I mentioned last week that we had set off on a journey north to check on the Tawny Frogmouth nest and then we continued north. We actually travelled as far north as Timber Creek in the Northern Territory through some very varied weather due to it being our Wet Season. We passed through Kununurra in both directions, because there is no alternative route when you are sticking to the bitumen due to a flooded landscape. Kununurra is a great place to bird in our Dry Season and is just as great at this time of year! We used the Saddle Creek Rest Area about 100 kilometres (62 miles) east of Kununurra as our base for two nights with a day trip to Timber Creek. Although it is only 117 kilometres (73 miles) to Timber Creek we were driving slowly and not at the Northern Territory speed limit of 130 km/hr, which is the highest in Australia.For some years in the past the speed was “unlimited” and was a testing ground for new fast cars! It rained both nights at Saddle Creek, but we made use of the shelter and it did cool it down slightly! We could see there was more rain closer to the Western Australia border and we had to traverse a flooded creek along the highway on returning to Kununurra the next day. These storms are isolated and can be very heavy and the bird-life can really change following one of these rain events. Having added the new additions to my 2016 year list I noted we had not yet seen a member of the Fantail or Robin family as yet.
Despite the weather looking extremely unpredictable we set off for a walk into the Hidden Valley National Park and encountered our first Dusky Honeyeater for the year among the tall flowering trees. It was lovely to see the park looking so green after visiting after bush fires on other occasions. We were going to get wet whether it rained or not due to the high humidity, so we decided to do all of the trails and as we headed back out of the park we were caught in light drizzle. Our first encounter of a Northern Fantail for 2016! It was flitting about catching the flying insects that were active as the rain started.
Due to the rain getting heavier we headed for Ivanhoe’s Crossing, which is always great for birding. We have seen a Common Sandpiper there in the past using the bollards as a fishing post, but this time there were two of them. They are often found on our local beach at home and at the Kununurra Poo Ponds.
Common Sandpiper relaxing on a bollard
Common Sandpiper fishing from a bollard
The weather was so dull that even a Nankeen Night-Heron was out on the crossing fishing in the middle of the day!
Nankeen Night-Heron on Ivanhoe’s Crossing
We remained in the vehicle while the drizzle fell lightly and there were numerous Crimson Finch coming down to drink from the Ord River, which is flowing quite a lot higher at this time of year than when we have visited mid-year.
Crimson Finch drinking
Whilst I was busy photographing the Crimson Finch Grant let me know that a Buff-sided Robin had just landed beside the vehicle on my side! We last saw a Buff-sided Robin last year at the Negri River, but not as close as this one!
Buff-sided Robin posing for photographs beside our vehicle-excellent bird-hide!
Our return visit to Kununurra had added a Fantail and a Robin to our 2016 year list! The weather forecast had not had a high percentage chance of rain at all, but it was clearly wrong! By the time we had returned to the town itself the weather was fast approaching and impressive as it was we made a decision to head out of town!
Kununurra getting some rain!
There was a lot of rain falling from the sky as we headed south, but with the sun attempting to shine through on several occasions it made for spectacular scenery. Our day got another addition to our year list as a family of Buff-banded Rails crossed the road…..four very cute little black chicks! We camped under a shelter at a rest area on the south side of the Ord River and watched the storms around us. The Channel-billed Cuckoos and Asian Koels kept us amused with all of their calling! Asian Koels appear to like to wake at 4am, which is not a very sociable thing to do! Oh, well….sleep is over-rated anyway!