Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Gluepot Reserve, South Australia

This trip may have led me to where I am now. Nathan Waugh, David Marshall and I took off on our first expedition, solely with the purpose of
finding animals, particularly birds. It was December 2002 and we had just completed our last year (Year 12) at Bomaderry High School.

We loaded my parents ute with our camping gear and set off. Our aim was to make it to Bird's Australia's Gluepot Reserve, in South Australia, to find species unique to a plant community known as 'Mallee'.
The first afternoon we made it to Narrandera where we camped in the caravan park near the lake. We went for a drive to some nearby scrub where we picked up the first of many lifers. Blue Bonnet, Brown Treecreeper, Grey-crowned Babbler, Peaceful Dove, Red-capped Robin and earlier, Superb Parrot.

We awoke the next morning, bright-eyed with binoculars around our necks. We started (what was going to be a fantastic day) birding around the caravan park and saw Little Friarbird, Chestnut-rumped Thornbill, Striped Honeyeater, and best of all, Little Bittern (still the only one I've seen). We then headed off across the Hay Plain.

Nathan, having crossed it before, had been talking down the Hay Plain, but Dave and I found it exciting. Willie Willies (small 'twisters' that pick up dirt) were abundant, and the vastness of the landscape was awing. We even managed to find a few species here such as Singing Bushlark, Black-tailed Native-hen, Banded Lapwing, and a Lerista muelleri under a sheet of tin.

In Mildura we stopped by the local sewage treatment works (a favourite destination of all birders!) where we excitedly found our first Freckled and Pink-eared Ducks.

The next day we reached our destination, Gluepot Reserve. Entering the park we found a bunch of new things including Hooded Robin, Varied Sittela, White-browed Babbler, Yellow-plumed Honeyeater, and a White-browed Treecreeper near the 'visitor's centre'. That night, we went night driving for an hour or so, and saw a mouse hopping across the road. We dashed around in circles after, hoping to identify it. However, somehow it got away into the night. We can only assume it was a Bolam's Mouse, although it highly resembled a species of Hopping Mouse, which to our knowledge haven't been recorded in the Reserve.

We set up camp with an early rise scheduled for the next day. We awoke to find that we had all got up, but had left the camp in different directions from each other. Nathan ran into Dave some time later, who said "the button-quail was in the same place" and pointed in a direction. Nathan b-lined straight for it. Unknowingly at the time, Dave had dreamt of seeing a button-quail, and the one he saw that morning was in the exact spot he had dreamt...
We reunited, had breakfast (canned spaghetti on bread), and went for a walk. New birds were plentiful, and we found Brown-headed Honeyeater, Crested Bellbird, Chestnut Quail-thrush, Grey Currawong, Shy Heathwren, Southern Whiteface, Spiny-cheeked Honeyeater, Splendid Fairy-wren, and my 300th bird, Striated Grasswren!

We started lifting logs for herps, but instead found a Western Pygmy-possum, (above right) under a split fallen fence post! This species was only re-discovered in the park in the early 2000's, so it is likely our sighting was one of the first!
Another special find was a Southern Ningaui (a small carnivorous marsupial) under another log (above left).

Our final day at Gluepot (a really hot one) got us views of Chestnut-crowned Babbler, Rainbow Bee-eater, White-fronted Honeyeater and Ctenotus regius (a skink). We also caught a goat that ran across the road on our way out (below).

Returning home, we headed south to Coorong National Park, on the coast of South Australia. Birds along the way included Banded Stilt, Red-necked Avocet, Musk Duck, Blue-billed Duck, Spotted Harrier, Southern Emu-wren, Blue-winged Parrot, Brush Bronzewing, and an adult Malleefowl with an overly-alert newly-emerged chick waiting by the mound!

After zipping back across the Hay Plain (another exceptional crossing, this time having seen 4 Major Mitchell's Cockatoos sitting in saltbush), we visited The Rock Nature Reserve, not far from Wagga Wagga. It was a productive little stop, and Nathan managed to catch a Sand Goanna (Varanus gouldii, top left, below) and tail a huge hissing Lace Monitor (Varanus varius). A Speckled Warbler near the carpark was the final new bird for the trip.

Although only 8 days in total, we became hooked on finding different species, and have since traveled many parts of the world in the quest of finding those that fly, crawl, hop, slither or swim.


  1. Sounds like you had a fantastic time. I've heard it's a great place. I'm so looking forward to getting there myself.

  2. It was a fun trip. I'd also like to get back there. I think Nathan Waugh re-visited Gluepot in 2006 and was lucky enough to see Scarlet-chested Parrot

  3. Are you the same Nigel that was in the Okanagan, British Columbia, in 2007?