Highlights of South Australia (2012) 6-day tour report

November 20, 2012

This years' Highlights of South Australia tour was run from 20-25 November, through a variety of habitats within South Australia. Covering the Flinders Ranges, outback, Gluepot, Murray River and coast near Adelaide, the trip was guided by Peter Waanders, assisted by Helga Kieskamp. In 6 days the trip totalled 180 bird species including goodies such as 3 species of Grasswren, Scarlet-chested Parrot, Inland Dotterel, Freckled Duck as well as some interesting mammals.

Day 1: 20 November. We commenced the trip with a visit to the Greenfields wetlands, north of Adelaide. Plenty of waterbirds and waders were present here. Good sightings included Australian Spotted and Spotless Crakes. A little way from here, at Pt Gawler, we observed Slender-billed Thornbills in the low mangroves. A walk around the Arid Lands Botanical Gardens in Pt Augusta yielded a good variety of Honeyeaters including White-fronted. Towards the end of the day we spent a pleasant hour at a lake observing Orange Chats, Musk Duck and all 3 species of Grebe. 

Day 2: 21 November. After an early start we spend the entire day exploring the Strzelecki desert around Lyndhurst and Marree. Stony gibber plains, dry creeks lined with ancient Eucalyptus trees, low sand dunes covered in shrubby bushes, and dry floodplains yielded a wide variety of birds. These included Rufous Fieldwren, Little Button-quail, Cinnamon Quail-thrush, White-winged Fairy-wren, Chirruping Wedgebill, Orange Chat and even one Gibberbird. After trying a number of sites we eventually also found a pair of very obliging Thick-billed Grasswrens. At a lake in the middle of the desert we saw Australian Pratincole and many waterbirds including at least 30 Freckled Ducks. At the end of the day we returned to Lyndhurst where at sunset we had excellent views of a family of 6  Inland Dotterels. What a great way to finish the day!

Day 3: 22 November. We spent the entire day in the Flinders Ranges, exploring the rugged yet beautiful gorges, rock formations and mountains by 4WD and on foot. The beautiful Yellow-footed Rock-wallabies were showing well at their usual haunt. Good birds we saw this morning included Grey-fronted Honeyeater, Red-capped Robin and Peregrine Falcon. After a sumptuos lunch in the Wild Lime Cafe in Blinman, we started the search for Short-tailed Grasswren. Within half an hour we found a very obliging pair showing well and even allowing photographs! High fives all around. We checked in at our accommodation at the Wilpena Pound resort, where some people chose the swimming pool, while others continued birding, resulting in Inland Thornbill and Rufous Whistler. An evening spotlighting session was unsuccesful although we heard Tawny Frogmouth and Southern Boobook. 

Day 4: 23 November. We set off on a pre-breakfast bird walk around Wilpena Pound, following which we departed south. Southern Scrubrobin, Inland Thornbill, Red-capped Robin and Australian Ringneck Parrot, amongst others, were seen. The majestic Wedge-tailed Eagle was seen at close range a number of times. At Orroroo we had lunch and checked out some Aboriginal rock carvings, and had close views of Variegated Fairy-wrens. At Burra we saw an immature Nankeen Night-heron roosting in a pine tree. At Morgan we had glimpses of Redthroat, which unfortunately wasn't very cooperative. We met the Murray River, and started seeing waterbirds, including White-necked Heron and Black-tailed Native-hen. We then headed to Waikerie for the night.

