Australian Outback, South-east Australia & Tasmania May 4th - 29th 2004

Published by Phil Gregory (info AT

Participants: Phil Gregory, Hugo and Caroline Wood-Homer



This was a private trip in quest of the endemics of outback and south-eastern Australia, Hugo having previously done WA/Kimberley and Alice Springs with Birdquest, and the tropical north with Phil in 2003. We began in Adelaide, where Eastern and Adelaide Rosellas gave good views, also Musk Lorikeet, though a diversion to Port Gawler on the long trek north was unproductive for Samphire (Slender-billed) Thornbill. The folks at Willow Springs Station were very helpful, but a check of the Short-tailed Grasswren site on their property was abortive, though thankfully the taller spinifex at nearby Stokes Hill Lookout did give us the bird and gave us a taste of just how dry conditions are inland.

Next came Lyndhurst, the start of the Sturt Stony Desert and the famous Strzelecki Track. Our initial recce of the old mine site was unpromising, but next morning we found a party of 5 Chestnut-breasted Whiteface along with three Cinnamon Quail-thrush at Km 24 as we were driving out, then two more groups in the vicinity of the old mine site at Km 27. Other birds were elusive as it was terribly dry, we did pick up Rufous Calamanthus, Chirruping Wedgebill and Eastern Thick-billed Grasswren. Driving the track itself was not very productive, we might go 50 km without seeing a bird and checking of the gibber plains revealed nothing of note, though White-fronted Honeyeater was a nice pick-up, as was Grey-fronted. A puncture as we were leaving the stony desert gave us some drama as the jack promptly broke, unbelievably shearing off at the ringbolt where you insert the lever, but luckily two passing vehicles stopped and they kindly bailed us out. The track itself was in excellent condition, recently graded and with no rain to mark it, so driving was straightforward, not even needing 4WD. There was also relatively speaking a lot of traffic, as the Kidmans were having their centenary bash up at Innamincka- at one point we had 4 vehicles in view! Going north though we saw about 4 in 5 hours. The Strzelecki Crossing, strangely enough the only unnamed creek along the entire route, gave us Chestnut-crowned Babbler and Bluebonnet. Turning off the Cameron Corner was checked the first red dune with good cane grass growth some 50 km out from CC, and found Banded Whiteface and a UTV of Eyrean Grasswren.

Bill at Cameron Corner was our saviour, fixing the flat and even selling us another jack, whilst his Britney Spears look-alike waitress was a surprise out here. We enjoyed our stay here, especially as we found the Eyrean Grasswren next day at km 25 west, with excellent views and batting 3 for 3 with the grasswrens- little did we know! Orange Chat was a nice find, and Phil began to score Queensland ticks, with Little Crow just sneaking over the border from NSW and SA as a starter, followed by White-backed Swallow coming over the dingo fence into the correct airspace.

The drive to Thargomindah was good for Q ticks, and the short cut diagonally NE from Cameron Corner to Naryilco Station was in good condition, just a bit of blown sand in places. No great additions were made until we found a Black-chinned Honeyeater in the motel grounds in Thargo, it was primarily a long travel day en route to the margins of the Channel Country. Next day Lake Bindegolly was dry, dashing hopes of crakes, but we did have wonderful views of Major Mitchell’s Cockatoo (and where was the camera?), Mulga Parrot and Bluebonnet. On then to Bowra near Cunnamulla, and the first wet areas of the trip- and boy what a difference that made, we got into numerous birds for the first time. White-browed, Little and Masked Wood-swallows were present, Crimson Chats, Pied Honeyeaters, Zebra and Plum-headed Finches. Julie McLaren gave us a nest site for Hall’s Babbler, which we found without trouble, though it was not until the next morning that we got Chestnut-breasted Quail-thrush, with stunning views of a pair not 50m from the car, followed next day by the scarce and local White-browed Tree Creeper. The Shearer’s quarters were quite comfortable, but decidedly cool at night, it was almost tempting to light the huge old Victorian cast iron range! Other good birds here were Little Buttonquail, the only Black-tailed Native-hen of the entire trip, Black Falcon, Pink Cockatoo and Grey-headed Honeyeater. Overall Bowra was a great success, a really productive place caught just at the right time after some autumnal rain.

The next stop was Tibooburra in NSW, as the basis for our attempt on Grey Grasswren. though much gibber plain en route remained devoid of the eponymous chat. Now, I was uncharacteristically optimistic here, buoyed by the Thomas and Thomas “dead cert” write up guff and the fact that they saw 50 birds. We made an initial recce on the way south, cutting up to the Wompah Gate and finding the site successfully, but it went downhill from there. We combed the dry lignum swamp habitat for some 5 hours that afternoon and the next morning, without seeing a single bird actually in the vegetation, and of Grey Grasswren there was simply no trace. It was so bad we could not face another episode on our final day, getting Bourke’s Parrot and Cinnamon Quail-thrush as a consolation.

Broken Hill gave us a chance to catch up with Chris Eastwood en route to the mallee, and we had nice views of Redthroat and Freckled Duck. Driving to the mallee next day, we made a late afternoon stop at Hattah-Kulkyne NP and this proved very rewarding, with great views of the rare Mallee Emuwren and very close Chestnut Quail-thrush. Next morning we were full of hope for the easiest of the hard triumvirate here, the Striated Grasswren, but 3 hours of coming the usual spinifex sites led to our finding none, though we did get into double figures for Mallee Emuwren! Go figure….. Still, Yellow Rosella was nice, and we drove on down to Little Desert in nice time.

Whimpey is one of the great Aussie bush characters and he was on fine form, overseeing the building of two new blocks due to be ready in a few days for a big conference gathering. He did us proud and we duly logged point-blank Mallee-fowl, Purple-gaped Honeyeater, Gilbert’s Whistler, Shy Hylacola, Diamond Firetail, Flame Robin and Blue-winged Parrot.

