerbic Beach, Point Westwall and other spots; loads more wonderful coastal scenery.

Point Westwall near Streaky Bay
Among other things, I saw a large flock of Red-necked Stints which clearly had just returned from migration; a single Hooded Plover on the beach; and quite large numbers of Crimson Chats and White-fronted Chats, often in mixed flocks. A big concern was that my near-new Sony Cyber-shot 300 camera was playing up, refusing to focus properly on zoomed in images.

Crimson Chat
After leaving Streaky Bay, we continued south along the Flinders Highway to Lincoln National Park, at the far southern end of Eyre Peninsula. This is an extensive area of coastal mallee with granite outcrops, dunes, sandy beaches and limestone cliffs. We camped for two nights at the nicely laid out Surfleet Cove Camping Ground, with our camp overlooking the waters of Port Lincoln.

Mallee - Lincoln National Park

Surfleet Cove - Lincoln National Park
Around the camp was a male Emu with a brood of 12 small striped youngsters in tow. Only the lt emerges in the image below; his back feathers are ruffled in aggressive mode because he is annoyed by my presence. Other birds included plenty of Brown-headed and New Holland Honeyeaters, and White-browed Babbler. The zoom function in my camera was totally stuffed by now, so decent bird pictures of birds would need to await the arrival of my old Cybershot 200 in the mail in the days ahead.

We did the 5-km Surfleet Cove hike seeing a couple of nice Southern Scrub-Robins - these images are from Glenn's little travel camera, and took quite a bit of work to close enough. We saw Dusky Woodswallow, Brush Bronzewing and Collared Sparrowhawk.

Southern Scrub-Robin
We visited several scenic spots in the park including Fishermans Point, Cape Donington (a flock of 4 Rock Parrots here) and Taylors Landing (more Southern Scrub-Robins). We saw a group of about 10 Australian Sea-Lions offshore on Donington Island. A nice pair of Blue-breasted Fairy-wrens was in thick heath near the camp.

Fishermans Point, Lincoln National Park
On our final morning in the park we hiked to Spalding Cove and called in on Pillee Lake. Pairs of Blue-breasted Fairy-wren were at both sites. So were Southern Scrub-Robins; I saw or heard them at 10 spots in the park. I did not see or hear Western Whipbird though I did not try hard: I had seen the local race on Kangaroo Island and saw the race nigrogularis recently at Cheyne Beach (see here).
We then drove into town for a couple of nights in the Port Lincoln Tourist Park. The winds here were ferocious, gusting up to 40 knots.

Port Lincoln
Still, Port Lincoln is a delightful town with its deepwater harbour and the backdrop of Lincoln National Park across the water; a mosaic of natural bushland parks; seaside walkways through wildflower-laden heath; and historic sandstone buildings.

After Port Lincoln we headed north to the steel town of Whyalla for two nights in the Whyalla Discovery Tourist Park. A bit expensive but we were again right on the water's edge - for the fourth camp in a row. We had a fierce wind storm that threatened at one point to seriously damage the canvas of our camper trailer.

Our beachside camp at Whyalla
Down the road was Whyalla Wetlands, where the local council for some reason has flattened a swathe of native scrub that had separated the pools from the road. Birds here included 50+ Black-tailed Native-hens - the first for the trip - and a few Hoary-headed Grebes. Another pool a few blocks away had Musk Duck on it. I am sorely missing my camera, making do with scenery shots for a few more days.

Whyalla Beach from Hummock Hill
We visited some of the local attractions. The Mt Laura Homestead Museum was quite an impressive historic display, and I'm not much of a museum fan so that's saying something. Hummock Hill Lookout was also worth a look.

Image from historic Mt Laura Homestead, Whyalla
In a shrubby area of bluebush and samphire at the end of the caravan park, I flushed the first Stubble Quail of the trip. On the final morning I visited Whyalla Conservation Park, just north of the town, a nice reserve of myall woodland with extensive areas of bluebush and saltbush.

Whyalla Conservation Park

I searched unsuccessfully for Western Grasswren around Wild Dog Rock (in the image above) but on the way back saw one run across the track 2km from the park entrance.I enjoyed excellent close views of a pair of grasswrens. Although I was thrilled to see this species again after so long (many moons ago at Shark Bay) I sorely regretted not having my Sony camera as the pictures would have been brilliant.

Western Grasswren site, Whyalla Conservation Park
Other birds noted included Variegated Fairy-wren, Crested Bellbird, White-browed Babbler, Chesnut-rumped Thornbill, Inland Thornbill and quite a few Slender-billed Thornbills in open areas of bluebush.


  1. Your blogs are such a wonderful resource. We'll be avidly re-reading them when our Odyssey takes us in the vicinity of your trip.

  2. Beautiful scenes, Greg! What a lovely part of the world. It's a shame about the issues with your camera. I would be totally lost too.

  3. It wont be long before you are home Greg. You will need to come home for a rest. You have had an amazing trip and still a few more weeks to go. By the time you do arrive back on the Sunny Coast there wont be many birds you haven't seen. So jealous. Oh, loved your Red Chat - I'm yet to see one of these cute birds. Jude - Burpengary.

  4. Thanks everyone. Back early-October Jude.