Kimberley Bird WatchingAuthor: Carl from Pahrump (More Trip Reviews by Carl from Pahrump)
Date of Trip: April 2007
Out of town we saw some yellow flowers that reminded us of Lupines. East of Halls Creek the landscape changed from a sea of grass to hilly and irregular terrain. In places it reminded us of the bluffs and mesas you see in Arizona and Utah, except the hills and rocks had green grasses growing on them.
There were numerous one-lane bridges and a few times you crossed the actual creek/river bed. Once water was over the road 4 inches.
The road quality was not as good east of Halls Creek. Sometimes it would be real narrow with jagged edges, and for a few short stretches it would be a fine road. We mostly just drove down the middle of the road at 100 Kmph.
We stopped wherever we saw a water hole. In the later afternoon we found a pair of Brown Songlarks. They are highly nomadic and this was the first time we had come across them.
We arrived at the Discovery Holiday Park outside Kununurra (Pronounced Kun-u-nur-ra) at 4:15pm. The first thing my wife did was empty our bottle of bug spray on the counter top and dish cupboard. Bugs just love the tropics; and of course, my wife just can't tolerate them.
On April 21 we thought it had rained on and off during the night. When we got up we could see it hadn't rained at all. What we heard was due dripping off the trees onto the roof.
We went downtown at 8am for the Saturday Market. On the way home we stopped at an Aborigine Art Gallery and got two boomerangs - a Returning Boomerang and a Killing Stick in the shape of a bird. The sales lady said the Boomerang was made by a "desert man" in Outback Queensland - he made the body of the Boomerang and his several wives decorated it.
We spent the rest of the morning birding from our porch. There were heaps of finches in the trees by our porch.
In the afternoon we drove out to the Zebra Rock Gallery (15.843S 128.734E). Zebra Rock is fossilized algae in soapstone. It is only found at one site near Lake Argyle. They had beautiful figurines. We got 2 bags of Zebra Stone pieces to see what kind of jewelry we can make with them.
On April 22 we were off at dawn for Hidden Valley NP outside Kununurra (15.763S 128.751E). The eroded sandstones here were formed by solidifying massive red sand dunes, and then weathering into Beehive formations. Hidden Valley is called the Mini Bungle Bungle. The difference is you can drive to Hidden Valley, but you have to take a $500 flight-seeing tour to go to Bungle Bungle NP.
We walked the track to the Valley Lookout. As we walked it gradually got light enough to take pictures, which also meant it was getting hot. From on high you could clearly see the Beehive rocks. It was a good thing we had on long pants, the Spinifex Grass would have cut your legs to pieces without protection.
We saw and heard heaps of Great Bowerbirds all along the walk. They were acting strangely and didn't seem glad that we were there. They must have been protecting babies. We saw some delicate lilies and other wild flowers.
There were heaps of butterflies including a Glasswing. When we looked at it with our binoculars we thought it was translucent -- Glasswing seemed like an appropriate name. We also saw the small version of the Monarch Butterfly (Lesser Wanderer), and a Common Crow.
We took another track to the Gap. My wife almost stepped on a White-quilled Rock Pigeon. The bird book indicated they were skiddish, but this one walked along in front of us for a couple hundred feet. Once it had to fly up some steps in the path. Finally, it got tired of us and disappeared into the bush.
We also walked thru the Cane Grass track that paralleled the entry road. We saw a Yellow-throated Miner dive bomb a Red-winged parrot. In the aftermath, we saw a pair of Northern Rosellas.
We stopped at Lillie Lagoon (15.780S 128.741E) on the way home. There were heaps of Jesus Birds walking on the water. We got a beautiful picture of a Rainbow Bee-eater and a really big lizard.
Midafternoon we went for a drive in the Webber Plains (15.607S 128.765E). We drove by thousands of acres of raised-bed veggie fields, including a massive field of watermelons. About 15Km out of town we started finding temporary wetlands along the road. Before long we found hundreds of Yellow-rumped Mannikin feeding on the Cane Grass. It was easy to tell where they were - you would see a 10 ft grass stalk bend-over to the ground and then pop-up when the bird flew away. Unfortunately, we were looking into the sun, so the photos were not so good.
A local farmer stopped in the road to see if we were birdwatchers. He said we should check out a spot 10 minutes east of Kununurra.
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