The drive through the Grampians was hit by bad weather in the hills, but we managed Yellow-tufted and Crescent Honeyeater, and succeeded with the delightful Gang-gang Cockatoo next day. It was a long drive up to Deniliquin, but we made it in good time to rendezvous with our Phil Maher substitute for the nocturnal Plains-wanderer thrash. It took some 2 and a half hours of circling the paddocks and I’m sure Robert had a sore wrist from holding out the spotlight, but we got fine close views of both male and female P-w, plus Stubble Quail as a bonus.

Next morning we found Superb Parrots near the Pretty Pine pub, marred by sadness as three of the flock had just been hit by a vehicle and were dead by the road. Avalon Swamp was very full of water and no good for crakes or bitterns at this time, but Chestnut Teal and White-fronted Chat were some compensation.

Local info gave us recent Swift Parrot sightings around the Moiliagul and Tarnagullah areas, so we made a longish detour over to try for them, sadly not getting any reward, another day was really required as the flocks seem small and mobile as well as very localised. As it was we arrived late at Penguin Parade on Phillip Island, seeing quite a few Little Penguins and thousands of Japanese. Next day we quickly got the Cape Barren Geese and very nice Hooded Plovers, with an unexpected Black-faced Cormorant too, but a speculative check for Powerful Owl was unrewarding and the Franklin’s Gull was not at home either.

Tasmania was refreshingly little driving and kind weather conditions, and we cleaned up all 12 endemics in short order, basing at the delightful Inala on Bruny Island, where Tonia’s local info gave us the can-be-difficult Black Currawong and Pink Robin.
The final couple of days were around Melbourne for Orange-bellied Parrot, which is a real needle in a haystack job. I was not very confident, but we did luck onto one immature associating with some Blue-wings, the buzzy call being a helpful pointer as they flew. Striated Calamanthus showed well, and there were thousands of Pink-eared Ducks at Werribee, but Banded Stilts were strangely absent, I suspect a breeding event may be underway in the interior where some rain has fallen. The extremely dry conditions made finding birds hard in much of the route, and some usually bankable species were rare or absent. Our last morning we made a cold trip to Point Addis and got great looks at a Rufous Bristlebird as the final tick of the trip; though Hugo again failed to find me my Northern Shoveler for Australia on our final pass though Werribee.

We drove some 7000 km and saw some fantastic seldom seen country, meeting some great bush characters and expanding Phil’s Queensland list nicely. My thanks to Hugo and Caroline for the chance to do the trip- now, was the church hall approved and is Thomas Hardy’s aunt going to be disturbed, and how does Bushranger of the Skies end? My thanks to Sue Gregory for doing the complex logistics and dealing with various queries and problems with her usual aplomb. Also thanks to Eric Sticklen, Meg Cameron, Julie Coleman and Tonia Cochran for advice and info.

Species Lists

* Target bird for Hugo

Emu Dromaius novaehollandiae
Good numbers this trip, beginning in the Flinders Ranges, then quite a few in the Grampians.

* Malleefowl Leipoa ocellata
Whimpeys stake out for this large and rare megapode came good again, with fantastic close views of the 26-year-old male Charles at his mound, and a female at another mound nearby.

* Stubble Quail Coturnix pectoralis
Great views of a couple on the ground during the night drive for the Plains-Wanderer, and at least eight flushed in addition.

Brown Quail Coturnix ypsilophora (H)
We heard the scarce Tasmanian endemic nominate race ypsilophora, sometimes split as Swamp Quail, at Inala in a rushy paddock.

* Little Blue Penguin Eudyptula minor
The penguin and Japanese tourist spectacle at Penguin Parade gave us good looks.

Australasian Grebe Podiceps novaehollandiae

Hoary-headed Grebe Poliocephalus poliocephalus
Three at Stephen’s Creek at Broken Hill, and hundreds at Werribee.

Australian Pelican Pelecanus conspiciillatus

Australasian Gannet Morus serrator
A few off Hobart and Bruny, also seen off Werribee and Point Addis.

Little Pied Cormorant Phalacrocorax melanoleucos

* Black-faced Cormorant Phalacrocorax fuscescens
Great views of one at Cat Bay on Phillip Is., and five at the Bruny Ferry terminal as usual.

Pied Cormorant P. varius
Singles off South Bruny and at Werribee.

Little Black Cormorant P. sulcirostris

Australian Darter Anhinga novaehollandiae
Five at Avalon Swamp near Deniliquin.

White-faced Heron Ardea novaehollandiae

Great Egret Egretta alba
Just a single at Werribee.

Cattle Egret Bubulcus ibis
One at Werribee was the final trip tick.

White-necked Heron Ardea pacifica

Australian White Ibis Threskiornis molucca

Straw-necked Ibis T. spinicollis
Fifteen high over Noccundra were unexpected in such an arid setting.

Royal Spoonbill Platalea regia
One in the Grampians and one at Werribee.

Yellow-billed Spoonbill Platalea flavipes
Two at Werribee.

Blue-billed Duck Oxyura australis
An uncommon and local species, we saw 26 at Broken Hill and at least 70 at Werribee.

Musk Duck Biziura lobata
A few of this bizarre creature at Broken Hill, and lots at Werribee.

Freckled Duck Stictonetta naevosa
A male and two females in non-breeding plumage were an unexpected find at Stephen’s Creek Reservoir at Broken Hill. Listed as Near Threatened in the BirdLife classification.

Black Swan Cygnus atratus

Feral Grey-lag Anser anser
Thirty on Phillip Island where it seems to be well-established, though as yet not on the Aus List.

* Cape Barren Goose Cereopsis novaehollandiae
Eight on Phillip Island, giving nice views, then three unexpectedly at Werribee where it seems to be a scarce winter visitor.