Day 5: 24 November. A big day at Birdlife Australia's Gluepot Reserve. We commenced early as it was going to be big day's birding. At the first stop we saw masses of woodswallows, both Masked and White-browed. Chestnut Quail-thrush and Southern Scrubrobin were cooperative here as was Gilbert's Whistler. Moving on, we commenced the search for Scarlet-chested Parrot, which had been breeding at Gluepot for the 2nd year in a row. It didn't take long to find a pair with an immature, evidence of succesful breeding again. High fives all around! We then started trawling through acres of spinifex in the hope of turning up a Striated Grasswren. After about an hour we were not disappointed with a pair showing well. Time for a well deserved cup of coffee after which we quickly moved on to the next target, Red-lored Whistler. By the time we got to the site, it had started warming up a bit but fortunately the birds were present and we had good views of an adult and an immature.. Nearby, we observed a flock of mostly Black-eared Miners, containing one or two hybrids. Time for lunch and we headed to the impressive visitors centre. In the shady gazebo we enjoyed our sandwiches while a pair of Major Mitchell Cockatoos were quietly feeding in nearby trees! A Splendid Fairy-wren put on a brilliant show. The next hour was spent in the bird hide, overlooking a water trough, observing the frantic comings-and-goings of hundreds (!) of birds, including many honeyeater species and Regent Parrots. 

Day 6: 25 November. The weather was nice and cool today as we spent the morning exploring wetlands along the Murray River, thus adding various waterbirds to the list. A highlight was a nesting pair of Peregrine Falcon. Via Brookfield Conservation Park, a smaller mallee reserve halfway back to Adelaide, where we added Blue Bonnet and Chestnut-crowned Babbler, we entered the Adelaide Hills. A nice Scarlet Robin was showing well here, as was a pair of White-throated Treecreepers. On the way to the city a Spotted Harrier was seen foraging over wheatfields next to the road. The 4 satisfied participants were dropped back at their accommodation in the evening, after totalling 180 species many of which were lifers for them. 

