Looking for desert rarities

Over Summer I spent some time travelling and camping around Victoria. For a week I camped at Halls Gap which is a small tourist town surrounded by the Grampians, an ancient mountain range eroded over millions of years down to large forested hills. The Grampians form part of the Great Dividing Range that runs downs the east coast of Australia. While based at Halls Gap I explored the nearby regions looking for bushland reserves and national parks that I had not been to before. Nurcoung Bushland Reserve is a section of heathland and stunted Mallee scrub located to the west of the Grampians and near the Little Desert National Park. I was after a few target birds in this tough dry environment– The Southern Scrub-robin and the Shy Heathwren…

Southern Scrub-robin, Nurcoung Reserve, Victoria

Southern Scrub-robin, Nurcoung Reserve, Victoria

Southern Scrub-robin, Nurcoung Nature Reserve, Victoria

Morning song before the heat of the day…

Shy Heathwren, Nurcoung Nature Reserve, Victoria

Shy Heathwren, shy and well camouflaged…

Shy Heathwren, Nurcoung Nature Reserve, Victoria

Shy Heathwren, Nurcoung Nature Reserve, Victoria

The reserve is surrounded by miles of dry farmland. The rough 4WD track I followed mostly worked its way along the boundaries of the park. I would stop and investigate at various points when I heard something interesting. On one of my stops I headed inland a bit following a small family group of busy White Browed Babblers, foraging quickly amongst the low scrub. When I returned to my car I found a local farmer checking out the car and looking around. Apparently he had been watching me from a distance and wanted to see what I was up to – they don’t get many visitors to the area. After explaining what I was doing and showing him a few photos of the Southern Scrub-robin he told me that  rare and endangered Mallee Fowl were in the reserve and that we were close to a nest that was used this year. I followed the farmer down a bush track and found the Mallee Fowl nest – a large mound of dirt and composting material, 2-3 meters at the base. No sign of the birds but hopefully it was a successful breeding season for them…

Mallee Fowl nest, Nurcoung Nature Reserve

Large Mallee Fowl nest, Nurcoung Reserve

One response to “Looking for desert rarities

  1. Pingback: Too hot to be bothered… | The Gap Year and Beyond

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