Australian Shelduck Tadorna tadornoides
Six flying west over the sea from South Bruny lighthouse were unexpected.

Australian Wood Duck Chenonetta jubata

Mallard Anas platyrhynchos
A couple of doubtful looking hybrids at Bendigo, then a smart and countable male at Werribee.

Pacific Black Duck Anas rubripes

Australasian Shoveler Anas rhynchotis
We saw about 400 of this rather scarce bird at Werribee.

Grey Teal A. gibberifrons

* Chestnut Teal Anas castanota
The first were at Avalon Swamp, then 7 shy ones on Bruny and a few hundred at Werribee.

Pink-eared Duck Malacorhynchus membranaceus
Fifteen at Broken Hill and a huge flock of at least 8,000 at Werribee.

Hardhead Aythya australis

Black-shouldered Kite Elanus axillaris
Surprisingly scarce all trip, with just six birds being see, three of them at Werribee.

Black Kite Milvus migrans

Whistling Kite Haliastur sphenurus

White-bellied Sea-Eagle Haliaeetus leucogaster
One sub-adult at Deni, five on Bruny Island and one at Werribee.

Swamp Harrier Circus approximans
Three around Deniliquin, then quite a few at Bruny Island and Werribee.

Brown Goshawk Accipiter fasciatus
A few around Bowra.

Grey Goshawk Accipiter novaehollandiae
A superb view of a white morph bird feeding by the roadside on Bruny Island.

Collared Sparrowhawk Accipiter cirrhocephalus
Just a couple seen, one near Thargomindah and one at Avalon Swamp.

Wedge-tailed Eagle Aquila audax
Quite common in the arid regions, day counts of ten and twelve were the maxima.

Little Eagle Hieraeetus morphnoides
We saw two singles at Bowra and one near Noccundra, never a common bird.

Brown Falcon Falco berigora
This strange and very large almost harrier-like falcon was quite widespread.

Black Falcon Falco subniger
One at Bowra gave good flight views; this is quite an elusive and rare species. Sadly its even rarer Grey cousin did not make an appearance for us.

Nankeen Kestrel F. cenchroides
We saw small numbers but it was widespread.

Australian Hobby F. longipennis
A few at Bowra and Hugo saw one near Deni.

Peregrine F. peregrinus
A good trip for this species, with singles near Deniliquin, The Nobbies on Phillip Island and at South Bruny lighthouse

Brolga Grus rubicunda
Two at Bowra, then three at Werribee at the southernmost point of their range.

Dusky Moorhen Gallinula tenebrosa

Purple Swamphen Porphyrio porphyrio

* Black-tailed Native-hen Gallinula ventralis
We saw just a single sub-adult at Bowra of this highly irruptive species, with none around Adelaide or at Whimpeys. A fortunate find as it turned out!

* Tasmanian Native-hen Gallinula mortierii
The first of this flightless endemic were at the Canary Cage Café in Margate, then quite lot on Bruny where it was vocal at Inala.

Eurasian Coot Fulica atra
Only seen at Werribee.

* Little Buttonquail Turnix velox
Phil flushed one at the whiteface site near Lyndhurst, then we got good flight views of a couple at Bowra.

Pied Oystercatcher Haematopus longirostris
A few on Bruny.

Sooty Oystercatcher Haematopus fuliginosus
One at The Nobbies on Phillip Is. and eight on Bruny.

White-headed Stilt Himantopus leucocephalus
There were a few tens at Werribee, but regrettably no sign of the Banded cousin.

Red-necked Avocet Recurvirostra novaehollandiae
Two at Stephen’s Creek at Broken Hill, and a few hundred at Werribee.

Red-capped Plover Charadrius ruficapillus
A few seen at Werribee

* Double-banded Plover Charadrius bicinctus
Good views of two at The Spit at Werribee, with a fly-over there next day. This is a winter migrant from New Zealand where it is an endemic breeder.

* Hooded Plover Thinornis rubricollis
Great views of two adults on Phillip Island, a rare and declining species listed as Near Threatened.

Black-fronted Dotterel Elseyornis melanops

Red-kneed Dotterel Erythrogonys cinctus
One at Port Gawler and one at Avalon Swamp.

Banded Lapwing Vanellus tricolor
Two in the Corner Country en route to Noccundra, and two at Bowra, always a sparse and elusive species.

Masked Lapwing Vanellus novaehollandiae novaehollandiae
The southern form, known as Spur-winged Plover, was common in the wetter areas. The intergrade zone with the northern form V. m. miles is quite narrow and a case could be made for a split.

Greenshank Tringa nebularia
One seen at Werribee.

Curlew Sandpiper Calidris ferruginea
Four at The Spit at Werribee.

Red-necked Stint Calidris ruficollis
About 40 non-breeders at Werribee.

* Plains-Wanderer Pedionomus torquatus
Fantastic views of a female at very close range after two and a half hours of quartering the paddocks at Spring Plains, just as I was starting to fret! A male was found close by for more fine views, a unique family and a splendid birthday present for Hugo. Listed as Endangered by BirdLife International. Hugo’s bird of the trip.

Pacific Gull Larus pacificus
Eight around Phillip Island, and five on Bruny.

Kelp Gull Larus dominicanus
Small numbers around Phillip Is. and on Tasmania

Silver Gull Larus novaehollandiae
Fifteen at Ouyen were quite well inland.
Crested Tern Sterna bergii
Seen at Werribee.

Feral Pigeon Columba livia

Spotted Turtle-Dove Streptopelia chinensis
Seen in Adelaide and Melbourne

Crested Pigeon Ocyphaps lophotes
Seen almost daily, even a couple at Werribee, but commonest in the dry country.

Diamond Dove Geopelia cuneata
Up to 30 at Bowra.

Peaceful Dove Geopelia striata

* Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoo Calyptorhynchus funereus
Nine flew by Inala, luckily for us, as we had not found it elsewhere.

