On our recent birding and camping trip we continued south from Windjana Gorge to re-join the highway and head east to Fitzroy Crossing. We then took the road to visit Geikie Gorge, which is a short drive from town and a sealed road. It is a popular area during our Dry Season and during the Wet Season it is closed due to the Fitzroy River rising to levels that make it inaccessible. There are several options when visiting the park on how you want to explore it. Most people appear to take the one hour boat tour and we have done that in the past. This time we hiked the trail to enable ourselves to see a wide variety of birds and at our own leisurely pace. There were very few people on the trail and the birdlife was varied both in the car park and along the trails. There is a shaded picnic area and it would be advisable to allow several hours to explore the park.
The road towards Geikie Gorge from Fitzroy Crossing is also worth taking slowly because there are some good species to be observed. We saw several Brolga, Galahs, Whistling Kites and Red-backed Kingfishers and then there was a small water course that ran under the road where we observed an Eastern Great Egret busily feeding in the flowing water. With little traffic present you could happily take photographs using your car as a hide as is often the case.
Eastern Great Egret
The gorge itself is impressive because it is formed from a reef in the Devonian Period and with the rise and fall of the water levels during the year there are a wide range of colours. The feature photograph shows an example of the colours of the gorge and below is an example of some of the precarious rocks balanced along the top of the gorge. There are strict warnings regarding climbing in the gorge, due to the fragility of the limestone and there have been fatalities in the past.
Geikie Gorge rock line
Even though it was a sunny warm day the White-breasted Woodswallows were intent on cuddling together in the trees along the trail.
The Little Woodswallows were less concerned about being packed close together and their chocolate brown colour was highlighted nicely against the blue sky.
As we wandered along the trail we discovered a Great Bowerbird had been busy since the river level had dropped and placed a bower against the trail. We wonder how many people walk the trail and wonder what the bizarre construction is all about!
Great Bowerbird bower
There were small groups of Double-barred Finches, Zebra Finch and also Crimson Finches. The Crimson Finches were brightly coloured, but also good at hiding in dense bush! I photographed one to show the brightness displayed, but for a better look at this species you can look here.
The trail ends at the Fitzroy River bank and the freshwater crocodiles were less obvious than at Windjana Gorge! The White-faced Heron was near a log and not a crocodile!
There were small groups of Bar-shouldered Doves coming down to drink. Both Peaceful and Diamond Doves were also present in the area.
We walked leisurely back towards the car park and picnic area observing Black-faced Cuckoo-shrikes, Rainbow Bee-eaters, Restless Flycatchers, White-winged Trillers and a variety of Honeyeaters. Along the riverbank we observed Australasian Darters, White-bellied Sea-Eagles, Little Pied Cormorants and Straw-necked Ibis to name a few. The picnic area was also productive with nice tall shady trees and green grass. We had White-bellied Cuckoo-shrikes and Grey Fantails in the trees and overhead we observed Brown Falcons, Black Kites, Red-tailed Black Cockatoos, Blue-winged Kookaburras, Red-winged Parrots and Cockatiels. A Grey Shrike-thrush was vocal and investigating the area that we chose to sit for our lunch.
There was a short trail from the car park through the bush that then joined the riverbank near the sand bar, which we did after lunch. There were Variegated Fairywrens in the bush and Black-fronted Dotterels and Straw-necked Ibis at the sandbar. The undergrowth was thick and Agile Wallaby were enjoying the shade in the middle of the day.
Geikie Gorge is a great place to have a leisurely stroll and take in the scenery and the birdlife. We observed over 50 bird species in the short time that we spent there and we would recommend it to everyone.