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News from Mount Isa

Rex Whitehead | Mount Isa Correspondent

There has been a lot happening in Mount Isa the last few months, following a huge unseasonal downpour of rain – 110mm in 24 hours. This put another good run in the river, and of course, added to the Lake Moondarra water supply. I thought that this increase in the Lake’s water levels may prevent the annual arrival of the Migratory Waders. However, the Sharp-tailed Sandpipers have arrived in fairly large numbers, along with a few Wood and Marsh Sandpipers. So hopefully, other species will arrive as well.

The Channel-billed Cuckoos have also arrived, but no Eastern Koels as yet.

Another bird to arrive in large numbers is a species I've never seen in Mount Isa before: Plum-headed Finch.

Plum-headed Finches
A few of the many Plum-headed Finches I saw recently at Mount Isa. Photo: Rex Whitehead.

My estimate of one flock of Plum-headed Finch that I saw would have been about 200 birds. I've heard reports of them recorded in Cloncurry and Julia Creek; in very large numbers in Normanton; and some at Georgetown. I can only put this influx down to the exceptional good wet season we have had, as there is lots of grass seed around.

The Varied Lorikeets are in large numbers here making the most of the flowering Bloodwoods.

Varied Lorikeet
A Varied Lorikeet atop some of its springtime feast. Photo: Rex Whitehead.

I have run into quite a few visiting birdos this year. One couple from down south only intended to come as far north as Winton. Someone convinced them that they should continue on to Mount Isa. They told me that they were so glad they did. In mid-August I did a quick trip to Birdsville to see for myself the explosion of birds throughout the Channel Country, following the huge flood-out of that area.

Channel Country
Birds in the Channel Country after the floods subsided. Photo: Rex Whitehead.

Eyre Creek had been reported as 30km wide at Bedourie. Whilst the water was well receded when I was there, the evidence of the flooding was apparent.

There were many species of birds, in quite large numbers, throughout the area. At one spot, I saw 30 Letter-winged Kites, mainly juveniles, as they still had quite a bit of brown colouring. Both species of harriers were present, many Gibberbirds, and Black and Brown Falcons.

Letter-winged Kite
A juvenile Letter-winged Kite. Photo: Rex Whitehead.

Eyre Creek (which above Bedourie, is the Georgina River), was teeming with water birds: it looked like ‘standing room only’. It was incredible. They included four species of cormorants, as well as pelicans, egrets, herons, terns, gulls, ducks of many species, etc, etc.

Little Black Cormorant
A Little Black Cormorant with its lunch. Photo: Rex Whitehead.

I also saw one juvenile Great-crested Grebe, and many juvenile Nankeen Night Herons.

Great-crested Grebe
A juvenile Great-crested Grebe. Photo: Rex Whitehead.

In early October I hope to go down to Birdsville again, and further south along the Birdsville Track, to try for a few birds I still don't have. And to get better shots of some I do have.

Happy birding to all!


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