* Gang-gang Cockatoo Callocephalon fimbriatum
Bad weather in the Grampians was a hindrance, but four birds just outside Hall’s Gap as we were leaving gave very nice looks.

Galah Cacatua roseicapilla
Abundant in the dry areas, and two in Hobart.

Sulphur-crested Cockatoo C. galerita
A few in Victoria, but not numerous this trip.

Little Corella C. sanguinea
The first were 11 out in the desert near Naryilco Station, then 30 at Tibooburra, up to 70 near Broken Hill and three with the Long-billed Corellas near Whimpeys.

* Long-billed Corella C. tenuirostris
First were 50 near Whimpeys, then several hundred in the Grampians as usual, and seen around

Major Mitchell’s (Pink) Cockatoo C. leadbeateri
The beautiful and uncommon bird showed very nicely, first near Thargomindah, then at Lake Bindegolly and with a day count of 10 at Bowra. The last were two near Coombah en route to Hattah.

Cockatiel Nymphicus hollandicus
Up to 150 at Bowra but none in the drought stricken areas further inland.

Rainbow Lorikeet Trichoglossus haematodus
Scarce this trip, only in Adelaide and the Grampians.

Scaly-breasted Lorikeet T. chlorolepidus
Two in the Grampians.

* Musk Lorikeet Glossopsitta concinna
Good views in Adelaide, then in the Grampians and at Tarnagullah and Moliagul.

Little Lorikeet Glossopsitta pusilla
Nice views of a few in the Grampians and at Moliagul.

Purple-crowned Lorikeet G. porphyrocephala
Seen well at Whimpeys, then in the Grampians and finally around Moliagul.

* Mallee Ringneck Barnardius (z.) barnardi
First in the Flinders Ranges at Willow Springs, then small numbers at Bowra, Broken Hill and at Hattah-Kulkyne.

Crimson Rosella Platycercus elegans
A few in the Grampians.

* Yellow Rosella P. (e) flaveolus
This distinct mallee form was seen nicely ay Hattah-Kulkyne, anywhere but Australia it would be a split.

* Adelaide Rosella P. e. adelaidae
Nice views of five birds in the Botanic Gardens in Adelaide, taxonomically uncertain but seemingly a stabilised hybrid between Yellow and Crimson Rosellas, which anywhere else but here would have specific status, since it maintains its identity.

* Eastern Rosella P. eximius
Fourteen in Adelaide were the first, then a few at Whimpeys.

* Bluebonnet Northiella haematogaster
We did well for them this trip, finding them first in the Sturt Desert, then at Lake Bindegolly, Bowra, and Hattah-Kulkyne and around Deniliquin. All were of the red-vented nominate race haematogaster, except for two of the race pallescens at the Strzelecki Crossing.

* Red-rumped Parrot Psephotus haematonatus
Quite common in the Flinders Ranges and around Deniliquin.

* Mulga Parrot P. varius
We did well with this attractive species, which Hugo first saw at Thargomindah, then at Lake Bindegolly and Bowra where we also saw two juveniles.

Bourke’s Parrot Neopsephotus bourkii
Two 50km west of Thargomindah (Q tick!), then five on a rocky slope 15 km west of Tibooburra along the Cameron Corner road. Always a tough species to locate, we got good views.

* Blue-winged Parrot Neophema chrysostoma
36+ at Whimpeys in the burned firebreak along the park edge, then 9 near The Spit at Werribee.

Elegant Parrot N. elegans
Five flying over Stokes Hill lookout near Willow Springs were unexpected.

* Orange-bellied Parrot N. chrysogaster
This Critically Endangered species winters near Werribee, where four birds had been seen recently out of the world population of >200. We were scrutinising the flock of Blue-wings when the garrulous warden came up, just as I thought I’d got a male Orange-bellied, and interrupted the process. Luckily later we found a single immature loosely associating with Blue-wings, the buzzy call being a useful pointer, quite unlike the musical twittering of Blue-winged.

Budgerigar Melopsittacus undulatus
Hundreds at Bowra in the relatively green areas where there had been some recent rain.

Red-winged Parrot Aprosmictus erythropterus
A few at Bowra.

* Superb Parrot Polytelis swainsonii
Great views of at least 19 birds by the roadside at Pretty Pines, where three had been struck and killed by a truck, one female and two immatures with a forlorn male perched nearby the tragedy.
Classified as Vulnerable due to its restricted range.

Pallid Cuckoo Cuculus pallidus
Seen at Bowra.

Fan-tailed Cuckoo C. flabelliformis (H)
One heard at Inala.

Southern Boobook N. novaehollandiae
The endemic and potential split race leucopsis was heard at Inala, but Tonia jinxed us by saying it was easy!

Tawny Frogmouth Podargus strigoides
One in daylight at Bowra, and two on Bruny.

Spotted Nightjar Eurostopodus argus
We flushed two in daylight at Bowra, for great flight views.

Laughing Kookaburra Dacelo novaeguineae
Only in the wetter areas, and a few on Bruny.

Red-backed Kingfisher T. pyrrhopygia
Two at the Strzelecki Crossing and one at Bowra.

Sacred Kingfisher T. sanctus
Two singles at Thargomindah and Bowra were unexpected as I would have expected them to have gone north by now.

Welcome Swallow Hirundo neoxena

White-backed Swallow Cheramoeca leucosternus
Up to six of this uncommon species were seen in the Corner Country, including in NSW and Queensland, and then nine near Broken Hill.

Tree Martin H. nigricans
Notable as the only bird seen flying over the lignum swamp, on our second attempt there.

Fairy Martin H. ariel
Seen at Lake Bindegolly

Common Blackbird Turdus merula
Quite common once we got into the wetter country of the SE.

Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike Coracina novaehollandiae
Surprisingly few this trip, just odd birds in the wetter regions.

