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)

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Neale Junction - An Easter Parrot Hunt

Last October Liz and I tried to get out to Neale Junction in the Great Victoria Desert, but unseasonal storms and rain made it unwise to try and travel that far out into the desert. If only we had luck on our side, we would had made it there to see an unusual abundance of rare and hard to find desert-loving Princess and Scarlet-chested Parrots! Now it was Easter 2012 and with our friends Rob and Bel, we decided it was time for another attempt.

First night's stop was the old Goongarrie Homestead north of Kalgoorlie, a place we had often driven past, but never visited. It turned out to be a great place to stay, except for the swarms of hungry mosquitoes that plagued us as soon as the sun began to set! It's a good birding area that we will hopefully visit one spring, especially after seeing Chestnut Quail-thrushes running around on the entrance road.

Next night we had camped at Point Sunday and explored the surrounding area hoping to maybe see the parrots, but no, compared to last October the area was quiet. Lots of White-fronted and Grey-fronted Honeyeaters, but no vast flocks of Budgerigars or Masked Woodswallows from last time, even though the woodlands looked very healthy from recent rains.

We began our journey along the 'Anne Beadell Highway', the rocky and often sandy track leading to Neale Junction. A good lunch spot was this interesting rock outcrop, about half way along the 'Highway'.

When conditions had been wetter, the Fairy Martins had been busy building their little colony of mud bottle nests.

Finally near the famous Neale Junction, the sign at the western entrance to the nature reserve. Rob, Bel and myself, happy that after the long hard drive we are near the camping area for the night. We are also happy due to having great views of a party of beautiful Rufous-crowned Emu-wrens shortly before.

Hmmmmmmm? The Neale Junction camping area was a little uninspiring, especially due to the armies of small black ants that covered the area. Having our swags on the ground, I spent half the night knocking the ants off my face, who have a bad tendency to become really aggressive and bite if any of their number get hurt!

We searched the surrounding area in the morning, but alas, due to a strong cool westerly wind, the conditions were not the best and no parrots were seen or heard. It seems that the large numbers of Princess and Scarlet-chested Parrots (last recorded in Janurary) had moved to other locations.

Men and their machines! Rob with his new Suzuki Vitara and me with the beasty Troopy. The Suzuki might look like a toy, but was a very capable small four wheel drive.

Time for some photos at the actual cross-roads of Neale Junction, the Anne Beadell heading east-west and the Connie Sue heading north-south.

Signing the visitors book at the junction. It seems there was usually someone passing through at least once a week over the last few months, but still a long time to wait if you broke down in this remote area.

Before heading back to Point Sunday, we searched for the parrots northwards along the Connie Sue Highway, but again no luck. Time to head back!

Back at Point Sunday camp and again after searching the surrounding areas, no luck. I'm sitting in my chair and having a beer (and a little cry) and wondering how many parrots we may have seen if we made it last October! Oh well, we did get 55 bird species for the trip, plus two new birds for our Australian life list. I'm sure we will be back out here again, as soon as we hear of new parrot sightings.


Martin said...

If I'd known you were going Richard I could have given you our patented Striated Grasswren site on Point Sunday road - Grass- and Emu-wrens definately dull the pain of parrot dipping in my experience! Neale Junction for Princess is shaping up as a real game of Russian roulette isn't it ("parrot roulette"?). Were there many Little Button-Quail around to indicate a good season? Cheers Martin

Richard King said...

Thanks Martin. Yep, I probably should have contacted you guys for info. Rob and Bel did see the grasswrens just north of Point Sunday, but Liz and I weren't that lucky.
No. not many button-quail this time.

John Kyngdon said...

We're heading there next week. Any suggestions?