Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Strezlecki Track & Flinders Ranges Pt. 2

24/09/10 - 27/09/10 

Letter-wing Kite
After passing Montecollina Bore and the Swale country which surrounds it, we next headed to a site given to us as a place to find Letter-winged Kites. We pulled into the area and proceeded to walk the treeline that the Letter-wings use for nesting. The area has around twenty or so Coolabah's and we were nearing the last group thinking we were going to dip on our main target species for the trip having found none in the first fifteen or so trees we had checked. As we neared the last of the trees three Letter-wings flew up and started circling and calling around us, ghost like with their almost see through white plumage they flew higher and higher till we could barely see them. During this flight they often flapped there wings in a strange almost Butterfly like manner, an amazing sight to see! Luckily for us no sooner had they ascended to a great height then they descended back down and settled down back into the trees.
Mike and I were rapt! a bird we thought we only had a small chance of seeing in our lives, right there in front of us settling back down onto their nests and acting as if we weren't even there!
Personally, I was thrilled as this species is number five in the top ten birds I want to see in the wild in my lifetime!

Pair of LWKites found between Montecollina Bore and Strezlecki Crossing
 Suprisingly, for such an arid area there were birds everywhere at this site. Some of the other birds found at this site included : Red-backed Kingfisher, Spotted Harrier, Black Kite, Yellow-throated Miner, Australian Magpie, Zebra Finches and Budgerigar's. 

Red-backed Kingfisher at the Letter-winged Kite site
 We got back to the 4wd just in time to hear the last 7 seconds of the grand final, a draw! not what we were expecting to hear!
Didn't take long to forget about that and get back to enjoying just being in the outback! as we headed for the Strezlecki Crossing we had travelled a little further down the road when Mike slammed the brakes on, off to the right about 200m there was another Letter-wing! great spotting by the driver! a little worrisome as the passenger though!! This sighting was even more enjoyable than the first as we found this sight ourselves and that always is a more satisfing feeling than being directed to a site which can be a little like shooting fish in a barrel!

The Letter-winged Kite that eagle-eye Mike spotted whilst driving, heading towards Strezlecki Crossing.

Dusk on the Strezlecki Crossing
 We camped just back away from the waterhole at the Strezlecki Crossing. After a stunning sunset, Mike cooked up an exemplary camp oven roast (he was proving quite handy!), while I tested the wine make sure it would accompany the meal to our satisfaction, which of course it did being a 02 St Hallett Old Block (we couldn't go wrong).
That night we took the spotlight out and went for a look at the Crossing, where we came across many Nankeen Night-herons mostly in juvenile plumage. We also came across a few Kultarr hopping about the dunes which was great to see as neither of us had seen these before!
In the morning we looked around the Crossing a bit more, where there were masses of Great and Little Black Cormorants plus lots of other waterbirds. Also in the general area there were many parrots such as Blue Bonnets, Budgies and Cockatiels.

Blue Bonnets at Strezlecki Crossing

Blue Bonnet at Strezlecki Crossing

Dawn on Frome Creek at Mt Lyndhurst Station a Little Corella enjoys the sunrise! 
 Our last night was spent back on Mt Lyndhurst Station at the Frome Creek crossing which had a nice place to camp with water still running across the ford. The birdlife around this camp was pretty much the same as we had found at our other camps, although we did have a noisy pair of Sacred Kingfishers nesting in a hollow near us. An interesting thing happened to me the next morning as I headed off on a walk with a shovel instead of a camera (maybe I should have taken both!) a pair of Dotterals circled around my head with the sun behind them which made it impossible to tell what species they were! This was dissapointing as one of the targets of this trip was to find Inland Dotterals, which so far had eluded us, I have a feeling these birds were Inlands but I could never prove it as they flew across the river to where I could not get! So the two birds we felt we should be able to find: Inland Dotterals and Eyrean Grasswren had eluded us! oh well there is always next time!

Sacred Kingfishers where nesting right next to our camp on Frome Creek, Mt Lyndhurst Station

Sacred Kingfishers where nesting right next to our camp on Frome Creek, Mt Lyndhurst Station
  After leaving the Strezlecki Track we headed home via the Flinders Ranges specifically to target the Short-tailed Grasswren which can be found around Stokes Hill Lookout, just north of Wilpena Pound. On the way  there we travelled through Parachilna Gorge where we stopped a few times to see what we could find. At one spot we trudged all over a steep hillside to allow me views of a Redthroat, a bird I hadn't seen before. Mike had and of course he saw it easily where as it took me about 15min to get good enough views.
At Stokes Hill we had a lot more luck with Short-tailed Grasswrens, we had only left the car for about 2-5 minutes when across a small gully some movement caught my eye, there two ST Grasswrens where happily bouncing around as grasswrens do going about their business. Too Easy!!
After we left the Flinders the only other bird of note was a Black Falcon perched in a tree along a creekline south of Hawker.
All up a great trip and i'm already chaffing at the bit to get back up there again!

Short-tailed Grasswren found at Stokes Hill Lookout only five minutes after leaving the car!

Bonding Pair


  1. It is the first time I have seen a Sacred Kingfisher. They look similar to the Common Kingfisher we often see in Hong Kong. Enjoy reading your blog.

  2. Thankyou, Friend of HK always nice to get a little feedback! I was surprised to find the Sacred's breeding there, generally this time of year they are further south, the country is much more suited to Red-Backed Kingfishers of which we saw many on the trip.
    Chris Steeles

  3. Just reading your trips, you have the pleasure of heading out there on this very beautiful area of SA.
    I am about to try plan a trip out there for hoping next year, The areas you have noted are some of the places I have already researched. I am glad you had a good time and came home with some memorable images.
    well done.


  4. I discovered your blog while trying to identify an image I took of a Letter-winged Kite in the Scenic Rim (QLD). I was able to identify the kite from your image on Google.
    I'm glad I discovered your blog as I do a little birding myself when I get the chance (although I have only been doing so since I bought my Canon DSLR late last year).
    I am involved in a weekly link up on Blogger called "Wild Bird Wednesday" hosted by a fellow Aussie living in Victoria. It is wonderful to see birds from all over Australia and across the world.
    Thanks again

  5. We have a Letter winged Kite living on our property near Daylesford Victoria. I got a particularly good photo of him this week with snowflakes dropping on him. From what I can make out, this bird normally is found in the arid central regions of Australia. I thought you might be interested to know that he has existed in this very cold winter climate for a couple of seasons now.If you are interested in having a look at the photos drop me a line.