* Ground Cuckoo-shrike Coracina maxima
Two confiding immatures of this uncommon large and strange species were out at Bowra, along the track from the stony ridge.

White-winged Triller Lalage tricolor
Quite a few were in the wetter country at Bowra.

* Rufous Bristlebird Dasyornis broadbenti
Our early morning foray to a freezing cold Point Addis rewarded us with fine views of a non-vocal bristlebird not far from the toilet block by the roadside at the lower car park. They are curiously primitive looking things; this one was feeding quietly on the sandy ground. The final tick of the trip.

Skylark Alauda arvensis
Very common at Werribee, they may well be commoner in Australia and NZ than in the UK now.

Australasian Pipit Anthus australis
Still in most of the Aussie Field Guides as Richard’s Pipit, this is long since split, with the New Zealand bird a further recent split. It was a widespread bird occurring in both dry and moister habitats, even out on the gibber plains in the desert and around Tibooburra.

Golden-headed Cisticola Cisticola exilis
Seen at Werribee only.

Rufous Songlark Cinclorhamphus mathewsi
Good numbers at Bowra where there had clearly been an influx.

Grey Fantail R. fuliginosa
One at Cameron Corner was a surprise.

Willie-wagtail R. leucophrys
Seen almost daily, even out along the Strzelecki Track.

Restless Flycatcher M. inquieta
A possible split from the northern nana race of Restless Flycatcher, the Paperbark Flycatcher. There was an obvious apricot wash on the chest and it seems larger, but some calls are very alike.
One was in SA near the Eyrean Grasswren site, and a few at Bowra.

Eastern Yellow Robin Eopsaltria australis
A couple were seen in the Grampians.

Hooded Robin Melanodryas cucullata
Seen in the Flinders Range, and at Bowra, Hattah-Kulkyne and Whimpeys.

* Dusky Robin M. vittata
Four seen at Inala and some on the lawn by the South Bruny Lighthouse. A Tassie endemic, not very numerous..

Jacky Winter Microeca fascinans
Seen at Bowra and Hattah-Kulkyne.

* Pink Robin Petroica rodinogaster
Hugo got to see the female along the Mavista Nature Trail but unfortunately dipped on the shy male earlier. One of the scarcest of the robins.

* Flame Robin P. phoenicea
We found brilliant males and accompanying females at Whimpeys along the Little Desert firebreak, and at Adventure Bay on Bruny. This is one of the best of the family, a unique vivid colour.

Scarlet Robin P. boodang
Quite common and eye-catching on Bruny.

Red-capped Robin P. goodenovii
Lots around Bowra and a few around Tibooburra.

*Southern Scrub-robin Drymodes superciliaris
Great views of a responsive bird at Whimpeys, far easier to see than its Northern relative.

* Olive Whistler Pachycephala olivacea
Good views of four on Bruny Island including three quite tame ones at Inala and one from the car at Mavista! Often a shy and skulking species.

* Gilbert’s Whistler P. inornata
Great views of a male and female at Whimpeys, still tape responsive despite it being late autumn.

Golden Whistler P. pectoralis
Nice views at Inala

Rufous Whistler P. rufiventris
Quite common in dry woodland habitats.

Grey Shrike-thrush C. harmonica
Seen well at Bowra and in Tasmania.

Crested Bellbird Oreoica gutturalis
Good views at Bowra and Hattah-Kulkyne.

Grey-crowned Babbler Pomatostomus temporalis
Nice views at Bowra, it has seriously declined in the southern portions of the range.

White-browed Babbler P. superciliosus
We nearly ran over one in the Flinders Ranges, and saw a couple of small parties in the mallee areas.

* Hall’s Babbler P. halli
Julie at Bowra was able to pinpoint a nesting area for us, and we quickly found three birds, one of which was bringing sticks to the untidy globular nest. The broad white supercilium, dusky belly and small size were distinctive on a good view. This species was only recognised in 1964 and was the second last Australian species to be newly described (other than splits).

* Chestnut-crowned Babbler P. ruficeps
Our first were at the Strzelecki crossing, then we had a few groups at Bowra, Thargomindah and near Tibooburra.

* Chirruping Wedgebill Psophodes cristatus
Two very shy birds at the Lyndhurst mine site were the first, then we picked up odd birds at Noccundra, Pyampa Station and Broken Hill. The grating call is very distinct and we got good views of them.

Chestnut Quail-thrush Cinclosoma castanotum
Two female plumaged birds gave very close views at Hattah- Kulkyne NP as we were watching Mallee Emuwren, one much brighter plumaged than the other. The rump was a distinct purplish brown colour, I suspect one was an immature male bird. Next day we had brief views of two males during the Striated Grasswren search, one flushing close to Phil and rocketing off like a quail. This is the eastern nominate race.

Cinnamon Quail-thrush C. cinnamomeum
We did well with this species, seeing a group of three with our first Chestnut-breasted Whiteface, then another pair out near the mine site. A male was near Merty-Merty at the initial Eyrean Grasswren stop, then finally three on the rocky hillside 15 km west of Tibooburra. Sadly none were in Queensland!

* Chestnut-breasted Quail-thrush C. castaneothorax
A stony ridge at Bowra was the spot, and a lengthy afternoon walk revealed none. Another check next day with an American lady birder in tow came up trumps as we came back, not 50m from the car. Here we got really close views of a male and female amongst the small mulga bushes, a great bird. This is the eastern nominate race, and yes it was in Queensland!

Superb Fairywren M. cyaneus
The famous blue wren gave nice views again in the more coastal areas.

Splendid Fairywren M. splendens
Just a female plumaged bird seen at Hattah.

Variegated Fairywren M. lamberti
A few seen at Bowra and in the Corner Country.

White-winged Fairywren M. leucopterus
Quite common in the drier areas, including a few adult males.

