Monday, 13 July 2015

NT Road Trip 2015: Part 28: Newhaven

Day 30: Newhaven Sanctuary

"The traditional owners of Newhaven are the Ngaliya (southern Warlpiri) people. In 1959 Newhaven became a pastoral property, initially for sheep, but soon after converted to cattle grazing. The property was relatively lightly stocked, and equipped with around 15 bores during the period from 1959 to 2000. Birds Australia purchased Newhaven in 2000 with assistance from the Commonwealth Governments National Reserve System grant scheme, with the intention of managing the property for biodiversity conservation. In 2006 the Australian Wildlife Conservancy became the leading partner in co-management of Newhaven Sanctuary." Birdlife Australia website

Newhaven is a property of 262,000 hectares. It has 23 specific plants communities, 650 species of plant and 170+ bird species. There is a good network of roads across the property and they have various self-drive car tours. Although I came in from the west, almost everyone comes from the east, from Alice Springs. After 170 kms heading north on the Tanami Road you turn left [west] just north of Tilmouth Crossing [Well]. The road into the property is very 2W-drivable. A 4WD is essential for trips within the sanctuary. I did become "momentarily retarded by fine granular material" [bogged] at one stage but letting the tyres down to 16 psi, pulling the sand out of the way and careful steering got me out without any bother. A stop just up the road to blow up the tyres to 24 psi with the onboard compressor restored the vehicle to ideal working order.

I drove every tour available and did parts of several, several times. They had rain in January and three lakes still had water in them. One short tour of 50 km is the Lakes Tour. Susie's Lake had the most water plus a heap of waders. The Red-necked Avocet were walking next to the Grey Teal, Pink-eared Ducks, Hardheads, Hoary-headed Grebes, Pacific Black Ducks and Black-fronted Dotterels.

Red-necked Avocet Recurvirostra novaehollandiae
Another interested onlooker was a very pale, and I think, quite old dingo who was not that bothered about me at all. In fact, he just looked like he couldn't be bothered about anything with plenty of old fight wounds on his nose and a healed rip in the lower left eyelid. I wondered what the future had in store for him.

Moving onward to the east, I came to Swan Lake which was dry but rumoured to be the current home to Orange Chats and Hooded Robins. Two Chat families were working the edges of the lake which was about 120 metres across. Essentially, I sat by a bush and waited for them to "come my way" which they did. Additionally a family of Hooded Robins joined the party too. Images galore. Here are a few. But wait. What is that raptor in the air coming towards me?? Looks interesting.

Perhaps a Whistling Kite? There were plenty of them about and I know them quite well. Not a Whistling Kite.

Aah. Closer now. Coming straight for the dry lake. There appear to be white patches under the wings.

THINKS: Oh wow. A Black-breasted Buzzard. Coming right here. I have seen them quite a few times. They don't hang about. Better get some good shots because he will be away in a tick when he spots me sitting here in the grass!!

Black-breasted Buzzard Hamirostra melanosternon

He seemed pretty interested in something on the ground about 100 metres away from me and must have decided that I was not a threat so he landed [5D MkII autofocus not working happily so no pics]. He spent about 5 minutes on the ground ripping and tearing at something.

He took off and did some more circle work directly downwind from me.

Then the undercarriage came down, the wings flared and he flew into the wind directly towards me!!!


What a fantastic privilege to see such an iconic raptor close up AND to land twice in front of me.

MAGIC!! Just be there.

Oh, chats and robins next post.

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