Locations visited

Flinders Ranges


Land Birds 171 species
Crimson Rosella (Platycercus elegans) 2 "Adelaide Rosella"; "Yellow Rosella"
Restless Flycatcher (Myiagra inquieta) 1
White-browed Babbler (Pomatostomus superciliosus) 1
Red-necked Stint (Calidris ruficollis) 1
Black-shouldered Kite (Elanus axillaris) 1
Chestnut-crowned Babbler (Pomatostomus ruficeps) 1
Maned Duck (Chenonetta jubata) 1
Inland Thornbill (Acanthiza apicalis) 1
Long-billed Corella (Cacatua tenuirostris) 1
Spotted Harrier (Circus assimilis) 1
Gilbert's Whistler (Pachycephala inornata) 1
Orange Chat (Epthianura aurifrons) 1
Little Raven (Corvus mellori) 1
Pink-eared Duck (Malacorhynchus membranaceus) 1
Peaceful Dove (Geopelia placida) 1
Grey Currawong (Strepera versicolor) 1
Willie Wagtail (Rhipidura leucophrys) 1
Welcome Swallow (Hirundo neoxena) 1
Spotless Crake (Porzana tabuensis) 1
Australian Golden Whistler (Pachycephala pectoralis) 1
Grey-fronted Honeyeater (Lichenostomus plumulus) 1
Gibberbird (Ashbyia lovensis) 1
Little Corella (Cacatua sanguinea) 1
Australian Raven (Corvus coronoides) 1
Nankeen Kestrel (Falco cenchroides) 1
Blue-faced Honeyeater (Entomyzon cyanotis) 1
Hardhead (Aythya australis) 1
Chirruping Wedgebill (Psophodes cristatus) 1
White-browed Scrubwren (Sericornis frontalis) 1
Grey Butcherbird (Cracticus torquatus) 1
Scarlet Robin (Petroica boodang) 1
White-backed Swallow (Cheramoeca leucosterna) 1
White-plumed Honeyeater (Lichenostomus penicillatus) 1
Brown Quail (Coturnix ypsilophora) 1
Little Crow (Corvus bennetti) 1
Budgerigar (Melopsittacus undulatus) 1
Brown Falcon (Falco berigora) 1
Grey Fantail (Rhipidura albiscapa) 1
Yellow-plumed Honeyeater (Lichenostomus ornatus) 1
Spotted Pardalote (Pardalotus punctatus) 1
Wedge-tailed Eagle (Aquila audax) 1
Eurasian Coot (Fulica atra) 1
Rainbow Lorikeet (Trichoglossus haematodus) 1
Diamond Dove (Geopelia cuneata) 1
Pied Butcherbird (Cracticus nigrogularis) 1
Southern Scrub Robin (Drymodes brunneopygia) 1
Common Starling (Sturnus vulgaris) 1
Little Buttonquail (Turnix velox) 1
Striated Pardalote (Pardalotus striatus) 1
Eastern Rosella (Platycercus eximius) 1
Major Mitchell's Cockatoo (Lophochroa leadbeateri) 1
Australian Crake (Porzana fluminea) 1
Rufous Whistler (Pachycephala rufiventris) 1
Apostlebird (Struthidea cinerea) 1
Inland Dotterel (Peltohyas australis) 1
Peregrine Falcon (Falco peregrinus) 1
Nankeen Night Heron (Nycticorax caledonicus) 1
Tawny Frogmouth (Podargus strigoides) 1
Australasian Grebe (Tachybaptus novaehollandiae) 1
Rainbow Bee-eater (Merops ornatus) 1
White-winged Fairywren (Malurus leucopterus) 1
Red-capped Robin (Petroica goodenovii) 1
Zebra Finch (Taeniopygia guttata) 1
Common Greenshank (Tringa nebularia) 1
Red-kneed Dotterel (Erythrogonys cinctus) 1
Purple Swamphen (Porphyrio porphyrio) 1
White-winged Chough (Corcorax melanoramphos) 1
Silvereye (Zosterops lateralis) 1
New Zealand Pipit (Anthus novaeseelandiae) 1 Australian Pipit
Grey Teal (Anas gracilis) 1
Red-capped Plover (Charadrius ruficapillus) 1
Splendid Fairywren (Malurus splendens) 1
Australian Magpie (Gymnorhina tibicen) 1
Pied Oystercatcher (Haematopus longirostris) 1
White-throated Treecreeper (Cormobates leucophaea) 1
Chestnut Teal (Anas castanea) 1
Chestnut-backed Quail-thrush (Cinclosoma castanotum) 1
Hoary-headed Grebe (Poliocephalus poliocephalus) 1
Sacred Kingfisher (Todiramphus sanctus) 1
Superb Fairywren (Malurus cyaneus) 1
White-browed Woodswallow (Artamus superciliosus) 1
Bluebonnet (Northiella haematogaster) 1
Black-winged Stilt (Himantopus himantopus) 1
Brown Goshawk (Accipiter fasciatus) 1
Musk Duck (Biziura lobata) 1
White-browed Treecreeper (Climacteris affinis) 1
Southern Whiteface (Aphelocephala leucopsis) 1
White-faced Heron (Egretta novaehollandiae) 1
Great Crested Grebe (Podiceps cristatus) 1
Brown-headed Honeyeater (Melithreptus brevirostris) 1
White-winged Triller (Lalage tricolor) 1
