This 10 day tour takes you to the dry interior of western Queensland and offers a good range of dry country species including three grasswrens! During the dry season when there is little standing water in the bush, the dry country birds are drawn to any water which, at this time of year, is generally limited to the dams put in for cattle. It is possible to see large flocks of parrots including Budgerigars, Little Corellas, Galahs and a variety of finches coming in to drink and also roosting in the nearby trees. Starting in Mt Isa where you will explore the local area looking for Kalkadoon and Carpentarian Grasswrens. You will then travel south by road giving you an excellent chance to view the wide open spaces of the dry, Outback Queensland cattle country.
As arranged at time of booking
We suggest your bring with you:
This is not a strenuous tour and clients need to be of only a moderate level of fitness. There will be some walking over rough terrain but distances are not great. Most of the birding will be done in the early morning and late afternoon as even in winter the central part of the day can get very hot,
Accommodation is in motel type rooms with private bathrooms.
Boulia hosts some serious camel races every July and this Outback extravaganza can added to the trip if required for those who would like to make the most of their stay in the Outback.
Fly into Mt Isa meet guide and transfer to hotel. If time allows some afternoon local area birding can be undertaken.
Today will be spent in the spinifex areas looking for the Carpentarian and Kalkadoon Grasswrens to the north of the town. These have very strict habitat conditions and a fire passing through can be disastrous. Spinifexbirds and Black-tailed Treecreepers inhabit the same areas as the Carpentarian Grasswren.
Full day birding the Mt Isa area and slightly further afield towards Cloncurry looking for Rufous-crowned Emuwren, Cloncurry Ringneck, Spotted Bowerbird, Pictorella Mannikin and more.
After breakfast we will start our journey south to Boulia. This Outback town is the capital of the Channel Country which gives rise to the big rivers which flow south and west into Lake Eyre. It is situated on the banks of the Burke River which was named after the explorers who passed through this way on the ill-fated trip to the Gulf.
From Mt Isa to Boulia is normally a journey of about 4 hours but we will break it up stopping for any interesting birds we can find birding along the way. Dusky Grasswren will be a possibility. This is true Outback country, an arid landscape with stony hills and stunted brush. It is home to birds such as Australian Bustard, Cockatiel, Spinifex Pigeon, Variegated Fairywren and Red-browed Pardolote and a variety of finches. Boulia township itself, is a great area for Budgerigars and some years we have had flocks of thousands coming into the dams around the town. On other years they have still been present but not in such great numbers.
Birding the dams and exploring the surrounding area at dusk and dawn. Specialities of the area include Australian Bustard, Spinifex Pigeon, Variegated Fairywren and Red-browed Pardalote, Budgerigars, Galahs and Little Corellas can also often be seen sometimes in large numbers. Dusk and dawn are the best times for birding here and the heat of the day can be spent relaxing in your room or by the pool .
Early morning to be spent around Boulia before we head east to Winton. This journey of nearly 5 hours will take place during the heat of the day. Late afternoon birding around Winton will give us a chance to familiarise ourselves with the local area and hopefully pick up the Cloncurry Ringneck. Winton is the dinosaur capital of Australia and the local dinosaur museum is well worth a visit.
An early start today as we head off to Opalton to look for the Rusty (Opalton) Grasswren. This is proposed as a distinct species from Striated Grasswren and has a very limited distribution. This species is most active early in the morning and in the cool of the late afternoon so an early arrival is necessary. In the past it has been possible to stay in small cabins there but this option has now disappeared and the only alternative to driving down from Winton is camping. Although only about 100km from Winton the drive to Opalton can take longer than expected due to road conditions.
Close to Opalton is Lark Quarry. This is the site of what originally appeared to be the world’s only record of a dinosaur stampede with fossilized footprints of what was thought to be about 150 two legged dinosaurs fleeing from a predator. While it is now thought they could just be footprints laid down over time, there are around 3300 of them so it is still impressive and worth visiting if you have time.
Today there could be a second chance to make the drive down to Opalton for the Rusty Grasswren if necessary but otherwise spend the day in the Bladensberg National Park. An area of rugged scenery with grassy plains and river flats with river red gums, clay pans, rocky scarps and gidgee woodlands this is about 30 minutes from Winton. Red kangaroos can be seen on the open Mitchell grasslands while Eastern Greys can be found in the lower creeks and Wallaroos on the mesas. Emus, Australian Bustards, Hall’s Babblers, Spotted Bowerbirds, Spotted Harriers and Singing Bushlarks can all be seen and if you are lucky Painted Firetails and Rufous-crowned Emuwrens can be found in the Spinifex, while Rufous-throated Honeyeatersare seen along the creeks. Chestnut-breasted Quail-thrush has also been seen in the park. Yellow Spotted Monitors and Spiny knob-tailed Gecko’s are also in the park.
A final day exploring the Winton/Bladensberg area.
Today we drive slowly back to Mt Isa up the Landsborough Highway stopping to bird at various likely looking spots along the way. It is about a 5 hour drive with no stops. Fly out on evening flight.