* Mallee Emuwren Stipiturus malachurus
Great views of a pair of this scarce restricted range species in Hattah-Kulkyne on our first afternoon, then a further ten seen on our search for the grasswren here. I thought this would have been maybe the harder of the two! Classified as Near Threatened by BirdLife.

* Short-tailed Grasswren Amytornis merrotsyi
This split from Striated Grasswren was frustrating near Willow Springs, where we saw some 5 birds running and flying through tall porcupine grass clumps, but never got a really good view of any. Surely the Pilbarra form is equally splittable?

Eyrean Grasswren A. goyderi
This intriguing species (that was lost for almost 100 years until 1961) was found on two cane grass covered dunes west of Cameron Corner. The first was basically a UTV, flying and running away, but the second at the dune 25 km west was a performer, and gave great views perched up in a bush.

(Eastern) Thick-billed Grasswren A. textilis modestus
Hugo found one at the old mine site near Lyndhurst, which gave brief views but was pretty difficult to see, hiding in the depths of spinifex clumps. Luckily we then found a pair nearer the main road and got good views, the female perching up particularly well on low shrubs. No calls were heard at all. This form is very distinct to the nominate western birds and must surely be a split., far more distinct than either of the two newly promoted forms the Short-tailed and Kalkadoon Grasswrens.

[Grey Grasswren A. barbatus]
The old homestead of Pyampa is demolished now, but there is a wind pump and storage tanks there. We walked from the bore first day, and from two green plastic water tanks about 500m beyond the old homestead site the second day, saving a few hundred metres of walking. The swamp appears as a brown line some 1 _ km walk NE. It was bone dry and despite finding excellent textbook habitat of lignum amidst cane grass, birding there was one of the least productive birding experiences of my life, the single least productive vegetated habitat I’ve ever had the misfortune to work. Hugo and I spent 2+ hours the first afternoon, and three hours next day without seeing a single bird in the swamp. The only things seen flying over were a Brown Falcon and two Tree Martins, and needless to say of grasswrens there was no sign, they were simply not there. This is the dead cert site of Thomas and Thomas, the easiest to see of the grasswrens with large noisy flocks in the lignum! HANZAB gives no movements known, but Slater does mention, ominously, local movements. Where have they gone? The swamp extends well south over the NSW border, but will be just as dry, maybe they go up to the Channel country if it has rained there? If they were there they were at a very low density, I can’t believe we simply had no sign in all that time. Most distressing, I’d thought this one was a banker, the easiest of the grasswrens on the trip….

* Scrubtit Acanthornis magna
Good views of three of this tricky-to-find species at the Mavista Nature Trail near Adventure Bay on Bruny Is.

* Shy Hylacola (Heathwren) Hylacola cautus
Great views of a shy but responsive bird at Whimpey’s malleefowl site.

* Striated Calamanthus (Fieldwren) Calamanthus fuliginosus
One was singing near The Spit sign at Werribee, and we flushed one while driving by a pond there, getting nice views of it low down in some weeds.

* Rufous Calamanthus (Fieldwren) C. campestris
Two seen very nicely during our walk around the old mine site near Lyndhurst. This can be a difficult skulker.

* Redthroat Pyrrholaemus brunneus
A probable flushed during our walk near the Lyndhurst mine site, then a female south of Tibooburra and four birds including two males at the common by Broken Hill.

White-browed Scrubwren S. frontalis
A few seen in the Grampians.

Tasmanian Scrubwren S. humilis
This dull looking species was seen on Bruny Island, a Tassie endemic.

Weebill Smicrornis brevirostris
First seen at the Wilpena Pound café, of worst meal of the trip infamy, in the Flinders Range.

Brown Thornbill Acanthiza pusilla
A few in the wetter regions.

Inland Thornbill A. apicalis
The first were in the Flinders Ranges, than a single was at Eulo Bore.

* Tasmanian Thornbill A. ewingii
Quite common on Bruny Island, one of the Tassie endemics.

* Chestnut-rumped Thornbill A. uropygialis
Common in the dry country, the first were north of Cameron Corner and it was widespread at Bowra.

Buff-rumped Thornbill Acanthiza reguloides
Very nice looks around Deniliquin.

Slender-billed (Samphire) Thornbill A. iredalei
None at Port Gawler on a brief stopover, but Phil saw what looked like one at Hattah-Kulkyne and the Australian Breeding Bird Atlas does show it in the area.

Yellow-rumped Thornbill A. chrysorrhoa
Common at Werribee especially where they feed like diminutive pipits out on the grass.

* Yellow Thornbill A. nana
Our first was one at Hattah-Kulkyne, then another near Deniliquin.

Striated Thornbill A. lineata
A couple were with a mixed flock at Hattah-Kulkyne.

Southern Whiteface Aphelocephala leucopsis
We did well for these, finding them at a lot of the drier localities including near Cameron Corner, Bowra, Pyampa, and Broken Hill.

* Chestnut-breasted Whiteface A. pectoralis
The first were three with Cinnamon Quail-thrush on gibber plain at Km 24 from Lyndhurst, then there were five on a gibber plain near the old mine site, and finally six on the tailings apron by the old mine. Great views of a rare and restricted range species, classified as Near Threatened.

Banded Whiteface A. nigricincta
Three were in a low bush along the base of the sand dune at 50 km west of Cameron Corner near Merty-Merty. Another elusive species.

Varied Sittella Neositta chrysoptera
The race pileata with neatly black-capped males was seen in Hattah-Kulkyne.

White-throated Tree-creeper Climacteris leucophaea
The nominate race was common in the Grampians eucalypt woodland.

Brown Tree-creeper C. picumnus
Good views of the pale southern nominate race at Bowra, where it was common..

* White-browed Tree-creeper C. affinis
Very nice views of two birds on the quail-thrush ridge at Bowra, in tall mulga, then another two at Eulo bore. This is a very uncommon and patchily distributed species.

