Saturday, May 11, 2013

Whirlwind Gluepot Adventures

Recently plans were made to meet up with some Feathers and Photos members for a journey to Brookfield Conservation Park. Much to my delight, some late changes were made to these plans and we (Chris, Rich and I) ended up heading out to Gluepot instead. Gluepot, being the wonderful mallee and spinifex dune habitat that it is, is quite a drive away and so there I was hating myself as I dragged my sleepy body out of bed at 3am to prepare for the journey.

At 4:30am Rich and I arrived at Chris' place and we all jumped into his car for the rest of the drive. There was much talk about what we wished we see over the course of the day. Our first bird for the day was a Laughing Kookaburra as we waited in the dark at Waikerie for the ferry to take us across the river. We arrived at Gluepot just as dawn was breaking and soon after driving through the gates we spotted two emus. We met up with another F&P member who had been camping at Gluepot for the past couple of days, and progressed to our first stop with high hopes of regent parrots, the Grasswren Hide. Here I was treated to not only some great birds, but Rich was kind enough to lend me his 300mm for the day, and I also got to try Peter's 400L for a short time in the hide!

Mulga Parrot (Psephotus varius) pair.

Female Regent Parrot, Polytelis anthopeplus.

The activity at the hide was incredible, mallee ringnecks jostled with mulga parrots and grey currawongs for the best drinking spot. Soon after they were joined by a flock of approximately 15 regent parrots, a life bird for me and a stunning one at that. The noise and activity escalated before most of the birds spooked. We didn't have to wait long however and most of the birds returned, the first flock of regents was replaced by a smaller second flock and we also got to see striped honeyeater and common bronzewing. The lighting was fairly poor with a bit of cloud, but the experience was just magic.

Grey Currawong (Strepera versicolor), clearly top-dog at the bath

Male Regent Parrot, Polytelis anthopeplus

Striped Honeyeater, Plectorhyncha lanceolata. A striking bird, even with it's monochromatic feathers.

Some opportunistic hunting around the hide found some white-browed treecreepers, no decent photos, but great to see. Our next task proved near impossible. We pulled over at a spot that is renowned for red-lored whistler and striated grasswren. After much time walking and searching, and more walking and fruitless searching, we finally found a wren. It ended up being a variegated, but we did find a striated grasswren a short time later. I managed to get my very first feeble glimpses, but it was enough. We did find two whistlers, but they were both female goldens, there was much disbelief!

For lunch we planned a drive to old Gluepot, here we decided we could look for the reported major mitchell's and eat lunch in the hide, a brief side-stop on the way in a little active patch of mallee found us quite a few species for the day list including jacky winter and white-fronted and white-eared honeyeater. We arrived at old Gluepot in separate cars, three of us first in the one found a flock of 8 major mitchell's. We were all thrilled and started our approach for some better photos. Unfortunately, Peter who was driving to join us flushed a flock of white-winged choughs whose alarm calls flushed the major mitchell's! The first thing Peter did on arrival was ask us if we'd seen any majors...! Nobody was thrilled.

Major Mitchell's Cockatoos, Lophochroa leadbeateri.

The hide at old Gluepot was a haven for the honeyeaters, spiny-cheeked, brown-headed and red wattlebird flitted here and there and bickered about this and that while we ate lunch. A fruitless search was conducted afterwards in the direction the major mitchell's fled to, though we glimpsed a wedge-tailed eagle overhead and Chris found a stunning owlet-nightjar. Just as we planned to move on from old Gluepot we all heard a single unmistakeable call of a major mitchell. We all hurried in the direction, there was much more fruitless searching.

Spiny-cheeked Honeyeater, Acanthagenys rufogularis.

Giving up on the majors we headed back towards the Grasswren hide. We stopped along the way when a chestnut quail-thrush dashed across the road in front of the car. We ended up sighting two but we couldn't get them to cooperate for photos. Meanwhile, a southern scrub-robin was having a bit of fun with us as we were stalking the quail-thrush. We ended up spending quite some time trying to get the little fellow to cooperate, but I think he outsmarted us nearly every time.

Southern Scrub-robin (Drymodes brunneopygia) finally caught in the open!

The final stop was some searching around the grasswren hide, we came across a nice little patch where we tried to get a red-capped robin to perch on an attractive looking branch. Ten minutes later, he had landed on everything but the branch we intended. Still, we ended up setting ourselves up near a perch he was using and came away with some shots from there instead. As it was getting near dark, we returned to the homestead and walked to the dam hoping to see some nightjars hawking for insects. The night was too cool but I did get to see my very first splendid fairy wren (a female of course) and the dam was abundant with bronzewings on dusk (and a nasty feral cat).

Male Red-capped Robin, Petroica goodenovi.

Overall, it was a productive day and we netted 45 species, 3 of which were new for me and I brought my year list up by approx 20 species! Besides seeing the birds though, it was simply great to get out with like-minded people and enjoy the day seeing, photographing and discussing birds with them. So thanks to them for a great day. :)


  1. Lovely images and terrific birds. Thanks for sharing your big day out, Bec.

    1. Thanks John, can't help but share those moments of magic. I'm glad you enjoyed the read.

  2. Glad you did a write up Bec :-) It was a whirlwind... but the chance to spend even a little time at this wonderful spot always makes the early start worth it! Thanks for coming along.. it was an enjoyable day :-)

    1. Thanks Chris, there was no way it was avoiding a blog entry ;) Thanks for inviting me along for the ride, it was much appreciated.