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Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Connells Lagoon Conservation Reserve - A BirdLife Central Australia Branch trip

BirdLife Central Australia Branch had their first official "outing" over the weekend, starting with a stall at the Tennant Creek Show on the Friday, then heading up to Connells Lagoon Conservation Reserve. In total there were 7 of us, 5 adults and two kids, my two boys, Banjo and Moses.

After being entertained by the Australian Pratincoles and Wedge-tailed Eagles before we reached the Reserve, the first excitement of the Reserve wasn't a bird at all. One of the other two cars was in front and a very large kangaroo bounded slowly through the bush and then in front of their car. Luckily Pete saw the roo before it headed across the road and managed to avoid it. In all we saw about 10 kangaroos, large reds and a few greys.

Next it was finding a camping spot. We eventually found a dry river bed and set up camp. After a big couple of days, we all stayed together and headed to what we thought was Pictorella Swamp. Alas we couldn't find the swamp, but there were a few birds around including Golden-headed Cisticolas and Red-backed Fairy-wrens. As we headed back to the cars, we saw the Super Moon rising in the east, magically large and orange. We had a fairly early night, the next day was hopefully going to be a great day of birding and surveying.

In the morning, Lisa and Pete headed off to find the real Pictorella Swamp, whilst Chris and Sam headed off towards Avocet Waterhole. The boys and I stayed at the camp and had a kick of the footy, and did a quick 20 minute survey of the camp area. Overall the area is dry, and the birding in the main wasn't spectacular, but it was fun trampling through the bush, not knowing what we might find.

We all convened back at the camp for lunch, although the boys and I headed to where Chris and Sam had been in the hope of spotting the Australian Bustards they had seen earlier. Although we dipped on the Bustards, we did see a Rufous-throated Honeyeater, a lifer for the boys.

In the afternoon, Lisa and Pete headed west, whilst Chris, Sam, the boys and I headed to Pictorella Swamp that Lisa and Pete had found earlier. We managed to see Golden-headed Cisticolas, Variegated Fairy-wrens, Zebra Finches and Budgerigars but couldn't find the Pictorella Mannikens Lisa and Pete had seen that morning. All 7 of us then met at Connells Lagoon in the hope we would see some Flock Bronzewing. This time, we were in luck. The FBs came in small parties up to 20 and then flew off after landing and walking down to the water's edge for a drink. It was difficult to estimate exactly how many as they seemed to be coming for a drink, heading off and then circling back. We could see Swamp Harrier in the distance, as well as Hoary-headed Grebes on the lagoon and some Grey Teal as well.

Later that night I took the boys spot-lighting and we saw a couple of Barn Owls and an Owlet Nightjar.

The next morning was pack up time and heading back towards the Barkly Homestead or Alice Springs. As we were getting the camp cleaned up, we had a visit by 5 or 6 Black-chinned Honeyeaters, the Golden-backed variety which was a nice addition to an ever-growing list.

Connells Lagoon Conservation Reserve would be a great birding destination after the rains and before it dries out too much. Below is a link to the Parks and Wildlife Commission NT webpage:
Connells Lagoon Conservation Reserve fact sheet
If you are intending to head there, make sure you are fully self sufficient as there are no facilities, except the serenity of Barkly Tablelands.

Some Birder shots to start with.

Flock Bronzewings at Connells Lagoon

Black-chinned Honeyeater (Golden-backed)

Grey Fantail

Australian Pratincole

 Super Moon 

Wedge-tailed Eagle


  1. really enjoyed reading about this outing Richard; sounds as if really productive for all

  2. Congratulations to BirdLife Central Australia on their first official "outing", and thanks for sharing some beautiful birds with us, especially the Flock Bronzewings.