This was the second full-blown ‘Great Southern Tour’ which concentrates on the many specialties of the southern coastal region of Australia and the South Australian outback. With 7 participants, the tour started in Adelaide (SA) and finished in Hobart (Tas). The weather was quite variable with warm and cooler days alternating, but little rain. Birds were abundant throughout and the total tally was just short of 300 species. Highlights included Painted Snipe, Inland Dotterel, Plains-wanderer, Scarlet-chested Parrot, Swift Parrot, Gibberbird, Mallee Emu-wren and all 12 Tasmanian endemics. We commenced the trip at the Greenfields wetlands, north of Adelaide. Plenty of waterbirds and waders were present here. Good sightings included Australian Spotted and Spotless Crakes. At Pt Gawler we observed Slender-billed Thornbills in the low mangroves. It became quite warm but a walk in the Arid Lands Botanical Gardens in Pt Augusta yielded a good variety of Honeyeaters including White-fronted.
This year’s Highlights of South Australia tour was run from 20-25 November, through a variety of habitats within South Australia. Covering the Flinders Ranges, outback, Gluepot, Murray River and coast near Adelaide, the trip was guided by Peter Waanders, assisted by Helga Kieskamp. In 6 days the trip totalled 180 bird species including goodies such as 3 species of Grasswren, Scarlet-chested Parrot, Inland Dotterel, Freckled Duck as well as some interesting mammals. Plenty of waterbirds and waders were present here. Good sightings included Australian Spotted and Spotless Crakes. After an early start we spend the entire day exploring the Strzelecki desert around Lyndhurst and Marree. Stony gibber plains, dry creeks lined with ancient Eucalyptus trees, low sand dunes covered in shrubby bushes, and dry floodplains yielded a wide variety of birds. These included Rufous Fieldwren, Little Button-quail, Cinnamon Quail-thrush, White-winged Fairy-wren, Chirruping Wedgebill, Orange Chat and even one Gibberbird. After trying a number of sites we eventually also found a pair of very obliging Thick-billed Grasswrens. At a lake in the middle of the desert we saw Australian Pratincole and many waterbirds including at least 30 Freckled Ducks.