Saturday, 10 June 2017

Invasion of South Australia 04

Days 09-11

Next to last stop was Innes NP at the tip of the Yorke Peninsula. We camped at Cable Bay Campground and first thing next morning, we walked the road to Cape Spencer without seeing or hearing a Western Whipbird. So we transferred to the West Cape Road and did the walking thing again. This time success with several birds heard and a few photos taken. Then on to Royston Head looking for Rock Parrot. Jack P saw a pair but by the time the other 8 of us had arrived the birds had flown over the edge and out of sight. Most walked the loop to the light seeing an Eastern Reef Egret and a White-bellied Sea-eagle and we gathered back at the cars to see Phil running up and announcing that Dan was baby-sitting a pair of Rock Parrots. This was several hundred metres along the cliff tops where Dan was crouching about 30 metres from a pair on top of a bush. We stopped, all had excellent looks with bins then we slowly moved closer taking multiple photos until we reached Dan then we continued to edge closer. Eventually one flew, joined a third and finally the second one flew when we were only 10 metres away. A special moment. Lots of emus around. Adults and half-size youngsters.

Emu Dromaius novaehollandiae

Rock Parrot Neophema petrophila

Eastern Reef Egret Egretta sacra

Rufous Field-wren Calamanthus campestris

Silvereye Zosterops lateralis

Leaving Innes NP towards lunchtime, we arrived at Gluepot just on dusk and Eagle-eyes Phil spotted a Spotted Nightjar at least a hundred metres in front of the car seeing just the eye shine. We were able to pull up about 30 metres from the bird and approach it to within 3 metres before he/she decamped.

Spotted Nightjar Eurostopodus argus

Next morning we specifically searched for Black-eared Miners with the simple remit of taking a photo of every single one we saw for later determination of separating BEM from Yellow-throated Miners [which have genetically swamped BEM] and the many hybrid birds. Let me tell you it took four hours of running through sandy bush hunting down calls of Miners then trying to get a look. Eventually we saw a few dozen and scrutiny of the images on computer at our last camp for the trip, Hattah [again], showed we had seen two birds we were happy to ID as true Black-eared Miners. Gluepot has a good sheet explaining the differences and a handy table making it easy to place any bird in the genetic spectrum. It is probably fair to say that there are probably no true, 100% DNA BEMs now. Due to the ubiquity of mobile phone signal, within 20 minutes or so of sending Rohan Clarke our images via text messaging, we were able to get confirmation that our images were true BEMs. We live in an amazing world both technological and natural. So pretty exciting and satisfying to tick BEM.

Black-eared Miner Manorina melanotis
This bird is a hybrid at best. Note the faint yellowing of the neck.
Other birds we saw included ...

Southern Scrub-robin Drymodes brunneopygia

Major Mitchell Cockatoo Lophochroa leadbetteri

White-browed Scrub-wren Sericornis frontalis

At one of the bird hides we came upon this delightful Inland Snake-eyed Skink Cryptoblepharus australis. 

Our last night was camped at Hattah and we had another go at seeing Striated Grasswren but saw lots of Mallee Emu-wrens and took lots of photos of them. A great bird and a great way to end the trip.

Jacky Winter Microeca flavigaster

Mallee Emu-wren Stipiturus mallee

Magic. f"anything" and be there.

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