One of the advantages of living north of Adelaide is it is quite easy to get to some great Mallee Conservation parks without two much trouble. The closest and easiest to get to is Brookfield, 10kms short of Blanchetown on the Murray River and 40 minutes from my doorstep.
On this particular morning time was of the essence as I only had around four hours to play with. Deciding to tackle the park differently to what I normally do, I planned to do two hour long walks instead of what I usually do which is to drive around one of the two loop drives and then stopping every so often to do small loop walks out into the Mallee.
I have found one of the most produtive area's of this park is only a little way inside the entrance. About 500m along the track there is a small fenced area which is surrounded by fairly open Mallee with low Acacia shrubs inbetween. This is a great area generally to find Hooded Robin, so with that in mind this was the first area I chose to do an hour of walking. First bird to show was a Brown Falcon and then it's mate, I tried to get a few photos of them but couldn't manage to close the gap, meaning average photos were all I could manage. After leaving the Falcons to do whatever Falcons do, I took off in search of a Hooded Robin or two. A little way off I could hear Brown Treecreepers calling so headed in that direction, being fairly vocal it didn't take long to find them and also as a bonus there was a family of Hooded Robins right there with them!
Also found on this first walk were: Spiny-cheeked Honeyater, Yellow-throated Miner, Australian Owlet Nightjar, Mistletoebird, Southern Whiteface, Australian Magpie, Whistling Kite, Singing Honeyater, Yellow-plumed Honeyeater, Willie Wagtail, Chestnut-crowned Babbler, Galah and Australian (Mallee) Ringneck.
Australian (Mallee) Ringneck
When birding area's you have been to before it's always easy to fall into our comfort zone and head to spots where we have seen good birds before, often to the detriment of other area's which may be just as good. I have been a culprit of this many times at Brookfield, so this time decided not to do my normal spots and instead do my second hour long walk in the first thick part of Mallee scrub I came across. This took me just past the homestead about one kilometre up the loop track. Parking the car, instantly I came across some great birds in the area between my car and the edge of the thicker Mallee, these included Mulga Parrots, Australasian Pipits, Chestnut-crowned Babblers, Singing Honeyeaters etc. Right on the edge of the Mallee a pair of Southern Scrub-robin were bouncing about in there own perculiar way! while trying to get a decent photo of these they led me right to a pair of Gilberts Whistlers sitting in a Mallee together. Now trying to get a photo of the Gilberts instead, the Scrub-robins bounced off deeper into the Mallee? The female Gilbert proved quite confiding allowing a few photos, where-as the male was having none of it! sitting at the back of every Acacia bush he could find never letting me a clear shot!
Gilberts Whistler (female)
Splendid Fairy-Wren ( Male with leg bands)
Further along many other great birds showed as I walked includuing at one spot where without moving I could watch a family of Splendid Fairy-Wrens and a family of Varigated Fairy-Wrens interacting, a Grey Fantail showing it's displeasure of me being in it's patch! three different species of Thornbill (Yellow, Chestnut-rumped & Inland), a few Weebills and a bright male Red-capped Robin all in an area no bigger than a standard family home!!
All up a nice way to spend a few hours out in the Mallee!!!Chris