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Kimberley Bird Watching

Author: Carl from Pahrump (More Trip Reviews by Carl from Pahrump)
Date of Trip: April 2007

In the afternoon we drove out to the Spirit of the Wandjina (Wand-Je-na) Art Center on the Gibb Road (17.353S 123.698E). Wandjina means God in the local language. The Art Center is a newly constructed and very impressive building. The artist we talked to said the building was constructed in the shape of Wandjina with curved walls inside and out. The Art Center conducts a cultural festival the first part of Jy each year.

yellow tinted honeyeaterOn April 19 we were off at 6:30am, but the combination of sultry temp and high humidity kept a thick fog on the windshield. To combat the problem we stopped at the Boab Tree Prison for some birdwatching. I got a good picture of the Orange Browed Striated Pardalote and Yellow-tinted Honeyeater. We even saw a King Quail lurking in the deep weeds and running across the dirt road. After the air warmed up some more, we didn't have any more problems with the windshield fogging up.

We stopped often along the road and at rest areas. Birds were not obvious while driving, but when we stopped we soon heard and saw birds everywhere like Star, Long-tailed, Double-barred, and Zebra Finches. Our best sitting was a rare Gray Falcon (yellow beak and yellow legs).

We got to the Fitzroy Inn at 12:30pm. We were going to eat at the Inn, but the chief suggested we would like the Fitzroy Lodge better. To our surprise, the Lodge has a dress code:

No hats, No soiled clothes, No uniforms, No thongs.

I thought "No hat" was arbitrary and cupreous, but it was cooler with your hat off (even though the restaurant was air conditioned).

"No soiled clothes" and "No uniforms" seemed reasonable (but we were wearing our birding uniforms that were dusty)

I wondered about the "No thongs". How would they know? Do they have an underwear inspector, or what??

We split a monster bowl of chips with chili and sour cream. I had a mango steak sandwich with the lot (I gave my wife the egg and beet root).

After lunch we drove out to Geikei George NP (18.105S 125.700E) for birding. We could see interesting rock formations from the road, but the park was overgrown with weeds, and in a general state of disrepair. You would think they would be embarrassed to call this a NP. We left, stopping to enjoy the wildflowers along the road.

On April 20 as we were carrying our stuff out to the car at 5am, my wife heard a little dog barking. Then she realized the sound was coming from up in the tree nearby. When I came by she had me listen for the sound. I heard it, looked up, and saw the Barking Owl in the tree. My wife got her binoculars on the owl, just before it swooped down over our heads and took off.

We had to slow-down frequently for Black Kites swooping across the road, and dozens of Magpie Larks standing in the road (Why that?). Once we were stopped dead by 300 Little Correllas stretched across both lanes of the road. We even saw an Eagle standing on the side of the road.

We had driven for a half-hour when the sun came up at 5:50am. The smoke from grass fires hung low on the horizon. We drove past one grass fire. They start burning the countryside in April so the fires can't get out of control with too much fuel. The Kites love it -- they swoop over the fires looking for charred critters.

This morning we drove thru a sea of green grasses and a few wildflowers. Occasionally there would be boulder pile hills and mesas.

We stopped at the Ngumban Cliff (18.748S 126.109E). They had a Mexican style toilet (no toilet seat). The difference being the Australians built the dunny that way; in Mexico someone had pinched the seat.

There was a water hole at the Ngumban Cliff rest area. We saw a couple of Spinifex Pigeon going for a drink. Then a mob of finches and other small birds flew in. We spotted a Pictorella Mannikin with a neat black head mask, but the other birds would chase it away from the water. We saw a Chestnut-backed Button-quail sneaking down to the water hole, but when it saw us it hide in the tall grasses.

In the first 3 hours we drove 100 Km, even though we drove 110 Kmph when we were driving. We stopped at a water hole on the road and saw four Marsh Sandpipers.

We picked up the speed and got to Halls Creek at 10:33am, having gone 302 Km. We filled up with gas and got Memphis Meltdown Gooey Raspberry Ice Cream Bars for lunch - vanilla ice cream dipped in Raspberry sauce and covered in a thick chocolate coating; with the usual choc milk and iced coffee to drink.

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