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.

Friday, 14 April 2017

Lark Quarry: Grey Falcon, Rusty Grasswren, Rufous-crowned Emu-wren

Grey Falcon
After poking around the Charleville area, I headed north with Bernie O'Keefe and Scott Baker. We visited the sewage treatment works outside Longreach on our first morning after overnighting at Infracombe. Birds on the ponds included large numbers of Black-tailed Native-hen and a pair of Freckled Ducks.

Black-tailed Native-hens
We collected our supplies for a six-day camping trip and continued on to Winton, then south along the Winton-Jundah Road. Along the road we encountered a formidable Yellow-spotted Monitor feeding on an emu carcass. Scattered groups of Crimson Chat were encountered along the road.

Yellow-spotted Monitor
It was a relatively quick 110km drive on a good road to our first destination - the Lark Quarry Conservation Park. We camped outside the park beside a delightful dam where a few waterfowl of various species and more native-hens were in residence.

Lake Quarry dam
We were treated to quite a spectacle on our first morning at Lark Quarry. Two adult and two immature Grey Falcons appeared over the dam. They took turns in harassing waterbirds, diving and soaring around the red sandstone ridges that frame the dam and across the surrounding expanses of lightly wooded spinifex.

Grey Falcon

Grey Falcon
We were to see Grey Falcon regularly during our three days at Lake Quarry, including a young bird perched low down on the telecommunications tower that marks the turnoff from the Winton-Jundah Road to Lark Quarry.

Rusty Grasswren
Thanks to Jenny Holmes, we tracked down the GPS co-ordinates for a site for Rusty Grasswren about 1km from the camp. First found by Bernie, here we had 3 or 4 grasswrens affording superb, close views as they darted between spinifex clumps and checked us out from shrubs.

Rusty Grasswren

Rusty Grasswren
Another star bird for this site is Rufous-crowned Emu-wren. We enjoyed several encounters with this cryptic denizen of the spinifex.

Rufous-crowned Emu-wren

Rufous-crowned Emu-wren
Other birds we encountered included Spinifexbird and plenty of Spinifex Pigeons. A Little Grassbird was incongruously lurking in shrubs about the dam.

Spinifex Pigeons
Spotted Nightjar, Australian Owlet-Nightjar and Tawny Frogmouth were about the camp. We saw a single Little Buttonquail and small numbers of Grey-headed Honeyeaters.

Grey-headed Honeyeater
Red-backed Kingfisher showed nicely in a gully. A full list of birds seen at Lark Quarry can be found here.

We did not visit the famed dinosaur tracks at the Lark Quarry visitors' centre. It seemed somewhat obscene to have to pay $33 a head for the privilege of entering a public conservation park.

Red-backed Kingfisher
Yellow-spotted Monitor was about the camp, as were plenty of Gilbert's Dragons (Lophognathus gilberti).

Gilbert's Dragon
Frogs about the dam were Rough Frog (Cyclorana verrucosa), Wide-mouthed Frog (Cyclorana novaehollandiae), Desert Tree-Frog (Litoria rubella) and Bumpy Rocket-Frog (Litoria inermis).

Wide-mouthed Frog
Desert Tree-Frog
Bumpy Rocket-Frog
Rough Frog - Pic B. O'Keefe
Leaving Lake Quarry we headed west along Old Cork Road towards the Diamantina Development Road. At a roadside stop we had a small party of the white-winged (leucoptera) race of Varied Sittella, here at the southern limit of its range.

Varied Sittella
We camped by a spinifex valley in Muellers Range, where Scott spotted a pair of Bourke's Parrot - here at the extreme western end of its range.

Bourke's Parrot