May 11, 2012
I set out early with guests Jill from Adelaide, Tania from Sydney and Ian from Melbourne. We started at East Point Reserve in search of Rainbow Pitta and were rewarded with great views as one bird hopped around and on top of a large Orange-footed Scrubfowl’s mound, displaying his colours beautifully in the dappled sunlight.
We then headed out to Bird Billabong in the hopes of seeing Gouldian Finches. Access to Bird Billabong is still closed due to flooding, and we searched around the entrance for a little while, without success. From there we went back to the Marrakai Track. As we drove along at a fairly slow pace, Jill spotted some movement in the bush so we stopped to investigate. Without getting out of the vehicle, we saw a family of Long-tailed Finches, including several immature birds, fluttering up and down from ground to low branches, then a pair of Diamond Doves landed in the small tree closest to the vehicle. We saw some Little Woodswallows hawking insects from a dead tree nearby. And then a resplendent male red-headed Gouldian flew up to branch in clear view, facing us, and sat there on the branch for a few minutes, giving us all great views. To say that each of us was moved by the gift of the sight of this fantastic little bird would be an understatement!
We continued down to the Margaret River crossing and set up the picnic lunch, which we enjoyed in the company of a pair of Shining Flycatchers, Leaden Flycatchers and Buff-sided Robins. The Robins regaled (each other more likely) us with their melancholy three note call and seemed to be engrossed in some pair-bonding behaviour.
After lunch and on our way back to Arnhem Highway, we some more Gouldians, a black-headed pair this time, plus many Masked Finches.
Fogg Dam was wonderful, as always, and we enjoyed some sunset drinks from the Pandanus lookout, while we used the spotting scope to obtain good views of each species in front of us. A male Comb-crested Jacana was putting up with a sooky young one that was trying to get under his wing, even though he was nearly as big as dad. At times it looked like a four-legged bird… with two heads! Also a hilarious sight was the group of Royal Spoonbills with their backs to the breeze and nuptial headdress splayed out radially around and above their heads!
The final highlight of the day was group of twenty or more Red-tailed Black Cockatoos roosting for the night in a large leafless tree, near the Arnhem Highway, Anzac Parade tee-junction. When we got out of the vehicle to look we had just enough light to discern family groups of male and female with youngsters close by.