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.

Wednesday, 18 July 2018

Red-lored Whistler, Murray-Sunset & Werribee

Red-lored Whistler

Following the visit with Bernie O'Keefe and Scott Baker to Diamantina National Park and our travels down the Birdsville Track and through the Flinders Ranges, we moved on to the huge expanse of mallee in the Murray-Sunset National Park on the Victoria-South Australia border. We set up camp in a spot the guys knew of at the junction of Pheeneys and Old Bore tracks in remote, old growth mallee deep in the national park. I've always loved the mallee and it was a joy to be back in it.

Camping in Murray-Sunset National Park
Red-lored Whistler is one of the more difficult Australian birds to see and photograph so was high on our wishlist. I found a male whistler three kilometres north of the camp in almost exactly the same spot where Scott saw one many years previously. This was just the second time I've seen this species. At the same time, Scott found another bird south of the track junction, while a third whistler was heard early the evening before in the vicinity of the camp. So we had three Red-lored Whistlers within 4kms of each other over.

Red-lored Whistler

Red-lored Whistler
Striated Grasswren was another much-wanted image and having a pair of these at close quarters was satisfying.

Striated Grasswren
Striated Grasswren
The yellow-rumped form of Spotted Pardalote, a potential split for sure, was plentiful.

Spotted (Yellow-rumped) Pardalote
Other mallee birds showed nicely in this area, notably Southern Scrub-Robin, Shy Heathwren and Chestnut Quail-thrush. Yellow-plumed Honeyeater was fairly common and we looked without success for Black-eared Miners, finding just a single Yellow-throated Miner.

Shy Heathwren

Southern Scrub-Robin

Yellow-plumed Honeyeater

Chestnut Quail-thrush
We travelled more than 100km along park roads before leaving Murray-Sunset the next day and heading for our next overnight destination – the mallee town of Ouyen in Victoria. Mulga Parrot was plentiful along the way and White-browed Babbler was all over the place.

Mulga Parrot
White-browed Babbler
We visited Hattah-Kulkyne National Park the next morning but had no luck looking for Mallee Emu-wren, although we had seen the species previously. We did find the mound of a Malleefowl, not far from where I saw a malleefowl in 2014.

Malleefowl mound
We continued eastward to Lake Tyrrell, where Rufous Fieldwren took some searching in the cold and windy conditions, before finally arriving at Bernie's Melbourne home for some much-needed warmth and rest.

Lake Tyrrell

Rufous Fieldwren
The next day Bernie and I went to St Kilda pier, famed for its Little Penguin rookery in the retaining wall rocks. We found a single penguin sitting on an egg in a crevice between the rocks but the bird was difficult to photograph.

Little Penguin

St Kilda Pier
An elderly German-born man at the pier put on quite a show for the tourists as he fed several unusually tame Water-Rats, or rakalis as they are referred to now. The man fed the rats fish fingers, which appeared to be much relished, and had a cup of fresh water out for them.

The following day Scott took me to the Werribee sewage treatment works. It had been many years since I'd been to this delightful birding destination. We'd hoped to encounter overwintering Orange-bellied Parrots and may have seen the species as three Neophema parrots crossed the road in front of the vehicle before disappearing into the distance. Other goodies as we drove around the wetlands included good numbers of Red-necked Avocet and Swamp Harrier.

Red-necked Avocets

Swamp Harrier
Spotless Crake and Australian Spotted Crake were in the reed-beds.

Australian Spotted Crake

Spotless Crake
We finished the trip with a visit to the excellent Blue Bamboo Vietnamese restaurant near Bernie's home.

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