Thursday, August 4, 2016

Short-tailed Grasswren, Flinders Ranges, SA

When my plan was hatching to dash across to Venus Bay, SA, it more than crossed my mind that the Flinders Ranges with their Short-tailed Grasswren were only a couple hours or so northeast of Port Augusta. We had to go through Port Augusta anyway, so why not pop up to have a look for the Grasswren on the way back from the Expat Laughing Gull twitch? I also had plans to look for the Copper-backed Quail-thrush at Secret Rocks near Kimba. The pouring rain drowned that idea and we continued on to stay in a truly crap cabin in a dilapidated caravan park in Stirling North. Live and learn and move on.

We were out of there first thing the next morning and after a grocery stop, arrived in the Flinders Ranges at Willow Springs Station and our nice little cabin by noon. We got the list of recent grasswren sightings at the Station (they keep track of them there) and headed to Stokes Hill Lookout, just around the corner from the station.

Views in the Flinders Ranges are amazing, even more than I expected.
The big wing at the entrance to Willow Spring Station.

These are views from Stokes Hill Lookout. Yeah, wow.
The wind was howling. This makes grasswrens sad and they sit at home somewhere and watch old movies and eat ice cream. Maybe not, but they were not to be seen anywhere across those hills that afternoon. And in many people’s opinion, Stokes Hill is the go-to place for the Short-tailed GW. We went back to our cozy little cabin for the night.

The next morning the wind was still up. We waited until about 10am and then went over to have a look. It seemed a bit less windy and we trudged across the ridges toward the optimum grasswren area (as dictated by the recent sightings). Low and behold, the wind did drop out a bit more AND the sun even came out! It was still chilly, but much better. We bumped into three other birders and began a “sweep” along the side of the hill. In about fifteen minutes we were on the bird! I saw it. Lynn saw it. And I even got some recording shots. Then we saw that bird again, as well as a second one nearby. Awesomeness. Truly. Lynn and I rejoiced, and after hanging around to see if any more were going to pop out in the immediate area, we joyfully walked the kilometer and a half or so back to Troopi. I am so very grateful!

At times we had an audience.
First view of the Short-tailed Grasswren!

I love how Grasswrens go up on tiptoes.
Yes, I do.

The Short-tailed GWs were just in front of where Lynn is standing.
Looking back at Troopi and a few other vehicles at Stokes Hill Lookout from the Grasswren area.
I am sitting in “our” Willow Springs Overseer’s Cabin writing this. There is no mobile reception or wifi here. So this will get posted from somewhere, hopefully tomorrow. This is an interesting experience. It is remarkably beautiful out here. The cabin’s setting is picture-postcard lovely. There is no television or internet, none of my usual ADD distractors (I am usually popping back and forth to Facebook and checking things… weather, routing, email, etc). So we are listening to background music as I write and edit photos. This is very peaceful. Just being quiet in peacefulness is not something I do very well. I tend to be a doer. I tend to want to be doing, and just chilling does not come easily to me. It is something I would like to work on, but we will see.

The three photos above are views from our cabin. It is so lovely there. Once again, the birds did their job and lead us to wondrous places. I am grateful.
There were 3 horses around Troopi. I got this one's photo.
That evening, I had a couple of those excellent non-alcoholic beers before supper and Lynn had a couple of regular ones. Then we grilled some sandwiches and… I just happened to have bought a small carrot cake (just in case). So yes, there was Lifer Pie. I do wish I had had some ice cream to go with it!

RB AUS Life List: 667
Lynn AUS Life List: 648
Couple’s AUS Year List: 631

Peace. Love. Birds.


  1. Love your gratefulness. Photos of landscape much appreciated. Hope the horses didn't steal your lunch. Having grown up with horses I wouldn't have thought that a possibility until one of the ponies at Assateague Island stuck its head though my open car window and snatched my sandwich before I knew it!

    1. The horses looked like they hoped we had some food for them.

      I always think of you when I post landscapes. It was so stunningly beautiful out there... even more than I expected. You would LOVE it!

  2. Another wonderful post! Thanks for continuing to share your adventures! Much love to you both.

  3. So good to have you along, Kenn. Much love back to you and Kim!!


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