Mistletoebird Dicaeum hirundinaceum
Seen out in the stony desert at Lyndhurst and quite widespread in general.

Spotted Pardalote Pardalotus punctatus
Good views of this lovely species at Hattah-Kulkyne and Inala.

* Forty-spotted Pardalote P. quadragintus
This Endangered species gave good views at Inala, where we saw 3 birds feeding quietly and unobtrusively in the white gums. The total population is estimated at about 1,000 birds and Bruny Is. is a stronghold.

Red-browed Pardalote P. rubricatus (H)
Heard at the Strzelecki Crossing and at Bowra.

Striated Pardalote P. striatus
A large movement was underway at Hattah-Kulkyne where we saw over 100 birds moving through in small flocks with Brown-headed Honeyeaters. The mallee form is sometimes split as Yellow-rumped Pardalote race substriatus.

Silvereye Zosterops lateralis
A few were seen including the buffy-pink flanked Tasmanian race.

Singing Honeyeater Lichenostomus virescens
Common in the dry areas.

* White-eared Honeyeater L. leucotis
Good views at Hattah-Kulkyne and Whimpeys.

* Yellow-throated Honeyeater L. flavicollis
The first was at the Canary Cage Café at Margate, then quite a few on Bruny Island. A Tasmanian endemic.

* Yellow-tufted Honeyeater L. melanops
This attractive and uncommon species gave good views in the Grampians, and then we saw a single at Moliagul.

* Purple-gaped Honeyeater L. cratitius
Whimpey’s Malleefowl place is a good stake out for this uncommon bird, which again came in to the tape.

Grey-headed Honeyeater L. keartlandi
We found one near Cameron Corner in SA, and then three at Bowra.

Yellow-plumed Honeyeater L. ornatus
Common at Hattah-Kulkyne only on this trip.

* Grey-fronted Honeyeater L. plumulus
We saw singles at a creek crossing near Lyndhurst and at another creek line out in the desert along the Strzelecki Track. An uncommon species.

Yellow-faced Honeyeater L, chrysops
We saw one at Hattah-Kulkyne, and then again at Point Addis.

Fuscous Honeyeater L. fuscus
Only seen at Moliagul on the Swift Parrot search.

Noisy Miner M. melanocephala

Yellow-throated Miner M. flavigula
This poorly named species is common in the dry country. White-rumped Miner would be a far more appropriate name.

* Black-chinned Honeyeater Melithreptus gularis
A single was in the trees by the car park of our motel in Thargomindah, a lucky find as it was the only one we saw on the trip.

* Strong-billed Honeyeater M. validirostris
Good views on Bruny, this odd and striking bird acts like a creeper and pokes amidst the bark of the gums. A Tasmanian endemic.

Brown-headed Honeyeater M. brevirostris
Quite a few migrants at Hattah-Kulkyne with the Striated Pardalotes, and again at Whimpeys, The sharp plik plik plik call is distinctive from flocks going over at some height.

White-naped Honeyeater M. lunatus
Migrant flocks of 60+ in the Grampians at flowering gums, and at Point Addis

* Black-headed Honeyeater M. affinis
This Tasmanian endemic gave good views as it was common on Bruny Island.

Spiny-cheeked Honeyeater Acanthogenys rufogularis
This species was common in the drier areas and even a few at Bowra. Also seen at Whimpeys.

* Brush (Little) Wattlebird Anthochaera chrysoptera
A couple seen in the Grampians and four on Phillip Island. This is a split from the Little Wattlebird of Western Australia.

Red Wattlebird A. carunculata
The first was at Wentworth in NSW, then widespread around Melbourne.

* Yellow Wattlebird A. paradoxa
This species, the largest of the Australian honeyeaters, was quite vocal and showed well on Bruny Island where we saw up to six in a day.

* Crescent Honeyeater Phylidonyris pyrrhopterus
We saw a couple up along the road to Mt. Disappointment in the Grampians, then more on Bruny Island.

New Holland Honeyeater P. novaehollandiae
First seen in Adelaide, then common in the wetter areas, the default honeyeater for much of the trip.

White-fronted Honeyeater P. albifrons
A single of this sparse and irruptive species was up along the Strzelecki Track in flowering bushes adjacent to a creek bed.

Tawny-crowned Honeyeater Glyciphila melanops
A good trip for this large species, we saw 6 at Whimpeys at flowering shrubs in the heath, then one on the lawn by South Bruny Lighthouse and finally one at Point Addis.

* Pied Honeyeater Certhionyx variegatus
This difficult irruptive species was present in good numbers at Bowra, where we saw up to 25 in a day, though sadly the Black congener had moved through.

Little Friarbird P. citreogularis
A few were seen at Bowra.

Noisy Friarbird P. corniculatus
A few were seen in flowering gums at Bowra.

Blue-faced Honeyeater Entomyzon cyanotis
Seen in Thargomindah and a single at Bowra.

Brown Honeyeater Lichmera indistincta
A few at Bowra.

Eastern Spinebill Acanthorhynchus tenuirostris
Nice views of a single on Bruny.

Crimson Chat Ephthianura tricolor
Seen daily in the SW Queensland area with 5 near Cameron Corner and up to 30 at Bowra, this is another of the nomadic species.

Orange Chat E. aurifrons
A male found near Cameron Corner, in Queensland luckily, then 7 near Noccundra which included another fine male.

White-fronted Chat E. albifrons
None at Whimpeys was a surprise, but we had 8 near Deniliquin then good views at Werribee.

Magpie-lark Grallina cyanoleuca
Common in the north.

* White-winged Chough Corcorax melanorhamphus
A flock at Bowra, 15 at Hattah-Kulkyne and then lots at Whimpeys, a spectacular large unique and strange colonial breeding species

Apostlebird Struthidea cinerea
They first appeared at Thargomindah and were abundant at Bowra.

