Date: Saturday, November 7, 2020

Project: Eastern Australian Waterbird Survey

Observers: Richard Kingsford UNSW, John Porter UNSW/DPIE

Pilot: James Barkell NSW National Parks & Wildlife Service (DPIE)

We left the estuaries on the coast and headed west, along Band 8 to eventually survey past Birdsville.

The first major wetland was a large dam, Callide Reservoir for cooling the Callide Power Station. This was a lot lower and drier than we've seen in previous years. There were the usual number of fish-eating birds, including cormorants and pelicans.

Following this, we surveyed a string of small farm dams that stretched across the coalfields around the town of Moura. They had the usual small numbers of ducks, swans and cormorants.

We continued to survey farm dams further west, going through a very dry part before it started to ‘green up’, east of the town of Rolleston.  South of the town, there are a group of reasonable sized swamps of about 5-10 hectares. As usual they a few hundred waterbirds, including teal, hardhead, black duck, swans and pelicans. But they were drying back and others were completely dry.

Once we had gone over the Great Dividing Range and the Carnarvon Range, we came onto the Barcoo River which was dry in this part of the catchment which we surveyed until we landed at the town of Blackall for lunch and refuelling.

After lunch we headed west to the town of Windorah. There were quite a few dams with water and one or two grey teal or a flock of wood duck but not much else. We then surveyed the Barcoo River again as it headed west. Here, it had a bit of water in its channels but was not flowing. There was only the odd pelican, but not much else. This area, west of Blackall, has seen large areas of land clearing in recent years.

Then we headed west across inflowing tributaries creeks, until we met the Thomson River which had obviously had a recent flow.

Lots of its channels and waterholes had water but only the odd pelican and cormorant. We flew south down the Thomson River and then down Cooper Creek to Windorah where we spent the night.