Masked Woodswallow (Artamus personatus) 1
Banded Stilt (Cladorhynchus leucocephalus) 1
Freckled Duck (Stictonetta naevosa) 1
Yellow Thornbill (Acanthiza nana) 1
House Sparrow (Passer domesticus) 1
Spotted Dove (Spilopelia chinensis) 1
Little Egret (Egretta garzetta) 1
Shy Heathwren (Calamanthus cautus) 1
White-breasted Woodswallow (Artamus leucorynchus) 1
Australian Pratincole (Stiltia isabella) 1
Black Kite (Milvus migrans) 1
Grey Shrikethrush (Colluricincla harmonica) 1
Brown Treecreeper (Climacteris picumnus) 1
Little Grassbird (Megalurus gramineus) 1
White-naped Honeyeater (Melithreptus lunatus) 1
Red Wattlebird (Anthochaera carunculata) 1
Pacific Black Duck (Anas superciliosa) 1
Regent Parrot (Polytelis anthopeplus) 1
Red-backed Kingfisher (Todiramphus pyrrhopygius) 1
Variegated Fairywren (Malurus lamberti) 1
Dusky Moorhen (Gallinula tenebrosa) 1
White-fronted Honeyeater (Purnella albifrons) 1
Emu (Dromaius novaehollandiae) 1
Crested Bellbird (Oreoica gutturalis) 1
Little Eagle (Hieraaetus morphnoides) 1
Rufous Fieldwren (Calamanthus campestris) 1
Jacky Winter (Microeca fascinans) 1
Australian White Ibis (Threskiornis moluccus) 1
Striped Honeyeater (Plectorhyncha lanceolata) 1
Singing Honeyeater (Lichenostomus virescens) 1
Australian Shelduck (Tadorna tadornoides) 1
Australian Ringneck (Barnardius zonarius) 1
Common Bronzewing (Phaps chalcoptera) 1
Chestnut-rumped Thornbill (Acanthiza uropygialis) 1
Magpie-lark (Grallina cyanoleuca) 1
Rufous Songlark (Cincloramphus mathewsi) 1
Mistletoebird (Dicaeum hirundinaceum) 1
Little Wattlebird (Anthochaera chrysoptera) 1
Black-faced Woodswallow (Artamus cinereus) 1
Crescent Honeyeater (Phylidonyris pyrrhopterus) 1
Brown Songlark (Cincloramphus cruralis) 1
Black-eared Miner (Manorina melanotis) 1
Rock Dove (Columba livia) 1
Whistling Kite (Haliastur sphenurus) 1
Laughing Kookaburra (Dacelo novaeguineae) 1
Redthroat (Pyrrholaemus brunneus) 1
Common Blackbird (Turdus merula) 1
New Holland Honeyeater (Phylidonyris novaehollandiae) 1
Black Swan (Cygnus atratus) 1
Black-fronted Dotterel (Elseyornis melanops) 1
Yellow-billed Spoonbill (Platalea flavipes) 1
Slender-billed Thornbill (Acanthiza iredalei) 1
Noisy Miner (Manorina melanocephala) 1
Great Egret (Ardea alba) 1
Weebill (Smicrornis brevirostris) 1
Varied Sittella (Daphoenositta chrysoptera) 1
Australian Reed Warbler (Acrocephalus australis) 1
Yellow-throated Miner (Manorina flavigula) 1
Spiny-cheeked Honeyeater (Acanthagenys rufogularis) 1
Striated Grasswren (Amytornis striatus) 1
Thick-billed Grasswren (Amytornis modestus) 1
Masked Lapwing (Vanellus miles) 1
Crested Pigeon (Ocyphaps lophotes) 1
Scarlet-chested Parrot (Neophema splendida) 1
Horsfield's Bronze Cuckoo (Chrysococcyx basalis) 1
Yellow-rumped Thornbill (Acanthiza chrysorrhoa) 1
Fairy Martin (Petrochelidon ariel) 1
Mulga Parrot (Psephotus varius) 1
Sharp-tailed Sandpiper (Calidris acuminata) 1
White-necked Heron (Ardea pacifica) 1
Black-faced Cuckooshrike (Coracina novaehollandiae) 1
Yellow-faced Honeyeater (Lichenostomus chrysops) 1
Southern Boobook (Ninox boobook) 1
Tree Martin (Petrochelidon nigricans) 1
Red-rumped Parrot (Psephotus haematonotus) 1
Galah (Eolophus roseicapilla) 1
Black-tailed Nativehen (Tribonyx ventralis) 1
Red-lored Whistler (Pachycephala rufogularis) 1
Short-tailed Grasswren (Amytornis merrotsyi) 1
Hooded Robin (Melanodryas cucullata) 1
Seabirds 9 species
Australian Pelican (Pelecanus conspicillatus) 1
Caspian Tern (Hydroprogne caspia) 1
Silver Gull (Chroicocephalus novaehollandiae) 1
Gull-billed Tern (Gelochelidon nilotica) 1
Whiskered Tern (Chlidonias hybrida) 1
Australasian Darter (Anhinga novaehollandiae) 1
Australian Pied Cormorant (Phalacrocorax varius) 1
Little Black Cormorant (Phalacrocorax sulcirostris) 1
Little Pied Cormorant (Microcarbo melanoleucos) 1



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