Masked Wood-swallow Artamus personata
A few at Bowra, very much an irruptive migrant.

White-browed Wood-swallow A. superciliosus
Up to ten at Bowra where it is another of these irruptive nomadic migrants.

White-breasted Wood-swallow Artamus leucorhynchus
A few around Broken Hill.

Black-faced Wood-swallow A. cinereus
The white-vented race is common throughout the drier areas.

Little Wood-swallow A. minor
Up to three at Bowra were a surprise as this is very much a species of rocky cliffs in the tropics, but it seems to be a nomad here like the other species.

Grey Butcherbird Cracticus torquatus

Pied Butcherbird C. nigrogularis

Australian Bell-Magpie Gymnorhina tibicen
Seen daily, even out on gibber plains in the Sturt Stony Desert.

* Spotted Bowerbird Chlamydera maculata
Good views of this species in SW Queensland, we saw them at Lake Bindegolly, Eulo Bore and Bowra, with up to five in a day.

* Black Currawong Strepera fuliginosus
One of this Tasmanian endemic showed well at Mt. Mangala on Bruny, and it was also heard there.

Grey Currawong S. versicolor
Seen in the mallee near Whimpeys, and one at Deni. Curiously none of the potential split Clinking Currawong race arguta was seen on Bruny this trip.

Australian Raven Corvus coronoides
This large crow with the bawling call was quite common in the coastal areas of SA, and in SW Queensland.

* Forest Raven C. tasmanicus
The only corvid in Tasmania, a near endemic too.

* Little Raven Corvus mellori
Common along coastal Victoria and around Melbourne.

Little Crow Corvus bennetti
Common along the Strzelecki Track, also seen around Cameron Corner and at Tibooburra.

Common Starling Sturnus vulgaris
Seen in Adelaide and at Broken Hill as well as in NSW and Victoria.

Common Myna Acridotheres tristis
The menace is in inland Victoria as well as Melbourne.

House Sparrow Passer domesticus
The species was even seen at Lyndhurst, and Cameron Corner, with one adventurous bird out at a dam in very dry country along the dingo fence some 20 km north of Cameron Corner.

Beautiful Firetail Stagonopleura bella (H)
Heard on two days at Inala, very close both times but stayed stubbornly out of view. Unlucky!

Diamond Firetail S. guttata
Five at Whimpeys along the fence line at the edge of his property, not on the lawn at this time of year.

* Plum-headed Finch Neochmia modesta
This scarce and rather irruptive species showed well at Bowra, where 28 was the peak count.

Double-barred Finch Taeniopygia bichenovii
A few at Bowra.

Zebra Finch Taeniopygia guttata
Common at Bowra with up to 150 in a day, also seen in the Flinders Ranges and at Lyndhurst.

European Greenfinch Carduelis chloris
This introduced species was seen at Werribee.

European Goldfinch C. carduelis
First at Whimpeys, then a few around Deni and Melbourne.


The trip racked up quite a good mammal list, with highlights being the desert-dwelling echidna, the koala in the Grampians and the Tasmanian Bettong.

Short-beaked Echidna Tachyglossus aculeatus
One out near the mine site at Lyndhurst.

Fat-tailed Dunnart Sminthopsis crassicaudata
Several seen during the nocturnal expedition for the Plains-Wanderer, mostly vanishing down holes.

Eastern Quoll Dasyurus viverrinus
Sadly, just a dead road killed one on Bruny Island. The species has vanished from the mainland.

Brush-tailed Possum Trichosaurus vulpecula
Common on Bruny Island.

Tasmanian (Southern) Bettong Bettongia gaimardi
A single near Inala when we were looking for the Tasmanian Boobook, long since exterminated from the mainland. A mammal tick for Phil.

Eastern Grey Kangaroo Macropus giganteus.
Small numbers around the Melbourne area

Western Grey Kangaroo M. fuliginosus
A few seen at Bowra and then at Hattah-Kulkyne.

Red Kangaroo M. rufus
A few in the Flinders Ranges.

Common Wallaroo or Euro M. robustus
This large shaggy coated beast, now famous for bearing the same name as the currency of the EU, was common in the Flinders Ranges. Also a few along the Strzelecki track and SW Queensland.

Swamp Wallaby Wallabia bicolor
A single in the mallee at Whimpeys.

Tasmanian Pademelon Thylogale billardierii
Yet another small macropod exterminated from the mainland but still quite common in dingo and fox-free Tasmania. We saw quite a few on Bruny.

Bennett’s (Red-necked) Wallaby Macropus rufogriseus
The Tasmanian race known as Bennett’s Wallaby was quite common on Bruny, where we saw some striking leucistic animals too.

Koala Phascolarctos cinereus.
A lovely one was sleeping in a gum at Silverband Falls in the Grampians.

Australian Fur-seal Arctocephalus pusillus
Hundreds on the islands off The Nobbies, and a group of presumably this species feeding off South Bruny.

Noxious introduced mammals

Red Fox Vulpes vulpes
One at the Plains-wanderer site, and several (but nowhere near enough) road-kills in Vic and NSW.
Feral Cat Felis catus
Two of this nemesis were by the waterhole at what was left of Lake Bindegolly, oh for a shotgun!
Brown Hare Lepus europaeus
One in the Plains-wanderer paddocks.
Old World Rabbit Oryctolagus cuniculus
The pest was common in Tasmania and around Melbourne.
Red Deer Cervus elaphus
A few around Hall’s Gap.
Dingo Canis lupus dingo.
One near Cameron Corner. This ancient 4,000 years plus Aboriginal introduction has wreaked havoc on the smaller mammals.


A single torpid Shingleback was at Whimpeys. Hugo saw a large dark snake cross a road in SE Queensland.

Phil Gregory June 2004