Date: Monday, October 9, 2017

Project: Eastern Australian Waterbird Survey

The softness of the strong red spinifex covered dunes west of Windorah in the early morning light is a beautiful sight. Immediately to the south and abutting the spinifex is the massive Cooper Creek floodplain, producer of the best cattle feed in Australia when it floods.

Possibly Night Parrot country. Photo: Terry Korn

We speculated on the possibility of the elusive Night parrot being here – could they be in this country as they are not too far to the north? Now that there is a technique for finding them maybe they have been about and nobody was aware.

Standing water from local rain. Photo: Terry Korn    

Local falls over the last two days have left surface water shining and caused some streams to run. Farrar Creek on the eastern side of the Diamantina floodplain was running strongly in the main channel where frothy water and debris was caught in bends.

The Diamantina floodplain is impressive. Well over 50km wide in the section we covered one can only imagine the vista when this magnificent Channel Country River is in full flood. 

Organic cattle production on the vast Diamantina floodplain. Photo: Terry Korn 

Bedourie country also has had local falls and parts had a green pick. As always in outback Australia, a fall of rain stimulates a rapid response from the birdlife. Bustards had moved in and flocks of Budgerigars were common.

Lake Mipia adjoins the larger Lake Machattie. It now holds a large area of shallow water that has attracted huge numbers of ducks, brolgas, avocets, tern, pelican and swans. It is these magic lakes that reward you for the hot, bumpy, tedious hours spent on this annual survey.

Pelicans cruising Lake Mipia. Photo: Terry Korn

Refuelling at Birdsville and enjoying a gourmet pie at the famous bakery is an annual ritual. We need the sustenance for the long four hour plus haul to Charleville through the hottest part of the day. The country at midday east of Birdsville is eye scaldingly bright as we bump from one wetland to the next. Thankfully there is some water in the Diamantina and Cooper Creek overflows to invigorate us but after that there are only dry tanks and swamps to Charleville, except for good billabongs on the Bulloo at Quilpie.

Diamantina River channel SE of Birdsville. Photo: Terry Korn