And the bush has friends to meet him, and their kindly voices greet him, In the murmur of the breezes and the river on its bars,
And he sees the vision splendid of the sunlit plains extended, And at night the wonderous glory of the everlasting stars.

Banjo Paterson (1889)

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Alice Springs

My wife and I had some spare time and thought, where can we go to do some interesting birding and get some video? Alice Springs had a good deal on, so off we flew. We had been to Alice before during our trip down from Darwin years ago, but this was a chance to look at some new areas and get some new life birds. Plus new reptiles and other animals.

The video and sound gear now has to come on most of our trips, plus the still camera for some close-up and landscape shots. Sometimes it's like moving David Attenbrough's BBC film team!

Unfortunately, at this time of year Alice has strong westerly winds that spring up in the morning and last all day, making good video a challenge, but at least it's cool and almost no flies. Some great video shots were ruined by big gusts of wind that wobbled the camcorder during shooting. But on the bright side, I also got some great bird footage of desert birds.

We headed out to look for good bird areas in the West MacDonnell Ranges, our main bird targets being Rufous-crowned Emu-wren and Spinifexbird. Both species needing big old unburnt areas of spinifex. Sadly, most of the places we went to had been burnt in the past few years, and with the strong winds, missed out on our target birds.

Ormiston Gorge turned out to be the best for birds and I got some great close-up footage of beautiful Spinifex Pigeons. It would be a great place to camp for a few days.

The colours of the soils at the Ochre Pits were stunning, especially with the deep blue sky. Not a bad place for the birds as well.

Most of the bridges over dry creeks had old nests of Fairy Martins (Hirundo ariel). This one small bridge must of had over a hundred mud bottle nests, many from the last rains a few months ago.

Waterholes are so important for desert wildlife, like this one at Ormiston Gorge, and a good place to video animals when it's quiet. Lots of rock to explore for reptiles as well.

A fine looking 300 year old Ghost Gum. These eucalypts provide lots of hollows and food for the local animals.

The whole area around Alice Springs, seemed to have large numbers of Mistletoebird (Dicaeum hirundinaceum). This is a freshly dropped sticky mistletoe seed that will probably germinate into the parasitic adult plant. The mistletoebirds wipe their bottoms on branches to void the sticky seeds, that pass through them quickly after being eaten.

Despite all our searches in better spinifex patches, we still missed out on our target birds. Oh well, a good excuse to come back to Alice again sometime.

One of the places you must visit when birding in Alice, are the Alice Springs sewage ponds. A great place for lots of migratory waders and waterbirds. It is locked, so get the key off the local Power & Water office in town.

1 comment:

Wilma said...

Good eye to spot that mistletoe seed on the branch! That landscapes you show are beautiful.