Dawn finds us up on top of a big red sand dune with lots of healthy dune cane grass; surely a good spot for Eyrean Grasswrens. Over an hour later we find some likely grasswren footprints but no birds. In the meantime we have spotted both Variegated and White-winged Fairywrens, and a Crested Bellbird has called in the distance. Willie Wagtail, Singing Honeyeater, Zebra Finch and Australian Raven have also made an appearance.
After a quick breakfast we head off down the Karhlia Track to find Banded Whiteface. Our technique is to stop whenever we see any birds and search the area on foot, as most birds seem to be in small mixed feeding parties. On the fourth stop we find two Banded Whitefaces. We have now added Crested Pigeon, Diamond Dove, Black-backed Magpie, Wedge-tailed Eagle, White-browed Babbler, Black-faced Woodswallow, Budgerigar, Rainbow Bee-eater, Red-capped Robin, Brown Songlark and Nankeen Kestrel.
After lunch we drive to Pulchera Waterhole where there is still some water and many more species of birds. Notable additions here are White-winged Black Tern, Orange Chat and White-backed Swallow.
Then after a long day birding we walk across to the homestead showers where a single Flock Bronzewing lands on the ground in front of us. What a great way to end the day! We have seen only thirty-five species for the day, but these include some not likely to be recorded by anyone else, so we are happy with our effort.
Many other eBirders across Australia enjoyed the challenge of finding local endemics as we did, and the joint effort of 214 participants recorded 494 species. This is a great achievement for the first ever Global eBird Big Day. We still have some way to go to make a significant contribution to funds raised as Australian donations only came to $540. Let’s see if we can make both totals even bigger next year.
by Margaret and Richard Alcorn
Ethabuka Nature Reserve is a former cattle station in the Simpson Desert owned and managed by Bush Heritage Australia. Contact Bush Heritage for information about when the reserve is open for visitors.
For a full summary of the results of the Global Big Day around the world, visit: ebird.org/content/ebird/news/gbd2015here/