A special sighting: Chestnut Quail-thrush

Chestnut Quail-thrush, Hattah-Kulkyne National Park

Sydney Trip June 2011

On the last day of our holiday earlier this year we left Mildura and headed south towards Ouyen. We had planned to visit one of our favourite places for lunch: Hattah-Kulkyne National Park. This park has two distinct habitat types: mallee and spinifex in large parts of the reserve, and the extensive array of small to medium lakes lined with River Red Gums. These lakes fill regularly when the nearby River Murray is in flood. Our family has had a number of enjoyable holidays in the camping ground at Lake Hattah.

On this occasion we stopped at a suitable point along the old Calder Highway, a dirt road leading through the northern section of the mallee and spinifex habitat. While the birding was a little on the slow side I was delighted to catch several glimpses of two Chestnut Quail-thrushes crossing the road nearby. The male obligingly posed long enough for a reasonable photo (see above). This can be a secretive species and not easy to capture on a photo.

Chestnut Quail-thrushes are widespread in suitable habitat in central and western New South Wales,  northern South Australia and Western Australia. The photo below is indicative of its preferred habitat.

Mallee and spinifex, Hattah-Kulkyne National Park

Gluepot Bird Sanctuary – more photographs

I’ve just been editing some of the photographs I took on my recent visit to Gluepot Bird Sanctuary near Waikerie in South Australia.

On several walks I took and during a long drive through the park on the last day of my visit, I observed that many of the mallee trees were in flower. These flowers act like magnets to the many honeyeater species common in the Australian mallee environment. The most common species attracted by the flowers was the Yellow Plumed Honeyeater.

Yellow-plumed Honeyeater

Yellow Plumed Honeyeater

Yellow Plumed Honeyeaters seemed to be almost everywhere, and very common wherever the mallee was in flower.

Towards the end of my drive through the reserve I stopped to identify two birds feeding on the ground near the roadside. I was delighted to observe a male and female Chestnut Quail-Thrush calmly walking along searching for food in the leaf litter. I managed to photograph both of them but the best shot was of the male.

Chestnut Quail-thrush

Chestnut Quail-Thrush

The striking plumage makes for excellent camouflage, but this individual was quite obvious on the bare earth.