Kimberley Bird WatchingAuthor: Carl from Pahrump (More Trip Reviews by Carl from Pahrump)
Date of Trip: May 2007
On April 23 we were off pre-dawn for Wyndham 60 miles NW of Kununurra. Our first stop was the Five Rivers Lookout high over Wyndham. We could see the vast mud flats around town at low tide. Wyndham has the 4th highest tides in the world at 23 feet above mean sea level.
We drove down to the Bessie Wiley Reserve by the wharf (15.455S 128.104E) to check out the mangroves. In the car park we found an injured Giant Red Moth. The mangroves were only 30 ft wide and a couple hundred feet long, but there were several places where you could walk in on solid ground. We were fortunate to find Mangrove Fantails, Mangrove Gerygones, and heaps of Yellow White-eyes. In the mud around the mangroves we saw Red Mud Crabs scurrying around and salamanders wiggling in the wet mud. A Swamp Tiger Nymph posed for pictures.
Close by we stopped for a look at a pair of small birds hunkered down in a chain link fence. I got out to take pictures, but my wife couldn't. A Masked Lapwing decided my wife was up to no good and wouldn't let her out of the car. When my wife tried to open her door, the bird flew straight at her. Over at the fence, I was surprised to find a pair of Black-throated Finches. I got close-up pictures from only 5 ft away with the male looking straight at me.
We stopped at the Afghan Cemetery on the way out of town. In the 1890's a lot of Afghan camel drivers immigrated to Australia to provide Camel Trains into remote areas. The graves were very large. The sign said that when the Master died, they buried the lead camel with him. We found lots of wild Pink Celosias in the cemetery. We also found a Checkered Swallowtail.
We went for a walk around our RV Park in the late afternoon. An Azure Kingfisher dove into water in front of my wife and came out with a fish. She was transfixed by the bright orange chest.
We stopped to talk to an Ozzie camper. He asked if we had heard the Tinny Bird. We said we didn't know what that was. He said you normally hear them this time of day when people pop the tops on their beer cans.
On April 24 we went for a walk around our RV Park and adjacent lagoons at sunrise. Bats were swarming around my head. The early morning sun was reflecting on the chests of the White-breasted Woodswallows as they flew, making them look like pink-chested Galahs (only smaller).
We went downtown midmorning to the Argyle Diamond Shop to look at their rare Pink Diamonds (they only find a literal handful a year at the world's largest diamond mine). The diamonds ranged from $1000US for one so small you could hardly see it, to $$50,000US for one big enough to make an earring stud out of (but of course, you would need two).
Midafternoon we drove out to Ivanhoe Crossing (15.689S 128.688E). The road has been closed for months due to high water. We stopped for a walk in the bush. A Blue Argus Butterfly popped up -- medium sized dark butterfly with a brilliant blue spot. We continued driving in the agriculture area. We stopped to checkout several flocks of mixed Finches and Mannikins. I got a great shot of a Yellow-rumped Mannikin.
On April 25 as we left Kununurra at dawn we could see thousands of Little Corellas flying in the eastern sky like an undulating dark cloud.
We were on Fish Farm Road at 5:39am when the sun peaked up over the wetland horizon. This is the area the farmer told us about on April 22. We took Fish Farm Rd to Crossing Falls Rd (dirt) to Bells Spring Rd (dirt). At the intersection of Crossing Falls and Bell Spring Road (15.854S 128.749E) we came on a large flock (500) of Red-tailed Black-cockatoos. They were flying, hopping around in the grass, and trying to balance on electric lines (without success -- which left them hanging up-side-down). Finally, they started landing in the road in front of us. The males squared off against each other for a while, and then started trying to impress the females with their mating dance (wings outstretched and red-tail feathers exposed). We sat in the road and watched them for an hour (there was no traffic on the dirt road).
We caught up with part of the Little Corellas mob again near the Cockatoos. At one point we were herding them down the road. We came to a bend in the road and they flew off. We saw 44 birds this morning. Our best bird was a Black-eared Cuckoo.
We went for a drive to Valentine Spring in the afternoon. Unfortunately, the dirt road was flooded after 2.4 Km. We looked around and saw a beautiful Black-shouldered Kite. We ended the day resting on our porch. Nothing much was happening till a juvenile Collared Sparrowhawk flew into the trees. The sun was just right to get great pictures.
On April 26 we left at 5am for Lake Argyle (16.118S 128.735E). All went well till we had to stop to checkout water flowing across the road. The water turned out to only be an inch deep, but we found 2 Black-fronted Dotterels wadding in the water. Further down the road a White-bellied Cuckoo-shrike flew out in front of our car and left the Earth in a cloud of feathers.
We spent 3 hours birding along the road and at the picnic area. We ended up seeing 65 birds species for the day, including a mob of Masked Finches and a White-winged Sittella.
The Milk Weed was in bloom and the Monarch Butterflies and their smaller cousins were everywhere. We also managed to see an Orange Tiger Nymph.
It got up to 90F today, but felt like 110F. The Everlastings were blooming, as were the Frangipani Trees. We found some white ground cover that looked like Silver Mound, and a Yellow Pussywillow.
On the way home we saw an Aborigine man lying in the road. A black man on a black road at sunset is a formula for tragedy. Some women were sitting nearby unconcerned.
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