Tag Archives: Mallee

Lifer 341: Mallee Emu-wren

For a birder, one of the main targets for a visit to Hattah Kulkyne National Park is the Mallee Emu-wren. It is a close cousin to the Southern Emu-wren that I have found a few times in different areas along the southern coast of Victoria. At Hattah I was up early and looking for this elusive little bird as the sun rose. I was probably a bit too early as they seemed to need the sun to warm up a bit and become active. Once up and about they were quite noisy (high pitched squeaks and trills), and reacted well to the phishing noises I made to get their attention. I saw three family groups along the track and managed to photograph several individuals as they came out to investigate my presence.

Mallee Emu-wren, Nowingi Track, Hattah Kulkyne National Park, Vic

Female Mallee Emu-wren, Nowingi Track, Hattah Kulkyne National Park, Vic

Mallee Emu-wren, Nowingi Track, Hattah Kulkyne National Park, Vic

II

Mallee Emu-wren, Nowingi Track, Hattah Kulkyne National Park, Vic

III

Mallee Emu-wren, Nowingi Track, Hattah Kulkyne National Park, Vic

The Emu-wren can quickly dive back into the spiky grass and disappear  – there is no way you could see them unless they were perched on top of the grass clump

Mallee Emu-wren, Nowingi Track, Hattah Kulkyne National Park, Vic

The male’s blue throat can give away their presence in the grass. 

Mallee Emu-wren, Nowingi Track, Hattah Kulkyne National Park, Vic

Hunting flies for breakfast.

Mallee Emu-wren, Nowingi Track, Hattah Kulkyne National Park, Vic

A typical pose when looking out for danger or watching for intruders from neighbouring tribes.

Mallee Emu-wren, Nowingi Track, Hattah Kulkyne National Park, Vic

In this position the tails hangs down, the muscles are probably needed just to keep that pose.

Emu, Nowingi Track, Hattah Kulkyne National Park, Vic

Emu walking down the Nowingi Track, the typical vegetation of the Mallee Emu-wren, more trees and other vegetation variety compared to the needs of the Southern Emu-wren. 

Hattah Kulkyne National Park in the Mallee country

On the recent long weekend I spent a few days camping in Hattah Kulkyne National Park. It is in the Mallee region of North Western Victoria about 500kms (5.5 hrs) drive from Melbourne. I spent a few days looking for various birds that are usually only found in the area or further inland. I had a pretty successful weekend, finding 9 lifers, 2 of which are below. I thoroughly enjoyed my trip and found the area visually quite stunning. I think I chose a good time of year to go as the temperature can get into the high 40’s C during Summer.  As well as the main lakes where the two campgrounds are located, there are a few tracks where several highly sought after birds can usually be found – Nowingi and Konardin Tracks.

Nowingi Track, Hattah Kulkyne National Park, Vic

Nowingi Track, Hattah Kulkyne National Park, Vic

Mallee Dragon, Nowingi Track, Hattah Kulkyne National Park, Vic

Mallee Dragon, Nowingi Track. The mallee has the highest concentration of lizard species in Victoria. I saw quite a few of these dragons amongst the spinifex.

Crested Bellbird, Nowingi Track, Hattah Kulkyne National Park, Vic

Lifer 343: Crested Bellbird, Nowingi Track

Konardin Track, Hattah Kulkyne National Park, Vic

Konardin Track, Hattah Kulkyne National Park – my car is tucked in the bush on the left – once I found a likely spot or heard some interesting sounds I would pull over and explore into the mallee scrub and small trees and further down the track.

Mulga Parrots, Hattah Kulkyne National Park, Vic

Mulga Parrots

Spiny Cheeked Honeyeater, Konardin Track, Hattah Kulkyne National Park, Vic

Spiny-cheeked Honeyeater

Major Mitchell Cockatoo, Konardin Track, Hattah Kulkyne National Park, Vic

Lifer 340: Major Mitchell Cockatoos, Konardin Track – inspecting a potential nest hole.

Arid country Parrots – Greater Bluebonnet

One of the targets for my weekend trip to the Goschen Blushland Reserve was the Bluebonnet. It is a medium sized parrot that prefers the drier parts of the country. The Mallee region is a perfect place to find them. I saw many flying around the reserve during my three days there but could not get close enough for a decent photo. They feed on the ground looking for grass seeds and flower heads. Once flushed, by movement or sound, will fly up to a nearby tree and watch for a chance to fly back to the food or to fly further away if you walk towards them. They are extremely wary and I never got really close without them seeing me first.

I had no luck at Goschen but while photographing the Variegated Fairywrens at Tresco West I found a pair feeding on new grass seeds and they did not notice me. I saw the movement of the grass and froze and when a Bluebonnet poked its head I knew I had a good chance for a photo if I could move quietly and slowly enough. I did not think I would get anything other than a head shot in the grass but while focussing on one I noticed the other watching me from a nearby bush and slowly took a few shots. They finally spooked and flushed but I did manage a few nice shots showing their beautiful colours.

Greater Bluebonnet, Tresco West Bushland Reserve, Tresco West, Victoria

Greater Bluebonnet, Tresco West Bushland Reserve, Tresco West, Victoria

Greater Bluebonnet, Tresco West Bushland Reserve, Tresco West, Victoria

Greater Bluebonnet II

 

Tresco West Fairywrens

As part of my travels around the edge of the Mallee country I visited Tresco West Bushland Reserve. It has a similar bird list to Goshschen and has many of the same plants and trees but is much bigger with kilometres of drivable tracks. I stopped the car in several places and wandered around looking for Bluebonnets and Variegated Fairywrens, neither of which I been able to successfully photograph before. At an interesting spot I heard the high pitched call of a Fairywren and stopped to investigate. I came across several brightly coloured males and their female flock leader.

Variegated Fairywren, Tresco West Bushland, Reserve, Tresco West, Victoria

Variegated Fairywren, Tresco West Bushland Reserve 

Variegated Fairywren, Tresco West Bushland, Reserve, Tresco West, Victoria

II

Variegated Fairywren, Tresco West Bushland, Reserve, Tresco West, Victoria

III

Variegated Fairywren, Tresco West Bushland, Reserve, Tresco West, Victoria

The boss