Saturday, 30 May 2015

NT Road Trip 2015: Part 02

Day 3 -- Orroroo to Coward Springs

The caravan park in Orroroo was small but neat and tidy. It overlooks Pekina Creek, which has a dam upstream from the town, featured by a Lions Club park and walking tracks. A great place for an early morning walk. We headed north from there, bought fuel at Leigh Creek [$1.55] then hit the Oodnadatta Track at Marree. The track had been freshly graded and re-opened since rain a few weeks prior. It was excellent driving. Better than parts of the Princes Highway between Melbourne and Sale!!

Russell and Annette have a "rule" about travelling in that they try to be at camp by 16hr00. This gives plenty of light [2 - 2 1/2hrs] to set up camp and cook tea. We reached Coward Springs in plenty of time and got a site for two vehicles. There is a thermal artesian spring with a tempering value so that it floats at a reasonable rate. It is warm and relaxing. The overflow, which used to be a couple of hundred acres or more in the Coward Spring heyday of a township with hotels, is now about a third of that size but it has lots of birdlife.

Red-kneed Dotterel Erythrogonys cinctus
Australian Spotted Crake Porzana fluminea
This crake was seen two mornings running just on the edge of the sedges and rushes and was totally unconcerned by my presence. On the second morning, with the rising sun behind me, I stood in the creek to get better photos, only ten metres away. A different reaction from the crakes of Maffra Swamp or Lake Guthridge.

Wood Sandpiper Tringa glareola
This is a life tick. I was uncertain as to the identity of this migratory wader [they should have all been gone by now 23/04] so posted the image on the Birdlife Central Australia Facebook page*. They have members who are very capable and the answer came back soon enough. Wood Sandpiper. Woohoo. There were a pair and they didn't hang around for long but relocated to a section of the wetland several hundred metres away from me.

Of course, where there is water there are insects and insectivorous birds. I find martins and swallows impossible to photograph whilst flying. Them, not me! Perhaps one day.

Tree Martin Petrochelidon nigricans
Welcome Swallow Hirundo neoxena
Naturally, anywhere that an Englishman has been, there has been an acclimatisation society, so the presence of the next bird was a) no surprise, and b) a surprise being many hundreds of kilometres from a decent sized human population.

House Sparrow Passer domesticus
Finally, as I was making my way slowly and very quietly a few hundred metres away from the outflow, I came upon this fellow, by himself, carefully looking for seeds in the dry grasses on the edge of the dry mudflats. Another life tick. Woohoo. P&K describes the stubble quail as nomadic, irruptive and part-migratory and only in NT in good seasons.
Stubble Quail Coturnix pectoralis
* BLCA is an excellent group and they have great FB posts. Have a look here. Please let me know if it doesn't work.

Magic! t1250 and be there.

NT Road Trip 2015: Part 01

Days 1 and 2 -- Sale to Orroroo

Aimed to catch up with fellow 4WD travellers, Russell and Annette and their T-van, at Coward Springs on the Oodnadatta Track but I made good time on Day 1 and swagged o/night just north of Sea Lake at a Wikicamps site. Up with first light on Day 2 and caught up [passed actually, they were still ensconced in the caravan park at Ouyen when I went through about 7.30am] with them in Mildura. Sale had the cheapest diesel at $1.21/L. Mildura was $1.30.

On the way across to Renmark I spotted [not hard really] a sizeable mob of emus Dromaius novaehollandiae in a stubble field. Dad Emu does ALL the nursery work. Eventually groups of chicks can combine, up to 200 or more, with one dad looking after the whole lot! Oh Stripey [or should that be crikey!].

They were about 150 metres from the road when I first spotted them and by the time I was out of the car with camera in hand, they were walking further away from the fence. Some were running!

There are 30 emus in this image. All together there
were close to 100 in the mob [entourage of emu?]

Here is a photo of Eric[a]. [S]he has lived in a paddock on the corner of Warrigal Toms Road and the Boisdale-Newry Road for several years now. Other emus get in and out of the paddock but Eric must think he is a cow! Other groups of emus locally to Sale are to be found at Dutson Downs on the Golden Beach/Loch Sport Road. They are just as wary as their far-north-western counterparts.

Magic. f8 and be there.