Thursday, 16 July 2015

NT Road Trip 2015: Part 32: Alice Springs

Alice Springs

I spent three days in Alice taking the opportunity to ...

  • visit Trephina Gorge [100km east],
  • visit the Water Treatment Plant twice [once in the afternoon, once at daybreak],
  • visit Olive Pink Botanic Gardens for a late post-poo-ponds breakfast and a look at their resident Western Bowerbird,
  • chat to Mark Carter [birding guide extraordinaire] about setting up a Birdlife East Gippsland Facebook page a la the Birdlife Central Australia Facebook page,
  • chase down a Redthroat at the Old Telegraph Station and
  • attend, on my last night, a Birdlife Central Australia branch meeting - just because I was there. The feature of the meeting was a presentation on Princess Parrots, last seen at Newhaven about 4 years ago. The images were superb. 

Trephina Gorge had heaps of Crimson Chat Epthianura tricolour.

At Emily Gorge, on the way to Trephina, there was one little puddle left with a small mob of Zebra Finches drinking. I walked past the pool and on my way back, a Brown Goshawk whizzed in, grabbed a Zeb and alighted in trees just at the gap entrance. All the honeyeaters were going off at this bird so I was able to easily find it having it's breakfast and got some terrific images.

Brown Goshawk Accipiter fasciatus

The WTP had about 40 species of residents. I met a keen birder doing a Big Year [he was at 404 species on May 26]. We had a very enjoyable 2 hours birding the area. Even the workers there are bird-sensitive. The foreman drove up and told us where we could find Crimson Chat. Cool. Obviously, over time, good relationships have been nurtured between Power and Water and the birding community. Here is the WTP Crimson Chat. Got a bit closer to him! The Stilts had a juvenile in tow and the avocet were just adorable. 

Black-winged Stilt Himanoptus himanoptus
Red-necked Avocet Recurvirostra novaehollandiae
Black-tailed Native-hen Gallinula ventralis

Olive Pink Botanic Gardens [OP] was next. An aside: Olive Pink was a Tasmanian who, amongst other things mostly botanical, was an activist for aboriginal rights from the mid-1930s. I met an aboriginal at Lajamanu, Jerry Jangala, who told us that his first sight of a white person was Olive Pink on a horse at Willowra about 150km northwest of Alice Springs. Jangala was a young boy at the time. He is now in his eighties. Small world. Apart from a very nice cafe, OP has avifauna as well as flora. I found the Western Bowerbird's bower, sat down on a bench near it and waited a few minutes until two WBs zoomed in. At one point a Pied Butcherbird came to have a look and it was on for young and old. The bowerbird won. Their purple patch on the back of the neck [the nuchal crest] is stunning. 

Western Bowerbird Chlamydera guttata
Bowerbird 1 : Butcherbird 0

The Old Telegraph Station is always a good birding spot. Brown Goshawk [again], Redthroat, Splendid Fairy-wren, Grey-crowned Babbler were the standouts for me.

Brown Goshawk ... again
Redthroat Pyrrholaemus brunneus
Splendid Fairy-wren, female Malurus splendens
Grey-crowned Babbler Pomatostomus temporalis

So, that's it. Birding as part of my trip to the NT. It was all magic. You had to be there!!😉

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