The Birdsville Track
Thursday July 5, 2012
[From the trip Up the Birdsville and Back]
After leaving the Flinders Ranges behind (for the first time), we continued our surveys through Lyndhurst, Marree, and onto the Birdsville Track proper. We started encountering stony gibber plains, another seemingly barren habitat that is actually teeming with life. With recent rains, many of the gibber plains were flooded and still held water on claypans all along the track. We came across thousands of Orange Chats, and Cinnamon Quail-thrush were at nearly every site we visited. We found Inland Dotterels at a few sites (mostly flying away at a distance, but we did get some good views), and some small flocks of Flock Bronzewings. My highlight was clearly seeing my first pair of Gibberbirds. They aren't the most exciting of Australian birds, but they are beautiful in their own right, and the pair we saw first were in crisp breeding plumage, with bright yellow faces and rumps, strutting around the gibber like they owned the place. Near some dams we also found our first Black and Pied Honeyeaters, another sought-after pair of birds from the centre of Australia.
We also began to encounter sand dunes, and to keep an eye out for Eyrean Grasswrens. Sadly we weren't able to get any good views of this shy but locally common species until we were all the way to Birdsville, but we did see lots of great birds and many beautiful wildflowers on the dunes during our surveys. One sad thing about the sandy areas on the surveys was the number of rabbits we saw. My last trip in October 2010 we saw barely any rabbits, and very little sign of rabbit activity in the region. This time we saw hundreds, and evidence of many thousands. It is clear the effects of the calicivirus have ended, and the centre of Australia is in for another plague of rabbits, with a commensurate increase in the number of foxes and cats.