Alice Springs birding tour

12 to 22 September 2019

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Pre-tour day
12 September 2019
Overnight: Alice Springs

Day 1
13 September 2019
Alice Springs area
We'll start this tour by tackling the difficult skulkers first. We'll bird the spinifex-covered hills southeast of Alice for dusky grasswren, rufous-crowned emu-wren and spinifexbird and we'll endeavour to obtain good views of all three. If we've been successful in our skulker quest, we'll call in at the Alice Springs waste treatment ponds, which can be good for a variety of ducks and other waterfowl. Red-necked avocet and red-kneed dotterel and crake species are possible.
Overnight: Alice Springs

Day 2
14 September 2019
Our best chance for grey honeyeater, Australia's plainest and most difficult honeyeater, is in the mulga country northwest of Alice. Other rarities here include slate-backed thornbill and Bourke's parrot as well as a host of more common passerines — such as crested bellbird, hooded and red-capped robins, splendid fairywren and inland and chestnut-rumped thornbills. Further out in the open country we have a chance for banded lapwing and ground cuckoo-shrike. 

Overnight: Alice Springs

Day 3
15 September 2019
Alice Springs to Glen Helen Lodge

Heading out of Alice, we'll bird the West MacDonnell Ranges. We'll be on the lookout for western bowerbird, western ringneck, spiny-cheeked and grey-headed honeyeaters, white-browed and grey-crowned babblers, zebra finch, diamond dove, Major Mitchell's cockatoo and spinifex pigeon around geological wonders such as Simpson's Gap, Ellery Creek Big Hole and the Ochre Pits. 

Overnight: Glen Helen Lodge

Day 4


16 September 2019
Glen Helen to Alice Springs

We will visit the magnificent Ormiston Gorge and surrounding area this morning. Here we have another opportunity for those skulkers: dusky grasswren, rufous- crowned emuwren and spinifexbird. Also, we have our best chance for painted finch and spinifex pigeon. Pied and black honeyeaters are also a possibility in this area, as are budgerigars, white-browed and masked woodswallows; and as always, we'll be on the look out for grey falcon.
Overnight: Alice Springs

Day 5

17 September 2019
Alice Springs to Erldunda
Today we travel south of Alice to bird the more open mulga and saltbush country towards Erldunda. The annual rainfall drops as we head south and the country becomes more desert like. Our first stop may be in the acacia woodland not far from Alice where we have a chance for white-browed treecreeper. This could also be a backup spot for grey honeyeater if we have missed this elusive species on the Tanami Road. Further south in open saltbush country we have opportunities for banded whiteface and white-winged fairywren. If seasonal conditions are suitable nomadic species such as orange chat, inland dotteral and banded lapwing may also be present. In the acacia scrub closer to Erldunda we will start looking for the secretive chiming wedgebill. If it is dry it can take considerable effort to obtain satisfactory views of this rascal. Conversely, if there has been rain it may come easy. If night time temperatures are warm enough, we could spotlight tonight for some of the beautiful geckos that inhabit the sanddune country.
Overnight: Erldunda

DAY 6
18 September 2019
Erldunda to Marla
Should we still need it, we will spend some time searching for chiming wedgebill before heading south to Marla in SA this morning. Our main target bird at Marla will be one of Australia's most difficult and elusive species, the chestnut-breasted whiteface. This species has disappeared in the southern part of its range and its stronghold now appears to be around Marla. Other species possible about Marla include banded and southern whitefaceand orange and crimson chats and Bourke's parrot.
Overnight: Marla

Day 7
19 September 2019
Marla to Erldunda
Early this morning will probably be our best chance for the chestnut-breasted whiteface. After lunch we will make our way back to Erldunda.
Overnight : Erldunda

Day 8
20 September 2019
Erldunda to Yulara
Our main target at Yulara is the recently split (from striated grasswren) sandhill grasswren Amytornis oweni. This delightful species inhabits the sand dune country in the vicinity of Yulara near Uluru. We will devote as much time as we have searching for this elusive and desirable species. Other species we may encounter, if seasonal conditions are favourable, include pied and black honeyeaters, crimson chat, masked woodswallow and budgerigar. We may spotlight tonight for spinifex hopping mouse and its marsupial counterpart, the kultarr, as well as some beautiful desert geckos.
Overnight: Yulara

Day 9
21 September 2019
Yulara to Alice Springs
Early this morning we have our best chance for the sandhill grasswren. Banded whiteface and zebra finch may also be encountered in the sanddunes.

We make our way back to The Alice. Species to be on the lookout for today include Major Mitchell's cockatoo and red-tailed black-cockatoos. We will also have more time to look for nomadic species like pied and black honeyeaters, crimson chat, masked and black-faced woodswallows, budgerigar and white-winged triller. The black-capped form of varied sittella may also be encountered in the desert oak country. If daytime temperatures are high enough the delightful thorny devil may also be seen in the sanddune country.
Overnight: Alice Springs

Day 10
22 September 2019
Tour finishes after breakfast.

Tour cost: $5,870.00 AUD, single supplement: approx. $630 AUD.
Included in cost: accommodation from pre-tour night (12 September 2019) to and including the last night of the tour (21 September 2019), meals from breakfast on first day (13 September 2019) to breakfast on the morning of 22 September 2019; land transport, guiding and park entrance fees.

Tour leader: Philip Maher
Tour organiser: Patricia Maher
2017 checklist of species seen

trip report 2016